UAW STEPS UP DRIVE TO UNIONIZE NON-UNION AUTO PLANTS

After gaining the best contract in decades for auto workers from the US Big Three a few months ago, UAW President Sean Fain announced that the union would be begin an organizing drive among the non-union auto plants in the country.

A second early result this month came in the form of an announcement by the union that more than 30% of the workers at the Mercedes-Benz plant outside Tuscaloosa, Alabama, have signed UAW authorization cards to be represented by the union in collective bargaining. The Tuscaloosa workers join workers at the Volkswagen facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in reaching the 30% goal, the first step in their union organizing efforts. If 50% sign up, the union will publicly rally and at 70% the UAW will demand recognition or call on the National Labor Relations Board to organize a vote.

Guadian,1/10

 

IS THERE A LESSON HERE?

Most national unions elect their presidents at their conventions held every few years. They are chosen by the delegates the locals send to the conventions. This indirect election of its top leaders has produced an undemocratic structure in most unions in which the leadership has only a remote connection to he rank-and-file members.

But developments in two unions may serve to be a harbinger of things to come. In both the Teamsters  and Auto Workers unions, the government intervened after a lengthy legal process and compelled an election by direct mail ballot of the entire membership. In the case of the UAW, the old guard leadership was sent to jail for corruption.

The result was leadership closer to workers directly on the production line. UAW President Sean Fain went around the country, holding meetings and sounding out workers on what they wanted in their new contracts. The process produced the best contracts for workers in decades.  The Teamsters contract with UPS, signed this past summer, made great gains for UPS drivers without a strike. UAW workers in factories of the Big Three US automakers are enjoying a contract not seen since the early organizing days of the union.

A valuable lesson that greater union democracy often brings greater gains for workers.

Labor Notes, 1/5

 

ON-THE-JOB INJURIES NOW HIT 10-YEAR HIGH

Almost 5,500 workers in the U.S. died from on-the-job injuries in 2022, the highest number in the past 10 years, according to a report released Dec. 19 by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

More than 70% of the victims worked in blue-collar jobs such as construction, driving trucks, and maintenance, and more than 90% were men.”These deaths could be prevented,” said Jessica E. Martinez, co-executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health “if employers listen to workers and adopt preventive and comprehensive safety measures.”

“Transportation incidents” accounted for more than 2,000 fatalities, about two-thirds of them in vehicle crashes. Falls, most commonly to a lower level of a structure, accounted for 865 deaths, and 839 came from exposure to poisons, electricity, or extreme heat. Older workers were most vulnerable, with 35% of those killed 55 or older.

Work Bites, 12/20

3 UNIONS COOPERATING TO UNIONIZE DELTA AIRLINES

In what is a novel partnership, three unions are collaborating to organize workers at Delta Airlines, the company that, until now, has been the least unionized of all the air carriers. At Delta, only 20 percent of its work force is unionized (mostly the pilots) compared with about 80 percent at other airlines.

The unions, the Association of Flight Attendants – CWA, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, were former competitors over the right to organize flight attendants and other employees. The collaboration is a sign, not only of growing union militancy but also a sign of union solidarity and cooperation in the mutual interest of all workers. If successful, it could usher in cross union efforts to organize Amazon and other giant corporations spread out around the country.

Capital & Main, 8/30, courtesy Locker Associates, New York

 

LATEST NLRB RULING ‘A SEA CHANGE’ FOR WORKERS

In perhaps its most momentous decision in decades, the National Labor Relations Board on Aug. 25 restored to labor the rights for workers that had been stripped down piece by piece over the years. It ruled in a party-line vote that when a majority of a company’s employees file union affiliation cards, the employer can either voluntarily recognize their union or, if not, ask the Board to run a union recognition election. If, in the run-up to or during that election, the employer commits an unfair labor practice, such as illegally firing pro-union workers (which has become routine in nearly every such election over the past 40 years, as the penalties have been negligible), the Board will order the employer to recognize the union and enter forthwith into bargaining.

The ruling followed a previous day’s decision that required NLRB supervised elections to be held promptly. It sharply limited the frequent stalling tactic that companies use to indefinitely delay elections while they employ all sorts of union-busting tactics to prevent collective bargaining to take place. As one labor attorney put it, “This is a sea change, a home run for workers.”

Since the Biden administration appointed two new members of the board and a new chair, it is restoring its proper role in defending labor’s rights instead its practice for decades of siding with employers and undermining the rights guaranteed to workers by the National Labor Relations Act of 1935.

The American Prospect, 8/28; The New Republic, 8/25

 

NY ENACTS LAW BANNING MANDATORY ‘CAPTIVE AUDIENCE’ MEETINGS

Earlier this month, NY Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law a bill banning employers from forcing workers to attend closed-door meetings, under threat of dismissal, to hear anti-union harangues. The meetings, usually called when workers are trying to organize a union in the workplace, are filled with misinformation  about unions, designed to scare workers without allowing the union access to the workplace to counter the deceptions.

Today in New York, “Workers can no longer be forced to listen to anti-union rhetoric in the workplace,” declared Tom Quackenbush, President of Teamsters Joint Council 46 in Buffalo. The New York law follows similar ones enacted in Oregon, Minnesota, Maine, and Connecticut.

Teamsters Union website, 9/6

 

MISSOURI AMAZON WORKERS CHARGE UNSAFE WAREHOUSE CONDITIONS

Amazon workers at a warehouse in St. Peters, Missouri,  have filed a complaint with OSHA that their workplace, STL8, is filled with health and safety violations. In addition to the unsafe conditions, the complaints also charge that workers injured on the job are deliberately discouraged from receiving medical care from a doctor when they are injured.

Typical of the problem, they say, is the case of a worker who tripped and fell face-down over a piece of equipment that should not have been in her path. She fell on the concrete floor, nose bleeding, with head and leg injuries. She requested seeing a doctor many times but was denied. Instead, she was given an ice pack and was sent back to work after 30 minutes. The next day, when she was able to see a doctor on her own, her leg was very badly swollen. She has suffered long term effects of the injury.

Subsequent journalist interviews with on-site Amazon medical representatives have found that management pushed them to keep injured Amazon workers on the job and away from doctors. One former medical representative said that they were told by management that high injury rates made the company look bad.

Labor Notes, 9/8

POWELL BOOK CHAIN WORKERS STAGE ONE-DAY STRIKE

Charging its employer with unfair labor practice before the National Labor Relations Board, workers at all Powell Books locations staged a one-day strike Sept. 4. The book store chain operates several stores in the Portland, Oregon, area. The biggest complaint is the wage structure which starts at $15.45 an hour, the area’s minimum wage, not enough for the cost of living there, which is $21.85.

The previous union contract expired on June 7 and the union, in its filed complaint, charges that the company has been stalling in negotiations. The workers have been represented since 2000 by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.

Publishers Weekly,9/5

 

UNION MEMBERS AT BARNES & NOBLE STORE STAGE 3 HOUR WALKOUT

Union workers at Barnes & Noble in Hadley, Mass., walked out last Friday protest staffing issues. The union says the store is understaffed. The walkout lasted from 2 PM to 5 PM. Staff members at the Hadley store voted to unionize with the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1459 last May.

Publishers Lunch, 8/28

 

APPROVAL OF UNIONS REMAINS AT ALL-TIME HIGH

Public approval of labor unions continues to remain at the highest level in the past 60 years, according to the latest Gallup poll. Even though the large number of recent strikes have inconvenienced some, the public today looks to unions as a a means of leveling the playing field with powerful corporations who have registered record profits over the past two decades. Below is a chart released by Gallup illustrating the point.

Courtesy Locker Associates, New York

OHIO AFL-CIO A KEY FACTOR IN DEFEAT OF GOP ATTACK ON DEMOCRACY

The news last week was filled with stories about the defeat of Ohio Republicans’ attempt to make it harder for citizens to amend the state constitution. A referendum introduced by Republicans in the legislature on a strictly partisan vote would have made it necessary for future attempts at amendment to garner 60 percent of the vote instead of the current simple majority. Republicans weren’t keeping their motives secret. Several top GOP leaders in the legislature conceded that their aim was to prevent the success of a referendum scheduled for November that would have protected women’s abortion rights in the state.

What was very sparsely reported was the fact that the Ohio labor movement played an important role in the vote to defeat it. The AFL-CIO state federation, along with central labor councils across the state, worked with affiliates and allies to execute a comprehensive voter outreach campaign in a very short period of time. Through canvasses, mailings, phone banks, worksite actions, postcard writing and more, labor activists and volunteers provided much of the muscle for the campaign and, in the end, it showed.

“We are grateful for the union members and activists who over the last nine months exposed the hypocrisy and dishonesty of the proponents and their fraudulent issue, and turned-out working people in massive numbers to protect the principle of one-person, one-vote,” said Ohio AFL-CIO President Tim Burga (USW) after the issue was defeated.

Portside, 8/9

 

NYC HOSPITAL W0RKERS WIN BIG PAY RAISES

The New York City Nurses Association, in an announcement July 1, said that nurses at public hospitals in the city will make big gains in their new contract.

The contract, to run for five-and-a-half  years, was decided by an arbitrator. Under it, the nurses will receive a $16,006 raise the first year and another &5,551 raise the second year. In the final three years of the contract they will get raises of 3%, 3%, and 3.25% respectively. It brought them closer to their goal of achieving pay parity with nurses at private hospitals, the nurses union said.

Work Bites, 8/3

 

AMAZON DRIVERS DEMAND: RECOGNIZE OUR UNION AND BARGAIN

Amazon delivery drivers and dispatchers in Palmdale, Cal, are striking to demand that the company recognize the Teamsters Union as their bargaining agent, reinstate workers unlawfully fired for union activities and bargain in good faith with the union. Among the major issues the union raises are the low pay and unsafe working conditions that force drivers to make deliveries in extreme heat with no air conditioning in their vans and limits the amount of water they can take with them, said a striking worker.

Teamsters Union website, 8/1

 

NORTHSTAR AEROSPACE WORKERS OK NEW 4-YEAR CONTRACT

Workers at Northstar Aerospace, members of International Unon of Electrical Workers-Communication Workers of America Local 14430, ratified a new collective bargaining agreement July 27 after striking for almost two months. The new four-year contract includes an 18 percent wage increase over the life of the agreement, no change in medical cost premium shares, and improvements to safety and benefits, including vacation and short-term disability. In addition, the workers successfully fought back against the company’s attempt to adversely change the attendance policy.

CWA Website, 7/27

 

TSA WORKERS WIN BIG PAY RAISE

Among federal workers, the ones employed by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) have been just about the lowest paid. They are the people who checks you in before you board a plane and are responsible for security and safety at airports. But the union that represents them, the American Federation of Government Employees announced this month the first major pay raise since the agency was established 21 years ago. TSA workers have received a 31 percent pay increase effective immediately.

AFL-CIO Website, 8/2

CORNELL ENDS PARTNERSHIP WITH STARBUCKS OVER UNFAIR LABOR PRACTICES

Cornell University has announced that it is terminating its partnership with Starbucks with the expiration of its current contract in June, 2025. The contract has allowed the company to operate cafes and sell its products in dining halls on campus. Cornell has acted in the wake of a decision by the NLRB that Starbucks punished pro-unionization Cornell students who were Starbucks employees by denying them leave over Cornell’s academic breaks during the unionization process at Ithaca’s three locations, among other violations. The university is currently working with the Student Assembly’s dining committee to find suitable alternatives for Starbucks.

Portside, 8/16

WHERE DOES LABOR GO FROM HERE?

How can labor unions successfully organize workers under present conditions? How can union activists reach people when scores of new obstacles are in the way. Take Starbucks, for instance. Starbucks Workers United, the union started its drive just a year ago. In this one year, it has organized 330 stores around the country. But Starbucks has over 9,000 shops. At this rate, it would take over 170 years to organize them all.

Add to this the hundreds of federal and state laws and rules that have been enacted over the past decades by labor unfriendly administrations in the service of industry’s well-paid lawyers and lobbyists. Everything from dragging out appeals that delay union elections until the union activists are gone and the workers give up in disgust, to firing union activists on flimsy pretexts to spying on employers at the workplace.

What new strategy and tactics can labor develop in light of these conditions? An interesting article on this appeared in the New York Tumes Sunday Opinion section on July 23. Entitled “This is How the Boses Win” in the print edition and “Inside Starbucks Dirty War Against Organized Labor” in the online edition, it recounts how Starbucks has used all the tactics in the book, both legal and illegal to fight the union’s effort. sWe recommend that you read it. It gives a glimpse of the problem workers are up against in this current situation.

Unfortunately, we have been unable to link directly to the article.It can be accessed by going to the NY Times website and doing a search for the author of the article, Megan K. Stack

 

THEY’RE NOT ACTING, THIS IS FOR REAL

By now, everyone who follows the news or turns on a TV knows that 160,000 movie and TV actors are on strike, joining over 11,000 striking writers on picket lines in New York and Hollywood. In addition to pay, the issues are whether the new technology will exist just to profit a few big moguls at the top of the industry or for those working in the industry to share in the benefits.

In the case of the actors, they want guarantees that Artificial Intelligence will not be used to create likenesses of themselves for screening without their consent or the benefit of residuals. There is also the issue of streaming where residuals have been cut back, reducing their income. Writers have a similar issue with streaming and severely reduced residual payments.

We recommend that you view the video below of the speech of Fran Drescher, president of SAG-AFTRA, the actors unions announcing the start of the actors strike. It is an inspiring call to action, not only of writers but of all working people, effectively saying, “We’re not going to take this anymore!”

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4SAPOX7R5M[/embedyt]

Memo to movie & TV moguls:” Don’t mess with the nanny. Fran Drescher, star of the popular 1990’s TV series The Nanny, and now head of SAG-AFTRA, the actors union, addressing a meeting announcing the start of the actors strike.

 

LAW NOW REQUIRES EMPLOYERS TO ACCOMMODATE PREGNANT WORKERS

A new law, passed quietly in December now requires employers to accommodate women workers who are pregnant including pregnancy and childbirth related medical conditions, and conditions related to post-partum recovery. Passage of the law came after about 10 years of advocacy.

The law covers workplaces with 15 or more employees. And covers a host of requirements the employer mut meet to accommodate pregnant workers. The law was part of an omnibus pending bill that passed Congress in December and went into effect June 27.

Portside7/7

 

CHILD LABOR MAKING BIG COMEBACK IN THE U.S.

We previously carried items about some states loosening child labor laws, including in jobs that are hazardous and often interfering with their schooling. But over the past few months the practice is spreading as employers consistently seek out low wage workers they can exploit. During the past two years, 14 states have introduced or passed laws that rolled back rules that regulated restrictions on hazardous work for minors, the number of hours they can work and the legalization of paying them substandard wages.

In Iowa, for example, a new law permits `14-year-olds to work in industrial laundries. Sixteen year-olds can work in construction, roofing, excavation, and demolition industries as well as operating power-driven machinery. Kids of 15 can work on assembly lines and 14-year-olds can work night shifts, all activities long prohibited. Spearheading the drive to weaken or repeal child labor laws are several right wing think tanks funded by wealthy conservative donors like the DeVos family and Koch Industries.

Portside, 7/7

 

WAFFLE HOUSE WORKERS STAGE 3-DAY STRIKE

Workers at the Waffle House in Columbia, South Carolina, went on a three day strike earlier this month over low pay, staffing shortages, and safety issues. “ “We are working for scraps and pennies,” said one employee. “We can barely buy the basic necessities that we need to live off of, we can barely take care of ourselves.”

Columbia Post & Courier, 7/8

 

 

 

 

 

LOMA LINDA RESIDENT DOCTORS VOTE TO UNIONIZE

In another one of those historic labor events involving people you don’t often link to unions, resident physicians at Loma Linda University Health voted 361-to-144 to unionize. The June 22 vote came after months of challenges from management. The medical facility is affiliated with the Seventh Day Adventist religious denomination.

The vote for the resident physicians to join the Union of American Physicians and Dentists was held by the National Labor Relations Board. The union originally filed the requited number of signatures to hold a union election in February but the vote was postponed by lawsuits. One of management’s claims was that as a religious education institution, it was not required to negotiate with a union. It still has vowed to pursue legal options to avoid union bargaining.

Recent trends across the country have preceded the Loma Linda vote. Residents and fellows at Massachusetts General Brigham in June voted for their 2,500 residents to form a union. And the largest union in the field, the Committee of Interns and Residents claims an additional 10,000 members in the past two years.

Spectrum, 6/23

 

LA HOTEL WORKERS WALK OFF JOB

Citing their inability to make financial ends meet in a city where the cost of housing has hit record highs, hotel workers walked out on pocket lines July 2. The strike, just before the July 4th holiday signaled the beginning of the summer tourist season, is being conducted by Unite Here Local 11.

“Workers have been frustrated and angry about… the inability to pay the rent and stay in Los Angeles,” a union spokesman said. The strike is one more labor action across Los Angeles and southern California as the high cost of living in the area have prompted demands for wages to match the costs,

NY Times/ 7/2

NYC RAISES MINIMUM PAY FOR FOOD DELIVERERS

In a milestone for the fight for fair treatment of the lowest paid workers, New York City will become the first place in the country to raise the minimum pay for food delivery workers to something approaching a decent standard. These workers, who deliver meals to our doors when we don’t feel like or are otherwise unable to do our own cooking, average a shameful $7.09 an hour in wages plus the few dollars they can collect in tips. The city has now raised their minimum to $17.96 an hour, going up to $19.96 an hour in two years. They will still be able to collect tips. The two large companies that employ these workers, Uber Eats and DoorDash, are, expectedly, protesting the new law, claiming facetiously that it harms workers when all it really does is to make a small dent in both companies’ big profits.

 Labor Press, 6/15

IOWA ENACTS HUGE ROLLBACK IN CHILD LABOR LAWS

The trend among some states to exploit the labor of children took another step forward in Iowa May 26 when the state’s governor, Kim Reynolds, signed a bill that conflicts with the federal Fair Labor Standards Act’s prohibition of “oppressive child labor.” The federal statute outlaws teen-agers working under hazardous conditions or excessive hours that interfere with their schooling or health and well-being.

Among the Iowa act’s provisions are:

  • It allows employers to hire teens as young as 14 for previously prohibited hazardous jobs in industrial laundries or as young as 15 in light assembly work;
  • It allows state agencies to waive restrictions on hazardous work for 16–17-year-olds in a long list of dangerous occupations, including demolition, roofing, excavation, and power-driven machine operation;
  • It extends hours to allow teens as young as 14 to work six-hour nightly shifts during the school year;
  • It allows restaurants to have teens as young as 16 serve alcohol; and
  • It limits state agencies’ ability to impose penalties for future employer violations..

The Iowa law is the latest in a series of similar laws enacted or proposed by Republican dominated state governments in the past few months. It follows an Arkansas’ law in March signed by Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, President Trump’s former press secretary, that loosened child labor protections.

The attack upon a century of steps protecting children from being exploited is part of a big effort by many companies around the country to gain access to low wage labor and weaken worker protections.

Economic Policy Institute, 5/31

 

WORKING AT DOLLAR GENERAL IS HAZARDOUS TO YOUR SAFETY

Dollar General, is a retail chain with 18,000 stores in 47 states. It is also at or near the top of the list of places with the most safety violations in the country, violations that put its workers and customers in daily danger. Over the past six years, the chain has been cited for fines that total more than $21 million for “systemic hazards.”

“Fred Wright cartoon courtesy of United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America (UE)”.

These hazards, cited by the US Labor Department as “severe violations,” include aisles, emergency exits, fire extinguishers and electrical panels blocked by merchandise and unsafe stacking of boxers. In addition to the looming fines, the company has paid out millions of dollars to settle lawsuits involving injuries sustained as a result of unsafe conditions in is stores.

“Dollar General continues to expose its employees to unsafe conditions at its stores across the nation,” declared OSHA’s assistant secretary Doug Parker. Workers at the store report Dollar General’s general disregard for its workers in the form of low wages and poor working conditions while the company registered a profit of $3.3 billion last year. Its CEO raked in $16.6 million while the median wage of its employees was less than $20,000.

The Guardian, 5/31

 

STARBUICKS FIRES ANOTHER UNION ACTIVIST

In his testimony before a congressional committee in March, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz asserted that the company did not fire any employee for union activity. Yet, just two days later, a shift supervisor at a Buffalo store and one of the first members of the union, Starbucks Workers United, was fired from her job.

Alexis Rizzo, an employee for seven years was fired for her alleged tardiness, twice for being one minute late, once for four minutes and once for five minutes. Before she was involved in the union campaign, there was never any problem between her and the company.

Starbucks Workers United has filed an unfair labor practice charge against the company with the National Labor Relations Board, in addition to the hundreds already pending.

Portside, 6/5

 

BEN & JERRY’S BUCKS THE TREND OF EMPLOYERS FIGHTING UNIONS

In a modern exception to the traditional hostility that employers have toward unions, Ben & Jerry’s recognized the union in its Burlington, Vermont, flagship store after its 39 workers voted for it. During the union’s organizing campaign, the company, unlike Starbucks, maintained strict neutrality. It did not conduct forced meetings to lecture workers on the “evils” of unionism or threats to move its facility or intimidate union activists or any of the other tactics that are the standard operating procedure of anti-union employers. Instead, it allowed the union, Scoopers United, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union, to have time to talk to workers and space to post union material in the store. The company has committed itself to bargaining with the union. “We look forward to a sweet and collaborative future,” said a company statement.

Portside,6/7

 

SOME LIRR WORKERS ARE DOING 24 HOUR SHIFTS

The Office of New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority Inspector General released a report finding that over 4,000 LIRR employees were working 24 hours or more at a time. These workers are not covered by Federal Railroad Administration hours-of-service regulations. The crucial roles of engineering department workers, especially track workers, fall into this category. The accompanying fatigue leads to an increased risk of accidents.

Labor Press, 6.9

STARBUCKS TRYING TO DECERTIFY 3 UNION STORES

Starbucks, which has been using all kinds of tricks, legal, borderline, and down-dirty, to combat the union organizing drive in its stores, now is possibly involved in a new one. At three Starbucks locations where workers have voted for the Starbucks Workers United union, a worker has filed a petition to decertify the union.

The three stores are all in New York State, two in Buffalo where the union first took hold, and one in New York City. In NYC, the petition filer is represented by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, an outfit connected to right-wing, anti-union financiers.

The union expects that the decertification will be dismissed in light of the charges of unfair labor practices filed by the union against the company now pending before the National Labor Relations Board. In cases like this, the NLRB can bar decertification elections from being held until the allegations are adjudicated on grounds that company actions cannot guarantee that a fair election can take place. But it is part of a Starbucks strategy to delay bargaining with the union among its other tactics of firing union activists and providing benefits to workers at its non-union stores.

Restaurant Dive, 5/12; Courtesy Locker Associates, New York.

FLAGSHIP BARNES & NOBLE STORE WORKERS FILE FOR UNION

Workers at the Barnes and Noble flagship store in Union Square, New York City, have filed for a representation election after they announced the formation of a union. They have affiliated with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. The election filing came after the union said that the company had refused to voluntarily recognize the union. The store employs over 100 workers. The union says a majority of them have signed union authorization cards.

The Villager, 4/28, Publishers Weekly, 5/1

STARBUCKS UNION MARKS 300th STORE

In the face of the stiffest company opposition, workers at Starbucks continue their organizing drive. A store in Sacramento, CA has become the 300th Starbucks facility to win a union election.

Starbucks United website, 4/28

YOUNG WORKERS ARE SPARKING MOST UNION DRIVES

According to a Gallup poll, the new spark in union organizing has come from young workers, many of them college educated. The poll reveals that 77 percent of people under 35 approve of unions and form the backbone of people joining and organizing labor unions. The New York Times has referred to the development as “the revolt of the college-educated working class while others call them “Generation U).

The Nation, 5/1

FORDHAM GRAD SCHOOL WORKERS STAGE 3-DAY STRIKE

A three-day strike beginning April 23 at the two campuses of New York’s Fordham University has resulted in the cancellation of hundreds of classes on those three days. The strike was called by the Fordham Graduate Student Workers Union after a series of fruitless negotiating sessions.

The union is affiliated with Local 1104 of the Communications Workers of America. The union is demanding  significant pay increases, more administrative support for international students, adoption of a “just cause” standard for disciplinary actions, university-provided computers, a ban on non-disclosure agreements, and $4,000 in annual child care subsidies for workers with children under the age of 5.

The City,4/25

 

WORKERS AT NYC FARMERS MARKETS ORGANIZING UNION

In the face of sometimes dangerous and unsafe conditions, workers at New York City’s outdoor farmers markets are forming a union. The move comes in the face of several incidents at the Union Square and Tompkins Greenmarkets in which workers faced incidents of harassment and racial threats by passersby and an out-of -control car crashed across the curb nearly killing workers and customers at Tompkins Square.

The markets that sell produce, organic baked products and eggs from farms in the NYC metropolitan area are run by GrowNYC, a non-profit group. Market employees are hourly employees earning about $20 an hour with no benefits or job security. They sometimes have to work 12-hour shifts with erratic schedules under various weather conditions. They seek to improve their wages, benefits and safety conditions.

On April 26, 200 workers filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board asking for a union election after management did not respond to their earlier request for voluntary union recognition. They are being represented by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.

NY Times print edition, 4/27

 

TEAMSTERS BEGIN TOUGH NEGOTIATIONS WITH UPS

With the Teamsters Union set to begin bargaining sessions with United Parcel Service, some major obstacles have popped up in the opening stance of the company.

UPS now says that it will not discuss economic questions with the union, which complicates the bargaining process set to begin April 17. Economic questions are the heart of any collective bargaining agreement. Union contract proposals were advanced earlier this month. They included more holidays and ick days, improvements in the grievance procedures, more full-time jobs, along with payroll issues. They have rejected concessions and what the company calls “cost-neutral” bargaining.

The current contract is set to expire in August.

Labor Press, 4/17

 

500 MAUI HEALTH CARE WORKERS END TWO MONTH STRIKE

After striking for nearly two months, frontline health care workers at Kaiser’s Maui Health System in Hawaii ratified a three-year contract that provides a 10.5 percent pay raise for all, pay scale adjustments for all job classifications and a one-time lump sum payment. More specific details of the new contract have not been widely circulated. The workers are represented by United Public Workers Local 646, AFSCME.

The striking workers included licensed practical nurses, nurses aides, respiratory therapists, cooks, housekeepers, and other employees at Maui Memorial Medical Center, Kula Hospital, and L’ana’i Community Hospital.

Portside, 4/14

 

STARBUDKS FIRES THREE MORE UNION ACTIVISTS

Two days after the Starbucks chairman and former CEO Howard Schultz was grilled during a Senate committee hearing on the company’s response to union organizing at its stores, and after he vehemently denied firing workers for union activity, Starbucks fired three union organizers and disciplined another organizer in the Buffalo, New York, area where the union campaign began. (See item on Starbucks below.)

Among those to lose their jobs was Lexi Rizzo, a shift supervisor for seven years in Buffalo at one of the first stores to unionize and a leading founder of the union campaign. The union has characterized the actions as retaliation.

The Guardian, 4/3

 

WORKERS AT TV’S FOOD NETWORK FORM UNION

Amid a years-long wave of unionization in the hospitality industry, the workers behind two of Food Network’s most popular television shows have formed a union. According to the anWriters Guild of America, East, “overwhelming majority” of workers of BSTV Entertainment, the studio that produces The Kitchenand Trisha’s Southern Kitchen, have signed cards to form what organizers say is the first nonfiction food television union.

Portside, 3/20

 

DANGERS MOUNT FOR CHILD LABOR PROTECTION

In recent months the illegal use of chid labor has increased, often under wraps, as a recent NY Times expose revealed. Corporate lobbyists have been at work trying to get state legislatures to cancel the protections for child labor that have been in place for about a hundred years. In the most extreme recent case, a bill under consideration in Iowa, pushed by the state’s Restaurant Association would allow children as young as 16 to work in very dangerous meatpacking facilities, high-volume soda bottling plants and demolition construction sites where more than 5,000 workers nationwide died last year. Is this the 21st century or the world of Charles Dickens?

More Perfect Union, 4/3

 

STARBUCKS GRILLED ON UNION-BUSTING ACTIVITIES

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz came under sharp questioning March 29 at a hearing of the US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Democrats on the committee, led by its chairman, Sen.Bernie Sanders, cited incidents of illegal union busting including, among other things, firing workers for union activities, threatening workers who want to join the union, denying workers at unionized stores the benefits and pay raises at other stores and refusing to bargain with workers at stores that have chosen the union. Schultz’ insisted he had done nothing illegal. The hearing, called to highlight and correct lapses in the country’s labor laws and their enforcement, was attended by a contingent of members of the union, Starbucks Workers United, who wore shirts prominently displayed with the union logo.

By contrast, committee Republicans were effusive in their praise for Schultz for leading a billion dollar business and getting people to pay a big price for a cup of coffee while they ignored the issue of union busting around which the hearing was based.

For a  view of the hearing, followed by and the testimony of Starbucks workers , you can watch the video below.

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4NCe_BHsCQQ[/embedyt]

DHS WIDENS PROBE INTO ILLEGAL MIGRANT CHILD LABOR

The Department of Homeland Security has widened its investigation into migrant children found cleaning slaughterhouses and is now working with the Justice Department to examine whether a human smuggling scheme brought migrant children to work in multiple slaughterhouses for multiple companies across multiple states, according to two U.S. officials familiar with the investigation.

Labor Start, 3/3

 

IAM WINS BIG CONTRACT AT LOCKHEED

In a historic win for a union, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) has successfully negotiated a contract covering its workers at Lockheed Martin plants all across the country.

The agreements cover 4,000 workers at the company’s facilities in Georgia, California, Florida, West Virginia, and Mississippi. It provides for historic pay increases, varying from 34.7 percent to 41.5 percent – depending upon the individual facility – over the life of the contract. It also provides for a $5,000 bonus, and an increase in the annual cost of living supplement. Non-salary item benefits include reductions in the cost of their comprehensive healthcare coverage and doubling the company’s contributions to their retirement fund. The contracts will last six years for Lockheed plants in Georgia, West Virginia and Mississippi and five years for the five plants in the other states.

Lockheed Martin is one of the largest US military and space equipment manufacturers.

IAM, 2/25

 

NYC TRANSIT UNION SEEKS TO CHANGE STRIKE-BUSTING NY STATE LAW

Transport Workers Union Local 100, representing the thousands of city bus and subway workers, are strongly pushing efforts by two state legislators to amend the New York State’s Taylor Law which outlawed strikes by public workers in the state. The law provides for stiff fines for unions that strike and some jail time for its leaders. The proposed bill would eliminate the penalties for unions that strike.

AMNY Newsletter, 3/17

 

RAIL COMPANY  TOLD WORKERS TO SKIP INSPECTIONS

In the wake of the disastrous derailment of a Norfolk Southern freight train in East Palestine, Ohio earlier this year, a worker at Union Pacific rail has come forward to claim that ignoring safety rules is part of the nation’s rail industry.

In a a leaked audio, a manager for Union Pacific is overheard telling Stephanie Griffin, a former carman for the company, to stop marking rail cars for broken bearings. Part of a carman’s job is to inspect cars and send those in need of repairs to the rail yards. Her manager told her that the process would delay train schedules.

The East Palestine disaster involved a train carrying toxic chemicals. It has disrupted life in the entire town as more and more residents complain of illnesses related to the release of toxic elements in the air and water supply. The Norfolk Southern derailment there was caused by a failure in the train’s wheel bearings, the same thing for which Griffin was ordered to stop marking cars for repairs at Union Pacific.

Griffin claimed that the practice was widespread throughout the industry. “It’s obvious that management is not concerned with public safety and only concerned with making their numbers look good,” she said.

Train derailments are more widespread than most people are aware of. In 2022, there were 818 derailments with 447 cars carrying hazardous materials that were damaged or derailed.

The Guardian, 3/3

 

LABOR ACTIONS STEPPED UP IN 2022

Strikes and work stoppages continued to increase last year as workers, dissatisfied with low pay and poor working conditions took direct action in confronting employers. Most of the work stoppages were conducted by unions but some of them involved walkouts by workers not affiliated with established unions. The largest percentage on these actions took place in the food services and accommodation industry, historically the one with the worst wages and working conditions.

According to figures compiled by Cornell University Institute of Labor Relations, there were 424 work stoppages in 2022, 417 strikes and seven lockouts. They involved about 224,000 workers taking part in 4,447,588 strike days. Employees in the food services and accommodations industry accounted for more than one-third of all the actions but since they usually worked at small establishments, the total number of these workers was small. Most of them were led by Starbucks Workers United. The majority of workers involved in strike actions were in educational services as grad student employees were organizing on an unprecedent scale and teachers struck in a number of places.

Labor Action Tracker, Cornell University institute of Labor Relations, 2/25

 

ELECTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES –THIS TIME FOR THE BETTER

Last November’s election brought Democratic majorities in both houses of the state legislature and the governor’s office in Michigan, the first time the state had a trifecta like this in decades. The result was a huge boost for the labor movement and its ability to organize workers.

Earlier this month, the legislature repealed the state’s so-called “right to work” law that had been enacted by Republicans. These “right to work” laws, in force in a number of states, enables workers to  receive the benefits of their union’s collectively bargained raises and benefits while exempting them from paying any dues to their union. It encourages workers to leave their unions to save money on union dues, thinking erroneously that their benefits will continue even if the union is weakened.

The new law goes to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s desk and she is expected to sign it. The United Auto Workers has a strong presence in Michigan and its future strength and those of other unions will be greatly aided by the law to the benefit of working people in the state.

The American Prospect, 3/9

 

UE LOCAL GETS COMPANY TO END TWO-TIER PENSION SYSTEM

After an intensive campaign, Local 770 of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers (UE) signed a contract with Hendrickson Truck Suspension company that ended its two-tier pension system. The system, along with a two-tier wage system that discriminates against younger workers, had been imposed on workers in 2010 when the company threatened to close its Kendalville, Indiana  plant. The union was able to get rid of the two-tier wage system in a subsequent contract. Now the two-tier pension system has also bitten the dust in the latest contract with the company, which was approved by the union membership in a 2-to-1 vote. Hendrickson manufactures medium and heavy-duty vehicle suspensions and components for the global commercial transportation industry.

UE News, 3/11

 

CUNY FACULTY UNION NGEARS UP FOR NEGOTIATIONS

The Professional Staff Congress, representing about 30,000 faculty and staff at the campuses of the City University of New York has made its priorities known as it prepares to go into negotiations with the city. In addition to better salaries it is demanding better job security, and health, safety, and “salary equity for the 11,000 adjunct faculty, lab technicians and other lower paid workers in the system. Their contract, which expired at the end of February, has already established the principle that their jobs required extensive work ourside the classroom, like preparing for classes, grading papers and exams, etc. It gave them one hour’s pay for every three hours in the classroom. This time, the union is trying to get them parity with what other faculty -primary lecturers – on the same level are paid.New York City Mayor  Eric Adams meanwhile is demanding cuts the union says is disruptive to the university.

Workbites, 3/1

 

30 TESLA WORKERS FIRED FOR INTENTION TO UNIONIZE

In mid-February, a few days after Tesla workers in Buffalo announced their intention to unionize, about 30 of the workers were fired. The company’s union-busting move is another in a long line of illegal actions taken to thwart its workers right to unionize, a right written into labor law. One of the workers, Arian Berek, had recently received a promotion one two pay raises after getting good performance raises but was fired after becoming an organizer for the union, Tesla Workers United.

More Perfect Union,m 3/3

STRIKE VOTE AUTHORIZED AT CATERPILLAR

Caterpillar, the big farm equipment manufacturer, is facing a possible strike in a few weeks after 6,000 members at its plants in Illinois and Pennsylvania voted overwhelmingly to authorize one. Their contract expires March 1.  A powerful encouragement for the Caterpillar labor action has been the strike at another farm equipment firm, John Deere, a few months ago that netted the workers a very good contract.

DISNEY WORKERS URGED TO VOTE NO ON LATEST OFFER

The 45,000 members or Florida’s Service Trades Council who work for Disney were urged to vote no on what the company says is its “best offer.” Although the union has not yet voted for an authorization for a strike, the situation remains volatile

KING KULLEN WORKERS AUTHORIZE WAKOUT

On Long Island, New York, several thousand employees of the King Kullen grocery chain, members of Local 1500 of the United Food and Commercial Workers voted to authorize a strike. Their contract expired in December.

Who Gets the Bird, 1/22-29

UE REGISTERS BIG WINS AMONG GRAD WORKERS

Thousands of graduate school workers have voted to be represented in collective bargaining by the United Radio and Machine Workers (UE) over the past few weeks. Among them are 3,000 workers at Northwest University in Evanston, Illinois where UE won over 93 percent of the vote and Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore which saw 97 percent of its  31,300 grad workers voting to join UE. Still waiting final a final vote count on March 18 are 3,000 more at the University of Chicago.

UE News, 1/18, 2/2

NLRB RULES STARBUCKS UNION-BUSTING BROKE THE LAW

A three-member panel of the NLRB on February 13 upheld a judges finding two years ago that Starbucks repeatedly violated labor law by firing workers who were in the process of organizing a store in Philadelphia. The board the reinstatement wirh back pay for the workers who were dismissed in late 2019 and ealy 2020.

Huffington Post, 2/14

HARPERCOLLINS WORKERS RATIFY NEW CONTRACT

Editors and workers in the marketing, sales and other departments at HarperCollins publishers, who have been out on strike since November 10, have ratified a new contract and returned to work. The contract gains higher pay, a company commitment for more staff diversity, and greater union rights, the three major issues in the strike. A one-time bonus of $1,500 per worker upon ratification was also part of the settlement. HarperCollins is the only one of the five major publishers that is unionized but the settlement has the potential of encouraging unionizing efforts at other publishers.

Vice, 2/17

WARRIOR MET MINERS OFFER TO RETURN TO WORK

In what appears to be a major concession, workers at Wxarrior Met coal in Brookwood, Alabama, on strike for nearly two years have made an unconditional offer tt return to work without a contract. The local of the United Mine Workers union have been on strike over the issue that they made concessions several years ago to keep the company afloat when it was in trouble but the concessions were not rescinded now that the company has become highly profitable. The strike originally involved 1,100 workers but only 800 of them are now available to return to work. During the strike, judges outlawed picketing of the company’s facilities and hundreds of workers scabbed. Union members then picketed the corporate offices of the company in New York The union’s offer recognizes a stalemate in the strike which saw Met Warrior’s quarterly net income drop to $99.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2022, compared with $138.5 million for the same period the year before. The fact that it still recorded a healthy profit means that it can afford to negotiate a decent settlement with the union. The union’s offer included the statement that negotiations would continue until a contract is reached.

AL, 2/16

PUBLIC TRANSIT WORKER ACTIONS

Labor actions among workers on public transit lines increased this month. So far,  a strike is now in its eighth week in Loudoun County, Virginia, led by the American Transit Union Local 689 against the private company running the system. Not far from there in Virginia’s Prince William County about 150 transit workers who belong to Teamsters Local 639 shutdown the county’s OmniRide system when they struck against the same company. In Columbia, Missouri, transit workers along with other public workers organized and held rallies for a 10 percent pay hike and against a proposed cut in public transit service. Leading the action there is Laborers Local 955. Meanwhile, members of UAW Local 2300, representing transit workers in Ithaca, New York, approved a contract after eight months without one.

Who Gets the Bird, 1/29 – 2/19

OTHER UNIVERSITY WORKER ACTIONS

Awaiting a ratification vote is a contract negotiated by AFT Local 6290 for 600 grad school workers at Temple University in Philadelphia. After 10 months of negotiations, the clerical workers union at Harvard has set up picket lines. And in a new development, undergraduate students at Dartmouth College employed at campus jobs have won a $21 minimum wage after organizing last and recently threatening to strike.

Who Gets the Bird, 1/29 – 2/19

STRIKES ENGULF BRITAIN AS WORKER DISCONTENT RISES

About 100,000 civil servants in the UK are set to strike next month, affecting services around the country. Workers for 124 government departments and agencies will walk out on February. 1, impacting a range of public services including driving tests, passport applications and welfare payments, the Public and Commercial Services Union said in a statement. If the strike takes place, the government workers will join the thousands of rail workers, transport workers National Health Service workers and others already on strike  in a series of labor actions the UK has not seen in years as workers protest cuts in pay.

Bloomberg, 1/11; also see Rail Strike Bloomberg, 1/11

 

BOOK LAUNCH PARTY

You’re invited!  Locker Associates is hosting a Book Launch Party for an important new book, Labor Power & Strategy by John Womack, Jr. and edited by Peter Olney and Glenn Perusek.
 
Place:  Locker Associates, 225 Broadway, Suite 2625, NY, NY 10007
Date:   February 6th
Time:   5:00pm to 7:00pm
 
Labor Power & Strategy offers major insights into a key question facing the U.S. labor movement, including how to marshall power to win organizing drives in the twenty-first century.  The collection of articles is a must-read for a new generation of labor organizers who are on the front lines at Starbucks, Amazon and Trader Joes. Experienced labor leaders will also find this material very stimulating and evocative.
If you would like to attend, please respond to this email at [email protected] by January 23rd.
If you can’t attend the party, please consider purchasing this important book at PM Press here: PM Press-Labor Power & Strategy, or at Amazon here: Labor Power & Strategy.
022 HIT HIGH IN LABOR STRIKE ATIVITY
Last year saw a record 17-year high in strike activity by unions, according to Bloomberg News, driven in part by actions at over 100 Starbucks  stores. The number of strikes  was more than double the year before, although in terms of the number of workers involved, it did not match the years 2018 and 2019 when strike waves swept educational institutions. In those years, 80 percent of the strikers were in the field of education.
Who Gets the Bird, 1/8-1/15
DISNEY UNIONS RECOMMEND REJECTION OF INSULTING PAY OFFER
The Service Trades Council Union, comprised of six unions representing the 42,000 workers art Disney World in Orlando, Florida, has recommended that its members turn thumbs down on the $1 an hour pay raise offer of Disney in their upcoming contract . The insulting offer to workers, who currently earn an average of $16 an hour, signals tough negotiations ahead.The six unions ion the STCU are IATSE Local 631, Teamsters Local 385, TCU-I(AM Local 1908, UFCW Local 1625, and Unite Here Locals 362 and 737.
Who Gets the Bird, 1/18-1/15
HARPERCOLLINS  WORKERS RALLY IN SUPPORT OF STRIKE
In a development in late January, both HarpderCollins and UAW Local 2120, the union representing the 200 HarperCollins who have been out on strike since November, have agreed to a mutually acceptable mediator to help settle the strike.
Workers in the editorial, sales, marketing, and other departments, at HarperCollins publishers, on strike since November 10, marked the 50th day of their strike with a large rally in front of News Corporation in Manhattan, parent company of the publisher. News Corporation is owned by Rupert Murdoch, the right-wing media tycoon, and is also the parent company of the ultra-right Fox News.
Union members of UAW  Local 2110 are striking for higher pay (their current wage goes not enable them to live in a high priced area like New York so many have to rely on the income of spouses or parents), a commitment to diversifying the staff, and stronger union protection. Negotiations have been going on and off since December 2021 and workers have been working without a contract since April 2022. After months of failed negotiations and a one-day strike on July 20, 2022, the union authorized another strike last November.

“Management has been very uninterested in bargaining with us over our proposals,” said Laura Harshberger, union chairperson and senior production editor for HarperCollins Children’s Books. “I don’t know why the company has been so antagonistic to us this time around … My only understanding of it is that they don’t believe that HarperCollins should have a union, and they’re trying to union-bust, but we’re not letting them.”

The company has hired temporary editors as strikebreakers but many of its authors have refused to work with them and have honored the picket lines.

Publishers Weekly, Jan. 13, Jan. 18; Portside,Jan. 19

 

LATEST WORKRS TO ORGANIZE

Among the latest group of workers to vote for union representation are; employees at Peet’s coffee chain in North Davis, California, who voted 14-to-1 to be represented by the Service Employees International Union Local 1021. In their petition for representation, they wrote, “We are overworked, understaffed, and underpaid.”  They were assisted in their organizing drive by the Starbucks United union organizers.

Council 5 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Workers. were voted to be the union representing then 250 workers at the Science Museum of Minnesota. The union says it represents about 35,000 workers in cultural institutions nationwide.

Portside, 1/24,1/20