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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!”
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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,