APRIL BITS AND PIECES
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.