AUGUST BITS & PIECES
NURSES HAVE HAD IT: MINNESOTA NURSES AUTHORIZE STRIKE
Nurses around the country have long been under increasing pressure to do more with less amid deteriorating working conditions, concerns for safety and larger workloads. Hospitals have been saving money by cutting the nursing staff leading to poorer patient care. Now, nurses in the twin cities of Minneapolis-St Paul and Duluth, Minn., have authorized a strike vote as their union negotiations with the hospitals drag on. The Minnesota Nurses Association, representing 15,000 nurses in the area, voted overwhelmingly for the strike authorization, which would be the largest strike of nurses in the nation’s history. The union did not set a date for the stoppage. Before a strike begins, the union must give a 10-day notice.
COLUMBUS TEACHERS STRIKE
Members of the 4,500 strong Columbus (Ohio) Education Association went out on strike Aug. 22 over issues that included safe classrooms, schools, and more comfortable working conditions. The union represents city teachers, psychologists, nurses, counselors, and other professionals.
On Tuesday, the second day of the strike, an incident of violence was reported when a man driving by in a car shot a pellet gun at picketers. No serious injuries were reported.
KAISER HEALTHCARE WORKERS STRIKE
After many long bargaining sessions over working conditions at the Kaiser Permanente Healthcare facility in Sacramento, Cal., hundreds of mental health care clinicians walked out Aug. 16 overloading work conditions that prevent them from proper care for their patients. The clinicians say that the company does not leave them nearly enough time or pay to assess their patients’ needs. Many are leaving the company after burnout with patients often having to wait for three months to get regular weekly or bi-weekly appointments. They are represented by the National Union of Healthcare Workers.
STARBUBKS STRATEGY: IF YOUR LOSING, STOP THE ELECTONS
Using an election in one Kansas store in which four out of its 19 union workers were fired in advance of the vote and the resulting dispute over mail-in bots, Starbucks has filed a legal action charging the NLRB with election misconduct and has asked for the cancellation of all elections at its stores around the country. The transparent move at flagrant union busting is the latest example of Starbucks strategy: if you can’t win an election, make sure it doesn’t happen.
Starbucks Workers United Website, 8/16
CHIPOLTE TO PAY $20 MILLION FOR VIOLATING WORKER RIGHTS
In a legal settlement that exposed some of the nefarious labor practices in the restaurant industry, Chipotle agreed to fork over $20 million in back compensation to 13,000 New York City workers for violating their legal rights. The company will also pay $1 million in civil penalties for violating the law.
The settlement was the culmination of a complaint brought four years ago by the Service Employees International Union against the fast food chain. It prompted an investigation that revealed that Chipotle violated city labor laws by requiring employees to work extra time without their consent, not allowing workers to use accrued time off work for sick leave or safety reasons like domestic violence, and not giving workers their work schedules 14 days in advance.
Low pay and poor working conditions have been a standard practice of the restaurant industry for decades that has led to a gathering push in the past few years to organize unions at places like Chipotle and Starbucks.
STARBUCKS ABORTION PROMISES BRANDED AS PUBLIC RELATIONS TRICKS
Starbucks union activists have denounced recent promises by the company on abortion as a PR stunt aimed at combatting the drive for unionization at its stores. The promises involved Starbucks recent announcements of new employee health care benefits including travel reimbursements for abortion services. The hypocrisy in the policy is exposed by the fact that the company’s announcement specifically excluded employees at unionized stores.
Starbucks Workers United, the union representing unionized workers at the chain has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board alleging that the tactic threatens “employees with loss of benefits” for union organizing. After the tactic drew public attention, the company reportedly changed its policy and said its policy would cover all its workers but the union pointed out that absent a union contract, the policy could be changed at any time at the company’s whim.
MAXIMUS WORKERS STRIKE
“You deserve a fair share. And you deserve to have your jobs be good union jobs. A multibillion dollar corporation like Maximus has the resources to treat you better. And we’re going åto make sure that they do. Hold firm. I know you’re spread out across communities all across the country but you are not alone. You have each other and you have all of us at the AFL-CIO standing with you.”
AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler
Shuler spoke at a virtual town hall meeting in support of Maximus workers on strike at facilities in Kentucky Mississippi, Louisiana, and Virginia. Maximus is a federal contractor answering Medicare and Affordable Care Act marketplace lines. Their workers are protesting bad working conditions and are organizing to form a union affiliated with the Communication Workers of America.
Communications Workers of America website, 8/11
COSTCO TEAMSTERS PLANNING NATION-WIDE JOB ACTIONS
Moe than 17,000 employees at Costco stores around the country are members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. After rejecting a “last, best and final” contract offer from the compan by a 93-to-7 percent membership vote, the union says it is close to a nation-wide work stoppage if recently resumed contract negotiations lead nowhere.
COLUMBUS TEACHERS ISSUE STRIKE NOTICE
“Final offers” from employers are flying fast and furious these days. One of the latest comes from the school district in Columbus, Ohio this week. The teachers, represented by the Columbus Education Association, said “nothing doing” to the “final offer” as its delegate assembly voted unanimously to issue the 10 day notice required by law of its intention to strike. A union spokesperson said that 2,500 of its 4,500 members had attended the meeting where the vote was held.