UNIONIZED STARBUCKS WORKERS STAGE WEEKEND STRIKE
Starbucks workers at 100 of their unionized stores staged a weekend strike earlier this month to protest the company’s refusal to bargain with the union. Starbucks has engaged in illegal union-busting tactics like firing union organizers, denying workers at unionized stores the same benefits as other stores, closing unionized stores and other violations of labor laws, all of which the NLRB is investigating. Some 270 stores in the Starbucks chain have voted to be represented by Starbucks Workers United in the past year.
More Perfect Union, 12/17
ILLINOIS GUARANTEES UNION BARGAINING RIGHTS
Amid all the attention paid to candidate races in the November elections some other important issues were on the ballot in several states in the form of referenda. A major one, largely overlooked, was an amendment to the Illinois state constitution guaranteeing the right of workers to organize into unions and the right to collective bargaining. “No law shall be passed that interferes with, negates, or diminishes the right of employees to organize and bargain collectively,” the amendment reads.
It effectively creates a shield against actions taken in many other states that have passed so-called “right-to-work” laws forbidding unions and employers from negotiating union security agreements and laws that cancel or weaken collective bargaining rights of teachers and other public sector workers.
NY TIMES STAFF STAGE ONE-DAY STRIKE
Frustrated by stalled contract negotiations, hundreds of journalists and other staff members at the New York Times staged a one-day strike Dec. 8. Their old contract expired in March 2021 and Times employees, from writers to security guards are increasing upset at the slow pace of negotiations.
Among the issues are retirement benefits and the company’s plan to phase out its pension plan. The Times walkout was one of several newspaper strikes around the country. Journalists are currently striking at the Pittsburg Post-Gazette and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram
NEW MEXICO GRAD SCHOOLWORKERS GAIN UNION CONTRACTS
New contracts for graduate school workers at the University of New Mexico and New Mexico State University will give them pay raises of 7.12 percent and 5.8 percent respectively. The contracts, negotiated by United Electrical Workers Local 1466 at UNM and Local 1498 at NMSU (UE). also gives them two weeks of paid medical leave each semester and reimbursement for foreign students for the fees they have to pay to work in the United States. The contracts, ratified by the membership this month, were the first at the state’s colleges after staff members chose the UE locals as their bargaining agents.
In another win for UE, members of its Local 696 at Planned Parenthood in Western Pennsylvania ratified their first contract Dec. 12. It provides for an average wage hike of $2- an-hour in the first year and a minimum wage of $20-an-hour minimum base pay after three years of service.
UE News, 12/17
NLRB GETS FUNDING HIKE TO ENFORCE LABOR LAWS
For years, funding for the National Labor Relations Board has been cut to the bare bones, preventing it from adequately enforcing the nation’s labor laws. The result has been the open flouting of these laws by employers. They have engaged in anti-union actions like firing union organizers, delaying union recognition and collective bargaining until union activists are gone and the union is broken, and forcing workers into meetings on company time to hear anti-union harangues.
However, a section in the recent bipartisan spending bill will increase the NLRB budget by nine percent, or an additional $25 million to help it enforce the labor laws. It will go a long way toward relieving the pressure on the board that has seen it forced to reduce its staff by half in recent years even as its workload has increased, particularly in the face of increased union drives and worker demands for union elections.