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Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Machinists Launch Training to End Workplace Violence and Harassment

Thu, 2023-01-26 10:35
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Machinists Launch Training to End Workplace Violence and Harassment

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we'll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

A group of Machinists (IAM) staff and officers recently attended a “Be More Than a Bystander” training at the IAM’s William W. Winpisinger Education and Technology Center in Maryland. These members are the first labor group in the country to receive training from the Ending Violence Association of British Columbia, which teaches participants how to recognize workplace harassment and violence, particularly against women and the LGBTQ+ community.

The objective of the program is to help men understand the impact of gendered violence in the workplace and the role they can have in speaking up.

“It was an honor for me to observe the first Be More Than a Bystander Program,” said IAM Women’s and Human Rights Director Julie Frietchen. “I found it informative and think that we will be able to use this material to make our union even more inclusive and stronger than ever.”

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 01/26/2023 - 09:35

What to do after Roe v. Wade?

Wed, 2023-01-25 13:30
What to do after Roe v. Wade?

January 22 should have been the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Instead, we’re fighting to keep the government out of our personal health care decisions.

If we can’t make choices about our own bodies and families, working people cannot do our jobs and contribute to our economy. Reproductive rights and worker rights are both fundamental freedoms that must be protected. With broken labor laws and Roe v. Wade overturned, our fundamental freedoms now depend on where we live.  We created a map comparing states that have abortion bans and anti-worker laws like “right to work.”

States that don’t protect abortion? They don’t protect workers’ rights either. This is not a coincidence. Take a look at our map: Did your state politicians protect your freedoms? Or strip them from you?

So how do we protect our freedoms? Fight like hell. 

Our map shows that threats to reproductive freedom go hand in hand with threats to economic freedom for workers. We have a guide on talking about reproductive health care as an economics issue, which you can use when organizing and talking to union members and your entire community. 

Find the map and resources here.

For what should be the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we’re not mourning—we’re organizing.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 01/25/2023 - 12:30

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Culinary Union Launches ‘My Stations Watch’ to Hold Casino Owners Accountable

Wed, 2023-01-25 10:40
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Culinary Union Launches ‘My Stations Watch’ to Hold Casino Owners Accountable

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we'll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

The Culinary Union-UNITE HERE Local 226 launched a website designed to track Station Casinos’ actions and how the company’s decisions affect the working people of Las Vegas and the surrounding area. The website, MyStationsWatch.org, illustrates the Las Vegas valley footprint that Station Casinos has developed and gives local residents the avenue to have their say about the company’s actions in Nevada. Station Casinos is owned by Red Rock Resorts, the only publicly traded Nevada gaming company whose board is all-white and all-male.

“In the midst of a housing shortage, Station Casinos is holding hundreds of acres of undeveloped land, they have demolished three neighborhood casinos, and are putting up a luxury resort on the beltway,” said Bethany Khan, spokeswoman for the Culinary Union. “We want to make sure Station Casinos hears from our communities.”

Check out the website.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 01/25/2023 - 09:40

The Anniversary of Roe v. Wade Reminds Us that the Fight for Workers’ Rights Continues

Tue, 2023-01-24 15:20
The Anniversary of Roe v. Wade Reminds Us that the Fight for Workers’ Rights Continues

The 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade should have been a day of celebration. 

A day where we felt energized and ready to build on this historic victory for women’s rights and   increase the number of working people who could access safe abortion and quality, affordable reproductive health care.

But as we recognize the 50 years since the constitutional right was passed, this day also falls just seven months short of when the U.S. Supreme Court stripped millions of working women, people and families of this fundamental freedom. The court’s decision only deepens existing inequities in a country with zero guaranteed paid family or sick leave and no national standard for affordable and accessible child care and early childhood education. We must now use this time to coalesce around a plan to organize and mobilize, not only against attacks on abortion but also on the far-reaching and sustained attack on workers’ rights. 

In the months since the high court’s decision, working people have experienced chaos and uncertainty, and it is part of a larger campaign to deny us security and control over our own destinies. Each day, we hear unsettling stories from across the country about patients being denied lifesaving care; people’s choices being decided on the whim of right-wing judges; and extremist politicians floating dangerous legislation to criminalize women and medical professionals, and ban contraceptives. At the same time, many of those same judges and politicians also have joined forces with corporate interests to weaken workers’ ability to have a voice on the job through a union. The court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization posed an imminent threat to collective bargaining agreements, and the justices heard arguments earlier this month in a case that could deal a devastating blow to workers’ right to strike. 

These fights are deeply connected, and in many states where abortion has been restricted, workers’ rights are also severely limited. Working people have the ability to respond and that’s why we launched a new map to help workers make informed decisions to better advocate for ourselves and our families. 

 

 

The map demonstrates how anti-worker policies such as failing to raise the minimum wage, the lack of paid family and medical leave, “right to work” laws and poor access to critical programs like Medicaid interact to shrink democracy and create environments where working families struggle to thrive. Many of these states have lower life-expectancy rates, higher rates of poverty and low voter turnout. 

This map is a powerful resource that will give you the information you need to fight back and includes trainings on how to have productive conversations on the issue of abortion and the economy with your community; collective bargaining language to strengthen union contracts; and a voter guide to help you connect these issues to state, local and federal elections. 

Your quality of life should not depend on where you live. The labor movement will continue to be a force for progress and economic equality for working women and gender-oppressed people everywhere.  

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 01/24/2023 - 14:20

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Support Journalists and Local Journalism in Milwaukee

Tue, 2023-01-24 10:41
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Support Journalists and Local Journalism in Milwaukee

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we'll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

Over the past 15 years, more than 1,800 local newspapers have shut down. Many others have seen huge staff cuts. Entire communities have no coverage of local government, schools and business.

In Wisconsin, Gannett, which runs the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and 10 other newspapers in the state, has cut the size of the newspaper’s bargaining unit by 25% in recent years. Meanwhile, Gannett chief executive officer Mike Reed was paid $7.7 million last year, while the median Gannett journalist’s salary is less than $50,000 per year.

Journal Sentinel workers are fighting not only to save their own jobs, but to save local news. You can help. Please send a message to Gannett, telling it to support vibrant local news at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel by ensuring adequate hiring, a career path for journalists who work for the newspaper, and diversity, equity and inclusion for staff.

Support local news today.

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 01/24/2023 - 09:41

Explainer: New Report on Union Members

Mon, 2023-01-23 11:39
Explainer: New Report on Union Members

The Bureau of Labor Statistics just released their annual report on union membership. A lot of people are lamenting union density, which declined slightly—but that isn’t the whole story. Here are our three takeaways from the report:

1. Union membership grew by 273,000. Corporate giants like Starbucks and Amazon are spending millions of dollars to intimidate and harass workers when they organize. Despite that, 273,000 workers were able to win their union in the face of blatant union-busting. We have the momentum. That is a sign of worker power and resilience that we celebrate.

2. Union density declined because of broken labor laws, not because of disapproval or disinterest. Unions currently have a 60-year high approval rate. Last year there was a 53% rise in union elections. It’s clear: Workers want unions. So why did union density decline?

Because non-union jobs were added faster than we could unionize them. This isn’t surprising. Workers face a stacked deck when they organize a union. And corporations know that stalling an organizing drive is an effective union-busting tactic.

3. We have work to do. If we want higher union density and more union members, we need labor laws that actually protect our right to organize and that hold union-busting corporations accountable. Every worker in America who wants to join a union should be able to. It’s as simple as that.

We’re ready to fight corporations, bad bosses, paid-off politicians and anyone who wants to take away our right to organize and join a union.

Tell us if you’re with us.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 01/23/2023 - 10:39

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Registration Now Open for NALC’s Stamp Out Hunger® Food Drive

Mon, 2023-01-23 10:43
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Registration Now Open for NALC’s Stamp Out Hunger® Food Drive

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we'll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

Registration is now open for the 31st Annual National Association of Letter Carriers’ (NALC) Stamp Out Hunger® Food Drive. On May 13, letter carriers across the country will pick up donations for the largest annual single-day food drive in the United States. NALC branch presidents can now register to participate in the drive through the members-only portal at nalc.org.

For the actual Stamp Out Hunger Drive on May 13, anyone can make a tax-deductible food donation, and the collected food items will be distributed to more than 10,000 food agencies across the country. NALC’s website for the campaign contains more information and useful links for organizers, partners, sponsors and working people

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 01/23/2023 - 09:43

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: The Animation Guild Secures Voluntary Recognition for Union Drive at Nickelodeon

Fri, 2023-01-20 10:38
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: The Animation Guild Secures Voluntary Recognition for Union Drive at Nickelodeon

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we'll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

The Animation Guild, Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 839, has secured voluntary recognition for a group of unionizing production workers at Nickelodeon Animation Studios. The company agreed to recognize the bargaining unit of 177 workers that includes production coordinators, production managers, asset production coordinators and others. This will be the largest unit of production workers to join The Animation Guild so far and they will now begin negotiations for their first union contract.

“By doing this, the studio has shown that they are willing and ready to recognize the hard work, time and love we pour into our productions,” said the organizing committee in a statement. “We are so excited to work with them and our artist colleagues to come to an agreement that reiterates their support for what we do.”

 

One of the primary goals for the new unit will be to increase inadequate pay, which makes it challenging for production workers to afford living in Los Angeles. Many animation workers must seek overtime, additional jobs, loans or financial help from friends and family.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 01/20/2023 - 09:38

New BLS Data: Union Membership Grows by More than 200,000 in 2022

Thu, 2023-01-19 13:25
New BLS Data: Union Membership Grows by More than 200,000 in 2022

Bureau of Labor Statistics data released today showed union membership in the United States grew by more than 273,000 in 2022, despite fierce and often illegal corporate union-busting.

While the data also showed a slight dip in nationwide union density, the real story is that hundreds of thousands of workers overcame the odds to join a union last year in a system rigged against them. Corporate giants such as Amazon and Starbucks are spending millions of dollars to thwart collective action in the workplace, harassing, intimidating and even illegally firing workers trying to form unions to improve their lives. Still, many workers found a way to have a voice on the job. 

Despite broken labor laws and rampant union-busting, working people are undeterred in their pursuit of a union. The year 2022 saw a reinvigorated labor movement, one led by young workers and workers of color, who organized at a clip not seen in years. 

Last year there was a 53% rise in union elections, including groundbreaking wins at corporations that were once viewed as impossible to organize. 

Unions are more popular with the public now than at any point in the past five decades because working people are fed up with low pay, unsafe working conditions and shoddy treatment on the job. This momentum won't wane; in fact, workers are doubling down on standing together. 

“In 2022, we saw working people rising up despite often illegal opposition from companies that would rather pay union-busting firms millions than give workers a seat at the table,” said AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler. “The momentum of the moment we are in is clear. Organizing victories are happening in every industry, public and private, and every sector of our economy all across the country. The wave of organizing will continue to gather steam in 2023 and beyond despite broken labor laws that rig the system against workers.” 

This year, the labor movement is going all in on an organizing agenda that will ensure every worker who wants a union has the chance to join or form one. Now’s the time for elected leaders to fix what’s broken by reforming our outdated labor laws that for far too long have stacked the deck against working people. 

Rhetoric in support of working people isn’t enough. We need leaders who will fight to pass laws like the PRO Act and Public Sector Freedom to Negotiate Act that level the playing field and give workers a real chance to better our lives, strengthen our communities and create a more equitable economy. 

If last year taught us anything, it’s that you should never bet against the American worker. Despite the odds, we’ll organize until we win.

 

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 01/19/2023 - 12:25

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Equity Celebrates 8th Annual Swing Day

Thu, 2023-01-19 10:51
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Equity Celebrates 8th Annual Swing Day

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we'll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

Today, Actors’ Equity Association (Equity) celebrated its eighth annual Swing Day, honoring the “swing” members of a theatrical musical’s cast. Swing members learn multiple parts and are on standby to fill in for other performers who can’t participate on a particular day. Swing members may learn they’re going on stage only moments before a performance begins, and they may have to play multiple parts in the same show, including characters that are different genders, races or ages.

“Swings exemplify the best of the chorus and have kept the curtain up time and time again,” said Al Bundonis, Equity’s second vice president. “We are excited to spend the day celebrating and uplifting swings by acknowledging all the work you do.”

Throughout the day, Equity shared various content from swings and their supporters on InstagramFacebook and Twitter using the hashtags #EquityTeamSwing and #SwingDay2023.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 01/19/2023 - 09:51

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Study: Prevailing Wage Repeal Shrinks Pay, Increases Dangers and Leads to More Workers on Public Assistance

Wed, 2023-01-18 10:09
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Study: Prevailing Wage Repeal Shrinks Pay, Increases Dangers and Leads to More Workers on Public Assistance

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we'll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

According to a new study from the Illinois Economic Policy Institute and the Project for Middle Class Renewal at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, repealing prevailing wage laws leaves workers with less earnings, less productive, more likely to rely on public assistance and at an enhanced risk of dying on the job.

The bipartisan infrastructure bill passed last year designated billions of dollars for construction projects across the nation. Contractors in states that have repealed prevailing wage laws are facing problems staffing up that are likely to increase. Six states repealed their prevailing wage laws between 2015–2018: Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, West Virginia and Wisconsin. The three states with full prevailing wage repeals saw hourly wages decline at the same time prevailing wage states saw an average wage growth of more than 12%.

“What prevailing wage does, it kind of standardizes and stabilizes the industry of a local market,” said researcher Larissa Petrucci. “When you repeal that, what you have is contractors who are able to undercut wages and pay workers far below the training that they have developed to get these kinds of jobs. Naturally, you’re gonna see wages decrease.”

In repeal states, worker productivity and hours worked grew at a much slower rate than states that kept prevailing wage laws in place. Similarly, repeal states saw an increase in the on-the-job fatality rate.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 01/18/2023 - 09:09

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: IAFF Members Work to Pass New Protections for Federal Firefighters

Tue, 2023-01-17 10:50
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: IAFF Members Work to Pass New Protections for Federal Firefighters

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we'll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

The Fire Fighters (IAFF) union is celebrating a provision in the recently passed National Defense Authorization Act that extends protections for the firefighters who protect our public lands and military installations. As many as 100 federal firefighters file cancer-related workers’ compensation claims each year, but more than 80% of those are typically rejected. The new law would require that certain cancers be presumed to be occupational, which ensures that federal firefighters will receive workers’ compensation benefits. The new rule applies not only to active federal firefighters, but also those who have retired in the past 10 years. The move is a major victory for firefighters, as it is estimated that nearly 75% of job-related firefighter deaths are attributable to cancer. IAFF District 16 worked with Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Tom Carper (Del.) to pass the measure.

IAFF Local 123 President Kyle Moser said that firefighters have been working to secure this protection for more than 30 years, and Maine became the 48th state to adopt the cancer presumption protection.

“Before this bill, a shipyard firefighter would be fighting fires in local towns beside municipal firefighters, but if they both got occupational cancer, only the local firefighter would have a presumption for workers’ compensation benefits,” Moser said. “We want to thank Senator Collins, Senator Maggie Hassan and the rest of the Maine and New Hampshire Congressional delegations for supporting this critical measure.”

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 01/17/2023 - 09:50

Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Mon, 2023-01-16 11:30
Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

This weekend, we are celebrating the great civil rights leader and our union brother. And we remember the lesson he always emphasized: The fight for civil rights and worker rights are intertwined. 

In our time, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is celebrated as a civil rights icon. During his time, he faced fierce and violent backlash.

Because he spoke the truth about racism in white America. Because he spoke the truth about poverty and the struggles of working people.

We must remember him and his words truthfully—far beyond the often-repeated and misused line about skin color and character.

Most people know Dr. King only as a civil rights leader. But we must remember him as a labor leader who was assassinated while supporting 1,300 Black men in their fight against neglect and abuse at the sanitation strike in Memphis, Tennessee.

Dr. King is associated with “peaceful protest.” But we must remember his sermon “When Peace Becomes Obnoxious”: 

“If peace means a willingness to be exploited economically, dominated politically, humiliated and segregated, I don’t want peace. So in a passive, non-violent manner, we must revolt against this peace.”

Dr. King’s words about skin color and character are often twisted to say we should not see or talk about race.

But racial justice is not the absence of race. Dr. King spoke extensively about many issues: the oppression of Black people, the suffering of Vietnamese people during the Vietnam War and white poverty.

So this weekend, we remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a civil rights leader and a staunch trade unionist until the day he was assassinated.

And we vow to remember his lessons truthfully as we continue his fight against racism and economic inequality

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 01/16/2023 - 10:30

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: LCLAA President Merino: Reflection, Alliance and Action Needed to Achieve Latino Equal Pay

Fri, 2023-01-13 11:09
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: LCLAA President Merino: Reflection, Alliance and Action Needed to Achieve Latino Equal Pay

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we'll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

In a Spanish-language essay for La Opinión, Yanira Merino, national president for the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), called for a series of actions that are necessary to achieve equal pay for Latinas.

“We must renew our commitment to break the cycle that marginalizes Latinas, so that we can ensure that economic security is not a fantasy, but rather fully comes true so that Latinas can live and work with dignity and are less susceptible to different forms of violence in the workplace, including sexual harassment,” Merino said

Merino goes on to note that each Latina loses an average of $1.2 million in earnings during her working life. Latinas still earn 54 cents for every dollar a non-Latino White man earns. The gap not only exists at all income levels, it continues to widen.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 01/13/2023 - 10:09

Tags: LCLAA

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Newspaper Guild Calls on Pittsburgh Steelers to Drop Post-Gazette Sponsorship in Solidarity with Striking Workers

Thu, 2023-01-12 10:42
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Newspaper Guild Calls on Pittsburgh Steelers to Drop Post-Gazette Sponsorship in Solidarity with Striking Workers

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we'll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

For more than two months, workers at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette have been on strike after management unilaterally canceled employee health insurance during the COVID-19 pandemic, refused collective raises for 16 years and harassed striking workers with private security and public law enforcement. The workers, members of the Communications Workers of America, The NewsGuild-CWA and the Teamsters, are fighting for dignity, and they are calling on the community for support.

The workers are asking supporters and allies to write a letter to the Pittsburgh Steelers football team, asking it to reconsider and cancel its media sponsorship with the newspaper. The partnership between the football team and the newspaper is visible, with a large ad for the Post-Gazette running inside the stadium on game days and the Steelers partnering with the newspaper to sponsor high school football highlights.

Pittsburgh is a union town, and residents won’t stand for the Post-Gazette’s actions. The workers are fighting for news the community deserves, and they’ll be calling on other pro and college sports teams to support working people, too.

Click here to send a letter to the Steelers.

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 01/12/2023 - 09:42

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: AFT Applauds Biden Administration’s Proposed Student Loan Reforms

Wed, 2023-01-11 10:42
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: AFT Applauds Biden Administration’s Proposed Student Loan Reforms

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we'll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

After the Department of Education announced a draft proposal to reform student loan repayment, American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten applauded the move.

“This is a big piece of the extreme makeover we need to fix the $1.7 trillion college affordability crisis that plagues America’s families,” Weingarten said. “Today’s proposal means hundreds of thousands of borrowers, especially the least well-off, won’t have to choose between servicing student loans, paying rent or buying food. At its center it makes the income-driven repayment plans—that most educators and other public employees enroll in to qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness—far more manageable.

“The Biden administration deserves kudos for seizing the initiative to make these reforms real. But there is still much more to be done, including curbing graduate school debt and restoring the general student debt relief that far-right special interests have used the courts to stop.”

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 01/11/2023 - 09:42

Tremendous Victory: Worker Wins

Tue, 2023-01-10 12:33
Tremendous Victory: Worker Wins

Despite the challenges of organizing during a deadly pandemic, working people across the country (and beyond) continue organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life. This edition begins with:

IAFF Wins Massive Organizing Campaign Among Fairfax County’s First Responders: More than 1,000 firefighters and paramedics in Fairfax County, Virginia, voted 95% in favor of forming a union with the Fire Fighters (IAFF) on Friday. They are the newest group of public service workers to organize a union in the county in northern Virginia after a new state law allowed municipalities across the commonwealth to permit collective bargaining with their employees. Organizers cited the need to fix excessive mandatory overtime as one of the key reasons for their victory. IAFF Local 2068 President Robert Young said, “This win puts us in a position to ensure we are providing the best services to the members of our community.”

Largest Private-Sector Nurses Strike Averted as Thousands of California Nurses Reach Tentative Agreements: More than 21,000 registered nurses (RNs) and nurse practitioners at 21 Kaiser Permanente facilities in Northern California have reached a tentative agreement with management, averting a two-day strike. A separate two-day strike of 1,000 union nurses in Los Angeles was also prevented after the union secured a tentative agreement with the health care giant. The potential strike in Northern California would have been the largest private-sector nurses’ strike in U.S. history, said the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United (CNA/NNU). The members of CNA/NNU will vote to ratify the new four-year contracts over the next few weeks. “We are very pleased with this new contract, which will help us recruit new nurses and retain experienced RNs and nurse practitioners,” said CNA/NNU President Cathy Kennedy, RN in the neonatal intensive care unit at Kaiser Permanente Roseville Medical Center, of the tentative agreement in Northern California. “We not only won the biggest annual raises in 20 years, but we have also added more than 2,000 positions across our Northern California facilities. This will ensure safe staffing and better patient care.”

Workers at La Colombe Organizing with UFCW: Workers in Washington, D.C., are joining the nationwide wave of union organizing—including the workers at La Colombe, a coffee retailer in our nation’s capital. On Wednesday, workers at La Colombe’s Chinatown location announced their plans to form a union with United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 400 and that they intend to organize other stores as well. They join workers at a bookstore, grocery stores and a cannabis dispensary who have all recently organized with Local 400 in the Washington metro area.

Medieval Times Workers Score Second Organizing Victory: After months of delays and union-busting tactics from their employer, the workers at the Medieval Times castle in Buena Park, California, voted decisively to form a union with the Variety Artists (AGVA). This is the second group of workers to form a union at the dinner theater company after their counterparts in New Jersey successfully organized with AGVA in July. Medieval Times workers said they were motivated to organize in order to work under the protection of a collective bargaining agreement, which will achieve better working conditions, a safer work environment and wages commensurate with their skills. “There was a dismissiveness and feeling that the company views us as replaceable and having a union really sets us apart and shows that...we take our jobs seriously and we want to be treated with the same respect,” Erin Zapcic, a union organizer who performs as a queen in Buena Park, told NPR.

Tufts University’s RAs Organize with OPEIU: More than 80% of resident assistants (RAs) at Tufts University are ready to form their union, United Labor of Tufts Resident Assistants (ULTRA), with Office and Professional Employees (OPEIU) Local 153. RAs hand-delivered their letter and petition for voluntary recognition to the office of the Tufts president. They cited the lack of wages and not having any meaningful say over their working conditions. The Tufts RAs join many other academic workers across the country who are organizing. “It’s been taxing on a lot of my fellow RAs, but we suck it up because we need the housing,” Clarence Yeh, an RA, told the Tufts Daily. “Being an RA is an important position and responsibility, so it’s important that we have a way to make sure our voice is heard.”

Nurses at Wichita’s St. Francis Hospital Form Union with NNU: RNs at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis Hospital in Wichita, Kansas, voted by a margin of 378–194 in favor of forming a union with the National Nurses Organizing Committee (NNOC), an affiliate of NNU. The secret ballot was held last week. St. Francis is the largest hospital in Wichita and the first private-sector hospital in the area where RNs have formed a union. “It’s a historic day for the Wichita nurses and our community,” said Angela Cammarn, RN in the cardiac critical care unit at St. Francis. “We are joining a strong community of union nurses in Kansas and across the United States. As nurses, we are committed to providing excellent care to our patients. NNOC/NNU nurses have a track record of fighting for safer conditions so they can provide safe care to their communities. We plan on doing the same here!”

‘Tremendous Victory’: 1,500 Student Workers Win Union at WSU: Academic student employees (ASEs) at Washington State University (WSU) chose by a strong majority to form a union with UAW last week. Their new union, the WSU Coalition of Academic Student Employees (WSU-CASE/UAW), will be a new bargaining unit inclusive of ASEs across all campuses and extension centers of WSU. Carla De Lira, an ASE who has a doctorate in computer science, explained, “We were only able to achieve this tremendous victory by never losing sight of our goal, and that is to create a more equitable WSU and make higher education a more inclusive space for everyone.”

WGAE Members at The Dodo Ratify First Contract with Vox Media: Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE), members at The Dodo, the premier animal media brand globally, unanimously ratified a new two-year collective bargaining agreement with parent company Vox Media, the union announced. This is The Dodo Union’s second collective bargaining agreement and the first with Vox Media. The new contract includes a major increase in salary minimums for all job titles, bringing The Dodo Union in line with the industry standards set by the WGAE. “When we began bargaining, our goals were to lift the members of our unit up to a livable, industry-standard wage and to ensure that our acquisition by a bigger parent company would mean better pay, more resources, and higher standards of working and living,” The Dodo Union’s bargaining committee explained. “We’re proud to say that we’ve won a contract that not only guarantees all of this for our unit, but truly reflects the compassion and humanity that the Dodo has built its legacy on.”

AFSCME Florida’s Newest Members Ratify First Contract in Town Still Reeling from Tragedy: AFSCME Florida’s newest members work for the South Florida town of Surfside, and they voted overwhelmingly to ratify their first contract last month. For AFSCME members like Willie Perez, a parking enforcer and member of the bargaining team, the contract is a bright spot in a town that is trying hard to move on from the tragedy of the condominium building collapse that killed 98 people last year. “That whole period was very tough on everyone and is still tough on everyone,” said Perez. “As AFSCME members, we know that through strength and solidarity, we can take on any challenge.”

Liberty Utilities Workers in Georgia Vote to Form Union with UWUA: The Utility Workers (UWUA) announced that 70 workers at Liberty Utilities in Columbus and Gainesville, Georgia, voted to form a union with UWUA. Liberty workers’ organizing drive was motivated by concerns about workplace practices and safety, on-call policies and low wages in comparison to the company’s wage rates across the country. “This is our second organizing victory in the South over the past few months, which is an especially challenging part of the country to win union campaigns,” said UWUA National President James Slevin. “We welcome this group to the UWUA and look forward to representing them as they work to bargain their first contract.”

IAM Reaches Tentative Agreement with Southwest Airlines That Puts Members at Top of Industry’s Pay Scale: The Machinists (IAM) have reached a new tentative agreement with Southwest Airlines that would provide its members between a 16% and 25% wage increase over four years and place its members at the top of the airline industry’s pay scale. The five-year tentative agreement includes several improvements over the previous failed tentative agreement: higher wage increases and bonuses, stronger overtime provisions, “me too” clauses for top-of-scale wage rates, signing bonuses, retroactive pay and paid parking. “IAM members at Southwest Airlines have made their strength and their voices heard,” said IAM Air Transport Territory General Vice President Richard Johnsen. “The IAM continues to negotiate agreements that make history for our members and raise the bar for all airline workers.” The IAM represents some 8,300 customer service employees at Southwest Airlines.

Yale’s Researchers and Teachers Organize with UNITE HERE: UNITE HERE Local 33 submitted thousands of union cards from Yale University’s graduate researchers and graduate and professional teachers to the regional office of the National Labor Relations Board. Workers also visited university president Peter Salovey’s office to deliver an election petition to Yale. Local 33 said, “This is a historic moment in the 30-year campaign for a graduate worker union at Yale. This is the biggest group of teachers and researchers that has ever had the chance to form a union at Yale. All semester, we have been organizing together, and now we are ready to win together!”

NYSNA’s 42,000-Strong Union Affiliates with NNU: The New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) delegates to the union’s 2022 convention voted to affiliate with the more than 180,000 nurses of NNU. NYSNA’s nearly 42,000 members will increase NNU’s membership to nearly 225,000 nurses and bring NYSNA into the AFL-CIO, of which NNU is already a member union. NYSNA, the oldest nurses association in the country and one of the most influential nurses unions, will gain greater resources and capacity, particularly in the federal arena, by joining NNU. “COVID-19 has shown that nurses nationwide face the same issues and challenges at work,” said NYSNA President Nancy Hagans, RN, BSN, CCRN. “There is strength in numbers, and a NYSNA affiliation with NNU will strengthen our fight to protect nurses, our patients and our communities. We are thrilled that this affiliation connects us more closely to the national and international labor movement, which is essential to improving the lives of working people.”

IAM Members End Strike, Secure Strong Contract at Amphenol Aerospace: A strike that began on Saturday, Oct. 15, at noon has ended for approximately 700 members of IAM Local 1529 (District 15) who work for Amphenol Aerospace in Sidney, New York. The new contract includes improved wages, the elimination of the two-tier wage system and improved paid leave. “Our members stood strong to secure a contract that created fairness in the workplace and improved their quality of life. They are back at work and are thankful for the outpouring of support from the community,” said District 15 Directing Business Representative Norman Shreve. “The elimination of the two-tier wage system through progression was a huge accomplishment.”

Ironworkers Score Organizing Victory in Delaware: Workers at ShureLine Construction voted overwhelmingly to form a union with the Ironworkers. The victory for the workers at ShureLine marks a big win in their fight for fair wages and better working conditions. The union reported this organizing effort received strong support from Delaware’s labor community, elected officials and community allies. “The comradery of the workers has been incredible. Despite anything the company has thrown at them, their support never wavered, and they always had each other’s backs,” said Vince DiDonato, district representative for the Ironworkers. “Throughout all of this, the workers at ShureLine just wanted a union, and today they finally got it.”

Corn Nuts Strike Ends: BCTGM Members Ratify New Contract: Members of Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) Local 85 who work at the Corn Nuts plant in Fresno, California, have voted to accept a new collective bargaining agreement. Approval of the contract ends the BCTGM’s strike at the Hormel-owned Corn Nuts snack production facility, which began on Aug. 15. “Our striking members at the Corn Nuts plant courageously stood their ground and sacrificed so much in order to achieve a fair contract,” said BCTGM International President Anthony Shelton. “The BCTGM has shown, once again, that this union will do whatever it takes, make any sacrifice, take on any employer or adversary in order to preserve the rights of our members and maintain a high standard of living for BCTGM families.”

Alaska Airlines Pilots Approve New Contract: After three years of negotiations, pilots at Alaska Airlines voted to approve a new contract. The pilots, members of the Air Line Pilots Association, voted 82% in favor of the new deal. The contract includes pay raises, increased schedule flexibility and improved job security. “For years, we’ve been polling our pilots to ensure this agreement would meet their needs, and today’s vote makes it clear that the major deficiencies in our contract have been addressed,” said Capt. Will McQuillen, chairman of the Alaska Airlines Master Executive Council.

Steelworkers Ratify Groundbreaking Agreement with Cleveland-Cliffs: The United Steelworkers (USW) announced that its members have overwhelmingly voted to ratify a new four-year contract covering roughly 12,000 workers at thirteen Cleveland-Cliffs locations in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Illinois, West Virginia and Minnesota. The new contract raises base wages by 20%, improves insurance benefits for active and retired workers, increases pensions and enhances paid time off, including new provisions of parental paid leave and for employees who are survivors of domestic violence. “Throughout the pandemic and every other challenge that faces the industry, Steelworkers perform the work essential to keep our plants running safely and productively,” said USW International Vice President David McCall. “Thanks to the solidarity of USW members, activists and local union leaders, our work will be safer and pay more without sacrificing security of our jobs.”

Philadelphia Museum of Art Workers Secure Tentative Agreement Following 19-Day Strike: AFSCME members at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) won a tentative agreement from museum management, the union announced. Hundreds of members of the PMA Union, an affiliate of AFSCME Local 397 (District Council 47), have been on strike for 19 days to demand their first contract. Museum workers at PMA won their union with AFSCME in 2020. “There were five issues going into the strike. We got all five,” the PMA Union said of its tentative agreement with the museum. “Management claimed they wouldn’t move. They did.” “This victory today is an example of what happens when workers come together in a union to demand better wages, fair treatment and respect on the job,” said AFSCME President Lee Saunders. “This is why cultural workers at museums, libraries and zoos across the country have started a wave of worker organizing that’s taking hold of the industry, and we’re proud that they’re part of the AFSCME family.”

Dancers of Saint Louis Ballet Organizing with AGMA: With an overwhelming majority of support, the dancers with Saint Louis Ballet have signed cards to form a union and join the American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA). Saint Louis Ballet, located in Chesterfield, Missouri, employs 21 professional dancers and stages five artistic productions each season. AGMA has officially notified management and said it is hopeful that the company will respect its artists’ wishes and voluntarily recognize their union. “Dancers are extraordinarily dedicated artists and deserve to have a voice in their working lives. AGMA is here to support the dancers of Saint Louis Ballet as they take the exciting first steps in their unionizing journey,” said Griff Braun, AGMA’s national organizing director.

More Than 600 Nurses in Wichita File for Election to Join NNU: Nurses at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis hospital in Wichita, Kansas, have filed for a union election with the goal of being represented by NNU. Approximately 625 RNs would be part of the bargaining unit at St. Francis, one of the biggest hospitals in the state and part of the Ascension Via Christi network. NNU has been working to organize at several hospitals owned by Ascension, including a recent victory at Seton Medical Center in Austin, Texas, where more than 70% of eligible nurses voted in favor of representation with NNU.

WGAE Organizes Pineapple Street Studios Podcast Staff: Workers at podcast network Pineapple Street Studios signed up to join the WGAE, with 98% of workers agreeing to join the union. Approximately 40 workers will make up the new bargaining unit at Pineapple Street Studios, which is owned by Audacy, Inc., a radio station owner. “The last two years have brought into sharp focus the urgent need for a more fair and equitable workplace,” Pineapple Street Studios employees wrote in a letter to management. Some Audacy radio stations are already represented by WGAE, and the union is having frequent success in organizing podcast networks such as Ringer, Gimlet Media and iHeartMedia, Inc. The workers are organizing around increased transparency around pay, rights to their intellectual property, protection against favoritism in the workplace and improved health care.

Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority (TARTA) Approves New Three-Year Contract: Approximately 40 employees at TARTA and its paratransit agency, Toledo Area Regional Paratransit Service (TARPS), agreed to a new three-year deal that provides pay raises between 10% and 25%. “We’ll continue to work with members and TARTA to advocate and support market value wage increases,” said Toledo Association of Administrative Personnel (TAAP)/UAW Local 5242 President Emilio Ramirez. “It’s important to all of us that these team members know that they are a valued part of what’s happening at TARTA and that they have a contract which reflects that.”

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) Fast Food Workers Approve New Contract: Thousands of cashiers, baristas, cooks, dishwashers, bartenders, servers and lounge attendants at 84 food and beverage outlets at SFO secured a new contract after a three-day strike. The new contract goes through August 2025 and includes a $5-per-hour raise and free family health care. The workers, members of UNITE HERE Local 2, voted 99.5% in favor of the contract. “This victory shows the world that fast-food jobs can in fact be good, family-sustaining jobs, and it’s all because workers had the courage to strike,” said Anand Singh, president of UNITE HERE Local 2. "After three years without a raise, SFO’s fast-food workers were tired of working two or even three jobs just to survive—so they took their lives into their own hands and won a better future.”

University of Michigan Nurses Ratify New Contract: Members of the Michigan Nurses Association (MNA) at the University of Michigan voted to ratify a new contract after months of negotiations. The contract includes enforceable nurse-to-patient ratios, an end to mandatory overtime except during select emergencies, wage increases worth a total of 22.5% over the life of the contract and ratification and retention bonuses. “This contract provides important investments in nurses and protections for patients that MNA-UMPNC [University of Michigan Professional Nurse Council] nurses and our community fought hard for over the past six months,” said Renee Curtis, RN, president of MNA-UMPNC. “We’re excited about being able to hold the employer accountable for safe nurse-to-patient ratios and end dangerous mandatory overtime. Strong wage increases and bonuses will help attract and retain the nurses we need to take care of our patients.”

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 01/10/2023 - 11:33

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: More Than 7,000 New York Nurses Go on Strike

Tue, 2023-01-10 10:58
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: More Than 7,000 New York Nurses Go on Strike

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we'll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

More than 7,000 nurses in New York City went on strike this morning. The nurses are members of the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), an affiliate of National Nurses United (NNU), and are striking for fair contracts that improve patient care. The strike specifically addresses two hospitals: Mount Sinai Hospital on the Upper East Side and Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx. The strike became a possibility after nurses’ contracts at a dozen hospitals expired Dec. 31. NYSNA reached tentative contract agreements with most of those hospitals.

“It is time for the hospitals to treat these nurses fairly, with the dignity and respect they deserve, to ensure nurses can get back to serving their communities by providing superior care to their patients,” said Mario Cilento (TNG-CWA), president of the New York State AFL-CIO.

“The entire New York City Labor Movement stands with our nurses, who are courageously taking action against dangerous understaffing that threatens the safety of their patients,” said New York City Central Labor Council President Vincent Alvarez (IBEW). “The decision to go on strike is never an easy one, particularly for workers who care so deeply about the patients and communities they serve. But hospital executives created this crisis by failing to hire, train, and retain nurses while at the same time treating themselves to extravagant compensation packages. Now it’s time for them to fix what they’ve broken. The full resources of the NYC CLC, our affiliates and our 1.3 million members are at the disposal of our City’s nurses as they fight for the resources they need to provide safe, quality healthcare to all New Yorkers.”

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 01/10/2023 - 09:58

Service + Solidarity Spotlight: IAFF Seeks to Reduce Risk During Fire Fighter Cancer Awareness Month

Mon, 2023-01-09 10:37
Service + Solidarity Spotlight: IAFF Seeks to Reduce Risk During Fire Fighter Cancer Awareness Month

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we'll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

January is Fire Fighter Cancer Awareness Month and members of the Fire Fighters (IAFF) are raising awareness about the leading cause of line-of-duty deaths for firefighters. Nearly 75% of firefighter deaths from job-related injuries or illness are attributable to occupational cancer.

Increasing public awareness about the cancer dangers that firefighters face creates greater support for state and local governments to pass legislation that protects firefighters on the job and helps them recover if they are stricken with cancer in the line of duty.

IAFF’s Fire Fighter Cancer Awareness website has more survivor stories, research and ways you can get involved.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 01/09/2023 - 09:37

Economy Gains 223,000 Jobs in December; Unemployment Down to 3.5%

Fri, 2023-01-06 16:56
Economy Gains 223,000 Jobs in December; Unemployment Down to 3.5%

The U.S. economy gained 223,000 jobs in December, and the unemployment rate declined to 3.5%, according to figures released Friday morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Continuing strong job creation numbers are a clear sign that the worker-friendly policies implemented by President Biden continue to have a positive impact on working people.

In response to the December job numbers, AFL-CIO Chief Economist William Spriggs said: “One month wage growth (annualized) was 3.4%, a moderation of the three-month wage growth of 4.1%. These are signs that employment continues to grow, and wages are moderating and clearly not pushing up prices.”

December's biggest job gains were in leisure and hospitality (+67,000), health care (+55,000), construction (+28,000), social assistance (+20,000), other services (+14,000), retail trade (+9,000), manufacturing (+8,000), transportation and warehousing (+5,000), mining (+4,000), and government (+3,000). Professional and business services (-6,000) saw a decline. Over the month, employment showed little change in other major industries, including wholesale trade, information and financial activities.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate fell for White Americans (3.0%) in December. The jobless rates for teenagers (10.4%), Black Americans (5.7%), adult women (3.2%), adult men (3.1%), Hispanics (4.1%) and Asian Americans (2.4%) showed little or no change over the month.

The number of long-term unemployed workers (those jobless for 27 weeks or longer) declined in December and accounted for 18.5% of the total people unemployed.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 01/06/2023 - 15:56