Employees at some of the biggest airports across the country are going on strike over staffing levels and pay. In Los Angeles, Chicago and more than a dozen other airports, thousands of United and Southwest airline workers are in uniform — but spending their time off-duty protesting conditions when they’re on. “We are … looking for protection from long, brutal duty days, over 20 hours, being stuck in airports, sleeping on the floors,” Southwest flight attendant Mark Torrez said. At San Francisco International Airport, 1,000 food workers are on strike, which has shut down all restaurants and lounges. Unionized food service employees say they earn about $17 an hour and have been working without a contract since 2019. “We’re shutting this place down and I think that the employers at the airport, the restaurant employers, are going to realize very quickly they cannot run this operation without their workers,” Union President Anand Singh said.
Last week, 25 years after UPS workers last went on strike in 1997, the UPS Teamsters kicked off their contract negotiation campaign with rallies around the country. Their current contract expires in July 2023 and negotiations for a new contract have begun. In New York City alone, rallies and actions took place across 14 UPS facilities. Workers are demanding an end to excessive overtime, an end to the two-tier system, higher pay for part-time warehouse workers, more full-time jobs, job security for feeders and package drivers, ending the surveillance and harassment from the bosses, and a heat exhaustion and injury prevention plan to combat against the extreme weather we have been experiencing. For UPS Teamsters, this contract struggle is an opportunity to roll back the defeats of the current contract, including the two-tier system, which was undemocratically imposed by the Hoffa leadership onto members, the majority of whom had voted no of the tentative agreement.
On June 13th the International Association of Machinists IAM 751 Retirement Club voted overwhelmingly to end the privatization of Medicare and to send their resolution to their congressional delegation, to President Biden, and to Secretary Xavier Becerra at Health and Human Services. Machinists’ District 751 represents 27,000 members who work at Boeing and some smaller shops across the state of Washington. It is one of the largest organizations within the IAM. The privatization scheme the 751 Retirement Club opposes is ACO REACH, formerly called direct contracting entities (DCE). It is a pilot program in which seniors who chose traditional Medicare are placed, without their consent, into plans that are run by insurance companies, private equity, and venture capitalists who can take as high as 40% in overhead and profit from the Medicare program.
The EPA’s biggest union, signaling its dissatisfaction with the White House’s level of action on climate, will ask the Biden administration to declare a national climate emergency and take other ambitious steps on the environment. The declaration of a national emergency would kick-start 123 statutory powers that aren’t otherwise available to the executive branch, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. Included among them is the hiring of more climate scientists, engineers, and lawyers at the EPA, a goal shared by both the American Federation of Government Employees Council 238 and the Biden administration. The request represents a marker for the American Federation of Government Employees Council 238 when it sits down with the Environmental Protection Agency on June 13 to negotiate a new contract.
On April 12, the New York Times broke the story that the theater actors union Actors’ Equity Association is, for the first time in over 20 years, attempting to unionize a workplace. Inspired by recent wins at Amazon and Starbucks, actors and stage managers on the non-union national tour of the musical Waitress are moving to unionize after being contacted by Equity, as the union is known in the theater industry. This attempt represents one of the biggest developments in labor organizing within the theater industry in years and has the potential to largely rewrite the way that the theater industry operates. This development represents a major change in strategy for Equity. For years, it operated less as a union of workers, and more as a league of professionals.
Teachers and librarians at Seattle Colleges in AFT local 1789 are fighting for a “Thriving Wage,” open negotiations, and a democratic and transparent union. They are beginning contract negotiations with the college administration on Feb. 8. Seattle Colleges include North, South and Central College, which are all part of the former community college system. “Community” was dropped from their name when they started offering four-year degrees. On Feb. 7, at Seattle Central College, they rallied to raise their demands. Dozens of members came out and many more joined on Zoom. The rally was organized by a grassroots group of union members. One key demand is open negotiations. This would allow all members to watch and listen to the contract bargaining and to put maximum pressure on the administration.
Buffalo, NY - Starbucks workers at a store in Buffalo, New York, voted to unionize on Thursday, a first for the 50-year-old coffee retailer in the U.S. and the latest sign that the labor movement is stirring after decades of decline. The National Labor Relations Board said Thursday that workers voted 19-8 in favor of a union at the Elmwood Avenue location, one of three stores in Buffalo where elections were being held. A second store rejected the union in a vote of 12-8, but the union said it might challenge that result because it wasn’t confident all of the eligible votes had been counted. The results of a third store could not be determined because both sides challenged seven separate votes.
Many people who work hard in full time jobs take a dental plan for granted. Many people who work hard in full-time jobs assume they will get more than a 25-cent-per-hour raise each year. But a group of workers at a cement plant in Erie, Pennsylvania have spent two months on strike trying to win those basic things — and their fight is far from over. About 40 workers at the Erie Strayer cement factory are members of Ironworkers Local 851. The company is family-owned, and has been unionized since the 1940s. The union contract expired on April 1. The union spent months at the negotiating table, seeking a fairly modest package of gains. The company refused.
In a victory for employees at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, a federal labor official on Monday formally directed a new union election following allegations that the company engaged in illegal misconduct leading up to an unsuccessful vote in April. Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU), celebrated the order from National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region 10 Director Lisa Henderson, which a spokesperson for the agency confirmed to multiple media outlets. "Today's decision confirms what we were saying all along—that Amazon's intimidation and interference prevented workers from having a fair say in whether they wanted a union in their workplace—and as the regional director has indicated, that is both unacceptable and illegal," Appelbaum said.
Battle Creek, Mich. - Tony the Tiger’s famous line – “Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes, they’re “grrr-eat” has been reworked. Lawn signs supporting the strike of 1,400 Kellogg’s workers show an angry Tony with a picket sign saying “Kellogg’s on strrr-ike!” The members of Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) in Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and Tennessee are now in their second month on strike. On Nov. 4, union negotiators announced they had turned down the company’s latest offer, stating: “The company’s last, best and final offer does not achieve what our members are asking for: a predictable pathway to fully vested, fully benefitted employment for all employees with no concessions.”
On most days, Doug Ford’s Conservative government in Ontario does not respond well to problems, or it actively makes things worse. If an election had been called a year-and-a-half ago, Ford would have lost. However, when COVID hit, Ford nearly brought Ontario to its knees. Nevertheless, he managed to deceive some into thinking he managed well. Today, he is barely visible, having prorogued Queen’s Park during September’s federal election to protect his federal Conservative counterparts instead of stepping up to protect Ontarians and help guide our recovery. Schools are suffering, hospitals and healthcare workers are short-staffed and stressed. Many Ontarians are ashamed that Ford did not declare September 30th a statutory holiday to remember the colonial impact of residential schools.
Roughly 60,000 film and television workers in Los Angeles and other cities plan to walk off the job early Monday if the major studios don’t offer a satisfactory union contract before then. It would be the largest strike to hit the U.S. private sector in 14 years. Matthew Loeb, the president of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts (IATSE), said his members hope it doesn’t come to that. But after five months of negotiations, he said it was necessary to Set A Deadline and force the studios’ hand. “Otherwise you’re kicking the can down the road,” said Loeb, who spoke with HuffPost on Wednesday just before heading into another bargaining session. “It’s time that the employers make a decision.”
Thousands of NewsGuild-CWA members, myself included, were upset by Tribune Publishing’s announcement today that shareholders approved the company’s takeover by Alden Global Capital, a hedge fund known as “the destroyer of newspapers.” There were several hours of confusion after Patrick Soon-Shiong, owner of 24% of Tribune shares, announced that he had abstained from voting. A marked “Abstain” vote, according to the proxy proposal, would serve as a rejection of Alden’s attempted takeover. However, several reports indicated Dr. Soon-Shiong submitted a blank proxy card, allowing his shares to count as favoring the takeover. I’ve reached out to Tribune Publishing and people close to Dr. Soon-Shiong for clarification. Tribune replied linking to a report by the Chicago Tribune as providing the best clarification.
New York City - Deliveristas Unidos, a growing group of food delivery workers in New York City, is now working with the city’s largest union of service workers, representatives with SEIU Local 32BJ announced at a rally on Wednesday. The City first reported news of the partnership. On Wednesday, a group of more than 2,000 food delivery workers biked from Times Square to Foley Square as part of a protest calling for improved work conditions. Their ongoing list of demands includes higher pay, increased bathroom access, and expansions to protected bike lanes. The workers also seek to be recognized as employees of the apps they work for since food delivery workers are technically classified as independent contractors, making them ineligible to join a traditional union. Local 32BJ is now backing those demands.
The union drive at Amazon’s 885,000-square-foot warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, failed. But the historic campaign nabbed global headlines and added fuel to ongoing workers’ revolts across the world. Strikes by Amazon workers in Italy, Germany and India are coalescing into an international struggle against the world’s fourth-most valuable company and its grueling working conditions and intensive surveillance. Since the dawn of capitalism, bosses have found innovations to oversee and extract more work from the overstressed bodies of their labor force. But Amazon’s minute surveillance of workers — who, at the Bessemer facility, are mostly Black and women — would make the Stasi blush. At the company’s warehouses, workers use hand-held devices that track their every move and assess their speed and accuracy.