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Where The Starbucks Union Stands After Rallies, Proposed Audit

Four security guards blocked the entrance to Starbucks headquarters as demonstrators approached Wednesday. Workers peeked out of windows above, watching and filming the crowd. Some ventured out to order lunch from the food trucks in the parking lot and take a closer look. Gwen Williamson, a former shift supervisor for a cafe in Bellingham, addressed the crowd: “We won our election in December and immediately after that, shift supervisor hours were cut, putting our eligibility for Starbucks health education benefits at risk.” Williamson told those who had gathered that she had been unjustly terminated after she led the union charge at her store and called off several shifts at the last minute due to flood damage that left her apartment unlivable.

UAW Reformers Clinch The Presidency

Reform challenger Shawn Fain has won the presidency of the United Auto Workers, the federal monitor announced today. Fain will be sworn in just in time to chair the UAW's bargaining convention, which begins Monday. The vote count had begun March 1, but the initial tallies were so close that final results hinged on a few hundred challenged ballots. The painstaking process to check which ones were valid dragged on for weeks. But while members awaited the final count, Big 3 auto worker rank-and-filers inspired by the reform slate were already stepping up to run for local office and change their union. With their contracts expiring in September, there’s no time to lose. Several spoke to Labor Notes about their plans to reshape the union’s methods and goals.

Michigan: Movements Spur Legislative Victories

The scene at the Michigan Capitol in Lansing March 14 was reminiscent of mass protests there in December 2012. At that time union members packed the State House to pressure then-Governor Rick Snyder not to sign a bill making Michigan a “right-to-work” state. But Snyder broke his campaign promise not to sign, making Michigan the 27th state with the union-busting law on the books. While a union in a workplace is legally required to represent members and nonmembers alike, in a right-to-work state the union cannot negotiate a contract that makes union dues or service fees mandatory. This weakens unions and lowers the average wage in what have for decades been nicknamed “right-to-work-for-less” states.

Immigrant Women Workers Fighting To Close Disney’s Gender Pay Gap

Workers with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 631 say a major pay gap exists at Disney World that leaves workers in traditionally feminized jobs, such as costume-making, earning significantly less than workers in traditionally masculinized jobs with comparable skills levels, such as stagehand labor. The union — which represents the skilled crafts people who work behind the scenes in Disney World entertainment, from costume workers to cosmetologists to stage technicians — is demanding in bargaining that Disney close this gender pay gap by raising wages in traditionally feminized jobs to bring them in alignment with comparatively skilled but traditionally male-dominated jobs.

65,000 Los Angeles Education Workers Are On A Historic Three-Day Strike

Los Angeles, California - 65,000 workers from Service Employees International Union Local 99 and United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) began a three-day strike on Tuesday, March 21. SEIU Local 99 workers are striking amidst contract negotiations around higher salaries, more full-time work schedules, better treatment, and more staffing. The SEIU workers represent a broad cross section of school staff, such as bus drivers, custodians, campus aides, and cafeteria workers. The union claims that apart from refusing to budge on key workers’ demands such as a 30% raise and more full time hours, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is also harassing and threatening workers for participating in union activity.

What’s Fueling The Graduate Worker Union Upsurge?

The Twin Cities saw one of its biggest-ever snowstorms the week of Presidents Day. But for labor activists the snow was overshadowed by the launch of the University of Minnesota Graduate Labor Union. In its first 24 hours, the new union—affiliated with the United Electrical Workers (UE)—gathered more than 1,700 authorization cards representing nearly half the entire bargaining unit. Eight days in, they had a strong majority. And this week they filed for election with 65 percent support. Such a first day bodes well for the success of the campaign, despite five—count ’em, five—previous election losses in graduate union drives at the University of Minnesota.

Make One Big Higher Education Union

Higher ed is unionizing. Like crazy! Last year, every single one of the five largest filings for NLRB union elections in America — each representing more than 3,000 members — were for graduate workers at various universities. University of California workers pulled off the biggest strike of 2022. New units of more than 1,000 people, rare in most of the union world, have become commonplace in academia. This wave shows no sign of slowing. Just this month, thousands more grad workers at the University of Minnesota and Duke filed for elections. Since the beginning of 2022, more than 45,000 graduate and undergrad workers have made moves to unionize, according to Daily Union Elections, a site that catalogs union filings.

Amazon Workers Take Effort To Unionize Largest Air Hub National

The effort to unionize workers at the largest Amazon Air Hub in the world is going national. Local organizers with Unionize Amazon Northern Kentucky KCVG announced Saturday that they're joining forces with the national Amazon Labor Union, which unionized a Staten Island facility last year. They're also beginning to collect union authorization cards, which include signatures from employees confirming they want to take the issue to a vote. At least three dozen volunteers and members of the public rallied outside of the air hub Saturday afternoon, chanting and waiving signs with the workers' demands: a $30-an-hour starting wage, 180 hours of paid time off annually with no cap on accrued time and union representation against discipline.

Renewed Calls For International Solidarity From Haiti

A coalition of trade unions in Haiti recently published  the “Ouanaminthe Declaration.” This followed a two-day gathering by members of The Confederation of Haitian Workers (La Confédération des travailleurs haïtiens - CTH) and the Confederation of Public and Private Sector Workers (la Confédération des travailleurs et travailleuses des secteurs public et privé - CTSP). The gathering was held in Ouanaminthe, Haiti. Located near the Dominican-Haitian border, on January 25 and 26, 2023. The declaration was drafted a few days after the announcement of de facto PM Ariel Henry’s “December 21 Accord” - the National Consensus for an Inclusive Transition and Transparent Elections. It is a tacit rejection of Henry’s coalition.

Employees At Epic-Owned Bandcamp Form Union

U.S. employees at Bandcamp, an online audio distributor, have announced their formation of a union. Last year, the platform was acquired by Epic Games, the multibillion-dollar company behind games like Fortnite and the Unreal gaming engine. According to the union, known as Bandcamp United, a super-majority of workers are in favor of forming a union. They have authorized The Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU)’s Tech Workers Union Local 1010 division to represent their 62-person unit; this is the same group that supported Kickstarter United to form a historic first union among U.S. tech employees.

The Filthy Emissions Of Railroad Locomotives

After working as a rail crew transportation driver for nearly 13 years, Larry Hopkins says he is starting to worry about his health. “Every day that I work, I’m being exposed to the diesel fumes that are bad for our communities,” says the 56-year-old who was born in Blytheville, Arkansas, and now lives on the southwest side of Chicago. Hopkins works for Hallcon Corporation driving railroad crews, conductors, and engineers to and from rail yards and hotels. His primary pickup and drop-off point used to be Corwith Yard, southwest Chicago’s massive intermodal rail yard that was once the largest in the world.

Workers At TCGPlayer Celebrate Groundbreaking Win

A majority of workers at eBay-owned TCGPlayer won their union election on Friday, March 10 and will be represented by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 1123. TCGPlayer is one of the largest online marketplaces for verification services, card games, comics, and collectible trading cards. It was acquired by eBay in November 2022. The workers, known as TCGUnion-CWA, are the first group of eBay workers to win union representation in the U.S. In 2020, workers at TCGPlayer made attempts to form a union with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

CUNY Union Chapter Passes Resolution In Support Of Trans Rights

In a March 10 chapter meeting, union members from the CUNY Graduate Center and the CUNY professional schools unanimously passed a resolution in support of trans rights, pledging support to all workers fighting the nearly 400 anti-LGBTQ bills currently under consideration in the United States, and committing to fighting for trans co-workers and students at the City University of New York. The full text is published below. Statements of support are always nice, but can often feel hollow. But as the author of this resolution myself, let me be perfectly clear: We are already working on organizing for expanded name change procedures in our union chapter, with plans to expand our demands to the other issues discussed in the resolution.

Grocery Teamsters Face Firing And Retaliation For Exercising Their Rights

Workers couldn’t wear a sticker or button, because what if it fell into the fruits and vegetables they packaged for the Anthony Marano Company, a major distributor of produce in Chicago and the greater Midwest for restaurants and grocery chains including Aldi’s, Sysco, and Pete’s Fresh Market? They couldn’t do a red T-shirt day; the temperatures are frigid in the warehouse, and workers must cover themselves in layers to keep warm. But they are allowed to wear hats over their hairnets. Luckily, there was a crafty person on the organizing team. When Latino Teamsters in Local 703 needed to take collective action to build unity and confidence after the company banned them from distributing union leaflets, they created baseball caps—emblazoned with an equestrian Teamster logo and the Chicago city colors (blue, white, and red).

New York City Retirees Fight Their Own Unions To Stop Health Care Cuts

New York City, New York - Defying two years of protests and lawsuits by union retirees, New York City’s Municipal Labor Committee voted Thursday to scrap some of the best retiree health care coverage in the country. The change aims to put 250,000 city retirees into a for-profit Medicare Advantage plan run by Aetna. Twenty-six unions in the MLC voted no, while others abstained. But their votes were swamped by the votes of the largest unions on the committee, AFSCME District Council 37 and the New York United Federation of Teachers. Retirees and active members protested during the MLC vote and marched to City Hall.
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