The week in US unions, May 27-June 3, 2021

I write to you with a newborn strapped to my chest! If I missed things this week, let me know; the next couple weeks might be less comprehensive than our usual roundup, though plenty of updates to read about below...


New election filings at the NLRB: 190 textile workers in Arecibo, PR for Kandor Manufacturing (which appears to be a British clothing company) are organizing with the LIUNA District Council of Puerto Rico. 80 sanitation truck drivers with Endurance Environmental Solutions in Las Vegas are organizing with Teamsters Local 631. 79 workers at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology are organizing with AFSCME Council 47, Local 397. 45 security guards at the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland and 18 security guards at the NASA Neil Armstrong Test Facility in Sandusky, OH will both vote on whether to join SPFPA Local 131 or the Ohio PBA. 40 utility workers in Wewahitchka, FL for the Gulf Coast Electric Cooperative are unionizing with the IBEW. 35 finishers for GM&P Consulting and Glazing Contractor in Miami are organizing with Iron Workers Local 272

Small shops: 23 utility workers for Hawaii Water Service Company in Waikoloa, HI are organizing with Teamsters Local 996. 22 workers at social services non-profit La Casa de Don Pedro in Newark, NJ are joining CWA. 22 test pilots and instructors in Red Rock, AZ are unionizing with everyone’s favorite Office and Professional Employees International Union affiliate, the Professional Helicopter Pilots Association, Local 102. 20 LPNs at nursing home 60 West in Rocky Hill, CT are unionizing with 1199 New England. In what might be a raid, 20 workers for Hacienda Landscaping in Minooka, IL will vote on membership in Operating Engineers Local 150 or credibly-accused company union National Production Workers Union Local 707. 17 workers at progressive think tank Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC are organizing with the Washington Baltimore News Guild. 15 educators at the Evanston, IL campus of private school network Fusion Academy are forming an independent union. 12 workers at a CVS in Ontario, CA are unionizing with UFCW Local 1428. 12 workers for Ameren Missouri who work on the Callaway Nuclear Plant in Steedman, MO are organizing with Operating Engineers Local 148. Ten workers for industrial gas supplier Praxair in Austin, TX are joining Teamsters Local 657. Nine fleet mechanics for natural gas distributor Atlanta Gas Light in Atlanta are unionizing with IBEW Local 1997. Seven drivers for Corey Steel Company in Cicero, IL are joining Teamsters Local 705. Four LPNs at Fortitude Senior Living of St. Joseph in Paynesville, MN are joining AFSCME Council 65. Four maintenance engineers at a data center in San Diego, CA will vote on joining Operating Engineers Local 501. Three workers who I think handle lab animals for a USDA subcontractor in Fort Collins, CO are voting on joining Operating Engineers Local 1. Three mechanics at Keurig Dr. Pepper in Cranberry Township, PA are joining Teamsters Local 261. Two workers at VCNA United Materials, which makes concrete and other building materials, will vote on joining Teamsters Local 449

NLRB election wins…: 124 truck drivers with US Foods in Salem, VA voted 51-40 to join Teamsters Local 171. 81 security guards at 10 federal facilities across Louisiana voted to join UGSOA Local 287 over SPFPA Local 711 in a 23-14-2 vote. 64 workers at Anaheim Crest nursing home in Anaheim, CA squeaked out a win for SEIU Local 2015, 30-28. 61 mental healthcare workers at Lifeworks clinic in Hillsboro, OR voted 33-9 to join AFSCME Council 75. 18 food service workers at corporate dining supplier Brock & Company in Farmington, CT joined UFCW Local 371 after a 9-6 vote. 46 concrete finishers for SAK Builders in Seattle and 17 cement masons across western Washington State for contractor Ceco Concrete Construction both voted to join OPCMIA Local 528, 9-0 and 3-0, respectively. Five classroom trainers at Swift Beef Company in Greeley, CO voted 3-1 for UFCW Local 7. Two skilled maintenance workers at the Federal Building in Fort Wayne, IN both voted to join Operating Engineers Local 399. Two digital reports for WSYR-TV in East Syracuse, NY both voted to join NABET-CWA. Two production workers at train manufacturer CRRC Times Electric USA in City of Industry, CA are now with IBEW Local 11 after one voted for the union and the other didn’t vote. 

...and losses: Plumbers Local 184 lost a vote among 13 HVAC workers at Warren Electric Heating & Air Conditioning in Paducah, KY, 5-7. Five workers at Easy Rental Equipment in Ponce, PR deadlocked at 2-2, thus not joining LIUNA District Council of Puerto Rico

Decertifications and raids: At least 180 healthcare workers at three Salud Integral en la Montana clinics in Puerto Rico voted to decertify Union General de Trabajadores, SEIU 1199. 47 nursing home workers at St. Joseph’s Home in Ogdensburg, NY dropped CSEA Local 727 (AFSCME) in a 9-23 vote. 15 workers at debt collection agency Professional Placement Services (presumably named as such so you’ll answer their calls) in Milwaukee decertified their membership in CWA Local 4603, 1-4. Governed United Security Professionals is attempting to raid a unit of 30 security guards in Washington, DC who work at the Department of Homeland Security Federal Protective Services building, and are currently represented by LEOSU-DC

Outside the NLRB: Legislative aides at the Oregon State Legislature voted 75-31 to form the first legislative staff union in the country with IBEW Local 98; the state public sector labor board ruled in early April that the legislative staff were eligible for unionization. A similar effort in Delaware stalled out when AFSCME deemed there to be no legal pathway in that state, and members of the California state legislature are renewing efforts to legalize a state legislative staff union in that state. Around 80 coffee shop workers at Pavement, a chain with eight locations in and around Boston, asked for voluntary recognition through the New England Joint Board of UNITE HERE and surprisingly management agreed to recognize a card check election. Staff at think tank the Urban Institute won voluntary recognition of their union through IFPTE Local 70, the Nonprofit Professional Employees Union. The staff at Break Something, a Democratic digital campaign firm, are seeking voluntary recognition through the Campaign Workers Guild


Bloomberg Law has a really useful analysis on private sector first contracts. The biggest takeaway is that the average first contract takes more than 400 days to win, and that’s just in cases where a first contract is ever achieved.

Today’s the day that Luma Energy, a private company, is set to take over Puerto Rico’s public power system in the wake of Hurricane Maria in a brazen instance of disaster capitalism. The Puerto Rican labor movement isn’t taking it lying down, with not only electrical utility workers striking, but being backed by teachers, truckers, and 20 others unions.

Twelve wine distribution workers for Johnson Brothers Distributing in North Kingstown, RI are on strike after unionizing with Teamsters Local 251 in September, and management is dragging out negotiations.

Hundreds of nurses in Kalispell, MT, are on a three-day strike with SEIU 1199NW at Logan Health.

The latest bargaining update from the Steelworkers on the 1300-member ATI strike makes it sound like there’s been a little bit of progress on the fight over healthcare costs that are part of what’s behind the strike. Though much of the strike is happening in Western Pennsylvania, local New Bedford, MA news has a look into the plant on strike there.

UMWA coal miners in Brookwood, AL are coming up on two months since they rejected the tentative agreement from Warrior Met and continued their strike. Michael Sainato at The Guardian has a look into the state of play.

Dispatches out of the St Vincent Hospital strike by the Massachusetts Nurses Association in Worcester, MA still sound pessimistic about a settlement, and apparently there have been no negotiations for a full month. 

Teamsters Local 553 members remain on strike at UMEC in Brooklyn, and organized a rally last week to continue the pressure on billionaire owner John Catsimatidis to bargain a first contract, after workers unionized in February 2019. Elsewhere in fossil fuel work, this dispatch from the Marathon lockout in Minnesota against Teamsters Local 120 looks like it’s worth a listen.

In NYC, Dianne Morales’s mayoral campaign staff held a work stoppage and a rally and fueled some pretty off the rails Twitter discourse. All I’ll say is that the idea of unionism has taken root among young progressive types and the weird shapes it sometimes takes is a reflection of that organic energy outpacing “organized labor’s” ability to channel the enthusiasm directly.

32BJ SEIU struck several McDonald’s franchises at service plazas on I-95 in Connecticut over unfair labor practices regarding retaliation against union supporters. The strike didn’t shut down business, and it culminated in an “essential worker rally” with the Recovery for All coalition at the Capitol in Hartford.

Teachers in Arundel, Kennebunk, and Kennebunkport, Maineorganized a work-to-rule as contract negotiations stalled. 13,500 educators with the Hawaii State Teachers Association are voting on whether to accept a 2 year contract with no raises.

6,800 contingent faculty (adjuncts and lecturers who work on short term contracts, as opposed to tenure-track faculty) at the University of California have authorized a strike with UC-AFT. It’s the local’s first strike authorization in more than 20 years, and if a strike does happen, smart money is on a September start date, to exert maximum pressure on the administration to provide job security and better pay and workloads, perennial demands of contingent faculty.

Over 2,500 electricians with IBEW Local 46 in Seattle authorized a strike on their inside wireman agreement, and delivered a ten day notice. The earliest they would go out would be June 11th.

Charter school educators at the Urban Prep network in Chicago have authorized a strike with the Chicago Teachers Union. At another charter network in Chicago, CTU members are considering a strike in the wake of the firing of several union activists.

1,700 nurses in Everett, WA and some number of hospital techs in Olympia, WA are taking strike authorization votes this week with UFCW Local 21.

2000+ meatpacking workers with UFCW Local 304A at Smithfield in Sioux Falls, SD are considering a strike. 1300 workers at the plant contracted COVID, and 4 died. Now the company wants to cut their 15 minute breaks, among other concessions.

Teamsters Local 96 at Washington Gas, a gas utility in Washington, DC, authorized a strike over unfair labor practices related to bargaining, proposed healthcare cuts, and safety issues after an explosion in February. They reached a tentative agreement soon after.

Workers at for-profit nursing home Hearts and Hands in Santa Cruz, CA have been organizing for a first contract with SEIU Local 2015 for three years. They’ve launched informational pickets over paltry wages and stall tactics.

After winning the reinstatement of 8 part-timers fired for not performing forced overtime, Teamsters Local 804 is back with rallies outside the Laurelton, Queens, NYC hub, as management has now fired the shop steward in retaliation.

15 workers for the town of Scarborough, NY’s public works department with Teamsters Local 340 picketed the town hall, protesting an impasse in negotiations. 


Right to work is dead in New Hampshire

The Missouri Supreme Court put the final nail in the coffin of HB1413, the 2018 union gutting bill, in yet another lease on life won by the Missouri labor movement.


UAW Local 2110’s Columbia University unit passed a resolution in support of the One Member One Vote referendum this fall. They join several academic locals and at least one auto local in formally expressing support for moving to direct elections of top international officers.

Hamilton Nolan has details on the tiff inside the New York NewsGuild around a dues increase to fund their absolute explosion of new organizing in recent years. It’s an underappreciated structural tension in the union movement, that to build sectoral strength a union has to organize, but that means workers paying for the benefit of others at the direct loss of funds for servicing their own contracts. It sounds like that core tension is playing out across the NewsGuild, one of the most aggressive new organizers in the labor movement, with (sort of hard to parse) drama surrounding resources for contract negotiations in Chicago.

Finally, SEIU Local 1000’s surprise election outcome for 96,000 state workers in California may very well be undone due to election malfeasance. C.M. Lewis at Strikewave has great original reporting on it this week.