The week in US unions, June 17-25, 2021

Apologies for the delayed newsletter this week; still adjusting to new baby life, and will hopefully be back on schedule this week! Thanks for your patience. I also wanted to plug, one more time, Kevin Reuning’s fantastic new resource, unionelections.org, which does daily tracking of new filings, plus useful maps and charts on the new union organizing happening across the country.

NEW ORGANIZING

New election filings at the NLRB:

Teamsters: 129 workers at Ineos Pigments in Ashtabula, OH, which makes titanium dioxide for white paint (and other paint chemicals), are filing for a union election again after Teamsters Local 377 withdrew their petition in May; this time it’s a joint filing with Local 377 and International Chemical Workers Union Council Local 1033 (UFCW). 62 nurses at Wellpath in Adelanto, CA are unionizing with Teamsters Local 1932. 40 yard and warehouse workers for plumbing supplier Ferguson in Pomona, CA are organizing with Teamsters Local 166; the drivers voted to join Local 166 in February, so the local is building on that success. 18 sanitation workers for Jochum Refuse in Wheeling, WV are organizing with Teamsters Local 697. 15 hazmat truck drivers for Worldwide Recovery in Pomona, CA are organizing with Teamsters Local 166. 12 sanitation workers for Republic in Edwardsville, IL are organizing with Teamsters Local 50. Ten drivers for Triple Crown Concrete in Somerset, KY are unionizing with Teamsters Local 89. Nine workers at Penske in Shelbyville, IN are joining Teamsters Local 135. Nine teachers at the Harvest English Language Institute in Newark, NJ are organizing with Teamsters Local 177. Seven workers who make synthetic rubber for Zeon Chemicals in Louisville, KY are organizing with Teamsters Local 89.

Everybody else: 109 stationary engineers for real estate company CBRE in San Francisco are organizing with Operating Engineers Local 39. 80 workers at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, CA are unionizing with IATSE. 35 healthcare techs at Catholic Health System in Cheektowaga, NY are voting on joining CWA Local 1133, which already represents workers at the employer. 32 support staff at senior center Saint Francis LIFE Riverfront in Wilmington, DE are organizing with NUHHCE District 1199J (AFSCME). 28 tire production workers at Titan in Jefferson, GA are organizing with the Steelworkers. 28 security guards for Akima and AEPS contractors in Triangle, VA are joining UGSO Local 290. The 22 editorial workers for the Washingtonian in Washington, DC, who functionally went on strike in response to a viciously anti-worker op-ed published by their boss, are officially filing for unionization with the Washington-Baltimore News Guild. 17 customer service workers for Hanford Mission Integrated Solutions (which is somehow related to the decommissioned nuclear site in Richland, WA, but I don’t fully get what they do) are organizing with the Hanford Atomic Metal Trades Council. 16 workers at the CVS in La Jolla, CA are joining UFCW Local 135. Eight aircraft welders for Amentum in Corpus Christi, TX are joining the Machinists. Seven workers for Goldbelt C6, which I believe makes aircraft components on a federal contract in Elizabeth City, NC, are also joining the Machinists. Six stationary engineers at Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center in Denver are joining Operating Engineers Local 1. Four hydro technicians for Rochester Gas & Electric in Rochester, NY are joining the IBEW. Three skilled maintenance workers at Bayshore Rehab in Duluth, MN are joining SEIU Healthcare Minnesota. Two building engineers on a contract at the federal building in San Bruno, CA are joining Operating Engineers Local 39. Two receptionists at the Ellicott Center for Rehabilitation are joining 1199 SEIU.

NLRB wins…: The dubious United Professional and Service Employees Union Local 1222 won a vote among 85 paramedics, EMTs, and dispatchers for American Medical Response in Oneonta, NY, 37-7. 82 workers at Architectural Sheet Metal Incorporated, which makes architectural sheet metal, voted 29-9 to join SMART Local 66. 47 CNAs and support staff at Hayward Convalescent Hospital in Hayward, CA are joining SEIU Local 2015 after a 34-4 vote. 41 weed workers at the Moca Modern Cannabis Dispensary in Logan Square, Chicago voted 34-3 to join Teamsters Local 777. Another 25 weed workers at JDRC downstate in Champaign, IL voted 21-4 to join UFCW Local 881. 24 RNs at Stanford Healthcare in Palo Alto, CA voted 17-1 to join the Committee for Recognition of Nursing Achievement, or CRONA, a longstanding small independent union of Stanford healthcare workers. 21 workers for ALS USA, which does geochemistry lab work in Fairbanks, AK, narrowly voted, 8-6, to join Laborers Local 942. 16 drivers for corporate dining supplier Company Kitchen in Lenexa, KS voted 6-3 to join Teamsters Local 838. 15 workers at Regional Ready Mix in Rochelle, IL voted to join Operating Engineers Local 150 in a 9-4 vote. Four counselors and social workers at Fryeburg Academy in Fryeburg, ME voted unanimously to join the Maine Education Association local. Four fare inspectors for CT Transit in Hartford, CT voted 2-1 to join Teamsters Local 671. Both workers at United Material building supplies in Tonawanda, NY voted yes to joining Teamsters Local 449.

...and losses: In a squeaker, the Chicago Teachers Union lost a vote among 135 educators at Intrinsic Charter Schools, 45-46. 57 workers at HVAC equipment manufacturer Global Cooling in Athens, OH, voted 25-28 against joining Teamsters Local 637. 55 workers at Land O’ Lakes in Madera, CA voted 14-27 against joining Teamsters Local 517. 48 iron workers at real estate developer DBR Development in Dorado, PR voted a whopping 5-35 against joining Iron Workers Local 845. 42 freight truck loaders for FSI in Elizabeth, NJ voted 12-16 against joining Teamsters Local 863. 20 salt production workers at Cargill in Buffalo, IA voted 7-11 not to join Teamsters Local 371

Decertifications & raids: SEIU Healthcare Illinois/Indiana lost a massive decertification vote among 658 workers at Research Medical Center in Kansas City, MO, which is owned by the notorious Hospital Corporation of America; the final count was 203-171, though members of the union are disputing the process and result. United Security Officers Association beat a raid attempt by SPFPA to represent 76 security guards at the Social Security Administration building in northwest Baltimore, in a 24-4 vote. Teamsters Local 701 survived a decertification attempt among 27 workers at XPO Logistics in Trenton, NJ in a 12-10 vote. 22 security guards working for Hana Industries at 3 buildings in Washington, DC are subject to what looks like a raid by United Security & Police Officers of America against the SPFPA; ironically, it looks like SPFPA raided this shop from another tiny security union in 2019, and the cycle continues. 20 campus security guards at Trinity College in Hartford, CT voted to decertify SPFPA Local 502 and also voted to not join LEOS-PBA, in a 13-1 vote. The seven employees of the Spanish Broadcasting System of Illinois, known to the public as WLEY 107.9 FM La Ley, voted 4-3 to decertify SAG-AFTRA.

Outside the NLRB: 650 more workers ("professional" staff) at the University of Vermont voted to join AFT, after 650 others (clericals and technicals) voted to do so last month. The staff of legacy progressive think tank Institute for Policy Studies asked for and received voluntary recognition, and are now members of the Washington-Baltimore News Guild. Staff at progressive campaigns firm The Hub Project also won recognition, through IFPTE Local 70, the Nonprofit Professional Employees Union. Library workers in Worthington, OH are organizing a union with AFT and asked for voluntary recognition from the Board of Trustees. Around 110 non-instructional K-12 employees in Tecumseh, OH won their union through the Ohio Education Association after a years-long fight.

Apple packinghouse workers in Washington State's Yakima Valley formed a union last year. Last week, the NLRB and the company reached a settlement agreeing to a new union election, after the employer irreparably intervened in the last vote.

STRIKES & BARGAINING

The 2,900 worker UAW Local 2069 strike at Volvo Truck in Dublin, VA rolls on, with shortages now affecting other Volvo operations at a plant in Maryland. The company is apparently back to the bargaining table, which is what shutting down operations and supply chains will do.

No big updates on the months-long ATI Steelworkers strike except for this dispatch from the New Bedford, MA picket line and the bad news that the state of Ohio is denying unemployment claims for striking workers in that state.

Teachers came out in support of the striking Massachusetts Nurses Association nurses at St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester, MA, but that and an exorcism haven’t brought the nation’s longest nurses strike in a decade to an end. Beyond Worcester, industry analysts see a theme with local healthcare fights breaking out across the country.

The 1100 striking Alabama UMWA miners took their fight to Manhattan this week, organizing protests outside of the offices of three hedge funds that hold large stakes in Warrior Met, and would thus have some influence in moving the company to settle a contract.

In the biggest labor action in Chicago since the 2019 CTU strike, 1200 NNU nurses walked off the job in a one-day strike, along with about 2500 county workers with SEIU Local 73, whose strike is open-ended. For the nurses and the healthcare workers who work for county healthcare facilities, the strike is about staffing ratios, as so many hospital strikes are these days; for the other county workers, it’s about pay, particularly a no-increase contract offer from failed mayoral candidate and Cook County executive Toni Preckwinkle, despite federal funding that should theoretically make raises quite doable, if not pandemic bonuses for these essential workers.

Labor Notes has the story on 33 engine mechanics with Machinists Local 1546 at Cummins in San Leandro, CA who’ve been on strike since June 8th.

110 members of Teamsters Local 231 struck Bellingham Cold Storage in Bellingham, WA for 30 hours last weekend on an unfair labor practice strike.

Over a month ago, Painters Local 10 in Portland, OR held an unfair labor practice strike as their wage increases have fallen behind inflation and employers have been stonewalling them. That has morphed into the awesomely-named “summer of chaos,” a series of rolling strikes at job sites across Portland. Jamie Partridge has a great interview with Scott Oldham, an IUPAT rep, going into detail about how and why they’ve organized the chaos.

800 nursing home workers with SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania at 12 facilities across the state authorized a strike on Monday, primarily over understaffing. They’ll need to issue a 10-day strike notice before actually stopping work, but this move means that they could do that at any moment.

Nurses with the Ohio Nurses Association at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center have voted to authorize a strike, with their contract expiring at the end of June. UCMC has something like 1600 nurses (I can’t find exact numbers) but a nursing shortage means there are hundreds of open or temporarily-filled positions. Nothing like a labor shortage to give a union leverage. 

39 healthcare workers with the Massachusetts Nurses Association at VNA Healthcare in Boston authorized a strike as they fight for a first contract.

At least 500 members of the Harvard Graduate Students Union (UAW Local 5118)are ready to strike if they can’t reach a contract by June 30th.

Exxon seems to have no interest in ending the lockout of 650 Steelworkers at their refinery in Beaumont, TX, and is dead set on gutting the union seniority system. 

Elsewhere in Beaumont, ATU Local 1031, the bus operators for the city’s transit system, “hope to avoid a strike,” which is a nice way of saying “we’re ready to walk,” having authorized a strike earlier this month. Also ready to walk in the world of public transit are 2,000 transit workers in the Twin Cities with ATU Local 1005, who are primarily stuck in negotiations around pandemic pay. 150 paratransit workers with Teamsters Local 727 in Chicago are threatening a job action starting July 1st, when their contract with MV Transportation expires.

State psychiatric healthcare workers in Catonsville, MD also rallied for pandemic pay with AFSCME Council 3 this week. I’m sensing a theme...

The twelve liquor distribution workers with Teamsters Local 251 who’ve been on strike at Johnson Brothers of Rhode Island protested at their boss’s home on Juneteenth to keep pressure up for a settlement that wouldn’t have these workers, who make $15 an hour to start, paying $20,000 in healthcare premiums.

The staff of the AFL-CIO, represented by the Washington-Baltimore News Guild, have filed an unfair labor practice over the federation’s return-to-office requirements, and specifically their failure to bargain with the union over the conditions of such return.

The Camden (NJ) Education Association won 15% raises through 2022, retroactive to 2018 after a three year impasse. Educators in Truckee, CA also have a new contract after months of negotiations, with the union president saying they refuse to strike this fall even though that’s where the district is pushing them. K-12 support staff in Watsonville, CA with the California School Employees Association Local 132rallied for pandemic compensation and a base raise. Teachers in New Castle, PA voted to accept a contract after a school year without one, but the school board rejected the agreement in a 4-4 tie vote, and now the district is apparently refusing to release the details of the agreement they rejected..

NewsGuild members at the Lawrence Journal-World in Lawrence, KS are raising the alarm about negotiations with parent company Ogden and asking for public support.

Part-time faculty with AFT Local 1903 at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo have requested mediation as contract negotiations, primarily over extremely low adjunct pay, drag on for months.

85 nursing home workers with 1199 SEIU in Rome, NY canceled a contract rally after reaching a tentative agreement after months of negotiations.

AFSCME Local 981 marked a year of protesting for higher wages at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, IL, with management refusing to give more than a 1% raise.

POLITICS & LEGISLATION

The US Supreme Court ruled this week that California’s Agricultural Labor Relations Act provision that grants unions access to farms to speak to workers is unconstitutional, and represents “a taking.” This is obviously a blow to those who organize farmworkers in California but also raises all sorts of odd questions about health and safety inspections and the like. I’m not a lawyer and I haven’t seen an assessment as to how or whether this might affect other union access laws, though for the most part unions already have no access rights to private employers, and the California law was a notable exception to that rule.

UNITE HERE’s 1500 “freedom riders,” traveling on buses from points across the country to Washington, DC to rally against voter suppression and for enhanced voting rights, will rally today alongside Black Voters Matter and other aligned groups. 

Indiana teachers unions are seeking an injunction against a new law that makes it much harder to collect union dues.

The Philadelphia City Council voted to raise wages for workers at the Philadelphia Airport to just over $15/hour, which is a legislative win for SEIU 32BJ and UNITE HERE Local 274, who both rep airport workers. In another municipal legislative effort backed by 32BJ, tens of thousands of workers in New York City could soon have “just cause” protections (meaning, you can’t be fired arbitrarily, only for a valid reason) as Josh Eidelson details the fight to get that passed in NYC and make it a national standard, one jurisdiction at a time.

India Walton won the Buffalo mayoral Democratic primary, and is poised to become the first socialist mayor of a large US city in over half a century. One would think 1199 SEIU, the union of which Walton was a member and a union rep, would be happy about this, but they probably don’t feel great about having flushed $5,000 down the toilet backing her four-term incumbent eight days before the election. It seems like a pretty low bar for unions to support (or at least not oppose) their members when they run for office, but we have not yet cleared it. In the other big mayoral race in New York on Tuesday, 1199 also appears to have flopped, with Maya Wiley falling short of most of the rest of the NYC labor movement’s choice, Eric Adams (well, if you don’t count the considerable number of labor endorsements Scott Stringer received before a maybe dubious scandal derailed his campaign).

INTERNAL UNION POLITICS

The Montana AFL-CIO has elected a new president, out of Teamsters Local 2 (the Teamsters not being an AFL-CIO affiliate but usually working closely on the state and local level).

The Mercury News has a piece looking back on the mass shooting at the railyard in San Jose, CA, and partly about the union that represented both the shooter and the victims, ATU Local 265. “Our job is to represent our members,” Aguilar said. “We are not psychiatrists. We do not analyze everybody.”

In 2018, in a surprise move, 2700 K-12 therapists in NYC’s public schools voted down their contract, one of a dozen or so separate contracts the United Federation of Teachers (AFT Local 2) negotiates with the NYC Department of Education (Kevin Prosen had a rundown of the fight in Labor Notes at the time). “OTs & PTs for a Fair Contract” formed to fight pay disparities and bad working conditions, as they agitated against the UFT-negotiated deal, with some success. Two and a half years later, the rank and file group ran for leadership of the therapists chapter of the union, and won 7 of 8 seats, against the wishes of the perennial-incumbent Unity Caucus. Definitely something to watch for in the union’s 2022 internal leadership elections and contract negotiations.

The Teamsters convention was this week, and a lot happened. The national press mostly picked up the resolution to organize Amazon, which I’ll just say is a great development if and when it leads to actual organizing work but it’s also a Teamsters election year, with both slates hoping to look tough on new organizing, so of course it passed overwhelmingly. More interesting to me are the long-fought-for reforms that Teamsters for a Democratic Union and their allies were able to win, like eliminating the 2/3rds rule that allowed the national union to impose a concessionary UPS contract in 2018 over the majority no vote of those who voted, and the requirement that strike funds be paid out on day one, and that national bargaining committees must now include rank-and-file members. Salary caps for officials making more than the IBT General President through the collection of multiple salaries (we’re talking in the $350,000+ range or so) failed. Of particular interest is the fact that the challenger slate is no longer the scrappy underdog, receiving a majority of delegate votes for the top slot, compared to 8% of delegates support in 2016. You can read all about it in TDU’s roundup of the convention, but clearly something is changing in the Teamsters union, and I’d expect the election this fall to see at least some reform-minded leaders win office.