The week in US unions, June 25-July 1

This week, close friends of the newsletter Labor Notes and Teamsters for a Democratic Union were hit with a ton of flood damage in their Detroit offices as part of the ongoing climate nightmare. They do invaluable work and could use our support; chip in $27 (or more!) here.


New election filings at the NLRB:

Large shops: 355 workers for Brooklyn Defender Services, a legal aid nonprofit in Brooklyn, NY are unionizing with UAW Local 2325, the union of Legal Aid Society attorneys. The 300 MSNBC employees who asked for recognition last week officially filed with the NLRB this week, with WGAE. 280 home care workers for Golden Years Home Care Services based in East Longmeadow, MA are organizing with 1199 SEIU. 160 workers at auto parts manufacturer Ground Effects in Roanoke, IN are organizing with the UAW. 155 workers who make automotive interiors for Eissmann Automotive in Port Huron, MI are organizing with UAW Local 9699. 120 security guards for Internal Security Associates, which contracts with large public and private employers across Massachusetts, are unionizing with the National Association of Guards and Security Professionals. 104 freight drivers, mechanics, and dispatchers at Garten Trucking in Covington, VA are organizing with, for some reason, the Association of Western Pulp and Paper Workers, an affiliate of the Carpenters (this is so strange that I actually wonder if it’s some kind of clerical error). 

Medium and small shops: 45 workers for Wheelabrator, in the “waste-to-energy” business, are unionizing with IBEW Local 103 in North Andover, MA. 43 workers in Fort Wayne, IN and 22 workers in Kiowa, CO at glazing contractor Hall Aluminum Products are unionizing with Painters District Council 91 and Painters Local 930, respectively. 40 plastic production workers at JSP Resins in Butler, PA are organizing with the Steelworkers. 35 Anheuser-Busch warehouse workers in Santa Fe Springs, CA are unionizing with Teamsters Local 896. 30 workers at New Hampshire Public Radio in Concord, NH are organizing with SAG-AFTRA. 19 drivers for chemicals distributor Univar Solutions in Houston are organizing with Teamsters Local 988. 16 painters at contractor MJ Melo Painting in Brooklyn, NY are joining IBEW Local 1430. 15 workers for building materials company CalPortland in Oro Grande, CA are organizing with the Steelworkers. 12 security guards at medical marijuan dispensary Vireo Health in Johnstown, NY are joining the New York Security Professionals Association. Nine mechanics for Intermodal Mexico in Miami and Ft. Lauderdale are organizing with Teamsters Local 769. Eight warehouse workers for Anji Logistics in Lake Orion, MI are organizing with UAW Local 9699. Eight utility workers at Aurora Energy in Fairbanks, AK are unionizing with Laborers Local 942. Seven mechanics at the Dairyland Power Cooperative in La Crosse, WI are organizing with IBEW Local 953. Five workers at I Am Detroit Clothing (in Plymouth, MI, technically) are unionizing with Teamsters Local 337. Three bakery workers at the Safeway in Portland, OR are joining BCTGM Local 114.

NLRB wins…: The 300+ editorial employees at Insider voted 241-14 to join the New York NewsGuild. 247 workers at beverage bottler Refresco in Wharton, NJ voted 114-101 to join the UE, in the biggest blue collar (i.e., not healthcare, education, or office workers) NLRB win of 2021 so far. 204 hospital techs at Marquette General Hospital in Marquette, MI voted 159-13 (that’s 92%!) to unionize with the Michigan Nurses Association. 75 production workers who make toilet paper and other paper products for Essity Hygiene in Greenwich, NY voted 55-7 to join the Steelworkers. 66 hospital techs at St. Anthony Community Hospital in Warwick, NY voted 44-1 (98%!) to join 1199 SEIU. 5 truck drivers for United Natural Foods (UNFI) in North Las Vegas voted unanimously to join Teamsters Local 63. Four air traffic controllers at the Groton-New London Airport in Groton, CT voted unanimously to join NATCA

...and losses: 131 sanitation workers at Waste Management in Bristol, PA voted 37-82 against joining Operating Engineers Local 542. It looks like AFSCME Local 2934 narrowly lost a vote among 58 healthcare support staff at Trinity Health System in Steubenville, OH, who voted 21 for AFSCME, 3 for OPEIU Local 457, and 20 for no union; since that’s not a simple majority of votes cast, the union effort fails (Edit: I was wrong to call this a loss; it will now likely go to a runoff between the top two vote-getters, namely AFSCME and “no union.” Apologies for the error!). 50 workers at Coca-Cola in Beckley, WV voted 20-25 not to join Teamsters Local 175. 19 workers at weed dispensary Greenworks in Seattle voted 4-7 against joining UFCW Local 21. 19 workers at commercial refrigeration company Hussmann in Denver voted 4-10 against joining Pipefitters Local 208. Four security guards at electricity utility NV Energy in Las Vegas voted 2-2, thus not joining SPFPA.

Decertifications and raids and others: Here’s a strange one: 325 workers at foster care/juvenile detention facility The Children’s Village in Dobbs Ferry, NY apparently voted 31-11 (yes, less than 15% turnout) to join company union Brotherhood of Amalgamated Trades, Local 514; especially strange is that this was filed as a raid against Teamsters Local 202, but then in May Local 202 filed a statement with the NLRB saying that “the Union hereby immediately waives and disclaims any right to represent the employees of The Children’s Village covered by its collective bargaining agreement with the Union and, further, shall not take any other action.” Strange! 68 workers at pet food wholesaler Animal Supply Company in Fife, WA are sticking with Teamsters Local 117 after a close 29-22 vote against decertification.  28 security guards and dispatchers with LEOSU at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Cheltenham, MD are being raided by the SPFPA. 27 support staff workers at Teal Lake Senior Living Community in Negaunee, MI decertified their union, Steelworkers Local 4950-13, in a 7-10 vote. At least 30% of the 468 nurses at Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital in Vero Beach, FL have filed to decertify Teamsters Local 769; like any NLRB vote, it’ll have to go through the whole election process, but something to watch. Cleveland Clinic acquired the hospital in January of 2019.

Outside the NLRB: Workers United announced they’re organizing around 500 workers at primary care telehealthcare company One Medical. About 175 workers at the University of Washington library system won their union through SEIU Local 925 after filing for recognition at the Washington Public Employees Relations Commission in November. Workers at the Denver Public Library have formed a minority union (or “open union,” as they’re calling it) with CWA Local 7799, which includes United Campus Workers Colorado; looks like the minority union model CWA’s adopted at public universities and with the Alphabet Workers Union is spreading. The NewsGuild announced organizing drives at three nonprofits -- ACLU of Minnesota, gardening non-profit Big Green in Denver, and youth civic engagement org New Era, also in Colorado. Elsewhere in ACLU world, the staff of ACLU Arizona requested voluntary recognition through UAW 2320. Jacobin ran an interview with grad student workers at Colorado State University who organized with the Emergency Workplace Organizing Committee (a project of UE and DSA) through the pandemic. School nurses in Mehlville, MO, outside St. Louis, have unionized and won a contract. Workers at asked for and received voluntary recognition through CODE-CWA, as part of the tech worker organizing wave. Campaign staff for Seattle City Council candidate Nikkita Oliver unionized and ratified a contract with the Campaign Workers Guild. Library workers organizing with AFT in Worthington, OH, have been denied voluntary recognition by the library board, but it sounds like there may be a card check agreement in the works.


For the third time in 3 months, UAW Local 2069 has a tentative agreement with Volvo Truck in Dublin, VA. The last two times the agreement was voted down by huge margins. We'll see what happens when the vote happens on July 9th.

2500 Cook County, IL workers with SEIU Local 73 remain on strike since last week.

The UMWA strike at Warrior Met Coal in Brookwood, AL hit its four month mark, and remains heated and contentious as ever. Kim Kelly has consistently put out great reporting on the strike, and she collected her reporting here.

The Massachusetts Nurses Association panned an offer made by St Vincent Hospital parent corporation Tenet Healthcare and made a counterproposal aimed at ending the strike. Totally unclear to me how likely this is to finally bring this months-long strike in Worcester, MA to an end.

After a five month strike-turned-lockout, 200 refinery workers with Teamsters Local 120 outside the Twin Cities are set to get back to work on Tuesday with a new contract. I’m kind of pleasantly shocked to hear it, and am curious to learn more about the settlement; perhaps this bodes not-terribly for the ExxonMobil workers locked out in Beaumont, TX, though of course it’s a different company and different union.

About 40 workers at weed dispensary Greenleaf in Portsmouth, RI who organized their union in April with UFCW Local 328 went on a one day unfair labor practice strike after the company fired a member of the negotiating committee.

Though they lost their NLRB election in a deadlock vote, workers at Voodoo Doughnuts with the IWW went on strike over heat conditions at their shop in Portland, OR this week. So did workers at Jack in the Box in Sacramento with Fight for $15. Both are part of a bigger pattern of heat-related walk-offs.

Municipal workers: Ten New Orleans Department of Public Works employees went on strike this week, citing low pay; as one worker put it, ““I’m working for the city and bringing home a $352 check for one week,” said Eric Gardner. “Come on now.” City workers in Elizabeth City, NC also went on strike after the city council rejected a ten cent property tax increase that would’ve provided a raise for all city employees. Municipal workers in San Jose, CA with IFPTE Local 21 held a rally against the city’s proposed dinky pay raises, despite police getting a heftier increase. The city of Santa Fe, NM settled a few of its union contracts, but remains far apart with AFSCME Local 3999, whose contract expired in February 2020. The Topeka, KS firefighters, IAFF Local 83, have declared an impasse in negotiations with the city fire department. A few thousand blue collar city workers in Philadelphia with AFSCME District Council 33 have authorized a strike, with their contract expiring this week.

Non-union workers at hot dog joint chain Portillo’s in Addison, ILstruck starting Monday, working closely with worker center ARISE.

When 1800 nurses in Asheville, NC unionized with NNU, there was a healthy amount of skepticism as to whether they could turn that vote into a first contract. Well, haters beware, because the south is not only organizing but is now reaching tentative agreements. In another big first contract for nurses, the New York State Nurses Association has a tentative agreement after three years of organizing at Albany (NY) Medical Center. 1199 SEIU is having less luck securing a first contract for 100 healthcare workers at clinics and offices for Auburn Community Hospital in Auburn, NY.

Almost 600 nurses with OPEIU Local 40 at McLaren Macomb hospital outside Detroit in Mt. Clemens, MI voted to authorize a strike, with 130 outstanding grievances and a contract that expires July 27th.

Workers United Local 1426 at Amcor, a packaging production company in Terre Haute, IN, was ready to strike as of Wednesday at 11pm, but hastily came to a 48 hour extension with the company. We’ll see what happens tomorrow night.

After months of informational pickets, if no agreement is reached by July 5th, hundreds of Frito-Lay workers with BCTGM Local 218 in Topeka, KS will go on strike.

The Painters Local 10 “summer of chaos” (rolling intermittent strikes across Portland, OR) looks to be coming to an early happy ending, with considerable wage increases.

After a strike threat, the union staff of the National Education Association have a tentative agreement.

Healthcare workers at Essentia with Steelworkers Local 9460 held an informational picket at the Duluth, MN airshow to raise the alarm about current contract negotiations.

K-12: The Frederick County, MD teachers union are at an impasse in contract negotiations with the school district. Teachers in the Bristol-Warren School District in Rhode Island are asking for state mediation in contract negotiations, and have filed a grievance over the district’s decision to begin the school year on Rosh Hashanah. Teachers in Maysville, OH are also deadlocked in bargaining with their school district. Things are going better for teachers in Carlsbad, NM, who expect to see a raise against the backdrop of a teacher shortage.

Two NewsGuild units -- at Quartz and at the Ziff Davis Creators Guild (AskMen, PCMag, Mashable) -- reached first contracts with their employers. Two down, and something like 80 more to go, as the Guild’s bargaining tries to keep up with its blazing fast new organizing. The Appeal union was able to win a much larger severance package upon the news of that site shutting down, effective immediately, while the staff try to find a path forward as a worker-owned site.

For the first time in 9 years, K-12 support staff with the Buffalo Educational Support Team (NYSUT) in Buffalo, NY have a contract. These long public sector delays are more common in New York state, given the Taylor Law’s provision that indefinitely extends contracts as they expire.


In California, Child Care Providers United, the joint SEIU and AFSCME union of 40,000+ child care workers who unionized last year, won raises through the state budget process.

Luis Feliz Leon has a piece at The American Prospect about UNITE HERE’s voting rights campaign, sending “freedom riders” from across the country to Washington, DC this week.

Farmworkers are dying in the west coast heat wave, and the United Farm Workers are pushing for safety standards to provide relief and help workers refuse unsafe work.

Despite the COVID emergency OSHA standard being non-existent for 10 months under the Trump administration, and then delayed several months for no good reason by the Biden administration, and then limited only to healthcare workers, that’s apparently not good enough for the American Hospital Association, who want six more months to comply. I mean, what are we even doing here at this point?


The New York State Nurses Association held its contentious leadership elections, with incumbent president Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez not seeking re-election (Edit for clarity: Sheridan-Gonzalez was term-limited from running for re-election). As Politico reported, it was something of a referendum on Sheridan-Gonzalez’s outspoken politically progressive leadership of the union, but the wing of the union advocating for friendlier relations with Governor Cuomo and less vocal support of things like the defund the police movement lost 60-40.

The Springfield (MO) Education Association has a new president.

The UMWA has a new international secretary-treasurer, after the abrupt resignation of Levi Allen, purportedly to “spend more time with family.”

The UAW top leadership has further shuffled its deck chairs, with President Rory Gamble abruptly announcing his retirement, effective yesterday, and the nomination of Ray Curry to replace him. With a membership referendum to institute one-member one-vote elections of top officers likely to pass this fall, presumably the long time incumbent Administration Caucus wants Curry to be at the top of their ticket in 2022 if there is indeed a membership-wide vote.