The week in US unions, July 1-8, 2021

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NEW ORGANIZING

New filings at the NLRB: 200 EMTs with Tri Med Ambulance based in Kent, WA, which contracts with fire departments across King County, are organizing with IAFF Local I-98, the “I” being IAFF’s designation for private sector locals (as in, “industrial,” usually meaning firefighters who work at big facilities like Boeing, in I-98’s case). The campaign to organize 124 workers at the National Audubon Society with CWA, which has been public for several months, officially filed for an NLRB election. 57 parking attendants for LAZ Parking in Washington, DC are unionizing with ATU. 55 workers at Dairy Farmers of America are unionizing with Teamsters Local 186. 36 workers at SCH Sheet Metal in Ronkonkoma, NY are organizing with SMART Local 28. 30 solar panel installers with Powerhome Solar in Chesterfield, MI are organizing with IBEW Local 58, an election astute Green New Dealers will watch closely. 17 workers with AmeriGas Propane in Ocala and Brooksville, FL are organizing with Teamsters Local 79. 11 HVAC technicians for Vulcan Heating in Madison, AL are unionizing with UA Local 760. 11 concrete drivers for Conco Companies in Kent, WA are organizing with Teamsters Local 174. Nine workers for steel and aluminum products company EMJ Metals in Orlando, FL are organizing with the Steelworkers. Eight “budtenders” at Ponder weed dispensary in Seattle are organizing with UFCW Local 21. The seven editorial employees of Gannett-owned Record-Courier in Kent, OH are unionizing with the Northeast Ohio Newspaper Guild

NLRB wins…: 240 auto parts workers for Dakkota in Detroit voted 64-1 (great margin, tiny turnout) to join UAW Local 155. 229 RNs at Longmont United Hospital in Longmont, CO narrowly voted to join NNU, 93-84. 53 non-profit staffers at the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) voted 35-9 to join OPEIU Local 2. 52 Military Family Life Counselors for Defense contractor Leidos in the state of Washington voted 32-5 to join Machinists Local 47. 46 facilities maintenance workers at the FBI Training Academy in Quantico, VA are now members of Operating Engineers Local 99 after an extremely low turnout 6-1 vote. 39 case managers for healthcare contractor Comprehensive Health Services in El Paso voted 11-7 to join Operating Engineers Local 351. AFSCME Council 75 picked up an additional 11 workers at Tuality Healthcare in a unanimous vote among support staff at the Hillsboro, OR clinic. Eight drivers at Concrete Company of the Ozarks in Springfield, MO voted 6-1 to join Teamsters Local 245. Seven RNs at Limecrest Rehab in Lafayette, NJ are joining NUHHCE District 1199J (AFSCME) after a 4-0 vote. Seven workers at steel bar manufacturer Corey Steel in Chicago voted 6-1 to join Teamsters Local 705. Both inventory control technicians at Lineage Logistics in Seattle voted to join Teamsters Local 117.

...and losses: 52 skilled workers at the hulking Covanta Essex incineration plant off the New Jersey Turnpike in Newark, NJ voted 18-23 not to join Operating Engineers Local 825. 28 sanitation workers at Rinehart in Pottstown, PA voted 8-18 against joining Operating Engineers Local 542. 19 workers at air bag manufacturer Daicel in Beaver Dam, KY voted 5-13 against joining UA Local 633. Eight workers at construction equipment supplier Road Machinery in Negaunee, MI voted 3-3 on joining Operating Engineers Local 324, with the tie going against the union. SMART Local 110 came up with only 2 votes for the union among 7 workers at Spider Staging in Jeffersonville, IN, losing 2-5.

Decertifications and raids: Union Rights for Security Officers looks to be raiding a whopping 300 security guards for a contractor at the National Institutes of Health, currently represented by SPFPA. SPFPA, in turn, is raiding a unit of 73 campus police at Georgetown University in DC, currently represented by LEOSU. Similarly, United States Court Security Officers is raiding 38 guards at the federal courthouses in Pensacola and Panama City, FL, currently with UGSO. The Special and Superior Officers Benevolent Association is raiding 24 security guards with SPFPA Local 511 at NYC’s Intrepid Sea, Air, & Space Museum. Ten propane drivers for Midland Services in Ashland, WI decertified Teamsters Local 346 in a 4-5 vote. Six production workers in Rocky Hill, CT at Hartford Technologies, which makes ball bearings, unanimously decertified UAW Local 376; though it’s a small shop, it’s the second unanimous decertification this year for the 1,000-member local (half of whom work at gunmaker Colt, which was just bought by a European competitor). Five freight drivers and warehouse workers at JF Moran in Smithfield, RI voted 3-1 to decertify Teamsters Local 251.

Dubious union watch: 120 workers at plastic bag manufacturer X-L Plastics in Clifton, NJ, which seems to have been a Teamsters shop in the 90s, if not still, are voting on whether to join the mobbed-up-as-recently-as-2014International Brotherhood of Trade Unions, Local 713 (how can you not love these company union names; like, Amalgamated Dues Generators Local 100). The company union Transportation, Production, & Warehouse Employees Local 438 is going after 20 drivers for Elizabeth, NJ freight operator CMA Logistics. Local 438 is also raiding the 50-member commercial print shop Edison Litho in North Bergen, NJ, currently represented by United Production Workers Union Local 17-18, formerly a pure company union that has been being systematically raided by other company unions since members successfully ran for union office last year, which must’ve upset the apple cart with employers. Nine workers at the Toyota dealership in Vineland, NJ voted 7-1 to join the dubious United Service Workers Union Local 455 (IUJAT); bizarrely, this small dealership has had four union elections in the past 7 years, trading hands between IUJAT and Teamsters Local 676, with the UAW filing for an election in 2010 for good measure.

Outside the NLRB: The staff of CLINIC, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, received voluntary recognition through the Nonprofit Professional Employees Union, IFPTE Local 70.

Teamsters Local 317 say they plan to unionize the soon-to-be-completed Amazon facility in Clay, NY, citing the let’s-organize-Amazon resolution passed by the Teamsters convention. Will excitedly believe it when I see it.

STRIKES & BARGAINING

The St. Vincent Hospital Massachusetts Nurses Association strike is beginning to take on the urgency of an existential national fight, with some calling for it to be the anti-PATCO, a cause for all of labor to rally around. The Mass Nurses are also taking it national, leaving Worcester, MA for Tenet Healthcare HQ in Dallas, Texas, with support from Sara Nelson and other national labor figures. Meanwhile, Tenet has apparently made another contract offer, as the strike nears the 18-week mark.

UMWA miners are also taking their fight national, returning to Manhattan later this month to protest Warrior Met’s financial overlords, who the union says have the power to end the months-long strike in Brookwood, AL. Meanwhile the Real News has a piece up on how the strike has been fueled by the miners’ wives (if you’ve ever seen Harlan County USA you know that the women’s auxiliary tends to be a hotbed of strike militancy, even when the miners themselves might waver). 

After three months, ATI and the Steelworkers have announced a tentative agreement, with ratification vote results expected July 13th. Per the union’s bargaining update, they say the tentative agreement beat back any rise in healthcare premiums, which had become the signature issue of the strike.

No updates on the second Volvo Truck strike in Dublin, VA, but we should expect ratification vote results from UAW Local 2069 by the weekend; this will be the third tentative agreement the workers have voted on since March, with massive “no” vote majorities in the first two instances.

2,000 workers for Cook County, IL with SEIU Local 73 remain on strike, hitting their two-week mark. It’s a big strike that doesn’t feel like it’s gotten much national attention, if you ask me. To up the temperature, Local 73 organized a sit-in at County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s office.

After months of info pickets, and then a strike authorization vote, around 600 Frito-Lay workers with BCTGM Local 218 in Topeka, KS are now on strike. It’s the factory’s first strike since unionizing in the 70s.

A strike among 115 members of Teamsters Local 231 at Bellingham Cold Storage in Bellingham, WA has just passed the one-week mark. The workers had held a limited 30-hour strike the weekend before last, and turned it into an open-ended strike starting last Friday. The main point of leverage here is that the blueberry and raspberry harvests are in full swing, and rely on cold storage companies to freeze the berries for sale throughout the year. The company says it’s already hired over 40 replacement workers.

Around 65 workers with the IWW at the Dill Pickle Food Co-op in Chicago are on strike as of last Friday, over the firing of workers and management’s unilateral changes to contract provisions. It should be said that the IWW of 2021 does not hold on to legendary IWW orthodoxy around never engaging in official labor boards or collective bargaining agreements.

Hundreds of metal trades workers at Arnold Air Force Base in Tullahoma, TN went on strike Friday. Their last strike was in 1990.

After authorizing a strike, Workers United Local 1426 agreed to a 48-hour contract extension last week at packaging manufacturer Amcor in Terre Haute, IN. Then things seem to have gone off the rails. The membership voted down the tentative agreement Friday night by 59%. Per the article, “The company then added another $500 to its initial ratification/signing bonus offer of $1,000, bringing the total to $1,500. The union executive board voted 7 to 3 to ask the international to implement the contract, and an international representative agreed to do it only if the 1426 executive board unanimously agreed.” Apparently the three “no” votes on the executive board, including the president, then resigned, clearing the path for the regional joint board to override the vote of the members. You can hear all the nitty gritty in this YouTube breakdown of how it went down, and can see from the comments therein that the members are not happy about it. If you know any of the 400+ members who went through this, I’d love to hear more about this story. What a disaster.

200 bus drivers in Reno, NV with Teamsters Local 533 have voted to authorize a strike.

A supermajority of members of the Boston Newspaper Guild working at the Boston Globe said they’d support a strike authorization vote if one were called (which it hasn’t been... yet). The other two unions who represent Globe workers, Machinists District Lodge 15 and GCC-IBT Local 3 are speaking out in support of the Guild.

Over 100 farmworkers for West Coast Berry Farms in Santa Maria, CA walked off the job, organizing with the Mixteca Indigena Community Organizing Project. Their demand? To be paid the California minimum wage of $14 an hour. Elsewhere in non-union strikes, workers at Portillo’s in Addison, IL walked off and In These Times has the story.

The months-long lockout at ExxonMobil in Beaumont, TX drags on, with USW Local 13-243 meeting with the company but making no progress.

The Strathmore Theater in North Bethesda, MD continues to try to replace union ticket-takers with automated kiosks, and IATSE Local 868 has been organizing community support against the move.

IBEW Local 1289 is decrying the layoffs of 92 workers from the defunct Oyster Creek nuclear plant in Ocean County, NJ. The plant was decommissioned in 2018, but some element of the site is still operational, and the union says the layoffs could cause safety concerns.

POLITICS & LEGISLATION

New York City held a parade for “essential workers,” which pissed off a large swath of those essential workers organizations, like the firefighters union, DC37, and the EMTs, considering how much lip service and how little real compensation those workers have seen. Several unions boycotted the event.

The Seattle Police Officers Guild has filed a grievance against the city for investigating six officers who allegedly travelled to DC for the January 6th failed insurrection.

INTERNAL UNION POLITICS

Fran Drescher is running for SAG-AFTRA president, with the endorsement of the incumbent Unite for Strength; she’ll be facing off against Matthew Modine as the head of the Membership First caucus.

The total weirdness of SEIU Local 1000’s new president continues to be a source of fascination, with the Sacramento Bee continuing to report on it.

The Columbia grad worker unit of UAW Local 2110 elected a new bargaining committee, as part of the long fallout from their strike effort this spring. It appears that the group that opposed the strike settlement and helped organize the “no” vote on the tentative agreement swept the elections, and promptly renamed themselves the Student Workers of Columbia, indicative of their aims to bring undergraduate student workers into the union.

The NEA held their annual meeting and representative assembly last week, and honestly the most I heard about it was from right-wing talk radio wingnuts frothing over the union’s stance on “critical race theory.” But I did find this useful round-up of resolutions passed from journalist Maddy Will and would be curious to hear from members and others on what else stuck out from the virtual meeting.