New filings at the NLRB:
Health Care and Social Assistance: 371 workers at Breaking Ground, a social services agency which helps people in NYC transition out of homelessness, are unionizing with AFSCME DC37. 70 nursing home workers in Streamwood, IL and 55 more at Warren Barr nursing home in Highland Park, IL are organizing with SEIU HCII. 99 technical and maintenance staff at Stanford Health in Palo Alto, CA are unionizing with SEIU UHW. 24 pharmacists at Karmanos Cancer Institute in Wyandotte, MI are joining Teamsters Local 283. 22 nursing home support staff at Quinnipiac Valley Center in Wallingford, CT are organizing with 1199 New England. 14 physical therapists and social workers at McKenzie-Willamette Hospital in Springfield, OR are joining SEIU Local 49.
Cannabis workers: 30 dispensary workers at Green Thumb Industries in Quincy, IL are unionizing with UFCW Local 881. Teamsters Local 777 is organizing 27 workers at a Verilife cannabis dispensary in Chicago, their second Verilife target in the metro area in as many weeks. 12 “budtenders” at Green Lady Westside dispensary in Olympia, WA are joining UFCW Local 21.
Progressive non-profits: 24 staffers at the Washington Environmental Council in Seattle are pivoting from voluntary recognition to an NLRB election with CWA Local 7800. 13 staffers with grassroots organizing group Pennsylvania Stands Up based in Lancaster, PA are unionizing with SEIU Local 668. Nine editorial employees at the progressive publication American Independent are joining the Washington-Baltimore News Guild.
Everybody else: 146 workers for Pathway Vet Alliance, which as far as I can tell is a leader in the corporate consolidation of the veterinary industry (which is apparently a big thing), are unionizing with the Machinists in Rochester, NY. 81 workers at three Starbucks locations in Buffalo and Hamburg, NY have filed three separate elections (with 15 others in the works) with Workers United, in an unprecedented effort to go after the coffee megachain in a metro area. 70 workers for electricity utility United Illuminating that serves the New Haven and Bridgeport, CT areas are organizing with the Utility Workers. 30 milk truck drivers for Prairie Farms in Detroit are joining Teamsters Local 337. 29 workers at custom glass-blowing shop Bicycle Glass in Minneapolis are organizing with UNITE HERE Local 17. 25 childcare workers at Wild Lilac Child Development Center in Portland, OR are joining ILWU Local 5. 17 heavy equipment delivery drivers for United Rentals at six locations around Seattle are unionizing with Teamsters Local 174. 17 workers at chemicals distributor Univar in Garland, TX (whose Houston shop just voted against joining the Teamsters, you’ll remember) are organizing with Operating Engineers Local 564. 14 workers for Four Seasons Fresh Transport, a produce trucking company in National City, CA, are organizing with the ILWU. 10 workers at Pepsi in Franklin Furnace, OH are unionizing with Teamsters Local 92. 10 workers at Balducci’s grocery in Scarsdale, NY are joining UFCW Local 342. Two workers for Arbormetrics Solutions, which appears to be a staffing agency which provides utility workers to Kentucky Power and Appalachian Power in Hazard, KY are joining IBEW Local 369.
NLRB election wins…: 88 educators at the 21st Century Cyber Charter School based in West Chester and Murrysville, PA voted 76-4 to join PSEA (NEA). 57 security guards for Wellpath at what I believe is a jail-adjacent medical facility in Florida City, FL voted 22-0 to join SPFPA. 30 nurses at the Providence Willamette Falls Medical Center in Oregon City, OR voted 16-5 to join the Oregon Nurses Association. Nine workers at steel and aluminum supplier EMJ Metals in Orlando voted 5-4 to join the Steelworkers. Nine security guards in Hapeville, GA joined UGSO Local 291, 8-0. Masters, Mates, and Pilots has five new members at Marine Oil Service of New York in Elizabeth, NJ, after a 3-2 vote.
...and losses: Teamsters Local 618 got walloped, 2-14, in a vote among 20 warehouse worker at chemical distributor Brenntag Mid-South’s St. Louis facility. Seven workers at City Winery in NYC voted 3-4 not to join IATSE Local 1.
Decertifications and raids:IBEW Local 1116 beat a decert attempt, 31-12, at the Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative in Willcox, AZ. 20 federal security guards for Constellis are in a three-way raid election across Michigan and it just feels tedious to type out all the squabbling little security unions; someday, I swear, I will investigate these weird little formations.
Outside the NLRB: Student Researchers United, the UAW-affiliated new union of 17,000 graduate-level researchers across the University of California system, held rallies across all UC campuses for the University to recognize the union; it’s already been certified by the state labor board, but the administration is trying to exclude 1500 workers on the basis of their funding streams (which is clearly bogus and is just a stall tactic). Baltimore County public library workers are organizing with the Machinists.
The Hamilton College tour guides and student fellows I wondered about last week turn out to indeed be undergraduate student workers, a relatively novel group of people to file for an NLRB election. Science magazine looked at grad student unionization during the pandemic, which has been considerable, from New Mexico to California.
Reuters looked at the Teamsters Amazon organizing efforts, which seem to be more about rescinding tax abatements than building workplace organization so far, but then again, one of those activities is much more public and press-friendly than the other. I will continue to believe it when I see it.
STRIKES & BARGAINING
Over 1,000 BCTGM Nabisco workers in five states are still on strike, and Fast Company is taking the company’s social media game to task. NW Labor Press has a good overview of the strike, the best detail being some successful efforts to block rail shipments of supplies into the plants by enterprising community supporters.
The St Vincent Hospital nurses strike in Worcester, MA is officially the longest nurses strike in state history. It almost came to a close last month, but management is retaliating against Massachusetts Nurses Association strikers by refusing to give them their jobs back, which is prolonging the conflict.
125 warehouse workers for food wholesaler Sysco in Des Plaines, IL went on strike with Teamsters Local 703 on Monday, and by Thursday evening had a tentative agreement. The drivers weren’t on strike but honored the picket line, so functionally they were, complicating matters for the company, which supplies food to Chicago Public Schools, hospitals, and other big customers.
Two dozen nursing home workers with SEIU Healthcare Missouri struck for one day at Blue Circle Rehab in St. Louis, demanding a $15 minimum wage.
Higher ed in Michigan: Over 800 faculty members at Oakland University in Rochester, MI are on strike with AAUP when their contract expired the night before the first day of classes, while the university administration continued to push for wage cuts. At Western Michigan University, classes started on Wednesday and the faculty union contract expires on Labor Day, with no agreement in sight. AAUP members have been rallying for fair pay, but it’s unclear whether they’ll escalate actions if the contract expires. In the Upper Peninsula, Northern Michigan faculty are in a similar situation, though their contract expired in July and they organized a walkout from the university’s convocation in protest.
K-12: The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers gave everyone whiplash as their contract expired, and then they said they were going to call a strike vote, and then the district almost immediately gave them a tentative agreement. Moline, IL teachers have a new contract, with 5.5% raises over two years. So do teachers in Bloomington, IL, where first-year educators will just barely clear the statewide salary minimum of $40,000. Educators in Fargo, ND, Pittsburgh, and Murrysville, PA, and bus drivers with AFSCME Local 2227 in Polk County, FL and with Teamsters Local 610 in Wright City, MO also have new contracts, as do support staff with Teamsters Local 911 and the CSEA in Pasadena, CA. Contract negotiations in Billings, MT and Rutland, VT are going considerably less well. A school district outside Pittsburgh (Leechburg, PA) is looking at whether the pandemic has increased teacher workload, and, if so, whether that warrants a pay hike. Dispatches from Illinois and Alabama attest to the long-standing but increasingly acute teachers shortage. The Newberg (OR) Education Association is suing their school board for banning Black Lives Matter flags at school. Students at Lincoln Elementary in Edison, NJgot a big back to school welcome from Laborers Local 77 and a big inflatable scabby rat, as the school board has hired a building contractor that is saying, according to the union, that it will only use Serbian or Macedonian workers. Albanians need not apply. Teachers at Masterman middle and high school in Philadelphia are refusing to teach inside the building due to asbestos concerns; they spent Thursday teaching outdoors in protest.
Strike watch: 450 nursing home workers at Utica, NY’s Masonic Care Community with 1199 SEIU have authorized a strike as they struggle to negotiate a new contract… 400 nurses with the Montana Nurses Association at Deaconess Hospital in Bozeman, MT have voted down a tentative agreement, as expected. The contract expired in April and this offer was Bozeman Health’s “last, best, and final.” Elsewhere in Montana, Montana State Prison employees with the Montana Federation of Public Employees (AFT/NEA) still don’t have a contract, after a unanimous strike vote nearly a month ago… After nearly a year without a contract, transit workers with ATU Local 1031 in Beaumont, TX hoped that city council would weigh in on stalled negotiations with contractor First Transit; that appears to have been a dead end, and a strike is still very much on the table… New York NewsGuild members at Fortune planned a two-day strike against the magazine’s CEO event, to which management responded by just cancelling it. Presumably that is enough of a headache to inch towards a first contract, which has been in the works for two years.
Tentative agreements, contract ratifications, and other negotiations: 600 East Bay (CA) parks workers with AFSCME Local 2428 have reached a tentative agreement with management after authorizing a strike… Nurses and hospital workers with UNAP Local 5110 at Our Lady of Fatima Hospital in Providence were planning to take a strike vote next week, but that turned into a contract ratification vote as management offered a deal… 245 poultry workers in Compton, CA with Teamsters Local 630 have ratified a contract after authorizing a strike at Foster Farms... Alexandria, VA firefighters with IAFF Local 540 have their first-ever union contract and the first increase in base pay since 2008, as local public sector collective bargaining finds toeholds in Virginia… 14,000 nurses with NNU across the Dignity Health network in California have a tentative agreement… 7,000 Machinists who work as customer service reps for Southwest Airlines have a tentative agreement… 5,000 bus drivers and mechanics with nine ATU unions (those would be Locals 540, 819, 820, 821, 822, 823, 824, 825, and 880 for those of you keeping track) for New Jersey Transit have a new contract. The article has this interesting aside on the CDL labor market: “We all need to recognize the changes in market for those with a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License),” said NJ Transit Board of Directors Member Robert Gordon. “We’re no longer competing with other transit systems, we’re competing with the package delivery industry. We have to pay enough to get the people we need to provide the service our public demands.” Another unforeseen knock-on effect of the COVID economy?... 3100 UFCW Local 400 members at 21 Kroger stores in the Richmond and Hampton Roads, VA areas approved a new contract by a wide margin, with the biggest win appearing to be that they kept their current healthcare plan. Starting wages went up to $12.35 an hour… 2,000 in-home caregivers with SEIU Local 2015 in Santa Cruz County, CA have a new agreement that brings starting wages up to $15.75… Card dealers at Wynn Casino in Las Vegas have their first contract as UAW members; they used to be with TWU, but the local voted to disaffiliate and join the UAW because “the casino industry is not among the core sectors where the TWU organizes,” which, like, OK, United Auto Workers it is… City workers in Plattsburgh, NY with AFSCME Local 788 have a new contract after their last one expired all the way back in 2018. New York state collective bargaining law makes this a little more common there, with contract provisions staying in place if a new agreement isn’t reached… 2800 pork processing workers for Triumph Foods based in St. Joseph, MO are all getting a raise through a new agreement with UFCW Local 2, which raises the starting wage to a relatively impressive rate for meatpacking workers of $20/hour… New York’s Metropolitan Opera settled a contract with IATSE Local One after seven months, but has yet to come to an agreement with Local 829, United Scenic Artists… 32BJ SEIU is enlisting local politicians to push for higher wages in contract negotiations for 1800 security guards in northern New Jersey… Medical residents with CIR SEIU at University of New Mexico are still working on a new agreement, as their contract expired on August 31st.
Info pickets: Mental healthcare workers at Connecticut Valley Hospital in Middletown, CT are raising the alarm about understaffing, just like every other hospital worker in the country. Several unions -- 1199 New England, the Connecticut State Employees Association (SEIU Local 2001), the Connecticut Employees Union Independent (which despite its name is affiliated with SEIU), and AFSCME -- organized a press conference to highlight some incredibly shocking statistics: nurses are taking care of up to 22 patients at a time; 25% of the workforce is up for retirement next year; 20 psychiatrists have left in the past year, and only one replacement has been hired… The Southwest Airline Pilots Association is suing the airline for forcing mandatory quarantines without pay, among other issues, as they also gear up for possible info pickets later this year… AFSCME Council 63 organized an informational picket at SERV Mercer County in Lawrenceville, NJ as workers at the state-funded behavioral health service provider rally for a fair contract over a year after they unionized… UNITE HERE Local 26 is organizing info pickets at Harvard to pre-empt any moves to short-staff or reduce hours of campus dining staff. UNITE HERE Local 2 is info picketing the San Francisco Giants ballpark, pushing for more COVID restrictions (the park currently boasts that there are none). More than half of Disneyland’s workers are back on the job, while at the same time management eliminated entire departments in reopening, putting the future of hundreds of UNITE HERE Local 11 members into question.
Police unions: After lots of community mobilization against it, the new Kansas City police union contract still has a clause allowing for 48 hours for an officer to get their story straight before making a statement about using force on the job. In San Antonio, though they beat the ballot measure that would’ve revoked collective bargaining rights, the police union still doesn’t have a contract, as the city and the union remain far apart on disciplinary procedures for police. The Louisville FOP has a tentative agreement with the mayor, but he apparently won’t show it to the public or the city council, despite protests. Clifton, NJ police are leaving the city for higher wages elsewhere. The Santa Ana, CA police union president got placed on administrative leave for going on a crusade to boost his pension.
Vaccines: Mandate fights continue apace, with several more unions speaking up either against mandates entirely, or for more bargaining on the topic. The San Jose police union, AFSCME Massachusetts, the Boston Carmen’s Union, SEIU 509, Chicago Firefighters, WFSE (AFSCME Washington), all had things to say. Some of these are just unions choosing different ways to communicate their preferences, some are actually meaningfully different responses; WFSE is suing the governor, for example. Needless to say, this is just a random sampling of a much larger set of responses.
POLITICS & LEGISLATION
A federal judge in Boston has ruled against the Department of Labor, which attempted to bar a man convicted in 2009 of a drug trafficking felony from serving as a shop steward. People convicted of certain crimes are barred from holding union office for 13 years as a holdover from the 1959 LMRDA, which was obviously intended to root out corrupt officials, not block people with unrelated felonies from serving in their union, especially as shop stewards.
A Spokane (WA) County judge has ruled that a law passed by referendum mandating open bargaining with public employees unions is unconstitutional.
The Texas legislature has advanced a bill to give a one-time $2400 check to the state’s K-12 retirees. Which sounds nice but actually isn’t, considering the alternative proposal was a cost-of-living increase across the board, and retirees haven’t seen a bump in 8 years, as cost of living continues to rise.
AFSCME is gathering testimony from members for a class-action suit against Oregon Health & Science University in Portland for racist treatment of minority and non-native-born workers.
INTERNAL UNION POLITICS
Teamsters Joint Council 25 has removed and expelled from membership the Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 700 for apparently supporting a decertification attempt of his local at the Cook County Jail, decrying his “failed insurrection.”
Results in the SAG-AFTRA leadership election are in, and in a surprise (to me) result, neither slate fully won, with Fran Drescher (of The Nanny fame and the Unite for Strength slate) taking the top spot, and Joely Fisher (of the MembershipFirst slate) winning the number two position. Apparently this isn’t that odd in that union, with this being the third time slates have split the winners since SAG and AFTRA merged in 2012. Turnout was 26.5%, which is somewhat high for national mail-in union elections (of which there aren’t that many, but still).