The week/month in US unions, June 18-25, 2022
Hello, after an unplanned (but not unpredictable) hiatus! The Labor Notes Conference was a huge success, but sadly the weekly newsletter had to fall by the wayside for a few weeks. If you want to see some of the stuff we put together, videos are available here. I’ve daydreamed about a month-long mega-edition but I think we’ll just have to settle for a historical lacuna. I will, however do a full strike recap (with lots of credit to the folks at the ILR Labor Action Tracker) because how can I not include a strike! In the meantime, if you’re interested in a debrief of the massive Labor Notes Conference & what’s next, join our call this Thursday evening.
STRIKES & NEGOTIATIONS
115,000 railroad workers just inched closer to what would be an insanely massive strike, though it remains extremely unlikely, since the Railway Labor Act allows for the convening of a Presidential Emergency Board in case of high-impact labor disputes (which, uh, yeah, this would be) and as feckless as Joe is, not allowing a rail strike seems within his range of function. At least one of the unions involved, the BLET (IBT), is taking a strike vote, even if it’s just pro forma.
The ILWU’s contract across 29 west coast ports, covering 22,000 workers, expires on July 1st, and analysts apparently think a deal by then is unlikely. That doesn’t mean we’ll see a strike or lockout per se, but the ILWU has a strong culture of slowdowns, and, like, who knows?
14,000 United Airlines pilots with ALPA have a tentative agreement that would provide a 14% raise over two years, and the Machinists have a deal at Alaska Airlines that would raise wages from 16 to 25% through 2025, for 5,000 customer service and ramp workers.
Six thousand workers at five casinos in Atlantic City, NJ with UNITE HERE Local 54 are on the verge of a massive strike, starting July 1st, with thousands more workers affected if picket lines do go up. The last casino strike in Atlantic City was of a thousand workers at the Trump Taj Mahal, and was the longest in the town’s casino history.
In the past month, Starbucks Workers United members struck in Anderson, SC (!), Leesburg, VA, Brighton, MA, Seattle, Marysville, Tumwater, and Everett, WA and are currently on strike in Pittsburgh and at several stores (again) in Seattle. Read more about one of the South Carolina strikes in Labor Notes. And speaking of big fast food chains that are striking and unionizing, Chipotle workers in Augusta, ME walked off the job before filing for their union with UFCW, in what I believe is the first for the chain.
Around 15 Amazon “Flex” drivers (the company’s gig worker arm) walked off the job in Avenel, NJ after the company cut their pay rates; as far as I know this wasn’t officially-backed thing by any of the unions organizing at Amazon, but I first learned about it from Teamsters showing up in support, and Make the Road was there as well. Earlier in the month, 10 Amazon warehouse workers walked off the job in Bellmawr, NJ, and more did the same in Chicago, over racist harassment from management.
Beer-drinking picket line respecters in Philly breathed a sigh of relief when, after a week, Teamsters Local 830 ended its strike against three local beer distributors.
All but one of New Jersey Transit’s 15 unions have settled a contract with the company; the one that hasn’t, the BLET, saw a wildcat call-off from a significant number of members on June 17th in protest of not getting Juneteenth as a paid holiday, as all the other unions did in their newly-settled agreements. The company went to court to get a restraining order, and the union leadership swears they had nothing to do with it. Meanwhile, on the PATH transit system, operated by the Port Authority, workers with TWU Local 201 are imploring management to settle a new contract after going 11 years without.
Workers at a Sherwin Williams paint factory in Bowling Green, KY have been on strike since the beginning of the month with Teamsters Local 783; even before the strike officially began, the company cut the workers’ benefits. This is the second strike at the company this year, with 55 members of Steelworkers Local 14919 at the company’s aerosol plant in Bedford Heights, Ohio having struck for over two months from February to April.
Over 100 delivery drivers with Teamsters Local 710 for Breakthru Beverage in Cicero, IL rejected a tentative agreement in late April and have been on strike for the past couple weeks.
360 nurses and techs at St. Michael’s Medical Center in Newark, NJ are back to work after a month on strike with JNESO, a 5,000-member Jersey & Pennsylvania healthcare union that’s technically a district council of the Operating Engineers (because sure, why not). The union had been pushing for a 6% annual raise, the company was offering 2%; they went back to work with 3%.
300 workers at quarries across northern Illinois have been on strike with Operating Engineers Local 150 since June 7th, threatening road and other construction projects across the state. Downstate, 20 more workers at the Indian Point Quarry mine in Athens, IL have been on strike for two weeks, with Teamsters Local 916 and Operating Engineers Local 965, as the quarry operator, Hanson Materials, stalls on a new contract.
400 mental healthcare workers with SEIU Healthcare Minnesota struck for one day at three Allina-run locations around the Twin Cities, as they push for a first contract after having organized late last year.
300 social services workers with SEIU Local 221 in San Diego County, CA held a one day strike against the Metropolitan Area Advisory Committee (aka MAAC), pushing for a higher minimum wage and seniority raises.
175 telecom workers for AT&T in Alaska held a one day ULP strike with Teamsters Local 959 in protest of unilateral changes to working conditions while management stalls on a new contract. Meanwhile, the massive “Orange” CWA contract covering AT&T wireless workers in 36 states and DC has a tentative agreement.
160 transit workers for mega-contractor Transdev, operating the Antelope Valley Transit Authority in Lancaster, CA, struck for six days with Teamsters Local 848; they’ve been without a contract since the new year, and now Transdev is handing off operations to one of the other transit mega-contractors, MV Transportation. Part of the dispute is over the terms of that transition, which has been a theme across transit strikes across the country in recent years.
100 CWA call center workers for federal contractor Maximus in Hattiesburg, MS and Bogalusa, LA held a two-day strike as they continue to wage a long campaign against the company’s union-busting and poverty wages.
Eight F-35 instructors “like the ones in the new Top Gun film,” as their press release put it, struck against Lockheed Martin at San Diego’s Miramar Air Base with Machinists Local 1125. Close readers of the newsletter will note that the Machinists organize new military base workers (all subcontracted to different companies, and subject to neutrality agreements making the union elections far less of an ordeal than in the rest of the private sector) but very rarely strike, so this is kind of interesting.
K-12: Educators at the Blue Man Group-owned charter Blue School (but where I don’t think they, like, teach you how to be in the Blue Man Group) in NYC struck for one day for a first contract with UAW Local 2110. In Wareham, MA, paraprofessionals are organizing “walk-ins” to demonstrate support for their contract demands; they’re asking for a $1 per hour raise, while the district offers 47 cents.
POLITICS & LEGISLATION
I will not go into a whole thing about the fucking despicable and predictable and preventable-if-you-had-a-party-willing-to-fight-for-the-things-it-says-it-believes-in decision from the Supreme Court, except to point you towards C.M. Lewis’s very helpful thread collecting union responses to the stripping of a constitutional right to one’s own body for half the population. Apparently the AFL-CIO still won’t say “abortion.”
And speaking of the Supreme Court, Ballotpedia has an extremely useful roundup of public sector labor litigation, including a case that’s currently before the Supreme Court.
UNITE HERE Local 11 looks set to win an ordinance in Los Angeles that would, among other things, mandate daily hotel room cleaning, a big issue for the union as hotel chains try to cut labor costs by providing fewer cleanings.
INTERNAL UNION POLITICS
The UAW raised its strike pay to $400 per week which, oh, what’s that? That’s the same number the reform group UAWD has been calling for and was set to bring a resolution to the floor of the constitutional convention next month? What a coincidence. I’ll have a piece up at Labor Notes on the state of UAW internal politics soon, with the first direct election of top leaders now set for this fall.
New election filings at the NLRB [disclaimer: these aren’t all from the past week; I pulled anything over 100 workers from the past month, plus the past week’s filings, plus all the Starbucks filings]: In just the past month, 869 workers at 35 stores in 16 states filed for elections, so clearly they’re still putting up insane numbers. Aside from Starbucks, healthcare organizing is leading the way: 919 workers at the Rochester (NY) General Hospital are organizing with NENA. 525 nurses at the Clara Maass Medical Center in Belleville, NJ are organizing with 1199 SEIU. 460 healthcare workers at 15 Howard Brown Health locations across Chicago are organizing with the Illinois Nurses Association. 420 workers for Planned Parenthood in Minnesota, North & South Dakota, Iowa, and Nebraska are organizing with SEIU Healthcare Minnesota & Iowa. 304 workers at St. Charles Medical Group in Bend, OR are organizing with a new AFT affiliate (the “Central Oregon Providers Network”). 300 car parts workers for Dakkota Integrated Systems in Hazel Park, MI are organizing with UAW Local 140. 200 grain processing workers for GSI in Assumption, IL are organizing with Laborers Local 477. 200 social services workers serving homeless youth with Covenant House in NYC are joining 1199 SEIU. 192 workers at two New Seasons grocery stores in Portland, OR are unionizing in two separate elections; one is with UFCW Local 555, while the other is as an independent union. On the latter, Local 555 is listed as an “intervenor” but that was apparently a mistake, says NWLaborPress. 180 workers at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles are organizing with AFSCME Council 36, as AFSCME continues to roll through big museums (rivaled only by UAW Local 2110 in New York and New England, as far as I can tell). 170 telecom and construction workers for Utility Lines Construction Services in Bridgeville, DE are organizing with IBEW Local 126. 160 home health care workers with All Ways Caring in San Luis Obispo, CA are joining SEIU Local 2015. 159 workers at vegetarian foods producer Earth Island in Los Angeles are unionizing with UFCW Local 770. 156 workers at LGBTQ+ healthcare and social services provider Equitas Health in Columbus, OH are organizing with the Ohio Federation of Teachers. 148 non-tenure-track faculty at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY are organizing with SEIU Local 200. 138 pulp and paper workers for Resolute Forest Products in El Dorado, AR are organizing with the Machinists. 130 workers at the Orchard Park Veterinary Medical Center in Orchard Park, NY are unionizing with CWA. 125 workers for building products distributor Weyerhauser in Eugene, OR are unionizing with Machinists District Lodge W24 (last month, a small shop at the same company in Stockton, CA went with the Teamsters). 121 workers at Ameristar Casino & Hotel in Council Bluffs, IA are organizing with Teamsters Local 554. A second REI has filed (after the first REI unionized in NYC a few months back), this time among 111 workers in Berkeley, CA with UFCW Local 5; just 173 more locations to go. 83 workers at Joseph’s House homeless shelter in Troy, NY are organizing with SEIU Local 200. 56 nursing home workers in two elections at Eagleview Health in Pittsgrove, NJ are organizing to join the existing unit repped by UFCW Local 152. 48 weed dispensary workers for Rise in Effingham, IL are joining UFCW Local 881, as are 12 more at Maribis (which, like, is that a portmanteau of “marijuana” and “cannabis”) in Springfield, IL, plus ten workers at a Zen Leaf weed dispensary in Germantown, MD are joining UFCW Local 400. 41 workers for the Sonoma County (CA) Airport Express, which services the San Francisco and Oakland airports, are organizing with Teamsters Local 665. Having organized the main campus, AFSCME is organizing 30 more workers at McLean Hospital’s addiction treatment center in Princeton, MA. 18 workers at a Chipotle in Augusta, ME are fucking doing it, forming an independent union, as the Starbucks inspiration continues to spread. In some building trades jurisdictional clarity, 14 ironworkers for Pevik Construction in Madera, CA are joining the Ironworkers, and 14 sprinkler fitters for Affordable Fire Protection in Troy, MI are joining UA Local 704. 13 workers for Siemens Energy in Yaphank, NY are joining Operating Engineers Local 30. Eight building services workers at the Dillon, a condo in Hell’s Kitchen, NYC, are joining SEIU 32BJ. Seven mechanics for recycling company South San Francisco Scavenger in South San Francisco, CA are unionizing with Teamsters Local 350. Five nursing coordinators at Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz, CA are joining SEIU UHW. Five freight workers for Lineage Logistics in Chicago are joining Teamsters Local 705.
NLRB election wins…: In less than three weeks (which is as far as the glitchy NLRB site would let me go this morning for whatever reason), 937 more Starbucks workers at 33 stores have joined Workers United (in the same period, only seven stores voted against). 544 non-tenure-track faculty members at Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, CA voted 245-93 to join SEIU Local 1021. 100 behavioral health services workers at ten locations of Broadstep Academy across Illinois voted 35-4 to join AFSCME Council 31. 59 workers at a Fred Meyer store in Tumwater, WA voted 34-10 to join UFCW Local 367. The 39 workers at NYC’s iconic Film Forum voted 27 to nothing to join UAW Local 2110. 37 staffers at anti-homelessness non-profit Community Solutions in NYC voted 22-1 to join OPEIU Local 153. 36 workers at the Roski Eye Institute in Los Angeles voted 29-0 to join NUHW. 36 maintenance workers at a Genentech facility in Vacaville, CA voted 26-7 to join Operating Engineers Local 39. 32 workers for Petrogas West in Ferndale, WA voted 17-4 to join Teamsters Local 231. 14 more baristas, this time at 1369 Coffee House in Cambridge, MA, voted to join UNITE HERE New England Joint Board, 9-1. Another six Asplundh tree trimmers unionized, this time with IBEW Local 111 in Golden, CO, in a 3-0 vote. Five publicists for Universal Studios in NYC voted unanimously to join IATSE Local 600. All five customer service reps at Shamrock Materials in Cotati, CA voted to join Teamsters Local 665. Three plumbers at Brooks Plumbing in Trotwood, OH voted 2-1 to join UA Local 162.
…and losses: 111 workers who run McDonald’s food supply chain for Martin-Brower in Garner, NC voted 32-60 against joining Teamsters Local 391. 26 nursing home workers at Hillcrest Senior Living in Red Lake Falls, MN voted 4-12 against joining AFSCME Council 65. 18 glaziers for PNW contractor Starline Windows in Seattle voted 3-9 not to join Painters Local 188. Seven workers at a CVS in Irvine, CA voted 2-4 not to join UFCW Local 324. Five truck drivers for UNFI in Rocklin, CA voted 1-1 against joining Teamsters Local 150.
Teamsters Local 542 won one and lost one at semi-conductor cable manufacturer RoGar in El Centro, CA; the 17 clericals voted 5-3 to unionize, while the 26 engineers voted 7-15 against. The original unit was for 235 production workers, so presumably that big vote is still in the works.
Decertifications and raids: 156 hospital support staff at MyMichigan Medical Center in Alpena, MI voted 34-74 to drop Steelworkers Local 206A. This one is really not a raid, but is complicated enough to land here: 73 grounds and maintenance workers at Allegiant Stadium (where the Raiders play) in Las Vegas voted an impressive 51-0 to join Teamsters Local 631 over Laborers Local 872. The Laborers were on the ballot because they claimed they had been voluntarily recognized by the employer, since the local president had a verbal deal with management but nobody ever told the “members” or bargained a contract. 21 workers at plumbing supplier Central Supply Company in Fort Wayne, IN decertified Teamsters Local 414 in a 8-12 vote.
Security guards: 140 private prison guards for Core Civic in Pahrump, NV are joining the SPFPA. Two unions are fighting over 70 guards with the Federal Protective Service in South Carolina, plus 33 guards at a former nuclear site in Aiken, SC are joining the International Guards Union of America Local 159.
For the latest in progressive union-busting, check out Angela Bunay’s article in Labor Notes about Amy’s Kitchen, where the Teamsters have been up against some nasty employer behavior as workers push to unionize.