The week in US unions, January 22-29, 2023
STRIKES & NEGOTIATIONS
Last week, I mused that the HarperCollins UAW Local 2110 strike (which is now bringing in a federal mediator) might be the longest running strike outside of Warrior Met now that the CNH strike is over – but the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette strike with the NewsGuild, Teamsters, and CWA has it beat by three weeks, marking 100 days on the line this week. The Guild has asked the DOJ to bring an antitrust case against the employer, won an NLRB ruling against the paper, and got a shout out from the floor of Congress this week. UAW Local 171 workers at Sherwin-Williams in Williamsport, MD have also been out for over two months, with little attention on or coverage of their strike. And speaking of ongoing strikes, ATU Local 689 transit workers remain on the picket line in Loudoun County, VA against French subcontractor Keolis, and are taking the line to the French Embassy in DC.
In new(er) strikes, Luis Feliz Leon wrote for Labor Notes about the non-union restaurant strike at Twin Peaks in Brentwood, TN, where both back and front of house workers have walked off in protest of particularly egregious harassment from management. In K-12 education, over 500 Woburn, MA educators have walked off on the latest “illegal” strike in the state, SEIU Local 284 food service workers in Hastings, MN public schools have set a strike date for next week, and around 40 K-12 educators at the UCLA Lab School in Los Angeles struck for two days as management stalls on negotiating a contract, amid other grievances about the direction of the institution; the Pacific Collegiate Charter School in Santa Cruz, CA is also at an impasse in bargaining. Janitors with SEIU USW for contractor Nova in San Diego County, CA also struck for two days and then suspended the strike to go back to the bargaining table for the next two weeks; meanwhile, janitors with 32BJ SEIU in NYC protested Twitter’s layoffs.
In Florida, the six-union Service Trades Council Union has officially recommended its 45,000 members vote no on what Disney says is its best offer; there’s no strike deadline (or even strike authorization) yet, but they’re on a month-to-month extension, so things could theoretically move fast.
Some 6,000 members of four UAW locals in Illinois and York, PA, voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike against Caterpillar, which could happen as soon as March 1st, when their contract expires. If they walk, it will not only be an important echo of the protracted battle at the company in the 1990s, but also the third big farm and construction equipment manufacturer strike in a very short period, following Deere and CNH, plus a big successful organizing drive at Bobcat. It sounds like part of what’s behind the strike push is the big wins at Deere; that added to the fact that Deere workers were already better off than those at Caterpillar in the first place means expectations may be high for improvements at Cat, and the notoriously anti-union company may likewise be looking to make a stand.
Around 600 Portland, OR city workers with Laborers Local 483 are days away from a strike, with the city moving to hire replacements under an emergency order; apparently one of the core sticking points is the city’s insistence on capping cost-of-living increases at 5 percent, while the Bureau of Labor Statistics most recent data says CPI in the Western US went up 6.2 percent in 2022. Elsewhere in city worker unions, Teamsters Local 507 members who work for the city of Cleveland voted to ratify a deal, having threatened (but not actually having taken) a strike authorization vote.
As expected, Michigan Nurses Associations members at two hospitals – McLaren Central in Mount Pleasant, MI and MyMichigan in Alma, MI – have voted to authorize strikes; they’d need to give 10-day notices before any walk off.
Library workers at the University of Washington with SEIU Local 925 came right up to the edge of striking before winning a tentative agreement.
Several thousand King Kullen grocery workers with UFCW Local 1500 on Long Island, NY voted to authorize a strike, after their contract expired in December.
New York City’s municipal workers are at an indefinite contract stalemate with the city, partly over a long battle over retiree healthcare and an agreement by the unions, years ago, to base raises on healthcare cost savings, which of course incentivizes the city to cut healthcare costs, which they tried to do, specifically for retirees, but which was met with fierce resistance. Claudia Irizarry Aponte has a great write-up of the situation for The City.
And speaking of contract stalemates, Canadian Pacific is apparently stonewalling the BMWE in negotiating a national agreement (they are only partly covered by the national freight rail negotiations); workers are rallying in Minneapolis this week in protest.
And speaking of rallies, ATU Local 836 bus operators in Grand Rapids, MI rallied against their employer, The Rapid, dividing and conquering, giving raises to mechanics but not to drivers. Elsewhere in transit, 500 Charlotte, NC bus drivers with SMART Local 1715 who set a strike date apparently have a tentative agreement.
In Orlando, convention center workers for megacontractor Sodexo with UNITE HERE Local 737 ratified a contract after authorizing a strike, and, notably, won a similar wage increase – $5 added to the base wage over three years – as the union is fighting for at nearby Disney.
In New Mexico, state employees with CWA Local 7076 rallied for telework rights, which remains a top-ticket issue for unionized workers who can work from home but are facing pushes from employers to force workers back into the office.
INTERNAL UNION POLITICS
The staff union (represented by the Chicago NewsGuild) at SEIU Local 1 is raising the alarm about proposed layoffs under new union leadership.
Extremely publicly unsavory NYC PBA (police union) leader Patrick Lynch is facing a challenger in that union’s election, as he has failed to deliver a union contract for several years.
New election filings at the NLRB: 266 warehouse workers for TCGPlayer, a game card distributor, are organizing with CWA in Syracuse, NY; it’s the second drive, after a failed effort in 2020. 155 workers for findhelp, which helps connect people with social services, based in Austin, TX, are organizing with OPEIU Local 1010. 112 workers who provide home care for Avalon Private Duty, 82 for At Home Caregivers, 75 for 702 Caregivers, and 25 more for All About You, all in Las Vegas, are organizing with SEIU Local 1107. 100 workers who make air conditioners for Carrier in Charlotte, NC are organizing with UA Local 421; so are 68 utility workers for Duke Energy in Charlotte, with IBEW Local 962. 65 drivers for “the Midwest’s leading seafood distributor,” Fortune Fish Co. in Bensenville, IL, are unionizing with Teamsters Local 703. 55 workers at Philadelphia’s New Foundations Charter School are organizing, presumably with AFT. 53 workers at Lodi, an Italian restaurant in NYC’s Rockefeller Center, are unionizing with the independent Restaurant Workers Union Local 1. 46 workers at Philadelphia’s Please Touch Museum, a children's museum, are joining AFSCME Local 397. 33 EMTs and paramedics for Frontier Ambulance in Riverton, WY are joining the USW. 33 school bus drivers for Tewksbury (MA) Transit are unionizing with Teamsters Local 25. 25 baristas in Columbus, OH are joining Starbucks Workers United. 20 workers who I think install automatic doors for Assa Abloy in Auburn, MA are joining the Carpenters. 15 service shop workers at Ford of Port Jefferson Station, NY are joining UAW Local 259; and six technicians at South Suburban Mitsubishi in Matteson, IL are joining Machinists Local 701. 12 projectionists at NYC’s Anthology Film Archives are unionizing with IATSE Local 306. Six telehealth nurses at DC’s Shepherd Park Children’s National are joining NNU (the DC Nurses Association). Five product testers for Reviewed, which seems to be Gannett/USA Today’s Wirecutter equivalent, are unionizing with the NewsGuild in Cambridge, MA. Four subcontracted maintenance workers at a Marriott in Chicago are joining Operating Engineers Local 399.
NLRB election wins…: AFT Local 5221 won two landslide votes among about 2200 workers at the University of Vermont Medical Center, 1120-181, among two units of technical staff and support and maintenance workers, which combined are the biggest NLRB win outside of Amazon or higher education in years. 119 truck drivers who contract with the USPS for 10 Roads Express in Columbus, OH voted 57-21 to join APWU. Around 100 workers at a third Trader Joe’s, this time in Louisville, KY, voted to join the independent Trader Joe’s United, 48-36. In two votes, 40 case managers and therapists at San Gabriel (CA) Valley Medical Center voted a combined 26-2 to join NNU. 38 stagehands at Brooklyn Bowl Las Vegas voted 25-1 to join IATSE Local 720. 13 bank tellers unionized with CWA at the Lake Michigan Credit Union in Wyoming, MI, in a relatively rare banking union win. Seven workers for I think a weed delivery company, Grassdoor, in Commerce, CA voted 3-0 to join Teamsters Local 630. Six maintenance techs at Seattle’s KOMO Plaza data center voted 5-0 to join Machinists District 751. Five subcontracted workers who manage the FBI headquarter’s fleet of cars in DC voted 3-0 to join Operating Engineers Local 99. All four groundskeepers at Portland’s Reed College voted to join Teamsters Local 305.
Starbucks Workers United went two for three this week; 36 baristas in Skokie, IL and Boulder, CO joined the union in a combined 25-2 vote, while 26 in Riverside, CA voted 9-15 against joining. Elsewhere in coffee, 13 La Colombe baristas in Chicago won the chain’s third union vote, unionizing with UFCW Local 881, 12-0 (their counterparts in DC voted last month to join UFCW Local 400).
…and losses: 37 glaziers for Hall Aluminum Products in Kiowa, CO voted 5-10 against joining IUPAT Local 930.
Decertifications and raids: 11 LPNs across several CentraCare Health facilities in Paynesville, MN voted 4-7 to decertify AFSCME Local 105.
Friend of the newsletter Dave Infante over at Fingers wrote about the independent Brewing Union of Georgia that was born in Athens, GA earlier this year.