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The Grassroots Difference: USW Activists Run – and Win – in Political Races Around the Country

USW Blog - Fri, 05/17/2024 - 10:00

When USW member Ed Price ran for a seat in the Louisiana State Senate in 2017, he faced long odds, facing a wealthy sugar cane farmer with the deep pockets and name recognition of a well-known political family.

Price, however, had the union difference on his side. As a member of Local 620 in Gonzales, La., Price had a coalition of fellow workers ready to knock on doors, make phone calls and speak to voters one-on-one about the issues. That grassroots campaign had a significant impact, and the Democrat won his seat with 63 percent of the vote.

“We didn’t have the largest budget, but it was door-to-door, walking, knocking, talking to people,” Price said. “We probably had anywhere from 25 to 35 people walking through the neighborhood every day, knocking on doors, talking to people. That made a huge difference.”

Longtime Leader

Price, who served for 26 years on his local school board before joining the legislature, credited his experience as a union negotiator with giving him the skills and knowledge to seek office. In neighboring Mississippi, that same union difference has helped Sherry Guyton Odneal hold public office for more than 20 years. Odneal was re-elected in November 2023 to her seat on the Lowndes County Election Commission.

Odneal serves as financial secretary of Local 351L at the BF Goodrich plant in Tuscaloosa, Ala., as the local Women of Steel committee chair and as a member of the West Alabama Labor Council. She also lends her efforts to the USW’s Rapid Response grassroots education and mobilization program.

Besides providing a better quality of life for workers, Odneal said, the USW’s contract language on political work allows her to devote time to her second career in public service.

“If I didn’t have the union, I wouldn’t be able to hold this position,” she said. “When I see something wrong, I don’t just want to complain. I want to do something about it.”

Odneal said she urges more of her USW colleagues to get involved in the political process for that reason, arguing that union members should put more people like them into office.

“We can make a big difference, getting out there, volunteering,” she said. “We want the people in office to be for working people.”

That can turn the tide on issues like health and safety, union organizing rights, wages, retirement security, health care, and other important policies, Odneal said.

“It’s not about the R or the D,” she said. “It’s about who is going to support working people.”

‘It Was Worth It’

Like Odneal, JoJo Burgess knows the value of one-on-one interactions with voters. He credits grassroots politics with his election win in November making him the first Black mayor of Washington, Pa., 30 miles southwest of Pittsburgh.

Burgess, a member of Local 1557 at U.S. Steel’s Clairton Coke Works, faced long odds at the outset of his campaign. Ultimately, he defeated the incumbent mayor in the primary and won the general election by 39 votes.

“Nobody thought I could win,” Burgess said. “If I don’t knock on those doors, I don’t win that race.”

Burgess said he ran for mayor because he believed he could make the biggest impact on the local level, and he wanted to show others that they, too, had the power to change their communities.

“I wanted to let people know that they have a voice and have a say in what’s going on,” he said. “I’m not a politician, but that was a means of getting where I needed to be.”

Burgess said he was proud to be his city’s first Black mayor, but that wasn’t his goal. “I don’t want to be known as the first,” he said. “I want someone else to be known as the next.”

Positive Role Model

The chance to set an example for his younger siblings was part of what motivated Justin Willis of Local 7-507 to seek office.

As a commissioner for Bridgeview in Cook County, near Chicago, Justin said the education he gained as a USW member played a big role in his election.

“We need to step up as leaders every chance we get,” Willis said. “Our union has a responsibility to make our communities better.”

Inspiring others and bringing them into the movement is part of being an effective leader, Willis said, whether it is in politics or in the union.

“We all have a chance to grow and learn,” he said. “The power of the tongue is mighty.”

Willis, Odneal and Burgess are just a few of the dozens of current or former elected officials with USW connections across the United States. They include Local 9 member Kathy Wilder, who won a write-in campaign for her Maine school board, and U.S. Rep. Chris Deluzio, who helped his fellow faculty members at the University of Pittsburgh win USW representation in 2021 before winning a seat in Congress the following year.

Those victories prove that “labor is not on defense anymore,” Deluzio said.

‘A Chance to Move Someone’

It was the 1967 election of the first black mayor of Gary, Ind., Richard G. Hatcher, that inspired DeWitt Walton to get involved in politics.

Walton, who was born in Mississippi and grew up in Gary went to work for Inland Steel in 1976 and quickly became active in his local union and his community. He went on to serve for more than 25 years as a union organizer and USW staff member, and later served as the program director for the Pittsburgh chapter of the A. Philip Randolph Institute’s “Breaking The Chains of Poverty” workforce development program.

Walton, who witnessed violent racism in high school and college, and later saw the steel industry’s struggles of the 1980s and 1990s first-hand, said he learned early on that he needed to speak out for himself and for others. Since 2016, he has held a seat on the 15-member Allegheny County Council, the legislative body serving more than 1.2 million people in Western Pennsylvania.

“My entire life has been one where I’ve had to deal with adversity,” he said. “I knew if I wasn’t at the table and part of the process, I’d be on the menu.”

Walton said that it’s important that all USW members get involved in the electoral process, through knocking on doors, talking to voters at their work sites, making phone calls, writing letters and other avenues.

“You have a chance to move someone,” he said. “You can’t ask for a better interaction than that.”

The need for lawmakers who share workers’ values pushed DeJonaé Shaw, a licensed vocational nurse and member of Local 7600 in California, to run for election to the California State Assembly.

Shaw said she would fight for the USW’s core values of workers’ rights, good jobs and quality health care.

“We need lawmakers who understand what it’s like to be a renter or to struggle to pay the mortgage,” said Shaw. “We need lawmakers who know what it means to decide between food and the medication you need. That’s why I’ve decided to run for office and why we need other union members to do the same.”

‘Get Out There’

Shaw and Odneal agreed that voters should choose the candidates who will fight for the issues that are most important to them.

When it comes to issues like workers’ rights, workplace safety and other priorities, “it’s all about who holds office,” Odneal said. “It’s important for union members to get out there.”

Walton said he hoped more union workers would vote and also consider seeking political office to help him and others push a workers-first agenda.

“There’s no better organization to help you get there,” he said, “than the United Steelworkers.”

Local 7-507 Members Ratify Contract Eliminating Tiered Wages at Ingredion

USW Blog - Thu, 05/16/2024 - 10:00

Members of Local 7-507 recently ratified a strong contract that eliminates a tiered system at Ingredion in Illinois.

The unit represents nearly 250 workers at the Bedford Park site that manufactures food grade and pharmaceutical starches.

Bargaining over the four-year contract began in February. After several weeks of negotiations, the members voted down the first tentative agreement because it still included tiered wages that pitted workers against each other.

Local President Derrick Davis said the group made it clear from the start that keeping the tiers was not an option.

“That was the main thing the members wanted,” said Davis, who has served as president for more than 15 years. “This [tier system] is not working for the company, either. It’s hard to maintain quality workers when they’re working beside someone they know is making more than they are doing the same job.”

The amalgamated local also found solidarity with union siblings at the company’s Indianapolis site, where management had also tried to push members last year to eliminate their USW health insurance plan.

Both units remained rooted in each other’s strength and were able to fight off the cut. “Their support was critical,” said Davis.

District 7 Sub-District Director Anthony Alfano said it was the steadfastness of the membership that brought this contract over the finish line.

“We had a really invested team of workers who knew what was at stake and didn’t want to waive their right to bargain over health insurance,” Alfano said.

The agreement also secured significant lump sum bonuses and wage hikes, including up to more than 20 percent for some employees over the length of the contract, as well as increased vacation time for new hires.

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profile: Yan Yan Teague

AFL-CIO - Wed, 05/15/2024 - 08:08
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profile: Yan Yan Teague

For Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this year, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have worked and continue to work at the intersection of civil and labor rights in the United States. Today's profile is Yan Yan Teague of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA).

Yan Yan Teague is a member of AFA-CWA Local 27019 and an Alaska Airlines flight attendant. Her appointments as the inaugural chairperson for the AFA-CWA Human Rights Committee and to the National CWA Women's Committee are testaments to her unwavering commitment to human rights and her dedication to making a positive impact on the world. Before becoming a flight attendant, Teague worked with AmeriCorps through the United Way of King County, Washington, showcasing her passion for creating meaningful change in people's lives.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 05/15/2024 - 10:08

Service & Solidarity Spotlight: CLUW Celebrates 50th Anniversary

AFL-CIO - Wed, 05/15/2024 - 07:59
Service & Solidarity Spotlight: CLUW Celebrates 50th Anniversary

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our Service & Solidarity Spotlight series, we’ll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

Last week, the Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW) celebrated five decades of building power and community for women throughout the labor movement at its 50th Anniversary Gala and Education Conference in Niagara Falls, New York.

Formed on March 24, 1974, CLUW is the country’s only national organization for union women. Its core principles of getting women involved in their unions, organizing the unorganized and promoting social justice in the workplace are still as relevant and pressing as they were a half-century ago. On Friday, AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler delivered remarks celebrating the history of CLUW and shared an inspiring vision for a future where there is safety on the job for every woman, where the wage gap is closed and where women’s voices are uplifted in our democracy. She also led a discussion group with the CLUW National Officers Council about what’s at stake during the 2024 elections and how the labor movement can ensure that all working women in this country see collective bargaining as a path to a better tomorrow.

Kenneth Quinnell Wed, 05/15/2024 - 09:59

Tags: CLUW

USW Applauds Biden’s Strategic Redesign of China Tariffs

Steelworker News - Tue, 05/14/2024 - 10:00

Contact: Jess Kamm Broomell, jkamm@usw.org, 412-562-2444

PITTSBURGH – The United Steelworkers union (USW) today welcomed President Joe Biden’s announcement strengthening and strategically redesigning tariffs on Chinese goods as a result of the United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) Section 301 tariff review.

“The USW is the largest industrial union in North America, and flawed Chinese trade policies have had an outsized negative impact on our members,” said USW International President David McCall. “Now, the Biden administration’s work to strengthen relief measures shows we’re not backing down. Instead, we’re backing up our domestic producers and workers.”

The president will be highlighting the newly redesigned tariffs today at the White House, at an event in which USW members will proudly participate.

“The key to President Biden’s success in building a worker-centered trade policy is his multi-pronged approach,” said USW International Vice President Roxanne Brown. “His administration has been diligently confronting foreign unfair trade using established trade tools to stand up to the unfair and anticompetitive policies of trading partners like China. But just as importantly, President Biden has been strategically using investments here at home to reignite and renew America’s manufacturing capacity.”  

McCall stressed that strengthening America’s manufacturing base requires a comprehensive approach, with no one-size-fits-all solution.

“From the CHIPS and Science Act to the Inflation Reduction Act, from new approaches on outbound investment to today’s tariff announcements and more, President Biden is addressing trade through an integrated set of solutions,” McCall said. “And moving forward, we know this administration will continue to show this same grit and ingenuity in standing up for workers, including the investigation it initiated last month into China’s transportation, logistics and maritime policies.

“President Biden’s comprehensive approach is achieving real results for real workers, promoting economic recovery and fostering a brighter future.”

The USW represents 850,000 workers employed in metals, mining, pulp and paper, rubber, chemicals, glass, auto supply and the energy-producing industries, along with a growing number of workers in health care, public sector, higher education, tech and service occupations.

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Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profile: Kevin Boone

AFL-CIO - Tue, 05/14/2024 - 08:18
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profile: Kevin Boone

For Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this year, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have worked and continue to work at the intersection of civil and labor rights in the United States. Today's profile is Kevin Boone of the 

Kevin Boone is a steward for USW Local 9562 at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. As a Korean American and a fourth-generation union member, he was a proud first-time attendee at last year’s APALA Convention in Seattle, and he returned to his local determined to better support his fellow members. "The pride I feel contributing to the legacy of my AAPI siblings and their multiracial and transnational solidarity empowers me to experience a stronger connection to my heritage."

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 05/14/2024 - 10:18

Service & Solidarity Spotlight: Spokane Grocery Store Workers Ratify Three-Year Contract

AFL-CIO - Tue, 05/14/2024 - 08:09
Service & Solidarity Spotlight: Spokane Grocery Store Workers Ratify Three-Year Contract

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our Service & Solidarity Spotlight series, we’ll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

Grocery store workers in Spokane, Washington, overwhelmingly ratified a new three-year contract in their first union negotiation. The workers, members of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 3000, secured an increase in journey wages of $4 an hour or more, an all-purpose clerk scale with historic pay raises for many departments, health care benefit improvements with no increases to premiums or deductibles, significant improvements to vacation banks, ensuring vacation is based on hours worked, automatic pension funding increases every time wages increase, and dedicated money to fund training and workforce development.

“In the midst of a proposed grocery mega-merger, we’ve sent a clear message," UFCW Local 3000 said in a statement. "We have power in our communities, we have a voice in our workplace, and we have a strong new contract that will be the backbone for our future.” 

Kenneth Quinnell Tue, 05/14/2024 - 10:09

Part of a National Movement: The Working People Weekly List

AFL-CIO - Mon, 05/13/2024 - 12:17
Part of a National Movement: The Working People Weekly List

Every week, we bring you a roundup of the top news and commentary about issues and events important to working families. Here’s the latest edition of the Working People Weekly List.

Senate Approves Bill to Reauthorize FAA and Improve Air Travel: “The Senate on Thursday passed legislation to reauthorize federal aviation programs for the next five years and put in place new safety measures and consumer protections for passengers, at a moment of intense uncertainty and disruption in the air travel system. The bill, which still must win final approval in the House before becoming law, would provide more than $105 billion to the Federal Aviation Administration and another $738 million to the National Transportation Safety Board for airport modernization, technology programs and safety. It would also bolster the hiring and training of air traffic controllers, codify airlines’ refund obligations to passengers, ensure fee-free family seating and strengthen protections for passengers with disabilities.”

First Lady Honors Teachers at Inaugural State Dinner: “First lady Dr. Jill Biden shined a spotlight on educators making an impact during the inaugural Teachers of the Year state dinner on May 2. From the president to national dignitaries, academic instructors and support staff from every U.S. state, territory and the Department of Defense Education were honored with special recognition, in addition to receiving an award from the Council of Chief State School Officers. ‘The real threat is that public education is central to our democracy, central to opportunity, central for kids in communities to thrive. [Book bans are] just another obstacle to stop us from doing the best job we can to help all kids learn,’ Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, told The Informer. ‘Every time there’s an obstacle that threatens a teacher, or makes it so hard that they leave the profession, or has them teaching on eggshells.’”

Bill Introduced to Protect U.S. Call Center Jobs: “Senators Bob Casey, Sherrod Brown, and Catherine Cortez Masto have introduced the United States Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act aimed at preventing the outsourcing of American call center jobs overseas. The bill seeks to protect American workers and consumer data by imposing restrictions and penalties on businesses that relocate call center operations abroad.”

Penn Grad Workers Say ‘We’re Part of a National Movement’ After Union Win: “Thousands of graduate student workers at the University of Pennsylvania—about 97%—voted to unionize in early May. The Graduate Employees Together University of Pennsylvania, or GET-UP, is behind the drive to affiliate with the United Auto Workers, which often represents student worker unions. The union election was scheduled for mid-April but was delayed after the University of Pennsylvania tried to exclude several hundred student workers through the National Labor Relations Board appeal process, but the university failed.”

More Than 400 Lab Professionals at LabCorp Win a Union: “Lab professionals employed by the medical lab services company, LabCorp of America, held a union election from March 1–3 where 434 workers voted to join together in a union with the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals (OFNHP), a local affiliate of the 1.7 million-member [American Federation of Teachers] AFT. These healthcare professionals work at labs within seven Legacy Health facilities in Oregon and Washington, including Emanuel and Good Samaritan in Portland, and Salmon Creek (WA).”

Trade Union Reaches Recognition Agreement with Brightline West Train Maker: “The company tapped to manufacture the trains for Brightline West's high-speed rail project will recognize any potential unionization effort from workers. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, or IAM, announced Tuesday that it reached a voluntary recognition agreement with Siemens Mobility. According to IAM, the agreement will allow future employees to get information about union representation. If a majority of workers petition to join IAM, Siemens will recognize the union and begin collective bargaining immediately.”

Introducing the Smith College Libraries Workers Union: “On April 9, library workers at Smith College voted unanimously in favor of unionizing with the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 153. The new union is known as the Smith College Libraries Workers Union (SCLWU). A month before the election, workers at Smith College Libraries (SCL) announced their union by delivering a letter to the college’s President and Board of Trustees where they asked that the union be voluntarily recognized.”

National Nurses Week 2024: RN Reflects on the State of the Profession, Calls for Change: “Monday, May 6 kicks off National Nurses Week, and it gives folks an opportunity to show their love and appreciation for the people who take care of the sick, injured and dying. Catherine Kennedy, a registered nurse and the Vice President of National Nurses United, told USA TODAY that there needs to be systemic change on the federal level to give nurses the best chance to care for their patients.”

More Than Ever, ‘Union Wages Buy More’: “This 74-year-old union retiree (American Federation of Teachers) remembers those old Kentucky State AFL-CIO novelty license plates that proclaimed ‘Union Wages Buy More.’ That’s true more than ever today. ‘Union members in the United States saw record raises, while nonunion workers’ pay barely beat inflation over the past 12 months, latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data shows,’ says Thursday’s Team AFL-CIO Daily Brief in a short synopsis headlined ‘It’s Better in a Union: U.S. Union Members See Record Pay Raises, Outpacing Nonunion Workers.’ The brief also cites BLS statistics released on Tuesday that showed ‘wages of private sector union members have risen 6.3% since March 2023.’”

Retail Workers Vote to Form Florida’s First H&M Union: “Retail workers at an H&M clothing store in Melbourne overwhelmingly voted to unionize Friday, forming a historic first H&M union in the state of Florida. According to Will Cox, an organizer with the United Food and Commercial Workers, the election was secured by a supermajority of workers at the Melbourne Square Mall store, who voted in favor of unionization on Friday.”

Biden Vetoes Bill Against Joint Employer Rule: “President Joe Biden vetoed a Congressional Review Act measure to overturn the National Labor Relations Board rule broadening joint employer liability, fulfilling a promise made in January, the White House announced Friday. The CRA measure passed the Senate in a nearly party-line vote in April, and passed the House of Representatives in a largely, but somewhat less, polarized vote in January. The veto saves the NLRB’s rule legislatively, but the regulation was vacated by a federal judge in Texas in March, though it may yet be appealed. The NLRB’s rule expands the bargaining obligations and liabilities of employers that reserve control of essential conditions of employment or exercises such control indirectly.”

How Changes to Non-Compete Agreements and Overtime Pay Could Affect Workers: “For millions of American workers, the federal government has taken two actions that could bestow potentially far-reaching benefits. In one move, the Federal Trade Commission voted to ban non-compete agreements, which bar millions of workers from leaving their employers to join a competitor or start a rival business for a specific period of time. The FTC's move, which is already being challenged in court, would mean that such employees could apply for jobs they weren't previously eligible to seek. In a second move, the Biden administration finalized a rule that will make millions more salaried workers eligible for overtime pay. The rule significantly raises the salary level that workers could earn and still qualify for overtime. On the social media site X, the AFL-CIO labor organization said the rules will ‘restore and extend overtime protections for hard-working Americans.’”

Middle Rio Grande Irrigation Workers Unionize: “Irrigation workers at the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District voted to form a union with AFSCME Council 18 on Tuesday, according to a news release from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees in New Mexico. Council 18 is the umbrella organization for the various city, county, and state locals affiliated with AFSCME.”

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 05/13/2024 - 14:17

USW Disappointed in USMCA Panel Decision on San Martín Mine

Steelworker News - Mon, 05/13/2024 - 10:00

For Immediate Release: May 13, 2024
Contact:
Ben Davis, bdavis@usw.org, 412-562-2501

PITTSBURGH – The United Steelworkers union (USW) issued the following statement in response to the rapid response mechanism panel decision, issued under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), in the case of the San Martín mine, owned by Grupo Mexico:

“The United Steelworkers is disappointed by the panel decision.

“While we appreciate the work of the panel, specifically its ruling that the mine is a Covered Facility under the USMCA rapid response labor mechanism, the fact remains that the strike launched in 2007 by our sister union, the National Union of Mine, Metal, Steel and Related Workers of the Mexican Republic (Los Mineros), has not been resolved. 

“Mexico’s highest court ruled nearly three years ago that the strike by Los Mineros is legal, yet Grupo Mexico continues to operate the mine with replacement workers, excluding the members of Los Mineros from the workplace. 

“The failure to find a denial of rights at the company sends a message that the rights of corporations outweigh those of workers. That is simply unacceptable.

“We are also concerned by the publication of the Mexican Economy Secretariat’s announcement on social media, prior to its official release, and by the statements to the news media by a member of the panel, prior to the decision being made public. 

“Such actions threaten to undermine the integrity of the Rapid Response mechanism. We hope that Mexico will take appropriate corrective actions.

“There are many outstanding questions that need to be assessed in the coming days, the first of which is the views of Los Mineros, who, we believe, have yet to see the decision. It is their members whose interests are at issue, and we stand in solidarity with them. An additional question is the impact of the decision as it does not have precedential value under the USMCA.

“The fight for workers’ rights, including those at issue in this case, is far from over and we will examine what further actions are necessary and appropriate.”

The USW represents 850,000 workers employed in metals, mining, pulp and paper, rubber, chemicals, glass, auto supply and the energy-producing industries, along with a growing number of workers in health care, public sector, higher education, tech and service occupations.

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Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profile: Moe Elhady

AFL-CIO - Mon, 05/13/2024 - 08:30
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profile: Moe Elhady

For Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this year, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have worked and continue to work at the intersection of civil and labor rights in the United States. Today's profile is Moe Elhady of the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW).

Moe Elhady is proud to call himself a UAW member for the past 25 years. He currently works as a machine technician at Ford's Livonia Transmission Plant where he is a member of UAW Local 182. Moe is a staunch supporter of the labor movement who communicates with passion and humor. He is also the treasurer for Michigan APALA.

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 05/13/2024 - 10:30

Service & Solidarity Spotlight: Sesame Workshop Writers Overwhelmingly Ratify New Five-Year Contract

AFL-CIO - Mon, 05/13/2024 - 07:59
Service & Solidarity Spotlight: Sesame Workshop Writers Overwhelmingly Ratify New Five-Year Contract

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our Service & Solidarity Spotlight series, we’ll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

Writers Guild East members at Sesame Workshop secured a new contract, overwhelmingly approving a new five-year collective bargaining agreement. The deal was struck just in time to avoid a work stoppage, and the workers won historic jurisdiction and minimum rates for animation and new media programs produced by Sesame, protections against artificial intelligence, paid parental leave benefits and substantial improvements to new media residuals.

“Congratulations to our Sesame Workshop writers, who won groundbreaking protections that will allow them to continue creating children’s media,” WGAE President Lisa Takeuchi Cullen said in a statement. “Make no mistake—these historic gains mark an important step in organizing animation. Writing for children’s media and animation isn’t easier than other forms of screenwriting, and those workers deserve the same protections.”

Kenneth Quinnell Mon, 05/13/2024 - 09:59

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profile: Mohamad "Mike" Beydoun

AFL-CIO - Sun, 05/12/2024 - 08:19
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profile: Mohamad "Mike" Beydoun

For Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this year, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have worked and continue to work at the intersection of civil and labor rights in the United States. Today's profile is Mohamad "Mike" Beydoun of the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW).

Mike Beydoun is a second-generation UAW member whose father immigrated from Lebanon. He has served on the UAW National Negotiating Committee. He is also president of Michigan APALA.

Kenneth Quinnell Sun, 05/12/2024 - 10:19

Pitt Faculty Ratify First Union Contract

Steelworker News - Sat, 05/11/2024 - 10:00

Contact: Jess Kamm Broomell, jkamm@usw.org, 412-562-2444

PITTSBURGH – The United Steelworkers (USW) today announced that University of Pittsburgh faculty overwhelmingly ratified their first contract since joining the union, improving job security and raising wages for more than 3,000 workers. 

The deal, which will run through June 30, 2026, provides longer appointments, promotion minimums, and a smoother renewal process for non-tenure stream faculty among other protections. The agreement also sets a wage floor for both full- and part-time faculty.

“When Pitt faculty first organized with our union in 2021, it was clear that they needed a voice on the job, not only so that they could address pressing concerns about their own wages and working conditions, but also so they could improve communication and build out shared governance to the benefit of the wider university community,” said USW District 10 Director Bernie Hall, who represents USW members across Pennsylvania.

Hall said that going into bargaining, Pitt faculty identified as priorities job security and raising wages, both of which they felt would help provide needed stability for faculty and students alike. 

“This contract makes tremendous progress on both these fronts, while still maintaining existing benefits,” said Hall. “Our members should be proud of all their hard work, perseverance and solidarity that paved the way for this historic win.”

The USW represents 850,000 workers employed in metals, mining, pulp and paper, rubber, chemicals, glass, auto supply and the energy-producing industries, along with a growing number of workers in health care, public sector, higher education, tech and service occupations.

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Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profile: Eunice How

AFL-CIO - Sat, 05/11/2024 - 08:19
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profile: Eunice How

For Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this year, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have worked and continue to work at the intersection of civil and labor rights in the United States. Today's profile is Eunice How of UNITE HERE.

Eunice How's leadership has made Seattle the largest chapter of APALA. She is a lead community and political organizer with UNITE HERE Local 8, and also serves on the national executive board of APALA. She earned a bachelor's degree in public health with a minor in geography from the University of Washington, and organized with United Students Against Sweatshops and Jobs with Justice while in college. She is the proud daughter of Chinese Malaysians and was raised in Illinois and Singapore. She has also served on the leadership board of the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum.

Kenneth Quinnell Sat, 05/11/2024 - 10:19

SOLIDARITY ALERT: Save These Workers' Pensions

AFL-CIO - Fri, 05/10/2024 - 12:45
SOLIDARITY ALERT: Save These Workers' Pensions

Glass manufacturing workers at Gemtron in Vincennes, Indiana, make the glass that goes into refrigerators by Whirlpool, Sub-Zero and GE—huge brands used in restaurants and kitchens around the world.

Unfortunately, these workers are on an unfair labor practices strike since management has been unilaterally attempting to eliminate their pensions.

It’s the same story we see across the country—a story that workers are coming together to fight against. Gemtron was bought by SSW Advanced Technologies, and its CEO, Luis Liu, has refused to come to the table and acknowledge the union.

These workers were handed a piece of paper informing them that their pension was to be eliminated. “I’ve got 28 days left,” explained Mike, one of the workers on strike.

Will you write a letter to Gemtron CEO Luis Liu to ask him to come to the table and bargain in good faith? These workers have accepted years of concessionary contracts to protect their hard-earned retirements, and Gemtron has not met with them a single time. These are not hugely high-paying jobs.

Send a letter now!

The challenge in rural communities is that corporate CEOs think they can quietly gouge workers’ hard-earned benefits without much of a fuss. A car drives past Gemtron headquarters about every 10 minutes. That’s why we need your help to protect this hardworking community.

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 05/10/2024 - 14:45

Worker Wins: Making a Huge Difference in So Many Lives

AFL-CIO - Fri, 05/10/2024 - 09:27
Worker Wins: Making a Huge Difference in So Many Lives

Our latest roundup of worker wins includes numerous examples of working people organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life. 

Dotdash Meredith Union Wins Contracts: Editorial workers—represented by The NewsGuild of New York, a local of The NewsGuild-CWA—at People, People video, Entertainment Weekly and Martha Stewart Living have reached contract agreements with digital and print publisher Dotdash Meredith. Union members voted to ratify the contracts on Monday. Highlights of the new three-year agreements include average immediate wage increases of 28%, a 35-hour workweek with protections against overwork, protected holiday-pay premium, reinstitution of recall rights after layoffs and more. This victory has been a long time coming as workers have been bargaining since 2021, often in the face of anti-union activity. For most of the bargaining units, this is their first union-negotiated contract. “We’ve been in fight mode since 2020, when we began organizing some of our brands besides People print,” said Gabrielle Danchick, a copy editor at People and a member of the bargaining committee. “It’s a relief to finally flip the fight-mode switch off and take a breather as the company does the right thing. Because of our collective resolve and refusal to back down, we have a strong legally binding agreement that gives us the protections we need and the kind of pay that will make a huge difference in so many lives.”

Breeze Airways Flight Attendants Vote Overwhelmingly to Join AFA-CWA: On Tuesday, Breeze Airways flight attendants voted with 76.3% in favor of joining the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA). Breeze Airways, a low-cost airline headquartered in Utah, launched in 2021 and has expanded quickly to employ more than 650 flight attendants. The crew at Breeze began organizing because of experiences with inconsistent work rules, low pay, lack of adequate hotel accommodations, insufficient hours and disrespect from management. Within two weeks of announcing their intent to form a union, flight attendants filed for an election. Although Breeze Airways management launched an aggressive union-busting campaign—including hiring anti-labor consultants to break up the organizing efforts—workers held fast and secured a massive victory with this election. “Management broke out all the tired old union-busting, but together we weren’t intimidated or fooled,” said Robynne Martino, a flight attendant and member of the Breeze Airways AFA-CWA Organizing Committee. “Our work group spoke clearly. It’s time for Breeze to treat us with the dignity we earn every day on the line. We call on management to come to the table and negotiate a fair contract without delay.”

Apple Illegally Interrogated NYC Retail Staff, National Labor Relations Board Rules: The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled earlier this week that Apple illegally interrogated staff at the World Trade Center store location in New York City. The NLRB ruled that the retail store in Manhattan violated labor law by badgering a worker about whether he supported a campaign to form a union with Apple Retail Union–Communications Workers of America (CWA). The agency also affirmed a judge’s ruling last year that Apple violated federal law in 2022 by confiscating flyers about organizing and barring workers from placing them on a table in the staff break room. Last month, the NLRB also sided with workers at Apple’s Penn Square store in Oklahoma City, approving a settlement agreement for an unfair labor practice charge after the tech retail giant terminated its COVID-19 policy without bargaining with the unit. “Time after time, when workers want to join a union, Apple has had an opportunity to live up to its stated values and failed,” CWA Communications Director Beth Allen said in a statement. “This is why workers need an independent voice—to help Apple live up to its credo and make sure that every member of the team is respected and valued.”

IAM Members at Case New Holland Approve New Contract: The Machinists (IAM) Local 2525 has ratified a new contract with agricultural and construction equipment producer CNH Industrial. The previous six-year contract expired on April 28, but the union and company agreed to extend the contract and continue negotiations up until this past Saturday. Workers at the Fargo, North Dakota, facility held fast on their demands for better compensation and improved benefits and safeguards for the well-being and livelihoods of all staff. Thanks to their endurance and the hard work of IAM’s negotiating team, the newly ratified agreement includes higher wages, retention of health care and pension benefits, and more time off. “Through their solidarity, IAM Local 2525 members have secured better wages and benefits, protected their economic stability, job security, as well as ensured the balance between work and life,” said IAM Midwest Territory General Vice President Sam Cicinelli. “Their victory underscores the fundamental truth that when workers stand together, they can achieve remarkable outcomes, shaping a workplace that values their work and honors their dignity.”

Biden Vetoes Bill Against NLRB Joint Employer Rule, Protecting Workers: President Biden vetoed a Congressional Review Act measure late last week that sought to overturn the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) rule preventing corporations from hiding behind a subcontractor or staffing agency when workers want to collectively bargain. The NLRB’s joint employer rule expands bargaining obligations and liability for labor violations for employers that have power over working conditions, even if workers are hired through a third party or by franchisees of a larger franchise. This regulation ensures that union members can bargain with each company that has the power to make changes in the workplace. A two-thirds majority in the House and Senate would be required to overturn the veto, an unlikely scenario as an overwhelming majority of congressional Democrats endorse the rule. “Without the NLRB’s rule, companies could more easily avoid liability simply by manipulating their corporate structure, like hiding behind subcontractors or staffing agencies. By hampering the NLRB’s efforts to promote the practice and procedure of collective bargaining, Republicans are siding with union-busting corporations over the needs of workers and their unions,” Biden said in a statement.

Retail Workers Vote to Form Florida’s First Union at H&M: Workers at an H&M location in Melbourne, Florida, overwhelmingly voted to form a union with United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1625 on Friday, marking a historic first in the state for the clothing retailer. The election was secured by a supermajority of workers at the Melbourne Square Mall store, creating a bargaining unit of about 20 full-time and part-time staff. The multinational clothing company based in Sweden has 15 locations with workers represented by Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union-UFCW (RWDSU-UFCW) in New York, with some locations already having secured contracts guaranteeing paid time off, sick days, medical coverage and more. Workers at the Melbourne store first reached out to the international union earlier this year and were directed to Local 1625, which represents some 8,100 workers across Florida, to start the organizing efforts. Now that the retail and merchandising associates have won their election by a landslide, they’re ready to start bargaining a contract with better pay, more opportunities to secure full-time hours and quality health care.

Fungi Perfecti Workers Joining Together with LIUNA: On-site staff at Fungi Perfecti, which produces gourmet and medicinal mushrooms, have announced their intention to form a union with Laborers (LIUNA) Local 252. Unfortunately, the medicinal mushroom company, located in Olympia, Washington, has responded with an aggressive union-busting campaign rather than respecting the collective action of its workers. Local 252 already has had to file several unfair labor practice (ULP) complaints against Fungi Perfecti and has confirmed that more are in the works to protect the organizing efforts from illegal employer interference. Fungi Perfecti has enlisted the services of infamous anti-labor firms Littler and the American Labor Group (ALG), which represent clients like Amazon, Apple, Google and Starbucks, all of which also have faced multiple ULP charges. But, despite this, workers are steadfast in their goal of forming a union to better their working conditions. “ALG has been distributing anti-union propaganda that, in some cases, are outright lies,” said Derek Sewell, a warehouse worker for Fungi Perfecti. “But we will not be discouraged. It’s just unfortunate that they are spending thousands of dollars on union-busting to try to discourage us rather than investing in making Fungi Perfecti and better and more sustainable place to work.”

Portillo’s Workers in Aurora, Illinois, Vote to Join Ironworkers: Workers at a Portillo’s in Aurora, Illinois, voted to join a union last week, becoming the second wave of the Chicago-based food chain staff to do so. After six months of coming together to speak out against disrespect on the job and weathering union-busting tactics from management, production staff are joining Ironworkers Local 853. This victory comes a year after workers at the Portillo’s Food Service warehouse in Addison voted 28–20 to organize. Members are now shifting their focus to starting negotiations on a contract that includes livable wages, respect and dignity on the job, and better working conditions. “I’m so happy, we have a union! This has been a tough fight, but it was definitely worth it. I’m ready to fight for better pay, respect, and a better future for me and my kids!” said Chandra Wilson, a production associate.

House Cafeteria Workers in D.C. Win Big Under New Contract: Cafeteria and catering workers at the U.S. House dining facilities, represented by UNITE HERE Local 23, are celebrating a new contract ratified in March that raises wages and improves working conditions. Members are employed by food services contractor Sodexo, which oversees 10 House dining locations, including the Capitol Market in the basement of the Capitol, office building facilities like the Longworth and Rayburn cafeterias, and the Au Bon Pain in Cannon. The workers who keep representatives, staff and visitors fed in Washington, D.C., had a swell of local support early on in negotiations from Howard University students and union members from other locals, which they said made their success with bargaining possible. The new deal includes a $3 hourly pay bump in the first year and a raise of $7.50 over five years, no-cost health insurance coverage, increased pension contributions and more. “We were all pretty satisfied with the new contract and excited about the raises coming in the next couple of months as well as future benefits,” said Joseph Smith, a Local 23 member who works in the Longworth cafeteria. “We’re all just looking forward to what’s next.”

Biden Administration Expands Protections for Farmworkers: The Department of Labor (DOL) announced a final rule on Friday that aims to strengthen and expand protections against wage theft and other labor abuses for temporary agricultural workers with H-2A visas. Introduced in 1986, the H-2A program allows U.S. employers to hire workers from other countries for temporary or seasonal agricultural jobs that go unfilled because of domestic labor shortages. Because these farmworkers don’t have U.S. citizenship and rely on bosses for necessities like housing and transportation, their working conditions can be extremely exploitative. The new DOL rule regulates termination policies to prevent retaliation against laborers for speaking up about working conditions, prohibit employers from holding or confiscating a worker’s passport or other documentation, improve safety standards, and more. “This final rule makes important progress in enhancing recruitment protections, empowering workers with information, lifting wages, limiting retaliation, improving safety protections, enabling concerted activity and ensuring employer accountability,” said AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler in a press release. “When workers are able to join together safely and take collective action, we all win. The AFL-CIO commends the DOL for raising the bar on protections that will prevent further exploitation of migrant and America’s workers alike.”

Remaining West Coast IATSE Locals Reach Craft-Specific Tentative Agreements with Studios: All West Coast Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) locals have now reached tentative agreements with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on its craft-specific issues as of late last week. IATSE locals 44—the Affiliated Property Craftspersons union—and 884—the Studio Teachers union—join 11 other West Coast crew unions that have won tentative deals since bargaining over their local-specific contracts that began in March. IATSE’s Basic Agreement General Negotiations, which cover broader contractual issues like wages, pension and health care contributions, artificial intelligence usage, job security, and residuals, resumed on Monday, April 29, and are slated to run through May 16. Negotiations for the Area Standards Agreement (ASA) will start on May 20 and are set to run through the end of the month. “Our locals’ craft-specific issues required the employers’ attention, and at the table we’re seeing improved engagement and dialogue,” IATSE Vice President Mike Miller said in a statement. “That indicates the studios’ negotiators have different marching orders this contract cycle. This approach will be helpful as we continue our negotiations over the next few weeks.”

Pitt Faculty Union Reaches Tentative Agreement on First Historic Contract: Full- and part-time faculty at the University of Pittsburgh—who are represented by the United Steelworkers (USW)—announced Thursday that the union had reached a tentative agreement on its first contract. The more than 3,000 Pitt faculty voted to organize with the USW during the fall of 2021 and have been negotiating with university administration for two years. Members will soon be voting on a contract that contains historic language on wages and job security, the top two bargaining priorities for the unit, including a standardized wage floor, more manageable workloads and better advancement opportunities. “We unionized nearly three years ago so that we could have a voice in the decision-making process and increased transparency,” said Tyler Bickford, a professor in the English department, who served on the bargaining committee. “We remained united through negotiations, and our perseverance paid off with a strong contract that will help us now and provide firm foundation on which we can grow in the future.”

UAW Members in North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee Reach Deal with Daimler Truck: The International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) announced a tentative deal Friday night with auto manufacturer Daimler Truck North America (DTNA) in the eleventh hour before contract expiration, covering thousands of workers at plants in North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee. The four-year contract establishes huge wins for the 7,300 covered members, like a 25% pay increase over four years—including a 10% raise immediately when the deal is ratified—profit-sharing language, an end to wage tiers and the first ever cost-of-living adjustment guarantees since workers first organized. Members faced union-busting tactics from the Mercedes-Benz-owned company throughout negotiations, including retaliation against union members and bad-faith bargaining, forcing the UAW to file four unfair labor practice charges against Daimler. “Tonight, it’s clear the company, and the world, heard your message: WE build the product. WE make the profits. WE deserve a deal that reflects our hard work. But you did more than just that,” UAW President Shawn Fain said in prepared remarks. “With this agreement, you said: a rising tide needs to lift every single boat. No one gets left behind. UAW Family, that is solidarity at its best. We win more when we stick together.”

University of Kansas Faculty Vote ‘Union Yes’: On Thursday, seven months after filing for their election, faculty at the University of Kansas (KU) voted overwhelmingly to form a union. The United Academics of the University of Kansas (UAKU) is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), representing more than 1,550 academic workers at KU. Staff in the bargaining unit include full-time and part-time tenured and nontenure-track faculty, as well as teaching, research, clinical and online professors; lecturers; curators; librarians; grant-funded research scientists; and more. Members are seeking a contract that will provide job security, improved compensation structures like salary minimums and regular cost-of-living adjustments, and protections for academic freedom. “This is a really exciting day for us. By voting overwhelmingly to unionize, we now have a seat at the table to advocate for the needs of our university and the students we serve,” said Lisa-Marie Wright, an associate teaching professor in the Department of Sociology. “Our students deserve excellent, well-supported faculty, and that’s what we’ll fight for.”

Paramedics and EMTs Form Union with AFSCME in Montana: EMTs and paramedics at AMR Bozeman have unanimously voted to form a union with AFSCME Council 9, making them the first AMR employees to organize in Montana. AMR (American Medical Response) is a private ambulance company in the United States offering emergency and nonemergency medical transportation. When faced with low pay, high turnover and faulty equipment, staff tried going to management for help, but despite their urgency, AMR failed to provide them the resources needed to serve the community. So a core group of EMS professionals began collecting union cards with help from organizers at Council 9 so they could have a collective voice for enacting change. Despite AMR’s attempt to undermine their organizing efforts, all 34 workers who voted said yes to joining together for better conditions. “We really love what we do, we want to be helping people. But we need to make enough money to get by,” said EMT Chris Dooley. “That certainly sends a pretty strong message that this isn’t just a handful of people. We all landed on the same answer.”

Biden Rule Grants Overtime Pay to Millions of Workers: Some 4.3 million workers who previously didn’t qualify for overtime pay could now be eligible, thanks to a new Department of Labor rule from the Biden administration. The mandate will extend overtime protections to salaried workers who earn less than $1,128 per week—about $58,600 per year—when they work more than 40 hours in a week. The threshold increase begins July 1 and is estimated to result in an additional $1.5 billion in pay for millions of salaried workers. And, in order to keep up with changes in average earnings, the threshold will automatically increase every three years starting in 2027. “This rule will restore the promise to workers that if you work more than 40 hours in a week, you should be paid more for that time,” said acting Labor Secretary Julie Su. “Too often, lower-paid salaried workers are doing the same job as their hourly counterparts but are spending more time away from their families for no additional pay. That is unacceptable. The Biden–Harris administration is following through on our promise to raise the bar for workers who help lay the foundation for our economic prosperity.”

Vice President Harris Announces Final Rules on Minimum Nursing Home Staffing Standards: Vice President Kamala Harris announced on Monday final rules setting minimum staffing requirements at federally funded nursing homes and mandating that a certain amount of the taxpayer dollars they receive go toward wages for care workers. This is the first time the federal government is requiring staffing minimums for nursing homes that accept payments from Medicare and Medicaid—which nearly every single one does. The rule comes after the COVID-19 pandemic claimed the lives of more than 167,000 nursing home residents in the United States, exposing how deadly and dangerous understaffing can be in facilities caring for older and disabled Americans. Harris said this overdue change will mean more staff on site to care for residents, fewer emergency room visits, and more peace of mind for caregivers and families. In addition to requiring more staff, the Biden administration is regulating how federal health care dollars are spent, requiring more of that money go to care worker wages in an effort to reduce high turnover rates and grow the industry workforce. Currently, Medicaid pays $125 billion annually to home health care companies, but those facilities haven’t previously been required to report on how they were spending the money. “It is about time that we start to recognize your value and pay you accordingly and give you the structure and support that you deserve,” Harris told a group of care workers during a roundtable in Wisconsin after the announcement. “This is about dignity, and it’s about dignity that we as a society owe to those in particular who care for the least of these.”

Volkswagen Workers in Tennessee Pass Historic Vote to Join Union: In a historic victory, Volkswagen (VW) workers in Chattanooga, Tennessee, voted to join the UAW on Friday, making it the first auto factory in the South to vote to organize since the 1940s. An overwhelming majority of the 3,613 workers voted yes in a three-day election that drew high turnout. Against the backdrop of last summer’s intense Hollywood strikes, a recent sharp spike in National Labor Relations Board petition filings, coordinated health care worker walkouts and multiple other groundbreaking organizing victories, this win for VW workers is not only the biggest organizing success in years for the UAW—it’s also yet another piece of evidence that workers across industries and regions are fed up with not getting our fair share of corporate profits. Now that the election is over, the fight for a fair contract is next. Members are aiming for an agreement that secures more paid time off, more predictable scheduling, improved health care, retirement benefits and more. “This election is big,” said Kelcey Smith, a worker in the paint department at Volkswagen, in a UAW press release. “People in high places told us good things can’t happen here in Chattanooga. They told us this isn’t the time to stand up, this isn’t the place. But we did stand up and we won. This is the time; this is the place. Southern workers are ready to stand up and win a better life.”

Shedd Aquarium Workers in Chicago Vote to Form Union : Workers at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium announced on Thursday that they are forming their union, Shedd Workers United (SWU), with AFSCME Council 31. When certified, SWU will represent around 300 staff working in animal care, community education, guest relations, facilities and other departments. Workers at the aquarium are in good company as they join the ranks of their peers at other local public institutions like the Field Museum, Museum of Science and Industry and the Chicago Public Library who all have recently organized with AFSCME Cultural Workers United. In a public letter signed by 60 workers, Shedd Workers United members said that through forming a union they can advocate not just for their own working conditions and rights, but also the welfare of the animals that are so beloved by their community. Core concerns for workers include the need for better work-life balance, improved compensation and solutions to high turnover rates. “We believe that through our union, we can use our voice to advocate for a sustainable, transparent, and equitable workplace for everyone at Shedd Aquarium, at every level,” workers said in their public statement. “We can further strengthen our role in the [diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion] initiatives. We can democratize the decision-making process that affects us, our families, and the animals we care for, leading to better collective decisions made inclusively with everyone and every animal’s best interest at heart.”

Wichita Nurses Ratify First-Ever Union Contracts at Ascension Hospitals: Registered nurses, represented by National Nurses United (NNU), at two Ascension-owned hospitals in Wichita, Kansas, ratified new two-year contracts on Monday, successfully winning critical protections for patient care. Members have overwhelmingly approved these new deals—at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis, 96% of nurses voted yes, and 100% of nurses at Ascension Via Christi St. Joseph voted yes. This massive victory comes after nurses successfully leveraged their power by threatening a third strike at the hospitals if management refused to agree to fair deals. Highlights from the new contracts include staffing grids with enforceable nurse-to-patient ratios for every unit, salary increases, a transparent wage scale based on years of experience, new standards on infectious disease protections, better workplace violence prevention language and more. “This is a historic day for our union, our patients, our hospitals, and the entire city of Wichita,” said Shelly Rader, an RN in the emergency department at St. Francis. “We’ve shown Ascension that nurses won’t back down when it comes to fighting for better patient care and better working conditions. We organized to fight for and win a strong contract, and we’re very excited to announce we’ve done just that now that nurses have approved this contract.”

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 05/10/2024 - 11:27

Tags: Organizing

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profile: Maria Teresa Hank

AFL-CIO - Fri, 05/10/2024 - 08:19
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profile: Maria Teresa Hank

For Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this year, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have worked and continue to work at the intersection of civil and labor rights in the United States. Today's profile is Maria Teresa Hank of the Transport Workers Union (TWU).

Maria Teresa Hank is an engaged union member who advocates tirelessly for workers' rights. As a Southwest flight attendant, Hank does not attend any meeting, action or rally without her “support your flight attendants” lanyards and giving anyone who will listen a quick background on why flight attendants deserve better protections. As a recent graduate of the Nevada State AFL-CIO candidate training program, she plans to run for office in a local capacity in 2026. She is of Filipino and Hawaiian descent. 

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 05/10/2024 - 10:19

Service & Solidarity Spotlight: IAM Members at Case New Holland Approve New Contract

AFL-CIO - Fri, 05/10/2024 - 08:00
Service & Solidarity Spotlight: IAM Members at Case New Holland Approve New Contract

Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our Service & Solidarity Spotlight series, we’ll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

The Machinists (IAM) Local 2525 ratified a new contract with agricultural and construction equipment producer Case New Holland Industrial.

The previous six-year contract expired on April 28, but the union and company agreed to extend the contract and continue negotiations up until this past Saturday. Workers at the Fargo, North Dakota, facility held fast on their demands for better compensation and improved benefits and safeguards for the well-being and livelihoods of all staff. Thanks to their endurance and the hard work of IAM’s negotiating team, the newly ratified agreement includes higher wages, retention of health care and pension benefits, and more time off.

“Through their solidarity, IAM Local 2525 members have secured better wages and benefits, protected their economic stability, job security, as well as ensured the balance between work and life,” said IAM Midwest Territory General Vice President Sam Cicinelli. “Their victory underscores the fundamental truth that when workers stand together, they can achieve remarkable outcomes, shaping a workplace that values their work and honors their dignity.”

Kenneth Quinnell Fri, 05/10/2024 - 10:00

USW Activists Take to the Streets on May Day to Honor Global Labor Movement

USW Blog - Thu, 05/09/2024 - 10:00

Members of the USW and the greater labor movement took to the streets May 1 to rally and march for global economic and social justice on International Workers’ Day.

From Pittsburgh to Los Angeles, activists stood side-by-side with immigrant organizations to declare that all workers deserve respect and dignity on the job, and that in the union, everyone is in.

Jessica Ríos Viner, member of USW Local 3657, serves as president of the Pittsburgh chapter of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), a constituency group within the AFL-CIO.

Each year, she organizes the Pittsburgh May Day rally and march through the busy downtown area with help from the Thomas Merton Center, Casa San José, and the Pittsburgh chapter of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA).

“No matter the color of the hands covered in dirt of the people working next to you, you have way more in common with them than you have with your boss,” Viner told the crowd of nearly 400, which included a horn section, university and library workers, grad students, baristas, striking journalists, families, and children.

For Viner, who proudly hails from Puerto Rico, the saying “We’re stronger together” is about the kind of solidarity that extends even beyond the labor movement.

“We’re all one human family,” said Viner. “All across the world people have the same needs: job security, living wages, safe workplaces, healthcare, and respect. We have to have each other’s backs.”

Xochitl Cobarruvias, chief of staff of Local 675 and active member of LCLAA in Los Angeles, also joined a diverse coalition in Hollywood to honor workers around the world on May 1.

“This day is a day of pride,” said Cobarruvias. “A day that we, as workers, immigrants and the community, should be proud of.”

The May Day holiday began to commemorate the fight for the eight-hour day in the 1880s as well as the lives of the campaign’s organizers who were executed in the wake of the 1886 Haymarket Affair.

Click here to learn more about LCLAA and how you can get involved.

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profile: Anita Roberts

AFL-CIO - Thu, 05/09/2024 - 08:09
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Profile: Anita Roberts

For Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this year, the AFL-CIO is spotlighting various Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who have worked and continue to work at the intersection of civil and labor rights in the United States. Today's profile is Anita Roberts of the Office and Professional Employees (OPEIU).

Anita Roberts, a union member since 1998, serves her colleagues at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado in San Diego as a mess attendant, cashier and shop steward. “Industrial, Technical & Professional Employees Union (ITPEU)/OPEIU Local 4873 has given AAPI members a voice at work,” Roberts said. “Our union recently won a great contract with guaranteed pensions, raises, job security, health care and good working conditions.” 

Kenneth Quinnell Thu, 05/09/2024 - 10:09

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