Work in Progress, October 2, 2000
New members reported in WiP, year to date: 114,499
NATCA ON THE MOVE--The Air Traffic Controllers welcomed 825 new members in three new bargaining units over the past month. At the Federal Aviation Administration s aircraft certification division, 532 aerospace engineers, flight test pilots, administrative officers, aircraft certification assistants and technical support workers voted for NATCA. In August, 263 workers in FAA s airports division, which distributes airport improvement funds and coordinates airport design and land purchases, chose the union, as did 30 occupational health service specialists in regional FAA offices.<BR>
CHOOSING UFCW--A total of 414 workers chose a voice with the United Food and Commercial Workers last week. Some 310 teacher retirement board employees in San Juan, Puerto Rico, overcame employer intimidation and captive audience meetings and voted for Local 481. Another 104 support staff at Newaygo, Mich., public schools voted for the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union District Council Local 386.<BR>
EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT--The 380 newsstand cashiers, clerks and warehouse workers employed by Hudson News Co. are the newest members of The Newspaper Guild of New York/Communications Workers of America. A majority of the workers, most of them immigrants from India and Pakistan, voted for a voice on the job Sept. 21.
SEIU WINS IN N.Y.--Seeking a voice on the job on behalf of themselves and their patients, the majority of 310 care givers at Ferncliff Nursing Home in Rhinebeck, N.Y., voted for Health & Human Service Employees Union 1199/SEIU Sept. 21. After a four-month unfair labor practice strike by 30 janitors, the Muss Development Co. in Brooklyn agreed to recognize SEIU Local 32BJ as their bargaining representative.
AFSCME WINS FOR THE KIDS--Despite being threatened and locked in rooms for captive audience meetings, the 257 employees at Allegheny Child Care Academy--the largest child care provider in Pennsylvania--voted for the United Child Care Union, an affiliate of the National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees/AFSCME. The Sept. 22 vote focused on dignity and respect for the largely minority workforce, which includes welfare-to-work participants. Meanwhile, union-busting tactics did not deter 105 Monmouth County, N.J., Head Start workers who recently voted for Council 73.
UNIÓN SÍ--The 41 Miami-based flight attendants at the Spanish national airline, Iberia Air Lines, became the first flight attendants for a foreign carrier to gain union representation by voting unanimously for the Flight Attendants Sept. 27. For more information, visit AFA s website at www.afanet.org.
A CONCRETE VICTORY--The 14 drivers at Payless Concrete in St. Joseph, Mo., chose a voice at work with Laborers Local 579 Sept. 27. The workers overcame an aggressive anti-union campaign that included spying, coercion, threats and replacement of some workers, according to Local 579 Business Manager G.E. Pierce.
RALLY AGAINST HATE--More 300 union members, lesbian and gay activists and religious, civil rights and community group members gathered in Washington, D.C., Sept. 28 to rally in support of strong hate crimes legislation, currently bottled up by opponents on Capitol Hill. Provisions to strengthen federal hate crimes law to include sexual orientation, gender and disability are included in the fiscal year 2001 Defense authorization bill, now in a House/Senate conference. But Republican leaders are attempting to remove the strong hate crimes provisions. Speakers urged rally participants to contact House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and their own lawmakers to urge them to retain the hate crimes provision in the bill. (You can send Hastert and Lott e-mails about the measure directly from www.aflcio.org.) The rally was a vigil for CWA member Danny Lee Overstreet, who was gunned down Sept. 22 in a hate crime in a Roanoke, Va., gay and lesbian bar. Six others were wounded.<BR>
HISTORIC KAISER PERMANENTE PACT--In the first national labor accord in the history of the health care industry, 25 unions and Kaiser Permanente have agreed on a pact that affords 64,000 front-line caregivers a greater voice in crucial decisions affecting the quality of patient care. They will have a say about staffing levels, quality of care and business planning through a ground-breaking joint labor-management decision making structure. The Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions, which includes 24 AFL-CIO unions, and the health care giant negotiated the contract. "I believe that when front-line staff are involved in decision making, they are more committed to the desired outcome," said Arthereane Brown, who has been a nurse at Kaiser for 19 years. Nearly all the workers have ratified the five-year agreement, which includes wage increases and improved health benefits. "When health care workers have a voice and are able to work together with managers, they can improve their work lives, as well as quality of care for patients," said AFL-CIO President John Sweeney at a Sept. 26 news conference in Washington, D.C., which was covered live by webcast on the AFL-CIO website. In 1997, unions and Kaiser, which serves the health care needs of 8.5 million people in 11 states and the District of Columbia, announced a partnership to tackle issues that cut across state boundaries. Workers in locals of AFSCME, AFT, the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, Office and Professional Employees, SEIU, UFCW and the Steelworkers will be covered under the agreement. For more information, visit www.aflcio.org/news/2000/0925_kaiser.htm.<BR>
DISAPPOINTED, BUT DETERMINED--Contract talks between striking Screen Actors and Television and Radio Artists and the advertising industry broke down Sept. 27 after industry representatives refused to modify their position in response to the unions compromise proposals. SAG President William Daniels and AFTRA President Shelby Scott expressed "profound disappointment" at the development, but pledged to continue to seek a fair contract. At a midday press conference, dozens of celebrities spoke in solidarity with the strikers. Some 135,000 SAG and AFTRA members walked out May 1 over management demands to roll back actors pay for commercials. To support the striking actors by sending messages to advertisers, visit www.workingfamilies.com or www.aflcio.org. For more information on the strike, check out www.sag.org and www.aftra.org.<BR>
KMART SPECIAL--Members of the UAW employed at Kmart distribution centers in Warren, Ohio, and Morrisville, Pa., ratified their first contract with the discount retailer Sept. 25. The three-year agreement gives the 1,600 warehouse workers a $1.70-an-hour raise over term.<BR>
DIGNITY AND RESPECT, FINALLY--After fighting for a decent wage and respect on the job for 15 years, janitors in the Denver metro area Sept. 30 ratified a new contract that will raise their wages by 30 percent over the next three years and provide health insurance coverage. By the end of the contract, entry-level workers in this unit will be earning more than the highest paid earn today, according to SEIU s Justice for Janitors. The janitors joined SEIU Local 105 in 1985. With the support of unionized janitors, union and community allies, janitors in the suburban office complexes joined the union in 1998.<BR>
HEALTH CARE DIFFERENCES--There is a sharp contrast in the positions and records of Vice President Al Gore and Gov. George W. Bush on major health care issues, giving voters a real choice of approaches, according to a new report, Health Care and the 2000 Elections, by FamiliesUSA. The report reviews the positions of the two presidential candidates on such key health care-related issues as prescription drug costs, Medicare, expanding health insurance coverage, patients rights and long-term care. A copy of the report is available at FamiliesUSA s website at www.healthcampaign2000.org.<BR>
SENATE OK ON MINE SAFETY MEASURE--In a unanimous vote, the U.S. Senate approved an International Labor Organization convention designed to improve safety and health conditions for miners around the world. While just 1 percent of the global workforce is employed in mining, the industry accounts for 8 percent of workplace fatalities--about 15,000 deaths a year. The convention calls on governments and employers to reduce mining hazards, provide for thorough inspections and implement adequate training. It also urges governments to establish an authority to enforce safety rules. <BR>
STICK WITH A WINNER--Congress is on the verge of passing legislation that would protect health care workers from needle injuries. H.R. 5178 and S. 3067 would require the use of safer needles in health facilities and involve front-line workers in decisions about needle use. Unions with health care members are urging activists to phone their members of Congress by calling toll free 877-611-0063.<BR>
MERGER UP IN THE AIR--Flight Attendants concerns about a pending merger of United Airlines and US Airways must be addressed before the union will approve the merger, AFA President Patricia Friend and Linda Farrow, president of the United Master Executive Council, told United CEO James Goodwin Sept. 25. Contract language gives United s AFA members the right to approve the merger. After an aggressive AFA information campaign, United agreed to order its managers to stop violating the AFA contract or face discipline and to review training procedures and begin work on an expedited grievance procedure.<BR>
FEAR OF CLOSING--International trade and investment policies, combined with ineffective labor laws, have created a climate that has emboldened employers to threaten to close, or actually close, their plants to avoid unionization, according to a new report, Uneasy Terrain: The Impact of Capital Mobility on Workers, Wages and Union Organizing, written for the U.S. Trade Deficit Review Commission by Kate Bronfenbrenner, director of labor education at Cornell University. To access the full 86-page report, go to www.ustdrc.gov/research and download the file bronfenbrenner.pdf.<BR>
TEXAS TRUTH TAPES--You ve read about the Texas Truth Squad--now here s your chance to see and hear from Texas union members what life has been like for working families under Gov. George W. Bush. The Truth from Texas Working Families, a seven-minute video, highlights firsthand facts the Texas Truth Squad has been sharing with audiences around the country about Bush s dismal record on working family issues. The video is suitable for union meetings, conferences, conventions or wherever union families gather. Single copies are free. Order online at www.aflcio.org or contact AFL-CIO Support Services, 815 16th St. N.W., Washington, D.C., 20006; phone: 800-442-5645 or 202-637-5042 in Washington, D.C.; fax: 202-637-5058.<BR>
TAKE YOUR KID TO VOTE--The AFL-CIO has joined with several other organizations to support the Take Your Kids to Vote campaign to raise children s interest in voting and democracy. For more information and for suggested activities, visit www.takeyourkidstovote.com.<BR>
Special e-lerts on workingfamilies.com--This election year, when you register for workingfamilies.com you will receive special information about issues important to working families. To receive these special e-lerts, register at workingfamilies.com now!<BR>
Work in Progress, October 10, 2000
New members reported in this weeks's WiP: 5,287
New members reported in WiP year to date: 119,786
NO SUMMER VACATION FOR UAW--Some 2,440 workers chose a voice at work with UAW in a series of late summer organizing victories. In Michigan, the wins include 652 workers at Eagle Picher in Hillsdale; 600 workers at Automotive Component Carrier LOC in Flint; 341 workers at North Star Steel in Monroe; 331 workers at Tower Automotive in Traverse City; 178 workers at Leather Work LLC in Detroit; 26 workers at Greenleaf Kensington in Brighton; 20 workers at Mackie Automotive Systems and two workers at ImagAmerica, both in Sterling Heights. At JAC Products in Monclova, Ohio, 283 workers joined UAW, as did seven workers at E.R. Schepens Electrical Services Ltd. in Wallaceburg, Ontario, Canada.
CHECK THESE CARDS--In Orange County, Calif., 1,000 janitors at the cleaning firm One Source won card-check recognition with SEIU Local 1887 last month. A card-check win occurs when a majority of workers sign cards to authorize union representation without an election and the employer agrees to recognize their choice. Up the coast, 150 technical employees at Children s Hospital in Oakland and 118 workers at Sunbridge Nursing Home in Manteca voted to join SEIU Local 250.
RIGHT HERE FOR RESPECT--Some 929 workers now have a voice on the job with Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees after a series of organizing wins. In Minneapolis, 300 workers won card-check recognition with HERE Local 17 at Wildside Catering at Excel Arena and Touchstone Energy Center in September, and 40 workers at Volume Services at Excel Center and 20 at Marriott Residence Inn voted to join the union. At Los Angeles International Airport, 150 workers at DFS Gift Shop won card-check recognition with Local 814, as did 100 workers from Jetway Crews of California. At another L.A. landmark, Dodger Stadium, 100 workers employed by Levy Food Services won a voice at work with Local 11. Sixty-five workers at Dennison Parking in Washington, D.C., joined Local 27 via a card-check, while 40 workers at Hotel W in Oakland, Calif., joined Local 2850 through a card-check. At Tad s Steakhouse in New York City, 35 workers joined Local 100, and 33 at the Madonna Inn in San Louis Obispo, Calif., joined Local 19. Other wins: Fifteen workers at Host Marriott Airport in Vancouver won a card-check to join Local 40; 16 valet attendants at the Sands Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City joined Local 54; and after card-checks nine workers at Flight 22 Restaurant at the Quality Inn and six at Skaff Catering in Toledo, Ohio, are members of Local 84.
CLEAN AS ROCKY MOUNTAIN AIR--At Denver Laundries, 450 workers voted to join the Chicago and Central States Joint Board last week. In Brooklyn, 38 workers at Liberty Apparel voted for UNITE and are now part of the N.Y. Apparel and Allied Joint Board. At Thermoplast Inc., a Canadian plastics manufacturer, 125 workers organized and received certification this week as part of the Montreal Joint Board.
PERFECT VICTORY AT PERLITE--Tired of broken promises and unfair treatment, miners at the Dicaperl Mineral Inc. Perlite Mine in Socorro, N.M., voted to join the Mine Workers last week. "We looked for someone to help us in our fight and we chose the UMWA," said Joseph Julian, one of 37 new union members and a leader in the organizing drive.
COAST TO COAST FOR SAG--Thousands of Screen Actors Guild and Television and Radio Artists members and their supporters rallied in New York City, Cincinnati and Southern California today to kick off an AFL-CIO endorsed boycott of selected Procter and Gamble products--Tide, Crest and Ivory. The 135,000 actors have been on strike since May 1, and Procter and Gamble is leading the big corporate advertisers demands for wage cuts and is blocking actors from sharing in the growing future of cable television and the Internet. The company has been aggressively shooting commercials since the actors were forced out on strike. In New York City s Bryant Park, AFL-CIO President John Sweeny was joined by Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Julia Roberts and Richard Dreyfuss. In Cincinnati, SAG/AFTRA members rallied and marched outside Procter and Gamble s annual shareholder meeting and in Oxnard, Calif., actors set up an informational picket line outside a Procter and Gamble plant.
FURTHER ON THE BUS--Starting tomorrow in Charleston, W.Va., with a huge Social Security and Medicare prescription drug rally, the AFL-CIO kicks off a series of "people-powered" bus tours to "rev up for a massive get-out-the-vote-effort on Election Day," AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said. The tours are designed to energize and mobilize union members in selected states and congressional districts with stops in dozens of cities and towns for issue rallies, worksite leafleting, phone banking and meetings with activists. Joining Sweeney on the first bus tour, through West Virginia and Kentucky, will be the Rev. Jesse Jackson; Mine Workers President Cecil Roberts; Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer and former UMWA president; Communications Workers President Morton Bahr; IUE President Ed Fire; and Steelworkers International Vice President Leon Lynch. Other bus tours are set for the Pacific Northwest and Midwest. Along with mobilizing around working family issues such as health care, education, good jobs and workers rights, the tour will support AFL-CIO-endorsed candidates, including Vice President Al Gore and Sen. Joe Lieberman, and congressional, state and local candidates, including 2000 in 2000 union member-candidates.
DELTA ATTENDANTS WIN BENEFITS--The 21,000 flight attendants at Delta Airlines, who are trying to form a union with the Flight Attendants for better jobs and a better company, have had two major accomplishments recently. They won domestic partnership benefits and made drug testing procedures much more fair. Both resulted from organized pressure around the issues such as e-mail petitions, forums, community alliances and keeping the issue in front of managers through crew lounge conversations. For more information about the flight attendants campaign at Delta, visit www.deltaafa.org.
THE VOICE OF CALIFORNIA--California employers with state contracts no longer will be able to thwart their workers right to a voice at work by using those taxpayer dollars to stall or derail organizing campaigns. Gov. Gray Davis (D) signed legislation outlawing such practices last week. The bill was sponsored by former union organizer Assemblyman Gil Cedillo (D).
WORKER JUSTICE IN MILWAUKEE--The Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors approved a "labor peace" ordinance to ensure that social services and specialized transportation services for the elderly and disabled will not be delayed or disrupted by labor disputes. The ordinance, approved Sept. 28, requires that a neutrality agreement be included in certain county contracts as an expeditious, non-confrontational alternative to resolving employee representation issues. Contracts for more than $250,000 must include provisions that prohibit employers from giving workers false or misleading information about union organizing. The employer must also provide an organizing union with a list of employees and their addresses and allow union organizers access to the workplace. The organizing union must agree to refrain from striking or engaging in other economic action during a campaign. The statute was supported by union, religious and community activists, including members of the Racine Dominicans, an order of nuns, who sent letters to county supervisors. Of the 25 county supervisors, two are union members, elected as part of the AFL-CIO s 2000 in 2000 program; they helped bring a working families perspective to the debate. eleading the big corporate advertise
VOTER REGISTRATION DEADLINES LOOM--With hundreds of Cleveland AFL-CIO union members and community allies canvassing the city s neighborhoods and streets during the past two weekends, the community alliance hit its goal to register 10,000 new voters by today s voter registration deadline in Ohio. Mail-in voter registration deadlines for many states have passed or will pass by the end of this week, but many states allow in-person or even Election Day registration. See www.aflcio.org for information about your state. Every working family member who is registered to vote helps bring a Working Families Agenda a step closer to reality and will help elect lawmakers who will stand up for working families. Pitch in: Urge your co-workers and their families to register before it s too late.
BUSH SOCIAL SECURITY PLAN HURTS YOUNG--Two new reports detail how Republican presidential nominee George W. Bush s Social Security privatization scheme would hurt young workers. To pay for the private accounts Bush proposes, the retirement age for a worker who is 33 years old today would have to rise to 74, according to the Economic Policy Institute in Raising the Retirement Age: The Wrong Direction for Social Security. Meanwhile, 2030 Action s new study, Young Social Security Beneficiaries in the Fifty States, says the 4.3 million Americans younger than 40 who receive Social Security (mostly through the disability and survivors insurance programs) would face cuts if Bush succeeds in diverting Social Security payroll taxes into private accounts. The reports are available, respectively, at www.epinet.org and www.2030.org.
MORE TROUBLE FOR LABOR READY--Class action lawsuits against Labor Ready, one of the largest and fastest-growing temporary employment agencies, were filed last week in New York City and San Jose, Calif. The suits charge that the firm violates the states laws by illegally skimming money from workers pay by charging employees an average of $1.50 to withdraw their daily pay from the company s cash dispensing machines. It s estimated the company earned some $7.7 million from that practice in 1999. Labor Ready is one of the leaders in a nationwide trend of temp agencies in the construction industry and already has 839 offices in 49 states, Puerto Rico, Canada and the United Kingdom. The AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department s "Temp Workers Deserve a Permanent Voice@Work" campaign is supporting the lawsuits.
NYU FLUNKS FAIRNESS TEST--Hundreds of union members and students rallied Oct. 4 to protest New York University s anti-union battle against its 1,500 graduate student research and teaching assistants and its refusal to allow a union security clause in the contract covering 1,600 clerical and technical employees, members of New York State United Teachers/AFT Local 3882. AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, New York State AFL-CIO President Denis Hughes and New York City Central Labor Council President Brian McLaughlin called on the university to end its appeals of a decision granting graduate assistants the right to form a union. The university s administrators vow not to bargain with UAW Local 2110 if the ballots are opened and the university loses.
A MARKER FOR A MARTYR--Anna Lopizzo was killed Jan. 28, 1912, at age 34, shot through the heart during the Bread and Roses strike in Lawrence, Mass., when more than 30,000 laborers were on strike for 63 days against American Woolen Co., after management cut wages. Her grave was unmarked for 88 years, until David R. Morris, assistant business manager of Electrical Workers Local 2321 in North Andover, set about getting a headstone made. Granite cutters in Barre, Vt., where children of the strikers were taken for safety in 1912, donated a headstone carved with the Bread and Roses symbol¯grain stalks and a rose. The gravestone was displayed at Lawrence Heritage State Park as part of the annual Bread and Roses festival until Labor Day and placed on her grave in ceremonies held Sept. 14.
Work in Progress--October 16, 2000
New members reported in this week's WiP: 1,150
New members reported in WiP, year to date: 120,936
RESPECT AT LAX--In the latest victory for the Respect at LAX campaign, 425 Globe Services workers at Los Angeles International Airport joined SEIU Local 1877 after a card-check. A card-check win occurs when a majority of workers sign cards to authorize union representation without an election and the employer agrees to recognize their choice. Respect at LAX is a joint campaign with Local 1877, Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees Local 814, the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and the AFL-CIO. Workers in the newest unit include preboard screeners, wheelchair attendants, baggage handlers and sky caps. In New Jersey last week, 115 nursing home workers, specializing in the care of Alzheimer s disease patients, voted to join SEIU 1199 New York, and on Sept. 29, 80 nurses, medical technicians and registration clerks at Canonsburg (Pa.) Hospital voted to join District 1199P.
NEW DEAL IN MIAMI--Concerned about possible privatization of their jobs, 190 Miami sanitation workers voted to join AFSCME Council 79 Oct. 5. A diverse organizing committee of two dozen workers petitioned for the vote after three-quarters of the unit signed union cards.
RED DOOR, GREEN LIGHT--Some 110 workers at Woodgreen Red Door Family Shelter in Toronto, Canada, voted for a voice at work with UNITE Oct. 10. Red Door is a nonprofit group operating three shelters for abused women and their children, refugees and the homeless. In Long Island City, N.Y., 25 cutters at Jae Young, a women s apparel maker, won union recognition Oct. 6 after they shut down their machines, put on UNITE caps and marched to the front office together. After this show of strength, the company agreed to recognize the union on the spot.
DRIVING FOR A VOICE--More than 125 drivers at the Southeast Arkansas Area Agency on Aging in Pine Bluff, Ark., voted Sept. 29 for a voice on the job with United Food and Commercial Workers Local 2008.
MAIL DRIVERS--By a 65-15 vote, mail haulers at Pat Salmon & Sons Co. voted for representation by the Postal Workers Memphis, Tenn., Area Local (MTAL), capping a months-long organizing drive. The win was the fourth in the Memphis area among mail haulers whose employers are under contract with the U.S. Postal Service.
RALLY CALLS FOR WAGE HIKE NOW--About 300 union members joined by religious, civil rights and community group members rallied on Capitol Hill Oct. 12 to tell Republican congressional leaders it s time to get bill. Speakers chastised Republican leaders for tying the wage hike to tax breaks for the wealthy and measures to seriously weaken Fair Labor Standards Act protections for millions of workers. While Congress is trying to adjourn this week, Rep. David Bonior (D-Mich.) vowed the body would not leave town "until this minimum-wage bill is signed into law." To send a message urging your lawmaker to act on the minimum wage, visit www.aflcio.org. Also unresolved is the Labor/Health and Human Services/Education spending bill that contains a ban on OSHA s efforts to enact an ergonomics standard. President Clinton has vowed to veto the bill if the ban remains. In positive action, the Senate passed legislation Oct. 11 to strengthen penalties for people convicted of bringing children or women into the United States and forcing them into prostitution or sweatshops. The House also passed the measure and President Clinton has said he will sign it.
ON THE BUS--Several hundred union members and their families in Madisonville, Ky., cheered union leaders and candidates who outlined the vast differences between presidential candidates Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush at a "Good Jobs" rally Oct. 13. The rally capped a three-day swing through Appalachia by the AFL-CIO people-powered bus tour to mobilize working families and get out the votes on Election Day. AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trumka noted that while Gore and his running mate, Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), "believe in stronger wage and hour laws and safer workplaces, Bush and Cheney want to do away with the 40-hour week, bring back company unions and put OSHA out of business." Joining Trumka on the tour were Mine Workers President Cecil Roberts, Communications Workers of America President Morton Bahr, IUE-CWA Industrial Division President Ed Fire, Steelworkers International Vice President Leon Lynch and the Rev. Jesse Jackson. Also Oct. 13, United Food and Commercial Workers President Doug Dority, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney and House candidate Lacy Clay held a town hall meeting for union members in St. Louis; they later hosted a get-out-the-vote lunch for local union leaders and joined in worksite leafleting at Holton Meat Co. Today in Lansing and Grand Rapids, Mich., the AFL-CIO s Texas Truth Squad and Sweeney joined in town hall meetings with hundreds of union members to testify about life for working families in Texas under Bush.
JUSTICE FOR NUCLEAR WORKERS--Key members of Congress successfully inserted a measure into the Defense Department authorization bill that, if passed, would provide a lump-sum payment and medical benefits to thousands of nuclear weapons workers who were exposed to radiation and beryllium. As many as 6,000 workers could benefit from the $150,000-per-worker payments, which Building Trades and other unions pushed forward. "Energy Secretary Bill Richardson and the Clinton-Gore administration deserve credit for launching and vigorously supporting this important initiative," said Boyd Young, president of PACE International Union, which represents workers at many Department of Energy nuclear weapons facilities.
FAMILY SUPPORT--Striking Screen Actors and Television and Radio
Artists, who recently launched an AFL-CIO-endorsed boycott of Procter & Gamble Co. products Tide, Crest and Ivory, received support from an unusual source--the great-grandson of company founder James Gamble. In a letter to the company CEO, George F. Gamble wrote, "Justifiable compensation for the talented work performed by SAG and AFTRA must be considered. As a leading advertiser and pioneer in advertisement, I ask your support in a speedy resolution regarding this issue." The 135,000 actors have been on strike since May 1, and P&G is leading the big corporate advertisers demands for wage cuts and blocking actors from sharing in the growing future of cable television and the Internet.
ONE DAY IN L.A.--More than 40,000 Los Angeles County members of SEIU
Local 660 returned to work Oct. 12 after a one-day, countywide strike to protest county leaders refusal to address their concerns for better wages and improved public services. Union members--including nurses, librarians, court employees and public works personnel--suspended their strike action after an appeal by Cardinal Roger Mahony of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The workers contract expired Sept. 30. They are seeking their fair share in salary increases after years of pay freezes and minimum-wage hikes that kept their wages below the pace of inflation. The workers also are seeking to improve county services, with staffing being a prime concern--especially for health care workers. Caregivers in the county s sprawling system of hospitals and clinics say staffing has reached a crisis level, putting their patients--most often, the poor--at risk.
SWEENEY WALKS WITH D.C. NURSES--The 1,500 striking nurses at Washington
Hospital Center received a boost on the picket lines last week when AFL-CIO President John Sweeney joined them and pledged the federation support. He told the members of the D.C. Nurses Association, an affiliate of the American Nurses Association, "Your struggle is not just about your own hospital and your own work. This is about nurses all across the country." Patient care and mandatory overtime are two key issues for the nurses, who went on strike Sept. 20. Sweeney called for an investigation of the hospital and its policies impact on patient care.
DELIVERING A CONTRACT--The 450 cargo pilots at Emery Worldwide Airlines ratified their first contract by a 3-to-1 margin. The accord, which was signed Sept. 25, boosts hourly pay and improves working conditions, benefits and job protections. The air freight carrier and its parent, Consolidated Freightways, have committed to expanding the airline with seniority-list pilots, says Capt. Thomas Rachford, chairman of the Air Line Pilots Emery unit.
December 4, 2000
SOUTHERN EXPOSURE--Political action and organizing came together in October when 2,900 Nashville, Tenn., school support personnel voted for a voice at work through SEIU Local 205. Their victory came just weeks after the Nashville Board of Education granted the workers collective bargaining rights. Among the school board members voting for the change were four members of Local 205 who were elected last year with strong union support.
TEACHING ASSISTANTS WIN RIGHTS--About 1,600 teaching assistants at the University of Washington won an historic agreement with the administration Dec. 4, averting a threatened walkout today, three days before finals begin. The university agreed to recognize the workers' union, the Graduate Student Employee Action Coalition, a UAW affiliate, and to meet and confer about wages, working conditions and benefits. The union and the administration also pledged to work together to lobby for a state collective bargaining law covering teaching assistants at all state campuses.
POSITIVE LAB RESULTS--Some 270 professional employees at Kaleida Health, formerly Buffalo (N.Y.) General Hospital, chose Nurses United/Communications Workers of America Local 1168 in October through a card-check. CWA negotiated a card-check recognition agreement two years ago when Buffalo General and several other area hospitals merged to become Kaleida Health, the largest health care system in western New York. The union's card-check agreement provides that employees can gain union representation when 60 percent sign cards requesting it.
SISTER SOLIDARITY--More than 125 workers at AM Cosmetics in North Arlington, N.J., voted to join their co-workers at AM's sister plant in Brooklyn, N.Y., as members of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 888.
SIGN HERE--The 100 workers at the Pacific Shores Hotel are the first hotel employees in Santa Monica, Calif., to gain a voice at work in more than 50 years, picking Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees Local 184 through a card-check. The new hotel sits on property belonging to the city, which called for "labor peace" as part of the lease.
UNIONS ARE DOT COM-ING--Thousands of workers in "new economy" companies are fighting for justice through unions. While customer service representatives at Amazon.com have launched an organizing campaign with WashTech, a CWA affiliate, Amazon distribution center workers are meeting with UFCW. Meanwhile, customer service workers at etown.com, a San Francisco-based e-commerce site, have filed for a union election with the help of the San Jose Newspaper Guild/CWA. On Dec. 1, just days after the petition was filed, etown.com announced a 20 percent cut in its workforce. For more information on WashTech's campaign, click on www.washtech.org/day2/index.html.
POSTAL OFFERS ZIP--The U.S. Postal Service's latest wage proposal is "not only inadequate, but shameful and insulting to postal employees," Bill Burrus, executive vice president of the Postal Workers, said of the agency's proposal for no wage increases in a four-year contract. The union is seeking 13.5 percent in a three-year accord, said Burrus. Negotiations ended Nov. 28 without agreement and now proceed to interest arbitration, which can include mediation, fact-finding and binding arbitration. The previous contract covering 355,000 workers expired Nov. 20. The Laborers' National Postal Mail Handlers Union, which represents 61,000 USPS workers, also ended negotiations Nov. 30 without a settlement.
AVONDALE VOTE SET--Workers at Litton Avondale Industries in Louisiana will vote Dec. 6 on their first contract ever. The tentative three-year deal covers some 4,200 shipyard workers. It includes pay increases, improves safety and job security provisions and ensures fairness for all workers, according to the AFL-CIO Metal Trades Department. Workers staged a six-year battle for a voice at the shipyard that was met with harsh and vicious anti-union tactics by former owners, Avondale Industries, which later merged with Newport News Shipbuilding. Litton took over the yard in 1999 and agreed to the workers' choice to join a union.
BOYCOTT GROWS--The AFL-CIO and PACE International Union announced Nov. 30 they are stepping up the boycott against Crown Petroleum Corp. prompted by the February 1996 lockout of 252 union workers at the company's Pasadena, Texas, refinery. The workers in October rejected a tentative contract. "An expansion of the campaign would not be necessary if Crown would end the lockout and allow contract negotiations to continue," said PACE President Boyd Young.
NATIONAL SUPPORT--The Newspaper Guild/CWA will provide $10,000 per week to help pay for online and printed newspapers produced by striking Seattle Times and Seattle Post-Intelligencer employees, TNG President Linda Foley told a Seattle rally Nov. 27. The national support comes as the walkout by more than 1,000 members of the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Guild enters its third week. The workers rejected a final contract offer that included wage increases of just 55 cents per hour over six years. The strikers' online newspaper can be found at www.unionrecord.com.
STILL ON THE CASE--On Nov. 30, the first anniversary of the protests during the Seattle Summit of the World Trade Organization, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney and Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope vowed to carry on the fight for global fairness. The two organizations plan to deepen their cooperation by organizing joint town hall meetings, visits with elected officials and other activities over the next year.
FAST TRACK FOR ERGO--The AFL-CIO, Steelworkers, Teamsters and UNITE filed suits in federal court in an effort to speed up enforcement of OSHA's new ergonomics standard. Unlike other OSHA safety standards, the ergonomics standard requires that a worker be injured before the rule applies. The unions are seeking to make the OSHA standard apply when workers are exposed to identified hazards instead of waiting until they are hurt. The unions also are seeking to shorten the time employers have before complying with the standard.
CHARITY AT HOME--The Union Community Fund, the working families charity, is kicking off in six locations--New Orleans, Houston, Seattle, San Jose, Calif., Washington, D.C., and Arizona. The new charity allows union members to decide how their charitable money will be spent in their own communities. Fund-raising drives already are under way in Seattle and Washington, D.C. To donate to the fund online, click on www.aflcio.org/ucf.
NATIONAL LIVING WAGE--Fortified with a new report from the Economic Policy Institute showing that 162,000 federal contract workers earn wages below the poverty level, ACORN last week launched a campaign for federal living wage legislation. Since 1994, more than 50 cities have passed living wage ordinances, and campaigns currently are under way in more than 75 cities, counties and universities. Read the full report, The Forgotten Workforce, at www.epinet.org.
CLOTHING BARRED--The U.S. Customs Service barred all men's and girl's clothing manufactured by the Chinese-owned Dong Fang Guo Ji factory, which forces children to manufacture textiles, often working them 14 hours a day, seven days a week. Dong Fang exports about $1.5 million in clothing to the United States annually, marketing 90 percent under its own brand names. The remainder is sold under U.S. brand names, including Guess?, Van Heusen, G.H. Bass & Co., Geoffrey Beane, DKNY, John Henry, Manhattan and Izod.
FROM RUSSIA IN SOLIDARITY--Three major trade union groups from Russia joined the Brussels-based International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), the world's largest trade union body. Unions in Georgia and Azerbaijan also joined. Russia and the former Soviet Union were considered for many years hostile ground for free trade unions. "The affiliation of our Russian friends testifies to the tremendous democratic progress that has occurred in that country and in which trade unions played a major role," said ICFTU General Secretary Bill Jordan. For more information, click on www.icftu.org.
ACTING TOGETHER--The Screen Actors has chosen husband-and-wife performers Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee to receive its highest honor--the Life Achievement Award for career achievement and humanitarian accomplishment. SAG will present the award in a live telecast March 11. In 1998, the couple celebrated their golden wedding anniversary with a benefit that raised $300,000 for New York community theaters. Davis and Dee are longtime activists, having risked their careers resisting McCarthyism and suing in federal court to protect African Americans' voting rights.
OH BING, LET US SING--"I'm dreaming of a just workplace...." Sound familiar? Think Bing Crosby and "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas." Crosby's musical chestnut is only one of the festive songs the Labor Heritage Foundation has reworked to bring a little union spirit to working families this holiday season. The tunes include "Rudolph the Union Reindeer," "Organizing Workers in this Land" (to the tune of "Walking in a Winter Wonderland") and "Share the Dough," a holiday message to CEOs to the tune of "Let it Snow." The lyrics are available at the LHF website at www.laborheritage.org; e-mail a request to firstname.lastname@example.org; or fax to 202-842-7838.
MOTHER JONES--Mary Harris "Mother" Jones, the "Grand Old Champion of Labor" and legendary organizer, was honored with the dedication of an historical marker near Hyattsville, Md., on Dec. 2. A remembrance of Mother Jones was held at the George Meany Center for Labor Studies, followed by the dedication of the roadside marker near the Burgess Farm where Mother Jones celebrated her 100th birthday. She died at the farm on Nov. 30, 1930. The ceremony was sponsored by the Coalition of Labor Union Women, Mine Workers, Labor Heritage Foundation, Metropolitan Washington Council and the National Labor College-George Meany Center for Labor Studies.
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