Worker Wins Update: April Showers Bring Big Wins for Workers

Workers across the country have stood up in the past month to fight for better wages and working conditions.

Harvard Hotel Workers Make Smart Choice to Organize: Following a two year campaign, workers at the Soldiers Field Road DoubleTree Hotel, located in a building owned by Harvard, voted to organize with UNITE HERE Local 26. The workers will join Harvard dining hall workers as well as Boston-area hotel staff in the local union.

Next Stop for Double Decker Bus Tour Guides: A Union: Workers at a double-decker bus tour company in New York City have voted to join Transport Workers (TWU) Local 100, fighting back against poor working conditions and pay cuts. Local 100 currently represents some 40,000 transit workers throughout New York City.

Casino Workers Go ‘All-In’ on Union: The cards at the Horseshoe Baltimore Casino will be dealt by union members after workers voted to join the National Gaming Workers Coalition, which includes UNITE HERE, UAW and Operating Engineers (IUOE).

Toady’s Lesson at Detroit Charter Schools: Forming a Union: Teachers from three Detroit charter schools have come together to file petitions to be represented by the Michigan Alliance of Charter Teachers & Staff, a local union affiliated with the AFT.

Gawker Writers Submit Stories and Union Cards: Workers at Gawker Media announced that they will be forming a union with the Writers Guild of America, East, AFL-CIO in New York City. Gawker writers cited need for a fair salary and stated clearly that “every workplace could use a union.”

Alaska Nurses Find the Right Prescription, Affiliate with AFT: In a move to strengthen the voices of nurses in Alaska, the Alaska Nurses Association Labor Program agreed to affiliate with AFT Nurses and Health Professionals. With this affiliation, AFT now represents 113,000 health care professionals across the country.

Rutgers Faculty Win Big in Classroom and at Bargaining Table: Nearly 4,700 full-time faculty and graduate teaching assistants signed a new contract protecting members from salary freezes, health care rate hikes and promising a raise in wages throughout the life of the contract. The contract, fought for by members of the American Association of University Professors–AFT, also will provide protections for about 7,000 graduate teaching assistants.

Howard University Physicians On-Call for Better Pay, Benefits: Resident physicians at Howard University Hospital in Washington, D.C., have asked hospital officials to negotiate a new contract with their newly formed union after the National Labor Relations Board upheld the results of its January election last week.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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Bike-Share Employees Reject Walmart Model, Vote to Unionize

Wanted: skilled employees willing to work in a hazardous, low-wage environment without training, benefits or a predictable schedule.

This isn’t an ad for working at Walmart. Rather, it’s a list of the reasons that workers at a bike-share venture in Boston voted to unionize with the Transport Workers (TWU) in an election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board conducted on Thursday. The election drew in 95% of eligible voters and led to an overwhelming three-fourths vote for union representation in a clear repudiation of practices that are becoming more common in technology-driven ventures.

“The workers want a better company,” said TWU Vice President John Samuelsen in a statement. “A union contract will provide them a platform to have real input in giving Boston a world-class bike share operation, and it will enable us to address current problems, including operational difficulties and safety concerns. We’re thrilled that the vote was so decisive.”

Prior to the election, the workers complained of unpredictable and disruptive last-minute scheduling, being told they’re not needed after being called in, needing too many repairs while having too few mechanics, unsafe rental vans when the company vehicles were out of service and $15 per hour wages that don’t match with the precision, organization and safety required in some of the company’s jobs.

“We all believe in Hubway and want it to succeed,” said Tom Langelier, a 29-year-old station technician with Hubway who voted to unionize. “But we’re expected to be on call as if there are formal rules, but there really are no rules. We’re all here in the first place because we bike and care about the future of our cities.”

Technology-driven sharing-economy ventures market themselves as attempts to make life more convenient, yet they still fall through old trapdoors of subtle and overt dehumanization in the search of profit. The workplace issues at Hubway and Citi Bike are not unusual. Take the examples of TaskRabbit employees earning just dollars a day after TaskRabbit revamped how it allocated their work, or the Facebook shuttle drivers whose split dawn and dusk shifts amount to a 15-hour workday. Yet the recent organizing victory at Hubway, along with similar victories in other bike-sharing ventures in Washington, D.C., and New York City, shows that a voice at work is just as important in the new technology-driven economy as it was in years past.

“These are supposed to be good green jobs you can live on and have pride in, not transient green jobs,” said Natalie Matthews, a 24-year-old office administrator, in a telephone interview. “The prime reason we want to organize is so we don’t lose more good people.”

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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N.Y. Bike Share Workers Join Transport Workers

TWU photo

Next to food trucks, one of the fastest growing trends in cities across the country is bike sharing, with racks of bicycles for rent by the hour or longer positioned around town for easy pick up and drop off. But it takes dozens and sometimes hundreds of workers to make bike-sharing operations run smoothly. On Tuesday, the more than 200 workers in New York City’s Citi Bike program chose the Transport Workers (TWU) to help make their jobs run more smoothly, too.

The bicycle mechanics, dispatchers, call center operators and technicians began their organizing drive for better wages, regular schedules and a voice on the job with TWU Local 100. The support throughout the workforce was so strong, Citi Bike voluntarily recognized their choice of Local 100 as the workers’ representative.

The union represents bus and subway workers in the city, and Local 100 President John Samuelsen said:

We view bike sharing as another important mode of public transit. We fully intend to throw our energy and political support behind expanding these bike-sharing systems and ensuring they are designed in a way to support existing transportation networks.

He also said that contract bargaining will focus on “advancing the livelihoods of bike share workers” and added that bike share workers in several other cities are seeking union representation.

The New York victory, said Citi Bike worker Dolly Winter, “feels great, very empowering.”

In related news, last week the 550 call takers and reservation agents at Global Contact Services in Queens, N.Y., who schedule paratransit services for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, voted to join Local 100. Read more here.

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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12 Recent Victories for Workers in Raising Wages and Collective Bargaining

While it certainly seems that far-right extremists are waging an all-out war on working families and their rights, workers aren’t just defending themselves; they are fighting to expand their rights and achieving some significant gains. Here are 12 recent victories we should celebrate while continuing to push for even more wins.

1. AFSCME Sets Organizing Goal, Almost Doubles It: AFSCME President Lee Saunders announced that the union has organized more than 90,000 workers this year, nearly doubling its 2014 goal of 50,000.

2. Tennessee Auto Workers to Create New Local Union at VW PlantAuto workers at Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., announced the formation of UAW Local 42, a new local that will give workers an increased voice in the operation of the German carmaker’s U.S. facility. UAW organizers continue to gain momentum, as the union has the support of nearly half of the plant’s 1,500 workers, which would make the union the facility’s exclusive collective bargaining agent.

3. California Casino Workers Organize: Workers at the new Graton Resort & Casino voted to join UNITE HERE Local 2850 of Oakland, providing job security for 600 gambling, maintenance, and food and beverage workers.

4. Virgin America Flight Attendants Vote to Join TWU: Flight attendants at Virgin America voted to join the Transport Workers, citing the success of TWU in bargaining fair contracts for Southwest Airlines flight attendants.

5. Maryland Cab Drivers Join National Taxi Workers Alliance: Cab drivers in Montgomery County, Md., announced their affiliation with the National Taxi Workers Alliance, citing low wages and unethical behavior by employers among their reasons to affiliate with the national union.

6. Retail and Restaurant Workers Win Big, Organize Small: Small groups of workers made big strides as over a dozen employees at a Subway restaurant in Bloomsbury, N.J., voted to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. Meanwhile, cosmetics and fragrance workers at a Macy’s store in Massachusetts won an NLRB ruling that will allow them to vote on forming a union.

7. Minnesota Home Care Workers Take Key Step to Organize: Home health care workers in Minnesota presented a petition to state officials that would allow a vote on forming a union for more than 26,000 eligible workers.

8. New York Television Writers-Producers Join Writers Guild: Writers and producers from Original Media, a New York City-based production company, voted to join the Writers Guild of America, East, citing low wages, long work schedules and no health care.

9.  Fast-Food Workers Win in New NLRB Ruling: The National Labor Relations Board ruled that McDonald’s could be held jointly responsible with its franchisees for labor violations and wage disputes. The NLRB ruling makes it easier for workers to organize individual McDonald’s locations, and could result in better pay and conditions for workers.

10. Workers Increasingly Have Access to Paid Sick Leave: Cities such as San Diego and Eugene, Ore., have passed measures mandating paid sick leave, providing workers with needed flexibility and making workplaces safer for all.

11. Student-Athletes See Success, Improved Conditions: College athletic programs are strengtheningfinancial security measures for student-athletes in the wake of organizing efforts by Northwestern University football players. In addition, the future is bright as the majority of incoming college football players support forming a union.

12. San Diego Approves Minimum Wage Hike; Portland, Maine, Starts Process: Even as Congress has failed to raise the minimum wage, municipalities across the country have taken action. San Diego will raise the minimum wage to $11.50 an hour by 2017, and the Portland, Maine, Minimum Wage Advisory Committee will consider an increase that would take effect in 2015.

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Union Members Play Big Part in Super Bowl Game Plan

Sunday is the first outdoor, cold weather site Super Bowl in the game’s 48-year history. The frigid weather in the weeks leading up to the game and expected temps in the 20s and 30s won’t stop the thousands of union members who are bringing you the game. On the scene at MetLife Stadium in the New Jersey Meadowlands or behind the scenes at many facilities in the Metro New York-New Jersey area, union members are making the nation’s national party day possible.

So, as a preview before you sit back, open a beverage and eat far too many snacks that are far from healthy, we introduce Sunday’s starting union lineup.

Of course, on the field, the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos players are members of the NFL Players Association (NFLPA), and the men in the striped shirts are members of the NFL Referees Association.

The announcers, camera operators, technicians, field workers and other hardworking folks bringing the game to your flat-screened football cave or favorite Broncos or Seahawks bar include members of SAG-AFTRA, Broadcast Employees and Technicians-CWA (NABET-CWA), Electrical Workers (IBEW) and Laborers (LIUNA).

The annual over-the-top halftime show is a down-to-the-second, choreographed, on-the-field, off-the-field 12-minute extravaganza made possible by the skills of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) and the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada (AFM) and other performing artists. Anyone who takes in a show in the city likely will enjoy the talents of Actors’ Equity (AEA).

For the fans who head for the concessions, their hot dogs will be served and their beer will be drawn by men and women from UNITE HERE Local 100.

Away from the stadium, union members are making an impact, too. Folks taking the area’s huge mass transit system are being safely delivered to their destinations by members of the Transport Workers (TWU), Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) and United Transportation Union (UTU).

A large number of the area’s hotels are staffed by members of unions of the New York Hotel Trades Council. Many of the firefighters, emergency medical personnel and other public service workers who are ensuring a safe and efficient Super Bowl week are members of the Fire Fighters (IAFF) and AFSCME.

Of course, the fans who flew in for the big game got there safely, thanks to aviation workers from the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), Air Line Pilots (ALPA), Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA), Transport Workers (TWU) and Machinists (IAM).

Also, a big thanks to AFT and NFLPA for raising awareness about human trafficking during large sports events such as the Super Bowl.

Image via @northjerseybrk on Twitter

Reposted from AFL-CIO NOW

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