Labor News - May/June 2023
May 17, 2023
WORKERS SHELVE THREE-MONTH STRIKE IN DEAL WITH HARPER COLLINS
Members of United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 2110 ended a three-month strike at publishing company, Harper Collins. The 250 union editorial assistants, publicists, and designers were seeking better wages, workplace diversity, and union protections. The agreement increases minimum salaries from $45,000 to $50,000 throughout the term of the agreement, which ends in 2025, and a provides a one-time $1,500 lump sum bonus for full-time employees. ■
REGISTERED NURSES AT ADVENTIST HEALTH LODI MEMORIAL VOTE IN FAVOR OF UNION
On March 9, Registered Nurses (RNs) at Adventist Health Lodi Memorial in Lodi, California voted in favor of joining the California Nurses Association (CNA). More than 340 RNs work at the Lodi location, and will be able to begin collective bargaining once the vote has been certified.
“The registered nurses’ vote to join CNA is a great win for our hospital and our community,” said RN Yvonne Knaggs. “We are patients’ strongest advocates. Nurses from all departments need to be able to speak up because protecting our patients must come first. Building RN power through a strong union is the answer we’ve been looking for.” ■
CATERPILLAR WORKERS APPROVE NEW CONTRACT!
Caterpillar workers voted to ratify a new six-year contract, effective March 12, for four locals in Illinois and Pennsylvania, covering 7,000 UAW members in seven locations. Members will receive a $6,000 ratification bonus, general wage increases throughout the contract, a 401(k)-matching increase, the continuation of a plant closing moratorium, and most notably the elimination of a two-tier wage system that divided pre- and post-2005 hires. ■
MICHIGAN REPEALS ANTI-UNION LEGISLATION IN A HISTORIC WIN FOR LABOR
On Tuesday, March 14 the Michigan State Senate voted to revoke union-busting so-called right to work legislation, which originally passed in 2012.
Twenty-seven states have similar anti-union laws, contributing to a decline in union membership and increased income inequality since their inception. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Michigan lost 40,000 union members since the 2012 legislation passed.
Union density strengthens all workers’ position's in negotiations for better wages, benefits, and conditions.
“This is what happens when we elect union members to halls of power,” said AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler, after the news broke. “We fight and we win for working people.” ■
MORE REI WORKERS JOIN UNION CAMP
On March 3, workers at the Pinecrest REI location near Cleveland, Ohio voted in favor of joining the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) after filing a petition for an election on January 11. The initial campaign faced corporate backlash, as management tried to delay the election and claimed that 56 workers were ineligible. However, after a walkout and brief strike, REI backed off and let the vote proceed with all workers eligible to vote. Workers are seeking fair wages and improved scheduling protocols.
“Tonight, we can finally say that REI Cleveland is a union store,” Nick Heilgeist, a retail specialist and member of the REI Cleveland Organizing Committee, said in a news release from RWDSU. “I love working at REI, and with a seat at the table, I know we can make it better for workers and customers alike.”
A further four stores have now filed for union election. The locations are: Chicago, IL; Eugene, OR; Boston MA; and Durham, NC. The workers are also seeking representation by RWDSU. ■
BOBCAT EMPLOYEES JOIN UNITED STEELWORKERS IN MINNESOTA
Nearly 200 Bobcat workers in Rogers, Minnesota voted in favor of joining the United Steelworkers (USW) for union representation on March 21. In a statement issued by USW International President Thomas Conway said “A fair union contract will improve the standard of living for workers now without sacrificing the security of their jobs, earnings or benefits in the future.” ■
STARBUCKS SERVES EXTRA SHOT OF UNION BUSTING DAYS AFTER CHAIRMAN ROASTED BY SENATE COMMITTEE
On March 31, Starbucks fired three workers involved in union organizing, just two days after company chairman and former CEO Howard Schultz testified at a Senate Committee hearing about the company’s anti-union response to labor organizing in its stores.
During the Senate Committee Hearing, Senator Bernie Sanders accused the company of running “the most aggressive and illegal union-busting campaign in the modern history of our country.”
Among those fired was Lexi Rizzo, a shift manager and lead organizer for Starbucks Workers United at one of the first Starbucks locations to unionize. Rizzo is one of more than 200 workers who Starbucks has fired throughout the organizing campaign, which began in August 2021.
According to data released by news website A More Perfect Union workers at 300 Starbucks locations had won union elections as of April 14, with more elections pending. The total number of stores that have filed to unionize is 392, which shows that the movement continues to gain steam! ■
FRENCH WORKERS AND UNIONS REJECT RETIREMENT AGE INCREASE PROTESTS CONTINUE
Workers in France continue to take to the streets in protest of the government’s move to increase the retirement age from 62 to 64. Polls show that opposition to the increase is widespread.
In late March, more than 450,000 people joined a single day of protest in Paris, showing just how unpopular the legislation is and how resolute voters are in opposing the changes. Protests of this magnitude have occurred weekly.
The government rejected calls from both union leaders and protestors to scrap the legislation. “There is no other solution than withdrawing the reform,” said General Secretary Sophie Binet of the General Confederation of Labor (CGT). “Mobilization will continue, one way or another ... It’s a long-distance race,” Binet added.
On April 14, the Constitutional Council delivered its verdict on the pension bill, upholding the legislation, allowing it to become law. The move could be detrimental to a potential Macron re-election bid. A similar law raising the retirement age from 60 to 62, enacted in 2010 by former President Nicolas Sarkozy, was widely viewed as the main reason he failed to secure a second term in 2012. ■