A Big Organizing Win in the South: Worker Wins

A Big Organizing Win in the South: Worker Wins

Our latest roundup of worker wins begins with one of the largest hospital organizing victories in the South since 1975 and includes numerous examples of working people organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life. 

In Landslide Organizing Victory, Asheville Nurses Vote to Form a Union with National Nurses United: By an overwhelming vote of 70% in favor, nurses at Mission Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina, have emphatically delivered one of the largest hospital organizing victories in the South since 1975. Some 1,800 registered nurses (RNs) at the for-profit health care facility have been engaged in an organizing struggle for many months to form a union with NNU. What began as a robust grassroots effort before the pandemic became even more urgent as COVID-19 swept across the community. The nurses at Mission Hospital will now have a strong voice on the job to collectively fight for workplace safety and improved care for their patients following the vote tally that concluded early this morning. Along the way, the Mission RNs prevailed over a heavily funded anti-union campaign by the hospital owner, HCA Healthcare, one of the largest for-profit hospital systems in the United States. “We could not be more proud of the unity, the perseverance and the patient advocacy and dedication of the Mission RNs to their patients, their colleagues and their community,” said Bonnie Castillo, RN, executive director of NNU and California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee. “At a time when nurses are in a daily battle with the deadly fight for their patients and their own lives in the era of COVID-19, they have demonstrated incomparable courage and resilience that is an inspiration to all of us.” The North Carolina State AFL-CIO, under the leadership of President MaryBe McMillan (IUOE), strongly supported NNU’s organizing campaign over the past year.

Health Care Workers in Chicago Win New Agreement After 10-Day Strike: Health care workers, including nurses and other workers, at the University of Illinois Medical Center at Chicago won a tentative agreement after 10 days on strike. Some 4,000 members of SEIU Local 73 and 1,300 members of the Illinois Nurses Association (INA) had been out on strike demanding safer conditions for nurses, workers and patients, fair wages, and appropriate staffing ratios. Members of Local 73 won 7% wage increases over the term of the agreement, as well as a minimum wage of $15 per hour for all its members. The INA won a commitment from management to hire 160 full-time nurses to improve staffing ratios and secured fair wage increases. The Chicago Federation of Labor, under the leadership of President Bob Reiter (IUOE), has been heavily involved in supporting the unions throughout the strike.

Independent Union Members at Honeywell Affiliate with IBB: In an overwhelmingly affirmative decision, workers at a Honeywell plant in Geneva, Ohio, who belonged to an independent union, voted on Sept. 4 to affiliate with the Boilermakers (IBB). The more than 200 new members of IBB were eager to increase their power and longevity by joining forces with an established union. “The times have really changed over so many decades, and they were ready for something more in their organized efforts,” said IBB organizer Jody Mauller. “Our new Boilermaker brothers and sisters understand the potential power they have as members of a union that spans the United States and Canada and has a proven history of success dating back over 100 years.” The members at Honeywell manufacture a variety of products that connect main gas lines to the gas meters at individual homes, and their new affiliation with IBB went into effect on Sept. 17.

Newly Formed AFSA Local in Denver Wins Recognition: On Thursday, the Denver Board of Education voted to recognize the newly formed Denver School Leaders Association, the newest local union of the School Administrators (AFSA). Working with the Denver Area Labor Federation (DALF), the members of the newly formed local set to work on a grassroots lobbying campaign to seek school board recognition. After just three months, the principals and assistant principals convinced the school board that they deserved a voice on the job, and that the district would be better for it. DALF President Josh Downey (SEIU) said: “On behalf of our affiliates, we are so proud to have been a small part of this victory. Once again, this demonstrates that elections have consequences. When we do the work to elect school board members, or city council members, or county commissioners, it pays off! When we stand with people who stand with us, good things happen. Workers earn a voice on the job, and our school districts, our cities, our counties are better for it.” The Denver School Leaders Association-AFSA will now be able to negotiate a contract with the school district.

Hub Project Staff Join Nonprofit Professional Employees Union (NPEU): Workers at The Hub Project have unionized with NPEU and requested voluntary recognition from management. In a statement, The Hub Union said: “We, the staff of The Hub Project, are united by our commitment to make The Hub Project as equitable and effective an organization as possible. As such, we have joined with the Nonprofit Professionals Employees Union and are excited to add our workplace alongside many other organizations dedicated to fairness, transparency, and worker solidarity.”

Innovation Law Lab Staff Join NPEU: Workers at Innovation Law Lab have formed Law Lab United, a union affiliated with NPEU. Management has expressed enthusiasm for recognizing the new union. Law Lab United said, in a statement: “We are thrilled to announce that staff members at Innovation Law Lab have formed a union–Law Lab United! Amidst great uncertainty and political struggle, we believe the mutual support, solidarity, and collective participation of union membership is more important than ever. We have joined the Nonprofit Professionals Employees Union and are excited to build with other organizations dedicated to critical social justice work. We are proud of the work our organization has done and we will continue to fiercely advance the fight for migrant justice. Our union is an embodiment of our individual and organizational values and will help sustain and deepen our work.”

Congressional Progressive Caucus Center Workers Win Voluntary Union Recognition: The Congressional Progressive Caucus Center voluntarily recognized the CPC Center Union, a new affiliate of NPEU. Representatives of the new union said: “We are so excited to officially have our union recognized today! We look forward to working with management to negotiate our first contract that will uphold our commitment to justice and workers’ rights.”

Scholars Strategy Network Staff Vote Unanimously to Join NPEU: Staffers at the Scholars Strategy Network voted 100% in favor of organizing with NPEU. Union  representatives said: “We are thrilled to announce that SSN staff has come together to organize with NPEU. As an organization working to strengthen democracy, we believe that a union aligns well with our mission and will make SSN a more effective and democratic organization. We look forward to bargaining with management in good faith for our first contract.” 

Packet/Gazette Guild Makes History in South Carolina: Newsroom employees at The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette (which share a newsroom) in South Carolina voted to form the Packet/Gazette Guild, which would be the state’s “first active newspaper union.” The new union will be an affiliate of The NewsGuild-CWA. Reporter Rachel Jones said: “I’m proud of the work that I do at the Packet, and I’m equally proud of the efforts my colleagues and I are making to improve our workplace. Creating these protections for our newsroom will ultimately lead to better coverage of Beaufort County, and it’s an honor to lead the way in organizing for the Carolinas.”

Kenneth Quinnell
Wed, 10/07/2020 – 10:33

Updated: October 16, 2020 — 5:33 am