Organizing in the Time of COVID-19: Worker Wins

Organizing in the Time of COVID-19: Worker Wins

Despite the challenges of organizing during a deadly pandemic, working people across the country (and beyond) continue organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life. 

TWU Reaches First Tentative Agreement with JetBlue: The Transport Workers Union (TWU) announced another historic milestone for its members, with a tentative agreement for in-flight crew members’ first contract at JetBlue Airways. The union called it an “epic contract” that was no easy feat, as the airline industry and the country are in the midst of a global pandemic and economic downturn. “Our negotiating team recognized the importance of bargaining this inaugural agreement, prioritizing our members’ long-term job security, codification of work rules and quality of life issues into this agreement. Bringing over 5,000 crew members under the protection of a trade union contract, right smack in the middle of COVID-19 is a Herculean achievement,” said TWU International President John Samuelsen. The union’s negotiating team and JetBlue management are currently reviewing the final document before sending it to members for a ratification vote in the near future.

SAG-AFTRA Celebrates Organizing Win at WBGO: Content creators at Newark Public Radio (WBGO) officially formed a union, following an agreement between SAG-AFTRA and the radio station for a card-check agreement to count the signatures of content creators wishing to organize. The new 22-member bargaining unit of content creators includes producers, hosts, anchors and reporters. SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris said: “This is an exciting time for WBGO and SAG-AFTRA. We fully support them in their mission to fight for a fair contract, and we look forward to building this new relationship with WBGO content creators and their listening community. Our strength is in our unity.” WBGO is a legendary jazz station in Newark, New Jersey, and a National Public Radio member station with a national and international listening audience. Content creators first announced their organizing drive with SAG-AFTRA last month, with more than 70% signing a petition presented to management.

Danone North America Workers in New Jersey Join BCTGM: To many workers at the Danone North America plant in Bridgeton, New Jersey, a vote to become a member of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) was a decision based on worker dignity. The 100 workers at the plant, which produces Silk almond milk products, voted overwhelmingly this week to become members of BCTGM Local 6. The largely Hispanic workforce said that while the company is continually upgrading and expanding the facility, workers have faced issues with scheduling, health insurance and benefits, and pandemic hazard pay. “It has been a difficult year for so many workers and concerns about workplace safety and respect on the job are at an all-time high. Workers are learning about the BCTGM, and plant by plant, despite anti-union employers and broken labor laws, they are reaching out to local union leaders and organizers and voting to join the BCTGM,” noted BCTGM International President Anthony Shelton.

Michigan Nursing Home Workers Win Contract Agreements: Earlier this week, nursing home workers who are members of SEIU Healthcare Michigan scored significant wins after a difficult contract fight. The Metro Detroit AFL-CIO, under the leadership of President Daryl Newman (AFT), was instrumental in supporting the members of SEIU in their fight. Some 1,600 workers had been set to strike across three major nursing home chains. However, the two largest chains settled agreements with SEIU. Workers at the Charles Dunn chain continued their strike, and they won a major contract victory that includes safety protections, access to personal protective equipment, site access for union representatives and fair wage increases. Angela Duncan, an SEIU member and worker at Four Seasons Rehabilitation and Nursing center, said: “I’ve been here for 10 years, and I’m making nearly the same as I was when I started. We need more wages.

Blue State Staff Join CWA Local 1101: The 75 employees at creative agency Blue State will be represented by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) after the majority signed union authorization cards. The workers include campaign strategists, analysts, designers, account managers, finance specialists, office managers and developers. “We believe that in any workplace, people come first,” said Kendra Ijeoma, a member of the union organizing committee. “That’s why we’re so excited to form our Blue State Union and join CODE-CWA. This isn’t just about us—we stand in solidarity with workers around the world who deserve a seat at the table!”

DC Holistic Wellness Workers Become First Cannabis Dispensary Workers in D.C. to Ratify Contract: The workers, represented by United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 400, approved the five-year contract with salary increases and mandates for health care and retirement benefits.  “I am extremely proud to be a part of this historic moment,” said Robert Pizzi, a metric analyst at DC Holistic Wellness. “This, in many ways, is one small step for the cannabis industry and a giant leap for workers everywhere.” 

Law Lab United Wins Voluntary Union Recognition: Staff at the Innovation Law Lab have won voluntary recognition of their new union, Law Lab United, an affiliate of the Nonprofit Professional Employees Union (NPEU). “We’re delighted that Law Lab’s management team has officially recognized our union,” said Law Lab United’s organizing committee. “We deeply appreciate the support and growing community of nonprofit unions. We look forward to the work ahead—at Law Lab and in our broader movements.”

Staff at Voces de la Frontera Join NPEU: Workers at Voces de la Frontera have formed Voces Unidxs, an affiliate of NPEU, and have asked management for voluntary recognition. Voces Unidxs said: “By unionizing, we hope to affirm Voces de la Frontera’s role both as a leader in the fight for worker, immigrant and student rights in our community and also as an organization that supports the collective voice of its workers. Voces Unidxs is excited for this opportunity and looks forward to collaborative negotiations with management that will accentuate our shared values and commitment to equality in all aspects.” 

First Animation Studio In Canada to Unionize Represented by IATSE: After getting 98% of the vote, animators at Titmouse Vancouver have joined the Animation Guild, Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 938, becoming the first animation studio in Canada to unionize. The studio produces animated shows like “Black Panther,” “Star Trek: Lower Decks” and “Star Wars: Galaxy of Adventures.” “Today, workers at Titmouse Vancouver sent a clear message; there is strength in the union,” IATSE International President Matt Loeb said. “Animation workers in Los Angeles have benefited from representation by the IATSE for years and we look forward to representing animation workers in Canada.”

Texas AFL-CIO Congratulates Dallas Morning News Workers on Vote to Form a Union: The Texas AFL-CIO, on Friday, congratulated the newsroom staff of The Dallas Morning News on their decision to form a union to advocate for better working conditions and job security. The 84–28 vote to gain recognition for the Dallas News Guild certified the first newspaper newsroom union in Texas since the closure of the San Antonio Light in 1993. “The Dallas Morning News is an important Texas institution whose success has always hinged on an amazing collection of newsroom talent,” Texas AFL-CIO President Rick Levy (TSEU/CWA) said. “[Friday’s] vote result gives these working people a stronger voice in their future.”

Encore Boston Harbor Casino Workers Join IBEW: More than 120 workers at the Encore Boston Harbor casino have joined Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 103 after 95% voted in favor of unionization. The workers include technicians who work on casino machines and equipment, electricians and dispatchers at the casino’s fire control center. The new IBEW members will begin contract negotiations with management. Hospitality workers at the casino are represented by UNITE HERE Local 26 and have been in lengthy negotiations with Encore.

Workers Organize at Portland Museum of Art: Workers at the Portland Museum of Art (PMA) announced last week that they are organizing a union with UAW Local 2110 in New York City. “We are the workers of the Portland Museum of Art. We love the arts, this museum and our communities around Portland,” the new union members tweeted. “We are organizing for a seat at the table to ensure that our voices are collectively heard. Together we can build a stronger, democratic and sustainable PMA.” The organizing drive is part of a renewed drive among art workers to unionize for better wages and a voice on the job. Last year, art workers unionized at the New Museum and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, the Frye Art Museum in Seattle and Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art.

Kenneth Quinnell
Wed, 10/28/2020 – 13:19

Updated: November 9, 2020 — 8:21 am