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A Better NYLAG

Everyone Wants to Join a Union

Workers at IKEA, the Guggenheim, and the PGA Tour have recently organized and joined unions in June

Brian Young's picture
Jul 08, 2019

Over the last few weeks, a lot of rough news has come out. Whether it’s Trump’s continuing war on labor, the NLRB’s attempts to make it harder to organize, or the campaign against the inflatable rat “Scabby,” it might feel like the labor movement is under constant attack.

Even in the face of these attacks, workers are continuing to organize. Over the last few weeks, these four workplaces have successfully organized and voted to join a union. They are just four of dozens of workplaces that have taken action over the last month to gain a voice in their workplace.

On May 28, 2019, employees at the Joliet, Illinois IKEA distribution facility filed for a union election. They had organized with Local Lodge 701 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM). On July 20, 2019, the employees voted and agreed to join Local 701. There were 186 eligible voters, of which 159 voted. 83 voted in support of the union while 76 voted against. The new bargaining unit will include all full and part-time warehouse workers, stock controllers and supply coordinators who are employed at the Minooka and Joliet Illinois facilities.

When you think of the PGA Tour, union issues probably aren’t the first thing you think of, but you probably also don’t think of the officials. On June 20th, 7 PGA tour officials voted to join the Association of Senior Tour Rules Officials. The bargaining unit will consist of the 7 full-time professional rules officials that are employed by the PGA Tour.

New York has always been a stronghold of union support often rating as the most or second most unionized state in the country. So, it should be no surprise that the next two organizing victories come from the Empire State.

If you have ever been to a protest or a march in New York, you may have seen lawyers running around with neon green hats. They are often informing protestors of their rights, providing legal advice to participants who are taking part in civil disobedience and functioning as a liaison with the police. These lawyers and support staff work for a group called the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG). In addition to these services, NYLAG also provides low cost and free legal services to many low-income communities throughout New York. While this is noble work, it is still a job and the staff at NYLAG decided that they needed to protect themselves and gain a stronger voice at work. To do this, the staff organized with the United Autoworkers (UAW) Local 2325. This local specializes in working with office workers, especially within the Not-for-Profit world. At NYLAG there are 229 employees who are eligible to join one of the two bargaining units. Unit A consists of full and part-time attorneys, including Coordinating Attorneys, Senior Staff Attorneys, and Staff Attorneys. Unit B consists of office staff like full and part-time administrative clerks, Coordinating Paralegals, the Pro Bono Coordinator, Drivers, Financial Counselors, Grants and Data Coordinators, Messenger and Clerical Assistants, Paralegals, Reception and Administrative Assistants, Receptionists, Senior Financial Counselors, Senior Paralegals, Special Projects Coordinators, Office Coordinators, and Volunteer and Program Coordinators. The election was quick with a notice being filed on June 7th and a final vote count being done on June 27th. In the end, 152 people voted to join Local 2325 and 29 clearly checked the wrong box and voted no.

When someone visits New York, the Guggenheim Art Museum is one of the many stops that they have to make. This world-famous museum is run by The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. On June 5th, staff filed an election notice stating that they wanted to join Local 30 of IUOE Operating Engineers. On June 27th, the votes were tallied and 57 people voted for the union, 20 voted against and 3 ballots were being challenged. This means that Local 30 will now represent the 141 people who work at the Museum and at the foundations Technical Services Building. The bargaining unit will include the classifications of Watch Engineer, Maintenance Mechanic, Art Handler, Changeover Temp and Per Diem Installer, Changeover Temp-Lighting, Lighting Temp, Exhibition Construction Worker, Multi-Media Tech, Preparator, Senior Preparator, Fabricator, Chief Cabinetmaker, Changeover Temp-Fabrication Cabinetmaker, Chief Framemaker, Facilities Construction Mechanic, House Electrician, and Technical Specialist, and Finishes.

Congratulations to all of these new union members and to the hundreds of other workers who have decided to join a union in the past few months. A full list of union election results can be found on the National Labor Relations Board website.

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