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Pandemic Demonstrates Need for Unions

Media pros, school bus drivers and museum staff unionize

Brian Young's picture
Dec 07, 2020

Even with a preventable pandemic raging, workers are continuing to organize. From Washington D.C. to Guam, working people are demanding a voice at work. Here are a few recent organizing wins.

At American University in Washington D.C. two groups of workers recently won union elections. In one election 236 employees voted to join the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 500, and 73 voted against. The unit will now represent 591 employees at the school.

On December 3rd another election at American University was certified. This time it was at the school’s NPR station, WAMU. In this election, 65 people voted to join SAG-AFTRA, with no one voting against. This new unit will represent 84 employees who create content for DCist.com, The Kojo Nnamdi Show, 1A, The Big Broadcast, Hot Jazz Saturday Night and the podcasts Dish City, What’s With Washington and Diane Rehm: On My Mind and will include hosts, reporters, producers, editors and engineers.

"On behalf of our membership, I am delighted to welcome WAMU's talented team of content creators to SAG-AFTRA and to support their efforts for a fair contract. SAG-AFTRA is dedicated to supporting public media professionals as they organize, and WAMU's vote to join our union is an important milestone in these efforts," said SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris.

On the other side of the world, workers in Guam held a vote on joining the Communications Workers of America (CWA). They work for AT&T Global Communications. Seven people were eligible to vote and all seven voted in favor of the union. The unit will cover all full time and part time Field Operations technicians that work for AT&T in Guam.

In Boston at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, employees organized with the Technical, Office and Professional Union, Local 2110 of the UAW.  There were 233 people who were eligible to vote, and 133 vote for the union, with 14 voting against. 86 people decided not to vote. The new bargaining unit will include all full-time and part-time staff employed at the museum, excluding non-professional staff and management.

“The pandemic, I think, really demonstrated the need for a union even more because it was so clear that people's employment at the museum was really more precarious [than ever],” says Maida Rosenstein, president of United Auto Workers Local 2110.

In Groveport Ohio, Teamsters Local 284 has organized bus drivers at the local school district. The vote, which was certified on November 30th says 36 people vote for the union, 27 people vote against and 21 people did not vote. The new bargaining unit will include all regular part-time and full-time employees, substitute bus drivers, bus drivers/trainers and monitors who serve the students of the Groveport-Madison school district.

Congratulations to all of the new union members and we hope that they have an easy path towards their first contract.

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