Worker Victories From Around the Country
The AFL-CIO reports on organizing drives and newly bargained union contracts
Our latest roundup of worker wins begins with union growth in Texas and includes numerous examples of working people organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life.
Texas Union Membership Rose at the Highest Rate in Nearly 35 Years: The hard work of organizers in Texas has paid off as the state had its biggest increase in union membership since 1983. Texas unions gained more than 80,000 members in 2017, while union density grew from 4% to 4.7%, the biggest increase since 1993.
Safety Increases for Chicago Hotel Workers as Panic Button Ordinance Goes into Effect: Hotel workers in Chicago celebrated the implementation of new safety measures they had pushed City Council to pass. The new rules, approved in October, require hotels to provide panic buttons for workers who clean, inventory, inspect or restock supplies alone in guest rooms or restrooms.
2,400 Faculty Members to Be Represented by United Academics of Oregon State University: After a three-year organizing effort, the nearly 2,400 faculty members at Oregon State University have signed union cards to be represented by the United Academics of Oregon State University (UAOSU). UAOSU is affiliated with AFT and the American Association of University Professors.
SAG-AFTRA Reaches Tentative Agreement with Broadcast Networks: SAG-AFTRA reached a tentative agreement with ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and other television companies on a successor to the National Code of Fair Practice for Network Television Broadcasting. “This deal delivers overall gains in important areas, including meaningful increases in wages and residuals rates that will put real money in members’ pockets. Additionally, the agreement now reflects important new language limiting auditions or meetings in private hotel rooms and residences, which represents a partial realization of our work toward industry culture change,” said SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris.
Las Vegas Culinary Workers Approve New Contract with Caesars: Housekeepers, bartenders and other working people at casinos and resorts operated by Caesars Entertainment approved a new five-year contract. The contract covers 12,000 workers and addresses sexual harassment in the workplace, job security, wage increases and immigration status.
Another New Jersey Labor Candidate Wins in Runoff: The New Jersey labor candidates program continues to show success, as Marge Caldwell-Wilson won her runoff election for Trenton City Council (North Ward). The Communications Workers of America member became the 972nd rank-and-file union member to win after participating in the program.
University of Michigan Lecturers Win Gains in New Contract: The Lecturers’ Employee Organization (LEO) at the University of Michigan has negotiated a new contract that will raise pay, improve health care and boost job security. More than 1,700 lecturers are covered by the contract, which still has to be approved by the membership of LEO, an affiliate of AFT. “We’ve been working since October 2017 to create an agreement that will ensure quality education for our students and fair compensation for our members,” said LEO President Ian Robinson. “Thanks to incredible organizing by our members, hard work by our bargaining team and tremendous support from our students, AFT-Michigan and other allies, we have negotiated an agreement which we will be proud to present to our members for their review and, I hope, approval.”
Connecticut Health Care Workers Ratify New Contracts with Pay Raises: Health care workers at Lawrence + Memorial Hospital ratified new three-year contracts a year in advance of the expiration of current contracts. Two weeks earlier, nurses at The William W. Backus Hospital also ratified a new contract. The nurses and health care workers at the two hospitals are all represented by the Connecticut chapter of AFT.
Brown University Graduate Students Secure Free and Fair Union Election: Stand Up for Graduate Student Employees, the labor union for graduate workers at Brown University, signed an agreement with the university that will secure a free and fair union election for the 1,400 graduate assistants on campus. “The pact—among the first of its kind—creates formal procedures, voter eligibility guidelines and a dispute resolution mechanism to help guide the election and the collective bargaining process. The American Arbitration Association will oversee the union vote, expected to take place in the fall.”
Scranton Nursing Home Workers Join RWDSU: By an overwhelming vote, nursing assistant employees at the Mountain View Care and Rehabilitation Center in Scranton, Pennsylvania, have chosen to be represented by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). The new unit will cover 76 working people, and organizing began less than a month before the vote. The employees will negotiate for improved benefits and working conditions. Danielle Albano, a certified nursing assistant and organizing committee member, said, “We wanted nothing more than to better our future and make change at our facility. We united together on all shifts and quickly organized as a cohesive group around job security, a voice in the workplace, dignity and respect, and, most important of all, continuing to give quality care to our residents.”