Work In Progress, November 8, 1999
New Members reported in this week's WiP: 14,316
New Members reported in WiP, 1999: 399,633
TEACHERS SIGN UP -- More than 9,500 teachers and school personnel in Austin, Texas, will be represented by Education Austin, a merged local of AFT and the National Education Association, after an Oct. 28 election. Texas state law does not permit public employees to bargain collectively, but the Austin school board allows workers organizations to consult with administrators on issues.
CWA WIRES THE WIRELESS -- A total of 1,244 workers gained a voice in the workplace by choosing the Communications Workers. At Cellular One in Greenbelt, Md., 505 wireless workers joined CWA after a majority signed union cards. In other victories, 492 registered nurses at Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital in Buffalo, N.Y., joined Local 1168; 83 workers at Bell Atlantic Teleproducts in West Chester, Pa., joined Local 13500; some 53 taxicab dispatchers at Unique Security at Newark (N.J.) Airport voted to join Local 1032; 29 staff members at Human Rights Watch offices in Washington, D.C., New York and Los Angeles joined Local 1180; 13 technicians at AT&T Cable Systems in Gillette, Wyo., joined Local 7601; 13 security guards at the University of New Mexico joined Local 7055; 12 sales workers employed by SBC s wireless unit in Sherman, Texas, signed up with Local 6210; 11 workers at AT&T s Cleveland office joined Local 4340; 11 workers at Shipley Logan Communications Co. in Tulsa, Okla., joined Local 6012; 10 workers at Clouds Image and Printing Co. now are represented by Local 3121; seven secretaries working for Teamsters Local 391 in Greensboro, N.C., joined Local 3607; and five workers at Sapulpa, Okla., commercial printer Pins and Needles are with CWA/ITU Local 403/14625.
DUPONT WORKERS PICK UP PACE -- Seeking a stronger voice in their workplace, some 1,006 workers at the DuPont chemical plant in Deepwater, N.J., voted last week to affiliate with PACE. This is the third time in 18 months that an independent DuPont union has chosen to team up with PACE.
BATH WORKERS JOIN UAW -- Some 820 draftsmen and designers at Bath Iron Works shipyard in Maine have joined UAW. The employees need the resources of a larger union because "we re no longer dealing with a locally owned company," said Mary Cunningham, president of the Bath Marine Draftsmen s Association. General Dynamics bought the shipyard in 1995. Also, 83 licensed technicians at Pontiac (Mich.) Osteopathic Hospital Center voted for the UAW.
AFSCME GETS OUT THE VOTE -- The 345 employees at the Cumberland County (Pa.) Nursing Home mounted an aggressive get-out-the-vote campaign and this October won an election for AFSCME District Council 89. The aides, RNs, dietary, housekeeping and other support employees were fed up with not having a voice in the workplace. In Spokane, Wash., 255 Laidlaw school bus drivers voted to join AFSCME Council 2. One hundred workers in Ironton/Lawrence County, Ohio, became the sixth Head Start unit to join the Ohio Association of Public School Employees/AFSCME Local 4 in the past two months. At the Lincoln County (Wis.) Pinecrest Nursing Home, 98 employees recently won representation by AFSCME Council 40.
GAINING A HEALTHY VOICE -- In a string of recent organizing victories, 506 workers chose SEIU to represent them. A group of 226 hospital technicians employed by Catholic Healthcare West at three facilities in the San Francisco area voted Oct. 29 to join Local 250. On Oct. 14, 150 aides and other support staff at the Country Manor Nursing Home in St. Louis won voluntary recognition for Local 1001. A unit of 90 LPNs, aides and support staff at the Nichols House nursing home in Fairhaven, Mass., voted Oct. 26 for District 1199NE. In October, 17 technicians at Fairmont (W.Va.) Hospital voted for District 1199WO; 12 LPNs at the Lutheran Home in Erie, Pa., joined District 1199P; and 11 skilled maintenance workers at Morton Hospital in Taunton, Mass., voted for Local 767.
AVONDALE WORKERS WIN CHOICE -- Six years of solidarity and struggle by workers at Avondale's shipyard in New Orleans paid off last week when the yard's new owner, Litton Industries, reached a neutrality agreement with the Metal Trades unions. In 1993, a majority of Avondale workers voted for a union because they wanted a safe place to work, fair treatment and decent wages and benefits. But they have faced a campaign of massive illegal retaliation directed by Avondale's senior management. Avondale has been cited by the NLRB and OSHA for massive, intentional violations of federal labor and occupational health and safety law. Litton, which owns a unionized shipyard in Mississippi, acquired Avondale this year. Once a majority of the 4,000 workers sign authorization cards, verified by an arbitrator, Litton will recognize the workers' choice. The "agreement represents the beginning of a bright new day for Avondale workers¯a day in which they can join together in a union with confidence and hope....I applaud Litton Industries and Avondale's high-road decision," AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said.
RAT GOES FLAT AS HARD HATS WIN -- It took a huge protest and a two-year vigil by a 14-foot inflatable rat, but the 200 workers at Roy Kay Inc. in New York City finally have union cards. As part of the campaign for a union at Kay, some 40,000 Building Trades members in June 1998 protested the award of a $33 million transportation authority contract to the firm. The campaign included an inflatable rat set up by unions across the street from the disputed project.
UNION FIRST AT UNIFIRST -- In Mesquite, Texas, 90 laundry workers at Unifirst voted for a voice at work and joined UNITE last week. This most recent win in the union s laundry campaign means more than 20,000 laundry workers have chosen UNITE this year.
HERCULES: MAN OF STEEL(WORKERS) -- Concerns about retirement benefits and workplace democracy led 69 production workers at Hercules Tire & Rubber s Findlay, Ohio, plant to vote for the Steelworkers. The workers organized "to have a voice, to have a say-so in what goes on in the plant," said Frank Cline, president of USWA Local 207.
MASSIVE VOTE IN PUERTO RICO -- Nearly 40,000 teachers and cafeteria workers voted in the largest union election in the island s history. The 10-day voting period ended Nov. 5, and ballot counting has just begun. An astounding 88 percent of the 37,100 eligible teachers voted, choosing between AFT and the National Education Association. Unofficial results show that the 10,000 cafeteria workers voted for UAW. In 1998, Puerto Rico s 150,000 public employees voted overwhelmingly for collective bargaining rights; now they are choosing the union they want to represent them. On Nov. 29, Department of Education clerical workers will decide whether to join SEIU and maintenance workers will vote on whether to be part of AFSCME. In December, 400 Industrial Commission workers will choose whether to join the Food and Commercial Workers.
GOING FIRST CLASS AT US AIRWAYS -- The Communications Workers reached a tentative first contract with US Airways covering the airline s 10,600 passenger service agents. The five-year agreement meets all the union s major bargaining goals, including a substantial pay increase linked to those at the other large carriers and strong job-security provisions. The passenger service employees worked hard to "achieve a fair contract," CWA President Morton Bahr said. "This agreement also recognizes their dedication, contribution and commitment to the success of US Airways."
PUTTING CHILDREN FIRST -- The Senate on Nov. 5 unanimously ratified International Labor Organization Convention 182, which calls on countries to prevent the abuse of children in slavery, prostitution, pornography, drug trafficking and other forms of exploitation. In June, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney and President Clinton urged ILO member states to ratify the agreement. Also last week, the Senate adopted an amendment by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) to deny trade benefits to countries that don t meet the ILO convention s standards.
SOME OF OUR OWN -- More than 110 union members in seven states won municipal offices in last week s elections. In New York, 52 union members gained office, while in New Jersey, 24 of the 37 union member-candidates were victorious. In Cleveland, voters elected 21 of 30 endorsed unionmember-candidates, including Chuck DeGross, a member of CWA Local 4340, who won the mayoral race in suburban Moreland Hills. The Allegheny County (Pa.) Labor Council s Working Families 2000 project mobilized union families, and four of the six union member-candidates were elected to county council seats. Bob Baines, a Teamsters member, was elected mayor of Manchester, N.H., the largest city in the state. SEIU member Jim DellaVolpe won the mayor s race in Ansonia, Conn.; elsewhere in the state, five union members were elected to the Berlin City Council and two to the Hartford council. In King County in Washington state, three union members were elected to office, one each to the city council in Kirkland and SeaTac and one as county fire commissioner. Two union members were elected to the Weymouth (Mass.) City Council.
BACK TO THE TABLE -- Negotiations resume Nov. 9 between AFSCME District Council 31 and Beverly Farm nursing home in Godfrey, Ill., after a federal appeals court issued an emergency injunction against the company. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit ordered Beverly to rescind its withdrawal of recognition of the union and to resume negotiations. The 350 employees voted for AFSCME in 1994.
TAKING ACTION -- On Saturday, Nov. 13, Teamsters in about a dozen cities will hold a national day of action to increase the pressure on Overnite Transportation in the unfair labor practice strike. The 2,000 Overnite workers walked out Oct. 24. For more information on the strike, check out the IBT website, www.teamster.org.
MINIMUM WAGE VOTE DUE -- The Senate is set to vote Nov. 9 on two competing proposals to increase the minimum wage. Working families support a measure that would increase the minimum wage, currently $5.15 an hour, by $1 over two years. The other would raise the wage over three years while targeting billions of dollars of tax breaks to the wealthy. "With the national economy at its strongest in a generation, the time is right to give the lowest-paid working Americans a meaningful raise¯and not in the form of a phony approach that does more to give tax cuts to the wealthy," AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said in a letter to Congress.
RESTORE SAFETY NET -- The AFL-CIO called on Congress to restore the safety net taken from America s immigrant population through legislation in 1996. Noting that we are a nation of immigrants, Executive Vice President Linda Chavez-Thompson urged passage of the "Fairness for Legal Immigrants Act of 1999," (S. 792, H.R. 1399), which would restore key benefits such as nutritional assistance, health care for children and pregnant women and aid to the disabled and victims of domestic violence. The "Hunger Relief Act of 1999" (S.1805) would restore food stamps to all eligible legal immigrants.
TRAINING PARTNERSHIPS NEEDED -- New partnerships among workers, educators, employers, unions and government are needed to develop a skilled workforce for the new millennium, according to the 21st Century Skills Leadership Group, which is composed of management and worker representatives. The report, "Skills for a New Century: A Blueprint for Lifelong Learning," includes commitments by the AFL-CIO, Communications Workers, UAW, Steelworkers, Electrical Workers and AFT to support and help pursue the report s goals.
Walk the Walk in Seattle
International leaders have "talked the talk" about protecting workers' and environmental rights. Now it's time to "walk the walk" by making the World Trade Organization incorporate core workers' rights into its enforceable rules.
Thousands of working people will "walk the walk" on Tuesday, Nov. 30, the opening day of the WTO ministerial meeting in Seattle, at a massive rally and march¯and you are invited to join.
Here are some exciting developments in unions' mobilization for the Nov. 30 rally and march:
IAM District 751, the Machinists unit at the Boeing Co., will be providing 900 members to work as marshals for the march through downtown Seattle.
A special AFL-CIO/WTO train traveling from Portland to Seattle already is fully booked, and will carry more than 350 WTO activists into town.
The Vancouver (British Columbia) Labour Council is mobilizing Canadians to participate, and the AFL-CIO is contacting the U.S. Border Patrol to expedite border crossings. There are 73 bus charters from the Northwest, including 17 from British Columbia.
Several international unions, including the Machinists, Teamsters and AFSCME, have assigned resources and staff to the mobilization effort. The IBT is dispatching trucks to Seattle. The SEIU has stationed its "Big MAC" (Mobile Action Center) vehicle, a purple semi-trailer, in Seattle and hooked it up to phone lines to make calls to union members. At least a dozen international union presidents will be in town, and many internationals are holding executive board meetings in conjunction with the event.
Delegations are coming from at least 25 AFL-CIO state federations, including Kentucky, Massachusetts and Minnesota. Colorado has filled more than 100 plane seats. Montana is organizing a car caravan. The West Central Illinois Labor Council is sending a delegation.
Union retirees are being recruited aggressively by National Council of Senior Citizens leader (and IAM retiree) Bill Holayter and the Puget Sound Council of Senior Citizens. Special seating is being arranged for seniors participating in the Memorial Stadium rally.
The ILWU has notified the Pacific Maritime Association it is planning to shut down ports throughout Washington with an eight-hour daytime stop-work meeting Nov. 30.
US West has set up a special number for any organization that needs telephone lines installed for WTO-related activities. Call 206-808-3570 and talk to Ernie Ford.
For more information about how you can get involved, call 1-888-811-2WTO or 206-448-4888.