AFL-CIO WORK IN PROGRESS
November 22, 1999
New members reported in this week's WIP: 2,472
New members reported in WIP, 1999: 449,955
SEIU RUNS TO VICTORY-- In another victory for Puerto Rico s public employees, a wall-to-wall unit of 550 emergency medical technicians and support staff employed by the Puerto Rico Department of Emergency Medical Services voted 342-29 to join SEIU District 1199UNTS Nov. 10. Meanwhile, back on the mainland, short staffing, low wages, lack of respect and the desire for a voice on the job prompted more than 250 Michigan nursing home workers to organize with SEIU Local 79 recently. On Oct. 21, a unit of 39 aides and other support staff at Grand Court Nursing Home in Adrian voted for the union. The next day, 125 RNs, LPNs, aides and other staff at the Life Care Center in Plainwell voted to join the union. On Nov. 5, 92 aides and support staff at the Lutheran Home in Livonia voted for Local 79. And on Nov. 15, a unit of 40 Oakland, Calif., home care workers employed by the Oakland Chinese Community Center won recognition after their employer accepted their SEIU Local 616 union authorization cards.
IN THE FOLD-- Some 600 workers in several Portland, Ore., laundries voted to join UNITE last week. In Dayton, Ohio, 80 workers at Economy Linens chose a voice at work with UNITE.
UAW MICHIGAN WINS-- A trio of fall organizing victories for UAW means that 420 more Michigan workers have a voice on the job. They include 220 workers at Troy Design & Manufacturing in Warren/Redford and 100 at M & W Industries in Detroit, both parts manufacturers, as well as 100 at Ryder Logistics in Highland Park.
QUALITY VOTE FOR QUALITY CARE-- RNs at Bayonne (N.J.) Hospital overwhelmingly voted¯just 17 "no" votes¯for a voice at work and joined Health Professionals and Allied Employees/AFT Nov. 11. The 270 nurses were joined by other hospital workers, community leaders and elected officials in the organizing drive. "Having a union means we can speak up for our patients and for ourselves without fear," said 13-year nurse Joan Zitman.
HERE IN TYSONS-- Workers at the Sheraton Premier Hotel in Tysons Corner, Va., won card-check recognition with Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees Local 25 last week. The 166 workers become the second unionized hotel in Northern Virginia, joining workers at the Crystal City Hilton.
CHILDREN S HOME WORKERS VOTE UFCW-- Forty-five workers at St. Agatha s Home for Wayward Children satellite campus in Nanuet, N.Y., voted to join Food and Commercial Workers Local 888 this fall. They sought out the union after 200 workers at the home s main campus won their first contract this summer. Both groups are seeking a voice in working conditions and better, more responsible care for the children. In San Jose, Calif., 21 dental assistants, patient counselors and office workers at Piedmont Hills Dental Center voted to join UFCW Local 428.
CONTROLLERS CHOSE IAM-- Some 50 US Airways maintenance controllers won a voice at work when the National Mediation Board certified their authorization cards and added the workers to the current Mechanical and Related contract between the airline and the Machinists.
MAQ ATTACK-- At WMAQ-AM in Chicago, anchors and reporters voted 23-1 to join the Television and Radio Artists last week. The CBS-owned station s future is uncertain because of the pending CBS/Viacom merger. "In light of deregulation, mergers and acquisitions, professional broadcasters are recognizing more and more the need for some sort of protection and a strong voice. By this near unanimous vote, the folks at WMAQ-AM have given themselves that voice," said Chicago AFTRA President Dick Kay.
BAD DEAL ON CHINA* There is a right way and a wrong way to make the global economy work for working people, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney told a National Press Club audience Nov. 19. "Incorporating enforceable workers rights, human rights and environmental protections in every U.S. trade and investment agreement is the right way; admitting a repressive China to the WTO is the wrong way," he said. Pointing to job safety and anti-slave labor measures adopted respectively in France and Massachusetts that then ran afoul of the trade body, Sweeney asserted that when international rule-makers like the WTO fail to enforce workers rights and environmental protections, "national and local governments must act to do so." He said the huge Nov. 30 Seattle march and rally (see page 3) will signal "the beginning of a new era in which working families participate in trade decisions that affect our lives." Other union leaders have condemned the China deal. UAW President Stephen Yokich called it reflective of "the skewed priorities of our nation s trade policies," and UNITE s Jay Mazur said it was "a lose-lose proposition for U.S. workers and all those valiant workers in China who are laboring under slave or prison conditions." Teamsters President James P. Hoffa said the agreement supports an economic system that is "protectionist, exploits labor and represses human rights," while the Machinists Tom Buffenbarger said the accord turns away from the "human rights that were so eloquently decreed a little over 50 years ago" by the United Nations.
$2M AND STILL NOT FIRST CLASS-- In its drive to thwart its 20,000 flight attendants fight for a voice at work, Delta Air Lines last week began a series of mandatory meetings, the Flight Attendants report. AFA estimates the price tag of the meetings in Atlanta, Cincinnati, Salt Lake City and Dallas/Fort Worth to be about $2 million, which includes using seats normally sold to paying customers to fly the workers to the meetings and paying each attendant between $75 and $100 a day to attend. The $2 million spent on the meetings, coupled with the airline s multimillion-dollar team of union-busting consultants, could be put to better use, one flight attendant said, noting, "That money should be used to reward the front-line workers who make Delta successful." For more information on the struggle at Delta, visit www.afanet.org.
MORE ELECTION NEWS--Working families in northern Pennsylvania s Elk County ousted the county s anti-union sheriff and replaced him with a definite pro-worker candidate, Mine Worker Tom Kontes. Two years ago, during a strike by Electronic Workers Local 502, the sheriff ordered deputies to escort strikebreakers, and many strikers were beaten and arrested. "This victory is sending a strong message throughout Pennsylvania s political community that if you are openly hostile towards working families during labor disputes, working families won t forget it¯and the workers on Election Day can permanently replace you," said Rick Bloomingdale, secretary-treasurer of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO, which assisted Kontes in his campaign.
OVERNITE WORKERS STAND STRONG-- As the Teamsters strike against Overnight Transportation enters its fifth week, pressure keeps building for management to stop illegally interfering with its workers right to choose a voice at work. All of the workers at an unrepresented terminal in Texas joined union freight members on the strike line. "Volunteers" in Chicago reportedly walked off the job, only to find themselves locked out of the hotel rooms that Overnite provided. "We re just pawns in Overnite s game," one said. In a recent ruling, the NLRB said management s unfair labor practices "emanated from the highest level of officials." In a show of solidarity, the Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees donated $25,000 to the Overnite struggle.
JOBS AND SECURITY KEY IUE PACTS-- Some 20,000 IUE members at Delphi Automotive Systems and General Motors vote this week on a new four-year contract with significant wage, benefit and pension improvements and expanded job-security provisions that will bring job protection to some 4,500 IUE members not currently covered. In Louisville, Ky., more than 4,200 IUE members at General Electric s Appliance Park approved a new jobs and investment package that saves some 800 jobs. In return for productivity improvements, GE will invest some $200 million in the Kentucky plant and bring in four new product lines.
STUDENTS RALLY FOR WORKERS RIGHTS-- Students on 20 college and university campuses joined in a Labor Solidarity Day Nov. 16 to call on their schools to change their labor policies to show greater respect for workers rights. The demonstrations were a joint effort between the National Student Labor Alliance and United Students Against Sweatshops. The students demanded that universities and colleges ensure their workers and subcontracted workers are paid a living wage and receive decent benefits with health care; that schools require all apparel with college logos to be produced in sweatshop-free conditions; and that workers on campuses have the right to freely organize into unions.
VERMONT ACTIVISTS BLAST BUSTERS-- More than 100 union and community activists rallied outside a health care industry union-busting seminar sponsored by the University of Vermont in Burlington this month. The rally not only protested the two-day seminar s sponsorship by UV s Division of Continuing Education, but also the continuing education credits the participants earned.
TURKEY IS PROFIT GOBBLER-- To kick off the holiday season, Justice for Janitors and SEIU Local 1877 in Los Angeles presented their Turkey of the Year award to cleaning contractor A&D Building Maintenance. Hundreds of janitors and their supporters marched in West Los Angeles Nov. 19 to denounce A&D for driving down wages and benefits and intimidating workers there who are trying to unionize.
GOOD GOVERNMENT AWARD-- Each year, Good Housekeeping magazine honors 10 women in government¯elected or appointed officials or career public servants¯whose work exemplifies how government improves people s lives. The top winner receives $25,000, with the other nine receiving $2,500 each. There still is time to submit nominations. Nomination materials are available by contacting Andrea Mitchell of the Council for Excellence in Government at 202-530-3240 or through the Center for American Women and Politics website at www.cawp.rutgers.edu. Nominations must be postmarked by Dec. 1. The Good Housekeeping Award is given in collaboration with the Ford Foundation, Center for American Women and Politics, Council for Excellence in Government and Partnership for Trust in Government, of which the AFL-CIO is a founding member.
NEW FACES-- Boilermaker Edward Gorham was elected president of the Maine AFL-CIO this month, replacing the retiring Gwendolyn Gatcomb. Replacing Gorham as secretary-treasurer is Ned McCann of the Food and Commercial Workers. Thaddeus R. Tomei of the Elevator Constructors is the new president of the Hawaii State AFL-CIO.
Seattle-bound Numbers Grow
News of the agreement to smooth China s entry to the World Trade Organization has created its own "China Syndrome" for organizers of the Seattle WTO event while galvanizing new participants and encouraging others to join forces with our Nov. 30 march and rally.
Although the White House is calling the deal "historic," AFL-CIO President John Sweeney told reporters Nov. 19 that "the truly historic turn of events will take place in the streets of that wonderful working-class city, Seattle." The attempt to bring China into the WTO is "less likely to reform China, as its advocates claim, than it is to further deform the WTO," he said.
* In addition to the Nov. 30 march and rally, activists will participate in the 50th anniversary of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions Nov. 25; an ICFTU conference on globalization and workers rights Nov. 28-29; a Steelworkers Rapid Response conference Nov. 28; an interfaith gathering, procession and "human chain" Nov. 29; a USWA benefit for locked-out Kaiser Aluminum workers Nov. 30; a forum on workers rights, trade, development and the WTO Dec. 1; and a USWA march and rally to the Seattle docks Dec. 1.
* A new poll by the University of Maryland s Program on International Policy Attitudes found that 93 percent of Americans agree with this statement: "Countries that are part of international trade agreements should be required to maintain minimum standards for working conditions."
* The city of Seattle is changing the name of Pine Street, one of the key legs of the march route through downtown, to Union Way on Nov. 30 in honor of the WTO event.
* Dozens of rally captains and marshals completed training to make sure our march and rally are orderly and secure. More that 800 Machinists will serve as marshals. The media have featured warnings from businesses that WTO protests might be dangerous, bogus cautions that threaten to dampen participation by working families. The training session was open to the press in an effort to counteract misinformation.
* The count on buses chartered from around the Northwest to bring participants into Seattle has risen to 125. Seven planes also have been booked.
* A car caravan will proceed from Sacramento, Calif., with some 60 vehicles making the 13-hour drive from the capital of the Golden State to Seattle.
* The newly affiliated Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, in tough contract talks with Boeing Co., has organized a contingent of members to participate in the rally and march. SPEEA s members voted by an 80 percent majority last month to affiliate with the AFL-CIO as Local 2001 of the Professional and Technical Engineers.
* Some 30 members of the French metalworkers union will travel to Seattle with their hosts from the Boston Jobs with Justice chapter.
For more information on unions campaign to make the WTO work for working families, check out the
Washington State Labor Council s website at www.wslc.org and the AFL-CIO website at www.aflcio.org. And for more information about how you can get involved, call 888-811-2WTO or 206-448-4888.