Work in Progress * December 13, 1999
Work in Progress * December 13, 1999
members reported in this week's WiP: 1,634
PART-TIMERS WIN FULL-TIME VOICE--A yearlong campaign for a voice at work by part-time faculty members at Allan Hancock Community College in Santa Maria, Calif., paid off for the 474 teachers there when they overwhelmingly voted to join Communications Workers Local 9576 last month. In Dallas, 48 material handlers at GTE Supply voted for a voice at work with CWA Local 6171. Nineteen 911 emergency operators in Lees Summit, Mo., dialed up a voice on the job when they voted to sign up with CWA Local 6326.
LET'S GO TO THE VIDEOTAPE--When management at Hillcrest Hospital in Tulsa, Okla., began holding one-on-one meetings with new hires during an organizing drive, Teamsters Local 523, with the help of the Oklahoma State AFL-CIO, countered by producing a 10-minute video featuring testimony from nurses and union leaders and mailing it to workers' homes. On Dec. 3, a huge majority of the nearly 500 nurses at Hillcrest voted to become members of IBT Local 523.
LIBRARY WORKERS WIN OVERDUE VOTE--Undeterred by management's delaying tactics, 104 workers at the Greene County (Pa.) Public Library System voted to join SEIU District 925 last week. During the 11 months between the time the workers filed for an election and the balloting, the union says the workers were faced with anti-union tactics, misinformation and distortions from management. In Portland, Ore., a unit of 80 janitors employed by Skyline Cleaning won card-check union recognition with Local 49 when a majority of workers signed authorization cards Nov. 29. Meanwhile, health care technicians and LPNs at two Minnesota town clinics voted overwhelmingly last month to join SEIU Local 113. The new union members are 70 workers at the Red Wing Clinic and another 70 at the Stillwater Clinic. Five Local 113 member-organizers worked on the drives.
WARSAW PACT NEXT STEP--The majority of 130 nurses' aides, housekeepers and others at the Warsaw Health Care nursing home in Warsaw, Va., voted to become members of Food and Commercial Workers Local 400 last month; the workers now are negotiating for a contract.
LIUNA NEW TWIST AT LIME MINE--Citing rampant supervisor favoritism and unclear job classifications, 110 workers at Carmeuse Inc., an open-pit lime mine in Annville, Pa., voted to join Laborers Local 471. After five unsuccessful organizing drives in the past 10 years, the workers approached the Laborers Eastern Regional Organizing Fund, and Local 471 assigned five newly trained and hired member-organizers to the campaign.
WORKERS TAKE AMES--In Leesport, Pa., 29 clerical workers at an Ames department store chose a voice at work with UNITE last week, joining some 2,000 other UNITE members at Ames facilities nationwide.
BRINGING GE TO LIGHT--During the recent World Trade Organization summit in Seattle, the 40,000 workers represented by the 14 unions of the General Electric Coordinated Bargaining Committee (CBC) launched an attack on GE's globalization strategy. The company's "rootless and ruthless" strategy is designed to "attain the freedom to move from place to place in search of ever-lower labor costs," charged IUE President Edward Fire, who chairs the CBC. Several GE unions also report the company is pressuring vendors to move to Mexico for its convenience, Fire said.
CLINTON HONORS HUERTA--Farm Workers Secretary-Treasurer Dolores Huerta, who helped found the UFW, was honored by President Bill Clinton last week when he presented her with the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights. Clinton praised Huerta for "all she has done to protect the dignity and human rights of [her] family and America's family." In accepting the award, Huerta noted, "This sends a message to the employers, when the president of the United States recognizes the farm workers, that maybe they shouldn't fight....This means that the work of the United Farm Workers is being recognized, and the worth of the farm workers who feed the nation is being recognized."
COIA RETIRES--Laborers President Arthur Coia announced last week he will retire Jan.1, after serving for nearly seven years in the top post of the 800,000-member LIUNA. He noted that LIUNA is a much different union today, and "has become a model of innovation, widely acknowledged for its diversity, progressiveness and strength." LIUNA International Vice President Terence M. O'Sullivan was elected by the union's General Executive Board to take over leadership of the union. "This union will continue its devotion and focus on organizing&hibar;increasing our numbers and bringing an equal playing field to workers across North America," O'Sullivan said.
THE URGE TO MERGE--The members of SEIU affiliates 1199 New York, District 1115 and Local 32BJ-144 in New York City have voted to merge their local unions to create a 201,000-member-strong health care union. The newly merged unions will unite under the banner of SEIU 1199 New York and be led by President Dennis Rivera. Among other things, the merger will unite 40,000 home care workers from Local 32BJ-144 and 1199 New York and 48,000 nursing home workers from District 1115 and 1199 New York.
FOOTING THE BILLS--Philadelphia-area working families showed commitment to their community when union pension funds pledged at least $200 million to build hospitality-related projects. The investments will come through a newly created Delaware Valley Investment Fund, the AFL-CIO Building Investment Trust and ULLICO.
BART PUTS SKIDS TO OREGON STEEL--At the urging of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) board voted Dec. 2 not to do business with Oregon Steel Mills' CF&I subsidiary, which is engaged in a two-year-old unfair labor practices dispute with the Steelworkers. BART had been using Oregon Steel rails on an expansion project. USWA notes that OSHA has levied fines against the company since the strike, and the firm faces 100 strike-related NLRB charges. It is also on the AFL-CIO's "Do Not Buy" list.
LIVE FROM LINCOLN CENTER--Members of Musicians Local 802 were back to work playing Tchaikovsky's score to "The Nutcracker" Dec. 7 after ratifying a new contract with the New York City Ballet. During a two-week strike, the Ballet played recorded music for "Nutcracker" performances. The new deal includes a wage boost, increases in rehearsal and seniority pay and higher pension fund contributions by management.
POPPING THE UNION CORK--Millennium revelers now can toast the new year with union champagne. The 100 workers at Anderson Vineyards in California's Mendicino County last month ratified a strong contract, one year after forming a union with the Farm Workers. The contract includes a wage increase, profit sharing, family medical benefits, a 401(k) plan, paid holidays and vacations, seniority rights and a grievance procedure. The union-made bubbly is sold under the Roederer Estate label.
GRANITE-STRONG SUPPORT--The union-community campaign for a higher state minimum wage in Vermont showed its power Nov. 30, when more than 250 people mobilized for a public hearing in Burlington before a state study committee examining the issue. Child care workers, teachers, restaurant employees, factory workers, business owners and dozens of others testified about the need for a living wage. Activists are fighting for a $7.50-an-hour minimum wage, indexed to inflation, for workers in the tourism-dependent state. The committee plans to release its recommendations for legislative action Dec. 17.
ENDS CAN'T MEET ON POVERTY LINE--While the federal government sets the poverty line as the minimum families need to get by, a self-sufficiency standard is a more <R>realistic measurement of what a family needs for housing, food, child care, health care, transportation and other basic needs, says Wider Opportunities for Women. The group developed the standard and in its latest report reveals how much families need to survive in Washington, D.C., and its suburbs. For example, in a family with two children and two working parents, each parent would have to earn $9.78 an hour to cover costs, or about $39,120 a year, compared with the federal poverty standard of $16,700. Previous reports have covered California, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Texas. Copies of the latest report and more information on the self-sufficiency standard are available at www.wowonline.org.
SWEATSHOP POSTER CONTEST--In an effort to motivate students to learn more about sweatshops in New York and throughout the world, the New York State Labor-Religion Coalition is sponsoring a poster contest for students in grades K-12 in the state. Contestants are being asked to illustrate the themes, "How do sweatshops and child labor affect me and my school?" and "Do you know who makes your clothes?" The prizes, sponsored by New York State United Teachers, an AFT affiliate, are a $1,000 U.S. Savings Bond for first place and a $500 bond for second place for winning students in each of four grade levels. Entries are due on Feb. 25, 2000; entry forms are available at www.nysut.org.
IAM ON THE AIR*More than 60 cable television public access stations have signed up to air the Machinists' 10-part series, Working in America, which focuses on IAM members at their jobs and how the union works for and with members. The shows are jointly produced by IAM's Communications Department and its video production company. The cable television system of Prince George's County (Md.) is the most recent signee, joining stations in Atlanta, Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Cincinnati, New Orleans, San Francisco, St. Louis and elsewhere. For more information about cable access stations or the IAM Cable Network, contact Don Snell at 818-760-2622 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ELLETIER ELECTED--Lori Pelletier, vice president of IAM Local 700, was elected unanimously as secretary-treasurer of the Connecticut AFL-CIO by the 50-member executive board. She will finish the term of Tamar H. MacFadyen, who retired this fall. Pelletier will serve as the state federation's chief lobbyist and help direct its Labor 2000 political action and education program.
KUDOS FOR A WORKING MOM--Working Mother magazine has named Marilyn Sneiderman, director of the AFL-CIO's Field Mobilization Department, as one of the "25 most influential working mothers." The magazine, in its December 1999/January 2000 issue, praised Sneiderman for "her fervent belief in the power of grassroots organizing and the ability of workers and their unions to make their workplaces and communities and countries a better place for everyone to live in."
TIMELY RECOGNITION--SEIU's "People of Courage" calendar for 2000 features rank-and-file members whose political and organizing activism is both courageous and inspiring. Calendars are available for $5, plus 10 percent for shipping and handling. To order, send a check made out to "Bread & Roses Cultural Project" to Bread & Roses Cultural Project, 330 W. 42nd St., 7th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10036.
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