Our latest roundup of worker wins begins with graduate student workers uniting for a better future and includes numerous examples of working people organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life.
Graduate Student Workers at Brown Join AFT: With more than 60% voting yes, graduate employees at Brown University have voted to join AFT. Kaitlyn Quaranta, a graduate assistant in French, said: "Hundreds of graduate workers stood up this week and sent a clear message that our labor for the university should not be taken for granted. Winning this election is about more than just improving working conditions for grads at Brown. In voting to unionize, we stood up for labor rights during an incredibly anti-labor administration."
Georgetown Alliance of Graduate Employees (GAGE) Votes Overwhelmingly to Affiliate with AFT: Nearly 84% of graduate student workers at Georgetown voted to be represented by the GAGE and AFT. In a joint statement, GAGE and AFT said: "We have a shared belief in the important role that graduate student assistants play at Georgetown and a shared commitment to giving them a stronger voice as members of our community. We are encouraged that many graduate student assistants made their voices heard. We look forward to working together to continue efforts to improve the graduate student experience at Georgetown."
Steelworkers and U.S. Steel Reach New Four-Year Agreement: Steelworkers represented by USW at U.S. Steel have approved a new four-year contract that includes a signing bonus and significant wage increases while maintaining high-quality, affordable health care and strong retirement benefits. The USW bargaining committee said: "Three years ago, we recognized that the industry was experiencing a downturn and agreed to make sacrifices to ensure that the industry could make it through the tough times. This time around, we knew that things were different. U.S. Steel, and the industry as a whole, were thriving again, and we would not settle for a concessionary agreement."
Steelworkers and ArcelorMittal Agree on Tentative Deal: The United Steelworkers and ArcelorMittal have agreed on a tentative four-year contract covering 12,000 USW members in West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Illinois and Minnesota. USW said: "The proposed four-year agreement mirrors the industry standard on wages, lump-sum payments and pensions and maintains or improves our existing health insurance benefits for active and retired Steelworkers and their dependents." USW members now must ratify the contract, which is expected to happen before the end of the year.
Texas' Largest Independent Bookstore Employees to Be Represented by OPEIU: The 80 booksellers, event staff and inventory managers at BookPeople, the largest independent bookstore in Texas, have voted to be represented by OPEIU Local 277. The union now will begin negotiating the first contract for the new members. Patrick Watson, a BookPeople inventory manager, said: "We are so excited to get this win. BookPeople workers were organizing months before we contacted OPEIU, and to see our efforts finally lead to representation is exhilarating. Now we're ready to go into negotiations with the same energy and passion we've had from the beginning!”
United Catering Employees Join UNITE HERE: More than 1,700 catering employees that work for United Airlines have voted by 72% to be represented by UNITE HERE. With the new additions, about 80% of United's 88,000 employees are now represented by unions. Lakisha McIntosh, who works for United in its Newark, N.J., kitchen, said: “My co-workers and I have fought so hard for this day because we know that we deserve to be equal with all the other United employees.”
Registered Nurses in Arcadia, Calif., Join the CNA/NNU: Registered nurses at Methodist Hospital of Southern California in Arcadia voted overwhelmingly to be represented by the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United. Shelly Perks, a registered nurse in the intensive care unit, said: "This is a great day for the nurses as we will now have a real voice in making decisions on how we care for our patients. Often management has implemented policies without our input, even though these decisions too often impact patient care adversely. Finally, our voices will be heard."
Additional 350 Registered Nurses at Chicago Medical Center Join NNOC/NNU: An additional 350 registered nurses at the University of Chicago Medical Center voted to join National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United (NNOC/NNU). They join the same bargaining unit as the 1,800 other nurses at Chicago Medical Center who are already represented by NNOC/NNU. Julie DiNovo, a registered nurse in the prep and recovery unit, said: "Having my voice heard about the safety of my patients, the security of my job and providing for my family is important to me. Joining the union makes sure that my voice matters.”
They Privatize, We Organize: After a long, difficult fight, machinists at the Mancon parts and supply warehouse in Massachusetts have ratified a new four-year collective bargaining agreement. The work done by these workers was previously done by public-sector workers, but was transferred to the private sector after an outsourcing campaign. IAM District 15 Assistant Directing Business Representative Mike Vartabedian said: "These workers saw firsthand the real agenda behind Gov. Baker’s scheme to privatize these jobs to for profit companies. They watched the members of Local 264 stand together to prevail in the fight for their jobs, and to keep public transportation public.”
Rockville General Hospital Support Staff Join AFT: Support staff at Rockville General Hospital in Vernon, Conn., voted to be represented by AFT. The 150 nursing assistants, housekeepers, diet aides, phlebotomists, unit coordinators and other employees now will begin assembling a team to negotiate with management from the Eastern Connecticut Health Network, which owns the hospital and is in turn owned by Prospect Medical Holdings.