*Updated: The momentum continues as more and more working people exercise their freedom to join together in a union. Since this blog post was originally published, we have seen these victories:
Teachers and staff at the City on a Hill school in New Bedford, Massachusetts, became the third charter school this year to join the Boston Teachers Union (BTU), an affiliate of AFT. BTU President Jessica Tang said:
All educators deserve the support of an organization that will support them and the work they do. We are proud to welcome the teachers and staff from City on a Hill New Bedford into our union. Our priority is creating exceptional and successful learning experiences for all students. That means improving the working conditions of all educators, including those working at charter schools funded by public taxpayer dollars, to reduce turnover and sustain stable learning environments for students. It means advocating for full investment in public education and ensuring that all schools, including charter schools, stay true to the interests of the public good. A common bond among all teachers, whether we work in district or charter schools, is that we all want to see our students thrive.
And in Portland, Oregon, Burgerville restaurant workers at the Southeast 92nd Avenue and Powell Boulevard location voted to become the first federally recognized union at a fast-food restaurant. Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain applauded the victory:
The unions of the Oregon AFL-CIO are proud to stand behind the Burgerville Workers Union and offer our sincere congratulations to the workers who have worked for years to make this victory happen. The struggle of the Burgerville workers is an inspiration to not just unions, but to all working people. The Burgerville Workers Union’s successful vote and fight for union recognition has proven that when working people stand together, we will win. Workers in Oregon and across the country are watching as this historic campaign moves forward, and Oregon’s union movement stands ready to support Burgerville’s workers however we can.
Finally, 235 employees in production, processing, sanitation, maintenance and the warehouse at the Nestle Purina plant in Edmond, Oklahoma, voted to join the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM). BCTGM International Representative David Woods said:
I am very proud of the quality assurance workers who had the courage to resist the company’s anti-union propaganda and anti-union strategy throughout the 23-day period between filing for an union election and being able to vote to become members of BCTGM Local 366G.
This past week alone, more than 10,000 working people chose to join together in union for the freedom to negotiate a fair return on their hard work. From flight attendants to graduate students, each day more working people are gaining the power to change an economy rigged against us.
In response to the wave of victories, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said:
We’re living in a profound moment of change. By joining together in a union, working people are joining, fighting and winning together for the dignity that we’ve earned. Despite rigged rules and aggressive corporate attacks, 260,000 new union members joined our ranks last year, and three-quarters of new union members are under the age of 34. As we gain density, we gain power. As we grow in numbers, we grow in influence. That’s how we start to build the America working people need.
Nearly 5,000 JetBlue in-flight crew members will have the freedom to negotiate with the airline’s management after they overwhelmingly voted in favor of joining the Transport Workers (TWU) on Tuesday. Larry Willis, president of the Transportation Trades Department, said:
At a time when our economy favors the rich and powerful, today’s victory by JetBlue’s inflight crewmembers to join the Transport Workers Union demonstrates the power working people have when they come together.
JetBlue’s 5,000 inflight crewmembers want nothing more than a share in the profits they make possible, a say in workplace policies and procedures, and a seat at the table. Having a powerful union voice evens the playing field and ensures these hardworking, dedicated employees receive the dignity and respect they deserve.
In a historical victory for graduate teaching and research assistants at universities who have been fighting for a fair return on their work, more than 5,000 Harvard University teaching and research assistants decided Thursday to join UAW. Julie Kushner, director of UAW Region 9A, said:
I want to congratulate Harvard’s student workers on their incredibly hard work and welcome them to the UAW. They overcame obstacle after obstacle to win a union for themselves and their peers. We look forward to supporting them as they move into bargaining a contract. We have a history of successfully bargaining with NYU, UConn, UMass and, most recently, The New School and are looking forward to engaging in a constructive dialogue with Harvard. Today’s victory is a crucial moment in the growing student worker movement—it signals that the appointment of an anti-union NLRB will not stop the thousands who are fighting for their unions. We stand with them.
The labor movement is growing in Southern states, as evidenced Thursday when 700 working people at Atlanta Gas Light, in Atlanta, voted to join the Electrical Workers (IBEW). Lonnie Stephenson, international president of IBEW, thanked the new members:
On Thursday, 2,000 personal support workers and 400 registered nurses at Spectrum Health Care in the greater Toronto area joined the Machinists (IAM). International President Robert Martinez of IAM said:
This victory for Spectrum workers is the best example yet that the IAM’s new strategic growth plan is working. Across our union, we are thinking of new ways to bring dignity and justice on the job to working families who deserve representation at work. Our power at the negotiating table is growing by the day—and that’s good news for IAM members of today and tomorrow.
In Pleasanton, California, 400 registered nurses from Stanford Health Care’s ValleyCare Medical Center will join National Nurses United (NNU) after a majority of them voted to join the union. NNU Executive Director Bonnie Castillo, RN, said:
Congratulations to the ValleyCare RNs. Your vote to join with your CNA colleagues across the Bay Area and throughout California will have an enormous impact on your patients, your neighbors and your colleagues. We are proud of your decision.
In Marlborough, Massachusetts, 220 working people from nurses to clerical staff at UMass Memorial-Marlborough Hospital decided to join the State Healthcare and Research Employees Union, an affiliate of AFSCME.
The wave of working people in newsrooms who join together in labor unions continues to grow. Last week, an overwhelming majority of editorial employees of the New Republic have signed on to a union organizing effort and have asked management to recognize The NewsGuild of New York/TNG-CWA Local 31003 as their local union. Grant Glickson, president of Local 31003, said:
At a time when our industry needs unions, we are excited to see the staff of this 100-year-old publication demand a seat at the table and a say in the future of the publication. We look forward to working with management in these shared goals.
On Friday, hundreds of working people at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut, voted to be represented by the New England Joint Board of UNITE HERE. Warren Pepicelli, manager of the New England Joint Board, said:
[These] workers sent a strong message of unity by voting yes today. We’re hopeful that Foxwoods will respect the workers’ decision and schedule negotiations as soon as possible. We look forward to negotiating in good faith with Foxwoods to address the many concerns that workers have.
At a time when powerful corporations and special interests continue to use a rigged system to their benefit, this kind of momentum proves that working people are standing up to defend the freedom to join together in union.