Our latest roundup of worker wins begins with several newsrooms using collective action and includes numerous examples of working people organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life.
Onion Creative Staff Approve New Contract: The creative staff at The Onion, which includes various other related publications, voted to approve a new contract. Nearly 70 employees are covered by the two-year contract. The Onion Inc. Union, affiliated with the Writers Guild of America, East, wrote: "We’re elated to have reached a first union contract for the members at Onion Inc. In addition to the gains made in our contract, we experienced immediate workplace improvements while organizing, including increased interdepartmental communication and a gender pay parity analysis. As part of the WGAE, we have access to resources and the solidarity of thousands of union members across media and entertainment. We’re proud to be part of a wave that’s raising standards across the industry and we encourage everyone to organize their workplaces."
Law360 Editorial Staffers Unanimously Approve First Contract: After a two-year battle, members of The NewsGuild-CWA who work as editorial staff at LexisNexis-owned Law360, a legal news site, unanimously approved their first contract. The four-year agreement includes a 22% raise and a minimum annual salary of $50,000. In a statement, the unit said: "Last night, we unanimously (168-0!) ratified a remarkable first contract that fiercely protects and improves the working conditions of everyone in the newsroom at Law360. For years, we have been adamant about protecting the editorial integrity of the newsroom and of our bargaining unit. We successfully negotiated language that prevents the company from reinstating non-compete agreements and onerous daily story quotas. We also achieved a provision that preserves the contract in the event of a sale or acquisition of the company."
New York Media Editorial Employees Join NewsGuild: After nearly 80% of eligible staffers signed on, editorial employees of New York Media voted to be represented by The NewsGuild of New York-CWA. The new unit would cover 160 full- and part-time staffers and has asked the company for voluntary recognition of the union. A mission statement from the new unit said: "We believe that unionizing is the best way to address our grievances in the workplace and allow us to continue publishing stories as honest, gritty, and exceptional as this city. We hope that New York Media will recognize our union so that we can begin an amicable collective-bargaining process and build a stronger, more equitable company for another 50 years."
New York City Rideshare App Drivers Win Historic Pay Rules: After a campaign by the Independent Drivers Guild (an affiliate of the Machinists) that involved rallying 16,000 drivers to events, lobbying days and thousands of calls and letters, drivers for rideshare apps in New York have won a minimum pay rate that is equivalent to the city's $15 per hour minimum wage. "Today we brought desperately needed relief to 80,000 working families. All workers deserve the protection of a fair, livable wage and we are proud to be setting the new bar for contractor workers’ rights in America," said Jim Conigliaro Jr., founder of the Independent Drivers Guild. "We are thankful to the Mayor, Commissioner Joshi and the Taxi and Limousine Commission, City Council Member Brad Lander and all of the city officials who listened to and stood up for drivers."
Nurses at NewYork-Presbyterian Hudson Valley Hospital Win Union Election: Nurses at the hospital in Cortlandt, New York, voted to join the New York State Nurses Association after an anti-union campaign that led to state officials vowing to investigate labor abuses alleged against the hospital. Nurse and organizer Susan Beck said: "We got an email from our president that said respect will be at the center of how we will continue to work together. That’s what nurses really wanted in the first place."
Educators at Acero Charter Schools Reach Agreement to End Strike: Educators at Acero charter schools in Chicago ended the first strike in charter school history by reaching a tentative agreement with the school network. The 500 educators won pay improvements, reductions in class sizes and language that makes the school a sanctuary for the schools' immigrant students, including protection against federal immigration enforcement on school grounds. Chicago Teachers Union President Jesse Sharkey said: "This was the culmination of our vision over more than a decade of organizing. Our vision is that educators at charter schools and at Chicago Public Schools have common interests. We live in the same neighborhoods, we teach the same kids, and we wage the same struggles over resources and underfunding. We are now a movement that commands national attention and can stop a city."
Environmental Charter School Educators Vote to Join AFT: Educators at Environmental Charter School in Pittsburgh voted to join the AFT. The new unit will represent teachers, nurses, counselors, social workers, academic coaches and educational assistants. They will now proceed with negotiations on their first union contract.
Steelworkers Ratify Contract with ArcelorMittal: Some 15,000 United Steelworkers members have a new four-year labor agreement with ArcelorMittal USA that increases wages and benefits. The workers in six states had voted to authorize a strike during the acrimonious negotiations. David McCall, lead negotiator for USW District 1, said: "We successfully defended all of the rights and protections that management sought to reduce, restrict and eliminate. On top of that, we were able to make improvements, fill gaps and fix the parts of our contracts that members identified as top priorities."
Oregon Mental Health and Addiction Recovery Workers Join AFSCME: Nearly 270 mental health and addiction recovery workers at Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare in Portland and Milwaukie, Oregon, voted to join AFSCME. The workers are pushing for better pay and lower case loads. The fight for unionization at the clinics was a unwelcome one from management, which held numerous anti-union meetings and AFSCME has filed charges against Cascadia for improperly firing a union supporter.
Laid Off Toys 'R' Us Workers Secure $20 Million in Severance Fight: In the process of Toys "R" Us filing for bankruptcy in 2018, 31,000 employees were laid off and did not get severance payments. Meanwhile, some top executives got bonuses. The laid-off workers fought back and have negotiated a settlement with Bain Capital and KKR, private equity firms that owned part of the toy retailer, to pay $20 million in severance payments.