Our latest roundup of worker wins begins with nurses banding together to make patients' lives better and includes numerous examples of working people organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life. The end of 2019 saw a flurry of wins for working people, so this is the first in several posts over the next week that will cover the victories of the last quarter of the year.
California Nurses Win New Master Contract: Nearly 4,000 registered nurses at eight Tenet hospitals in California approved a new master contract. The nurses are members of California Nurses Association/National Nurses United (CNA/NNU). The new agreement enhances recruitment and retention, assures eight-hour rest periods between shifts, adequate breaks, scheduling improvements, better health and safety, wage increases, and protections for the nurses' health care. “We are very proud of what we’ve achieved with this new contract. It is a testament to what registered nurses can accomplish collectively when we stand together as committed patient advocates,” said Ginny Gary, an registered nurse at the Los Alamitos Medical Center. “This new agreement is a win for the nurses and our patients, for our families and for the communities we serve across the state.”
University of Chicago Nurses Avert Strike with Tentative Deal: The nurses, members of National Nurses United (NNU), planned for a one-day strike and the hospital said it would lock out the nurses in response. The strike was canceled when the the agreement was reached. “Both sides have been working since March on a contract that not only recognizes the valuable contributions our nurses make to our organization, but also ensures [the University of Chicago Medical Center] remains at the forefront of medical care and scientific research for years to come,” said Debra Albert, the hospital’s chief nursing officer.
Last of the Big Three Detroit Auto Makers Reaches Agreement with UAW: UAW and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) reached a tentative four-year agreement that would cover hourly workers at the company. The deal secures $9 billion of company investments that will create nearly 8,000 jobs. "FCA has been a great American success story thanks to the hard work of our members. We have achieved substantial gains and job security provisions for the fastest growing auto company in the United States," said Rory Gamble, the acting president of the UAW.
Philadelphia Public Defenders to Become UAW Members: A majority of the 200 lawyers at the Defender Association of Philadelphia voted to be represented by the UAW. The lawyers represent some 70% of those arrested for criminal offenses or probation violations in the city. In a petition to management, the attorneys said: “We have all chosen this work because we are passionate about protecting the constitutional rights of our clients and giving them a voice in a system that otherwise does not. We believe that by collectively improving our workplace, we will better serve our clients.”
New Mexico Faculty Vote to be Represented by AFT: More than 70% of faculty at the University of New Mexico (UNM) voted to be represented by AFT. More than 1,600 full- and part-time faculty across five campuses will also be members of the American Association of University Professors. The new unit, United Academics of the University of New Mexico, will begin bargaining with the university on its first contract. Hilary Lipka, a temporary part-time faculty member in religious studies, said: "This is a historic moment for faculty at UNM. Our victory reflects how important it is that the university treats faculty with dignity and respect. We look forward to sitting down with the administration and negotiating a contract that acknowledges the work and value that part-time faculty contribute to the university."
Zoellner Arts Center Stagehands Join IATSE: In a unanimous vote, stagehands who work at the Zoellner Arts Center at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania voted unanimously to join Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 200. The workers support the 200-plus annual events held at the arts center. The new unit will meet with Lehigh to begin negotiations on a collective bargaining agreement.
Los Angeles Times Newsroom Employees Reach Tentative Agreement: Nearly 500 members of the Los Angeles Times newsroom will now be represented by the L.A. Times Guild, an affiliate of The NewsGuild-CWA (TNG-CWA). The contract is more than a year in the making and will provide raises and other benefits over the life of the three-year contract. “We’re really proud of what we’ve achieved together,” said Carolina A. Miranda, co-chair of the L.A. Times Guild. “It’s a difficult time in the industry, but we’ve landed significant pay increases and a broad safety net of job protections that are some of the best in the industry. We’re grateful that Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong is actively reinvesting in The Times. This is a win for journalism and a win for L.A.”
Hormel Workers Across the Country Approve New Contract: Thousands of Hormel workers nationwide approved a new contract that strengthens wages, expands health care and increases pension security. The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), which represents the Hormel workers, said: “By strongly voting for a new contract that improves wages and benefits, thousands of our hardworking members sent a powerful message this week about the power that comes from workers standing together."
Houston Mayor Signs $12 Minimum Wage for Airport Workers: After months of workers demanding that city leaders raise the minimum wage at George Bush Intercontinental Airport and William P. Hobby Airport, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner signed an executive order raising the minimum wage for all airport workers in Houston to $12 an hour. The rate is a first step in pursuit of $15 an hour minimum wage at the airports in Houston. “We are excited that Mayor Turner met with airport workers and listened to their struggles, and thankful that he took action to raise wages," said Willy Gonzalez, secretary-treasurer of UNITE HERE Local 23. "This is a great step forward for Houston’s airport workers. For many of our members, this will make the difference between whether or not they can pay rent at the end of the month.
Actors' Equity Reaches Agreement with The Broadway League: An overwhelming 95% of Actors' Equity (AEA) members voted to approve the new production contract with The Broadway League. "This negotiation resulted in not only great compensation increases for our members but created new terms and conditions that provide further protections for stage managers and swings," said Mary McColl, executive director of AEA. "This is the third negotiation we have completed with The Broadway League this year. Thanks to the solidarity and support of our members, all three have been successful."