Safety and Security: Worker Wins

Our latest roundup of worker wins features important victories for safety and security during the COVID-19 pandemic and includes numerous examples of working people organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life. 

Airline Worker Unions Win Protections During Pandemic: More than a half dozen unions representing workers in the airline industry fought to secure protections during the COVID-19 pandemic. The CARES Act, which passed in March, $31 billion in direct grants were approved to airline industry workers and another $25 billion in loans or grants for the industry. Sara Nelson, president of the Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA), said: “This is an unprecedented win for front-line aviation workers and a template all workers can build from. The grants we won in this bill will save hundreds of thousands of jobs and will keep working people connected to healthcare.”

Front-Line Stop & Shop Workers Win Protections, Additional Pay: More than 70,000 employees at Stop & Shop and Peapod in New Jersey, New York and New England represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) secured a 10% pay increase and up to two additional weeks of paid sick leave as a response to coronavirus. UFCW International President Marc Perrone said: “As we know, grocery workers like Stop & Shop employees have been on the front lines of this crisis, serving the needs of millions of families in the northeast. Protecting them is absolutely essential to our communities and food supply now more than ever.”

Nuclear Power Plant Workers in Texas Vote to Join IBEW: Phyllis Goines, business manager of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 220, reported that workers at Day & Zimmermann (D&Z) radiological services voted to join the union to improve their working conditions at a nuclear power plant in Glen Rose, Texas. Goines said the bargaining unit consists of some 60 workers in a variety of jobs, including electrical, custodial and outdoor maintenance. Union organizers faced heavy opposition as D&Z used a combination of management scare tactics and threats about the impact of the pandemic. The scare tactics didn't work. In the end, a majority of workers stood their ground. “I'm glad it's over,” Goines said, adding that she looks forward to seeing workers reap the benefits of negotiating their first union contract together in solidarity.

Professors and Graduate Students Score Victories: In the past few months, organizing drives led by graduate students, contract negotiations and other pro-worker actions have resulted in victories, including: University of Illinois at Chicago, Georgetown, Brown, Harvard and Oregon State.

SAG-AFTRA and AFM Score Entertainment Industry Victories: SAG-AFTRA's board has voted to recommend members accept the 2020 TV/Theatrical Agreement, which contains the largest financial compensation the union has negotiated, at $318 million over three years. Separately, SAG-AFTRA and the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) announced a deal that would provide record-breaking royalty payments for session musicians and singers.

Bradenton Herald Newsroom Joins The NewsGuild: As part of a wider wave of union organizing in Florida and at McClatchy-owned newspapers, the newsroom at the Bradenton Herald voted to join The NewsGuild-CWA. Veteran reporter Jessica De Leon said: “Today, the newsroom of the Bradenton Herald stood up, not just to demand better working conditions for ourselves but to preserve quality local journalism in Bradenton, and our voices were heard. I’m beyond grateful for the amazing team we have and all the support we’ve received from our community, colleagues and fellow journalists around the country.”

Workers Unionize at Bank Formerly Owned by Tom Steyer: Workers in Oregon, California and Washington at Beneficial Bank, which was founded by former presidential candidate Steyer, who resigned from the bank's board to run for president. The majority of eligible employees signed union authorization cards to be represented by the Communications Workers of America (CWA).

Hearthside Food Solutions Workers Join UFCW: In the first National Labor Relations Board-led unionization vote since the beginning of the pandemic, the majority of workers at the cereal-packing plant in Byhalia, Mississippi, voted to be represented by the UFCW. Rose Turner, a UFCW organizer, said: "Today, I feel better than I feel in the last 45 days."

NPEU Leads Wave of Unionization in Nonprofit Sector: The Nonprofit Professional Employees Union (NPEU), IFPTE Local 70, recently announced a series of organizing victories, including: Friends of the Earth, National Women's Law Center, Pittsburgh United, Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, National Immigration Law Center, the Groundwork Collaborative, Scholars Strategy Network and J Street.