The Strength and Solidarity of Our Membership: Worker Wins

Our latest roundup of worker wins begins with a series of wins in Maine and includes numerous examples of working people organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life. 

Bath Iron Works Win Spotlights Series of Victories in Maine: After a successful strike, workers at Bath Iron Works reached a tentative agreement that protects seniority and maintains current subcontracting levels, which will preserve quality jobs in Maine. IAM Local S6 President Chris Wiers said: “What we were able to accomplish at the negotiating table is a testament to the strength and solidarity of our membership. They were educated on the issues, and our negotiating committee knew they had the backing of our membership. I am incredibly proud of our entire team, and we’re excited to get back to work building the best ships in the world for the U.S. Navy.” Elsewhere in the state, Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 4 negotiated a new three-year contract with Eurovia Northeast Paving that gives members a 9% raise and creates new jobs. And members of the Waterville Professional Firefighters (IAFF Local 1608) ratified a new contract with significant improvements to members’ retirement plan.

Philadelphia Museum of Art Workers Win Historic Organizing Victory: After a yearlong campaign that had to overcome the pandemic shutdown and opposition from management, workers at the Philadelphia Museum of Art won a major victory, with 89% voting to form the Philadelphia Museum of Art Union (PMA Union). The new union, affiliated with AFSCME District Council 47, is now one of the largest unionized museum workforces in the United States and makes PMA the first major museum with wall-to-wall union coverage for employees.

Interactive Romance Game Workers Score Major Gains After Strike: After a 21-day strike conducted remotely, writers for the mobile game Lovestruck will see increased transparency at work and pay increases averaging 78%. While the writers are independent contractors and their right to strike isn’t protected under labor law, they took a brave stand and prevailed. The writers, all of whom are women, nonbinary and/or LGBTQ, sought help from the Campaign to Organize Digital Employees-CWA to launch Voltage Organized Workers. Management at Voltage Entertainment USA, which produces the game, rejected the workers’ demands and the strike began. The writers used social media to gather community support and raise funds for a workers support fund. Earlier this month, the company and its workers reached an agreement, and the first successful game worker strike in the history of the industry led to a significant victory.

Congressional Progressive Caucus Center Workers Join NPEU: Staff members at the Congressional Progressive Caucus Center (CPC Center) have voted to join the Nonprofit Professional Employees Union (NPEU). They have requested voluntary recognition from management. In a statement, the union said: “We believe in unity and equity, and have dedicated our careers to serving and fighting for justice. We believe that unionizing will help uphold the CPC Center’s values and commitment to empowering and strengthening communities of all backgrounds across the nation. We are excited to join NPEU in solidifying our commitment to equity and justice in the workplace and beyond. We are thrilled management has signaled they will voluntarily recognize our union, and we look forward to reaching a formal agreement soon.”

Friends of the Earth Formally Recognizes New Employee Union: Management at environmental organization Friends of the Earth has voluntarily recognized Friends of the Earth Workers United (FOE Workers United) as the representative of their employees. FOE Workers United is affiliated as part of the NPEU. In a statement, the union said: “As Friends of the Earth staff, we are proud to be part of an organization with an outspoken mission of fighting for a more healthy and just world, and we believe this new union will strengthen that mission. Our membership is pleased to see Friends of the Earth live out its long-held values by recognizing our union. We are excited to work with management to strengthen our organization, both internally and externally.” 

Hearst Workers Vote to Unionize: In a historic union win, the digital and print staff of Hearst Magazines overwhelmingly voted to unionize with the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE). The new bargaining unit will include 500 members from Hearst Magazines’ editorial, video, design, photo and social staff across 28 digital and print brands, including Cosmopolitan, Men’s Health and Elle. The vote comes after workers expressed their desire to unionize last November and management refused to voluntarily recognize the bargaining unit. Upon organizing, Hearst staff outlined a plan to collectively bargain a contract that addresses issues such as diversity, transparency, compensation and editorial standards.

SAG-AFTRA Members Approve New TV/Theatrical Contract: With nearly 75% of members voting to approve, SAG-AFTRA approved new three-year contracts for movies, television and new media. The contracts include wage increases, better funding for benefits, improved residuals for streaming, new protections covering nudity and sex scenes, and measures to prevent sexual harassment. SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris said: “I am grateful for the many members who got involved and used their voices to help set the priorities for this contract. This is a forward-thinking agreement that builds on the changing realities of the streaming business and positions our union to continue the fight for a safer workplace for all.” SAG-AFTRA also reached a tentative agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on a new contract for animation.

Nurses Ratify First Contract in Arizona: In a historic move, registered nurses at St. Mary’s and St. Joseph’s hospitals in Tucson, Arizona, voted overwhelmingly to approve their first contract with the National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United (NNOC/NNU), the first union contract ever for registered nurses in Arizona. “This contract is a culmination of all the collective actions and the union strength of our nurses. What we have achieved here will give nurses at St. Joseph’s and St. Mary’s a voice in patient care and working conditions moving forward,” said Christine Valenzuela, an intensive care unit RN at St. Mary’s Hospital. The three-year contract runs through May 31, 2023. Proud to vote yes on the first RN contract in the state, nurses say they also feel good about negotiating important patient care protections during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Virginia AFL-CIO Wins Emergency Temporary Standard to Prevent Workplace Infections: In a big victory for the labor movement, Virginia became the first state in the nation to enact an emergency temporary standard (ETS) for infectious diseases. The Virginia AFL-CIO, led by President Doris Crouse-Mays (CWA), took command of the statewide campaign to ensure the new coronavirus-related workplace safety standards were put in place. Earlier, Virginia’s Safety and Health Codes Board passed the ETS in a 9-2 vote. Crouse-Mays applauded the board’s action: “This is an important first step toward the protection of workers during this public health crisis, and we urge the members of the committee to continue to pass meaningful and positive standards that will promote job safety, protect workers and protect our community.”