Worker Wins: Solidarity Leads to Gains for Working People

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

Wisconsin Bay Area Nurses and Health Care Professionals Reach Tentative Contract Agreement: Nurses and health care professionals with Aurora Medical Center—Bay Area in Wisconsin, members of the Michigan Nurses Association (an affiliate of National Nurses United [NNU]), reached a tentative agreement for a new contract. Members will need to vote to approve the contract before it is finalized. “We are proud of this deal. Thanks to the solidarity that union members showed at our hospital, we have been able to win fair wages, improved health and safety provisions, and new staffing language. This shows the power of workers coming together as a union,” said Emily Peretto, RN, and president of the local union. “We look forward to going over the details with members in the coming days and holding a ratification vote where union members will make the final decision on whether to accept this deal.” Nurses and health care professionals were able to make gains in negotiations after organizing a rally.

Lipton Members Win Big with New Union Contract: Members of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 400 working at the Lipton Tea plant in Suffolk, Virginia, ratified a strong new four-year contract. The new agreement provides an 18% wage increase over a three-year period, increases safety requirements, adds an employee assistance plan and provides other improvements. “This contract was due to our strong membership and solidarity,” said Terrell Owens, a Lipton Tea shop steward. “We have 80% membership, and on the committee, we stood pat until we got what we wanted.”

IAM Celebrates Organizing Victory at Tree House Humane Society: The Machinists (IAM) achieved a resounding victory in organizing 20 Tree House Humane Society workers into the union fold. The Tree House organization is renowned for rehoming nearly 1,000 cats every year. The hard-fought victory was claimed in the face of management’s use of union-busting tactics. The workers are concerned about substandard wages and working conditions and unilateral changes to health care benefits. “We extend our warmest welcome to our newest Machinists at Tree House Humane Society,” said IAM Midwest Territory General Vice President Steve Galloway. “They are seeking justice and dignity in their workplace. These workers, much like their counterparts in emerging nontraditional professions, are eager to join the IAM.”

Clinic RNs at St. Peter’s Health Medical Group Win Union Election Vote: Registered nurses (RNs) at St. Peter’s Health clinics in Helena, Montana, voted to join the Montana Nurses Association Local 13, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). “We are excited to have all nurses at St. Peter’s be included in Local 13. Nurses deserve to have their wages and benefits managed fairly,” said Andrea Thies, RN. “We look forward to rebuilding a trusting relationship with St. Peter’s to better serve the people in our community.”

Workers at New York’s Jewish Museum Ratify Their First Union Contract: After more than a year of negotiations, workers at the Jewish Museum in New York City overwhelmingly ratified their first contract. The bargaining unit consists of 90 people, a mix of full- and part-time workers spanning multiple departments, including curatorial, retail, visitor services, art handling and more. The contract goes through 2026. “Together we’ve put powerful protections in place for our most vulnerable workers and taken important steps to secure better futures for museum workers across departments,” says Rebecca Shaykin, a union member who has worked at the museum for more than a decade. “As a working parent, I'm especially proud of the significant improvements to our paid family leave policy we fought for and won. It's been an honor to be part of this process and, honestly, quite emotional to see our hard work yield immediate results for such a dedicated staff.”

Air Wisconsin Pilots Ratify New Three-Year Contract with Significant Raises and Improved Scheduling: Air Wisconsin pilots, members of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), overwhelmingly ratified a new three-year contract on Oct. 10 worth nearly $48 million in new value over the life of the agreement. The contract includes an average 54% pay increase for first officers and a 38% increase for captains over the life of the contract. It addresses some of the most criticized aspects of Air Wisconsin schedules and creates new protections for pilots who call in fatigued. “With this agreement, Air Wisconsin pilot compensation finally reflects the pilot market for fee-for-departure pilots. It immediately makes us competitive with our peer carriers and will improve our quality of life,” said Capt. Jack Roback, chair of ALPA’s Air Wisconsin Master Executive Council. “The training section of the agreement will also enable the pilot group to be ready to fly newer, larger CRJ700 aircraft should Air Wisconsin acquire them in the future.”

AFSCME Members at City of Moline, Illinois, Secure Wage Increases and Paid Parental Leave: Members of AFSCME Local 1132 successfully negotiated a new contract with the city of Moline, Illinois. The new three-year contract means that all 142 members of the local will receive wage increases, paid parental leave for childbirth and adoption, and limits on health care premiums. Moline is the first city in the area to offer paid parental leave.

Union Coalition Reaches Tentative Agreement with Kaiser Permanente After Largest-Ever U.S. Health Care Strike: The front-line health care workers of the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions reached a tentative agreement with Kaiser Permanente after a three-day strike last week that was the largest health care strike in U.S. history and the promise of another strike if a fair deal wasn't reached. The Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions includes locals from the Office and Professional Employees (OPEIU), the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE) and Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Details of the deal were not released, but the workers were seeking better pay and safe staffing levels. Union members must still vote to approve the tentative agreement.

Completion of Microsoft–Activision Merger Includes Groundbreaking, Legally Binding Labor Neutrality Agreement: The Communications Workers of America (CWA) applauded the inclusion of a groundbreaking, legally binding labor neutrality agreement in Microsoft's acquisition of Activision Blizzard, a milestone in the effort to improve working conditions in the video game industry. Microsoft will remain neutral when Activision Blizzard employees express interest in joining a union, providing a clear path to collective bargaining for nearly 10,000 workers. “It is a new day for workers at Activision Blizzard,” said CWA President Claude Cummings Jr. “Over two years ago, workers at Activision Blizzard’s studios captured the country’s attention through walkouts and other protests over discrimination, sexual harassment, pay inequity, and other issues they were facing on the job. Their efforts to form unions were met with illegal retaliation and attempts to delay and block union elections. Now these workers are free to join our union through a fair process, without interference from management. Microsoft’s high-road approach should be the norm across the industry.”

SMART Local Wins $23.25-an-Hour Compensation Increase: Members of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART) Local 16 will see a record-busting $23.25-an-hour increase in compensation in their new four-year agreement. The master agreement covers roughly 1,750 Local 16 members who work for the 60 contractors who are part of Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA). The contract was reached through an internal arbitration process. “It’s a good first step to addressing over a decade of issues we’ve had,” said Local 16 Special Projects Counsel Scott Strickland. “It sets us back onto the right track.”

Massage Therapists in Florida Join UFCW: About 25 licensed massage therapists at the Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa in Gainesville, Florida, joined United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1625. “This was successful because of old-fashioned union organizing from within the company,” said Local 1625 Secretary-Treasurer Gary Parody. “These co-workers came together in order to gain the benefits of union protection.”

Art Institute of Chicago Workers Ratify First Contract: Members of Art Institute of Chicago Workers United, an affiliate of AFSCME, have secured their first union contract with the museum. The contract includes pay raises, new career opportunities and affordable health care while protecting workers' rights on the job for four years. The 500-plus members of the museum and its affiliated school, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, have been in negotiations for over a year. The union began plans for a strike, then the museum presented a bargaining contract, which was accepted.

Meatpackers at Hormel Reach Tentative Contract Agreement: Meatpackers, members of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), reached a tentative agreement with Hormel Foods Corp. for a new four-year contract. The union voted on the contract. The meatpackers were seeking better pay, pensions and insurance costs among other issues, and were considering a strike before reaching the tentative agreement.

IBEW Local and the City of Long Beach Agree on New Labor Contract: The 660 members of the Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 47 reached a new labor agreement with the city of Long Beach, California. The new contract raises salaries by 5% over the next three years, removes language related to unskilled or obsolete pay, and adds new skills that support the 12 departments’ new needs for technological and operational support.

ATU Members at Cornwall Transit Agree to Tentative Contract: Bus drivers in Cornwall, Ontario, Canada, reached a tentative contract agreement on Oct. 1 with the city. The drivers, members of Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 946, voted unanimously in favor of the deal that still needs to be approved by the Cornwall City Council. “After extensive negotiations spanning nine months, ATU Local 946 is delighted to announce that a tentative agreement has been reached,” said Local 946 President Matt Levac. “We’re happy with the (agreement), it’s a fair contract. This milestone marks a significant step forward in the relationship between the union and the City of Cornwall. We’re optimistic that this agreement paves the way for a fruitful and co-operative partnership between the union and the city—our goal is to work hand in hand to benefit our members and the entire Cornwall community.”

AFM Members at Cleveland Orchestra Approve New 3-Year Contract: Members of the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) reached agreement with the Cleveland Orchestra on a three-year labor contract that includes a one-time agreement ratification bonus of $5,000 for each of its members. The deal takes effect immediately and runs through the 2025–26 season. “Ensuring that Northeast Ohio and the city of Cleveland continue to have America’s finest orchestra is always the top priority of the musicians of the Cleveland Orchestra,” said Kathleen Collins, chair of the orchestra committee. “To that end, we were pleased to be able to obtain solid wage gains, address inflation, and retain our excellent healthcare plan so that our compensation package remains competitive. We were able to work collaboratively with management to find solutions which helped both sides.”

Disney VFX Workers Vote to Organize with IATSE: Walt Disney Pictures visual effects workers voted to organize under the Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), joining Disney’s Marvel Studios’ VFX members who joined earlier this year. “For so long we’ve wanted the same protections as everyone else, but there was no hope in sight,” said Mack Robinson, a VFX senior coordinator. “Winning this election was a long fight, but I’m proud to say it’s been won by each and every VFX worker wanting a brighter, sustainable future.”

University of Maine Graduate Student Workers Win Union Certification: A majority of graduate student workers at the University of Maine signed cards in support of organizing with the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW). The Maine Labor Relations Board certified its union as University of Maine Graduate Workers Union-UAW. The new union will represent the 1,000 graduate workers across all campuses of the University of Maine System. “Our work powers the educational and research mission of the university, and was instrumental in UMaine receiving the status of an R1 rated research university,” said Em Sowles, a research assistant in the physics department. “In short, UMaine works because we do.”

IBEW Local 29 Reaches Tentative Collective Bargaining Agreement with Duquesne Light Company: Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 29 has reached a tentative three-year collective bargaining agreement with Duquesne Light Co. The agreement addresses key topics like wages, retirement and workforce renewal and investment, and still needs to be ratified by the membership.

Striking UNITE HERE Members Reach Tentative Contract with Biltmore Hotel: Striking members of UNITE HERE Local 11 reached a tentative contract agreement with the Biltmore Los Angeles hotel. The strike began Jan. 2. Strikes continue at other area hotels. “We applaud the Biltmore Los Angeles for putting their workers and our city first,” said Kurt Petersen, union co-president. “L.A. is the world’s most important tourist destination, with the World Cup and Olympics coming back to back in 2026 and 2028. This agreement takes steps to ensure that workers who work in L.A. will be able to live in L.A.”

Resident Advisers at Penn Vote Overwhelmingly to Join OPEIU: Resident advisers at the University of Pennsylvania voted overwhelmingly to unionize, joining a trend of labor organizing among undergraduate students across the country. The R.A.s voted 142 to 22 to be represented by Office and Professional Employees (OPEIU) Local 153. “We as R.A.s are integral to campus life but are consistently undervalued and underpaid,” Penn union organizers wrote. “We are organizing for fair compensation, better communication and a more democratic workplace—when R.A.s are supported, so is the entire Penn community.”

Oregon State Workers Secure Wage Hikes in New Contract: Thousands of Oregon state government workers will see fair and much-needed pay increases under a new contract recently ratified. The contract was negotiated by a bargaining team known as the Central Table, made up of workers from 19 departments, agencies and offices, all members of individual AFSCME locals. All of the locals voted to ratify the contract, which provides a historic pay raise for state workers with cost-of-living increases of over 13% during the next two years.

Workinman Interactive Workers Unanimously Unionize with IATSE: Workers at Workinman Interactive have voted unanimously in favor of unionizing with the Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE). They are the first union of dedicated video game workers under IATSE in the United States. Matteo Collier, quality assurance tester, emphasized the historic nature of the moment: “I believe that today’s unanimous ballot count is a testament to how strong and collected our union has been. And not just here at Workinman, but everyone that has lent their support and encouragement. This is an incredible step forward and I’m excited to move towards the next leg of the journey.” “It’s very rewarding seeing something you’ve worked so hard for actually come to fruition. I’m so grateful for all the support we’ve received during this time and I look forward to seeing how Workinman will grow in the coming years. I hope this sets a precedent for other studios going through similar situations,” said junior developer Cori Mori.

Oregon Health & Science University Nurses Reach Tentative Agreement, Avoid Strike: Nurses at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) reached a tentative agreement for a new three-year contract, avoiding a strike nurses had voted to authorize last week. The 3,200 nurses are members of the Oregon Nurses Association (ONA), affiliated with the American Nurses Association and the American Federation of Teachers. The vote to ratify it will take place Oct. 1–5. The new contract runs through June 30, 2026, and includes historic wage increases, safe staffing standards, paid training, workplace safety improvements and changes to lockdown procedures, among other provisions. “Across the nation, and the world, nursing has become not only a risk to our mental health but our physical safety,” said Corinn Joseph, a registered nurse at OHSU and bargaining team member for ONA. “We set out with the intention to build a better contract, one that would change standards. We did this not only for our nurses, but to help raise the bar for hospitals everywhere.”

Academy Museum Union Ratifies First Labor Contract: Workers at the Academy Museum, members of AFSCME Local 126, ratified their first union contract with 98.6% of the vote. Approval of the deal at the museum dedicated to film and Oscars history comes nearly a year after the first bargaining session. “On behalf of Academy Museum leadership, I’m pleased that negotiations were completed swiftly for the sake of our teams and that they were conducted with mutual respect on both sides,” said Jacqueline Stewart, president of the Academy Museum Workers Union. “We take pride in maintaining a wage level that aligns with industry standards and a robust benefits package for our staff.”

Northeastern University Grad Workers Overwhelmingly Vote to Unionize: In the latest action in a nationwide surge in student worker organizing, graduate student workers at Northeastern University have voted 1,130–70 to organize with the UAW. The union will represent grad workers who provide instruction or research at the Boston campus and two others in Massachusetts, in Burlington and Nahant. “We have been attempting to organize and come to this point of getting an election for eight years,” said student and union member Shahinaz Geneid. “We’ve had fantastic support across the Boston community, across the entire U.S. and across Northeastern’s campus, and we’re excited to meet Northeastern at the bargaining table,” she said.

WGA and AMPTP Reach Tentative Agreement; WGA Says Deal Is ‘Exceptional’: After 146 days on strike, the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE), and Writers Guild of America West (WGAW) have reached a tentative agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). Once the contract language is finalized, the WGAE Council and WGAW Board will vote on the contact. If they approve it, WGA members will vote for final approval. The WGA says the contract “is exceptional—with meaningful gains and protections for writers in every sector of the membership.” More details to come once they are released. The WGA strike was suspended Sunday night pending the outcome of the vote. SAG-AFTRA, UAW and other ongoing strikes still need the support of union members.

Maine State Workers Ratify New Two-Year Contract: Maine state workers represented by AFSCME Council 93 on Sept. 14 ratified a new two-year contract. More than 1,000 state workers are covered by the pact. “Like most collective bargaining agreements, it required compromise from both sides, but, overall, we are satisfied with what we were able to accomplish at the bargaining table,” said AFSCME Council 93 Executive Director Mark Bernard. “Our state corrections and mental health professionals do very difficult and very dangerous work for the people of Maine.”

ATU Bus Drivers and New York City Reach Tentative Deal to Avoid Strike: Five New York city school bus companies have reached a tentative agreement with Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1181, the union representing bus drivers and other school bus workers. The union still is working to reach a deal with three other bus companies. “Our school bus workers care deeply about their students, who they transport safely to and from school each day. I’m glad that we could reach this strong deal that recognizes the important role our members play,” said Local 1181 President/Business Agent Tomas Fret. “After almost a year of negotiations, the ATU has secured a contract that not only improves the lives of our hardworking members but also enhances the safety and reliability of school bus services for our communities.”

Editors Guild Wins Higher Wages, Unanimously Ratifies New Nickelodeon Contract: The Motion Picture Editors Guild/IATSE Local 700 (MPEG/IATSE Local 700) ratified a new animation deal with Nickelodeon on Sept. 14. Some 70 post-production members of the Editors Guild are affected by the new four-year contract. “Witnessing this kind of solidarity throughout this challenging process was awe-inspiring,” said MPEG National Executive Director Cathy Repola. “It was such an honor for our team to represent them and to help them achieve a contract they are proud of. The negotiating committee needs to be commended; they spoke with a single voice and a single vision and vowed that no one would be left behind. In the end, nobody was.”


St. Charles Public Library Workers in Illinois Win First Contract: More than 50 AFSCME members at the St. Charles Public Library in Illinois secured their first contract after 16 months of bargaining. Before the new contract, the workers had no voice, no due process and no recourse if they were unfairly disciplined. Over the life of the four-year contract, they won 17% across-the-board wage increases, with additional wage adjustments for six titles. They also secured a ratification bonus equal to 1% of their annual wages and other benefits. “You have certain expectations when you go to work at a library. You recognize that you’re not going to get rich doing it, but you at least expect to be treated well,” said Brandon Buckley, a young adult librarian of 14 years. “We are all very passionate about the job, but the passion was being sucked out of it.”

AGMA Ratifies 3-Year Agreement with Music at Westwood: Members of the American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA), who work at Music at Westwood Presbyterian Church, overwhelmingly approved a new three-year contract. The agreement includes increased wages, a higher employer contribution toward health care benefits, a commitment to increased diversity and other benefits.

IFPTE Members at GAO Reach Agreement on New Contract: Members of the GAO Employees Organization, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE) Local 1921, overwhelmingly voted to ratify a new contract. The union represents about 2,500 employees of the Government Accountability Office. “We reached an agreement that incorporates lessons learned from our pandemic work posture,” said Benjamin Emmel, IFPTE Local 1921 president. “It reflects the fact that for decades GAO employees have not only been located in Washington, but assigned to field offices across the country, and accounts for the wide range of work assignments that our members do.”

Wood River Refinery Workers Ratify Contract with Phillips 66, Averting Strike: Refinery workers at Phillips 66’s 356,000 barrel per day Wood River Refinery in Roxana, Illinois, who are members of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 399, ratified a contract on Sept. 13, averting a potential strike. A majority of about 370 operators voted to accept the proposal. The ratified contract includes several items the union had been working toward for decades.