A Great Week for American Labor: The Working People Weekly List

Working People Weekly List

Every week, we bring you a roundup of the top news and commentary about issues and events important to working families. Here’s the latest edition of the Working People Weekly List.

SAG-AFTRA Board Asks Members to Authorize Strike Ahead of AMPTP Negotiations: “SAG-AFTRA’s National Board unanimously voted on Thursday to ask members to authorize a strike, ahead of negotiation talks with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. Those negotiations are set to begin on June 7. ‘An affirmative vote does not mean a strike would necessarily happen, but it would allow the National Board to call one if deemed necessary during the negotiations process,’ the board announced in a statement on the SAG-AFTRA website. ‘The action comes following a unanimous agreement by the TV/Theatrical negotiating committee that the strike authorization would give the union maximum bargaining leverage as it enters this round of negotiations with the AMPTP.’”

In Georgia, 1,400 Electric Bus Manufacturing Workers Have Just Won a Union: “After a bruising three-year fight, workers at school bus manufacturer Blue Bird in Fort Valley, Georgia, voted May 12 to join United Steelworkers (USW) Local 697. ‘It’s been a long time since a manufacturing site with fourteen hundred people has been organized, let alone organized in the South, let alone organized with predominantly African American workers, and let alone in the auto industry,’ said Maria Somma, organizing director with the USW. ‘It’s not a single important win. It’s an example of what’s possible—workers wanting to organize and us being able to take advantage of a time and a policy that allowed them to clear a path to do so.’ The high-turnout vote was 697 to 435.”

A Great Week for American Labor: “Two signal union victories last week suggest that, against all odds, the American labor movement may have a future. The first confirmed a new trend in worker organizing; the second could mean that the government has finally found a way to help workers to join a union. The second of last week’s union victories is even more astonishing. Last Friday, largely African American workers at a rural school bus factory in Southwest Georgia joined the United Steelworkers by the decisive margin of 697 to 435. As a New York Times report noted, the landmark legislation and agency rulings of the Biden presidency have tilted the playing field just a bit in the workers’ favor.”

Labor Victory: Minnesota Lawmakers Approve 9 Major Worker-Friendly Changes: “Minnesota Democrats say a sweeping labor bill they passed on Tuesday could be the most significant worker protection bill in state history. ‘This bill is a big damn deal,’ said Sen. Erin Murphy (DFL-St. Paul) during a news conference. The labor bill (SF3035) includes a Democratic wish list years in the making that will affect virtually every worker in the state. The bill mandates paid sick days, bans noncompete agreements, boosts funding for workplace safety inspectors and increases protections for workers in nursing homes, Amazon warehouses, meatpacking plants, construction sites, hospitals and public schools.”

Steelworkers Win Vote at Blue Bird Bus Plant in Georgia: “In a big win for the Steelworkers and a big break in the normally union-hostile South, workers at the Blue Bird school bus company plant in rural Fort Valley, Georgia, voted for the union on May 12, 697-435. The bargaining unit would cover 1,350 workers, the National Labor Relations Board reports. Total employment at the plant is 2,400.”

James Holbrook: Protect Our Fight for a Fair Deal; Confirm Julie Su as Secretary of Labor: “Workers across our state are fighting for better contracts, fair pay and safer working conditions every day. We need elected officials and those appointed by President Biden to protect our freedom to fight for what we’ve earned. That’s why we’re calling on Sen. Daines and Sen. Tester to vote to approve the nomination of Julie Su for secretary of labor. As prices soar and the wealthiest corporations are trying to rig the economy in their favor through stock buybacks, union busting and corporate monopolies, we need those we’ve elected to take action and protect Montana's working families and our local economies. That starts by making sure our leaders are crafting policy and legislation that puts working families first and protects our freedom to bargain for a fair deal.”

So You Want to Go on Strike? Philadelphia’s Union Council Is Teaching Workers How: “Work stoppages by labor unions are having a moment. Several high-profile strikes have taken place locally in less than a year, including Temple University graduate student workers, Philadelphia Museum of Art staff, Rutgers University faculty, and Teamsters at the Liberty Coca-Cola distribution center. Noticing this, leaders of the AFL-CIO Philadelphia Council figured a lot of workers might have questions. Their solution: Strike School. ‘People who are involved in and leading unions haven’t gone on strikes in many many years,’ said Jana Korn, organizing director for the council, which comprises over 100 local labor unions. ‘There’s this generational, institutional knowledge that’s missing.’”

Public Transit Automation Must Not Come at the Expense of Safety: “While the recent train derailments in East Palestine and other communities throughout the country have highlighted a number of issues regarding transportation safety, one is deserving of particular focus—the inherent danger in reducing our transportation workforce. Over the past few years, freight railroads have been laying off workers in massive numbers while simultaneously moving to a dangerous, profit-at-all-costs business model called precision scheduled railroading. In the case of the East Palestine derailment, this led to Norfolk Southern tasking only three workers, one of whom was a trainee, with ensuring the over 1.75-mile train got to its destination safely. As we all know, it unfortunately did not.”

Carnegie Museums Workers Union Announces Tentative Contract Agreement: “The United Museum Workers Union on Saturday announced it had reached a tentative contract agreement with the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh. The more-than-500 union members are scheduled to vote this week on whether to ratify the contract. The union represents curators, scientists, art handlers, educators, gallery attendants, grant writers and other workers at the Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural history, The Andy Warhol Museum, and the Carnegie Science Center. It was formed in 2020 and has been in negotiations with the museum since September 2021.”

New Jersey Nurses Demand Safe Staffing Law in Hospitals: 'Stop the Bleeding': “‘Our nurses are the backbone of our healthcare system,’ New Jersey AFL-CIO President Charlie Wowkanech said. ‘But current staffing levels are threatening our health care system’s ability to provide the level of care we need, and it is taking its toll on already strained health care workers.’ ‘Unfortunately, some hospitals are opposed to improving staffing ratios because they are choosing to prioritize profits, even as we reach a post-pandemic health care staffing crisis point,’ Wowkanech added. ‘[This bill] would establish the fair patient-to-nurse ratios we need to improve our health care system.’”