Worker Wins: Fighting for Worker Power

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

New York Uber, Lyft Drivers to Receive Big Payouts from Historic AG Settlement: New York State Attorney General Letitia James announced a settlement with Uber and Lyft to recover $328 million in wages stolen from Uber and Lyft drivers in New York based on the complaint filed by the National Taxi Workers Alliance (NTWA). This case is the largest wage-theft back pay settlement in the history of the New York attorney general’s office. The NTWA first went to the office in 2015, but says it only took action under James’ leadership. Uber and Lyft had been withholding drivers’ wages as sales taxes and black car fund fees, cheating these workers out of their hard-earned income and preventing them from receiving valuable benefits available under New York labor laws. Additionally, under the settlements, Uber and Lyft have agreed to an “earnings floor,” guaranteeing drivers across the state are paid a minimum rate, from dispatch to completion of the ride, paid sick leave, proper hiring and earnings notices, and other improvements to working conditions.
Nurses at Northern Maine Medical Center Vote to Unionize: Registered nurses (RNs) at Northern Maine Medical Center (NMMC) in Fort Kent, Maine, voted on Jan. 17 to join Maine State Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee (MSNA/NNOC), an affiliate of National Nurses United (NNU). Nearly two-thirds voted in favor of unionizing after filing the petition to organize late last year. Their core concerns include staffing and retention issues and nurses feeling as though they lack a say in the hospital policies that directly impact them and their patients. These concerns are all too common at nonunion hospitals around the country. The American Nurses Foundation released a study in 2022 that reported that nine out of 10 nurses surveyed believe their facilities are short-staffed. “Developing a solid union contract is what we have to do. A contract with staffing grids and ratios in place. That’s the big key to improving patient safety and working conditions for us,” NMMC RN Abby Pelletier said.
Workers at News Site San Antonio Report Vote to Organize: San Antonio Report’s staff publicly announced on Tuesday that they are joining Media Guild of the West (a local of The NewsGuild-CWA) in order to secure better pay, job security and policies that will protect their journalistic integrity. With 100% support from all union-eligible employees at the local nonprofit news outlet, this decision was partly informed by witnessing staffing- and budget-related issues at similar publications. About five months ago, The Texas Tribune, one of Texas’ most visible nonprofit news websites for politics and public policy, announced it was laying off 10% of its staff after failing to hit revenue goals. "A Union is the best way—as part of our inevitable evolution—to codify the progress we’ve made and sustain our journalism for the future," said Iris Dimmick, a senior reporter for the San Antonio Report.
Tentative Agreement with University of Oregon Averts Graduate Worker Strike: The Graduate Teaching Fellows Federation (GTFF)—an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT)—representing graduate workers at the University of Oregon (UO), announced on Monday it had reached a tentative agreement on a new three-year contract. The agreement comes after 10 months of contract negotiations between GTFF and the university, averting a large-scale strike that was slated to begin this week. The deal increases the minimum salary floor for graduate workers, provides more summer employment opportunities, improves child care resources and more. “We hope and expect that our members will be eager to ratify this historic contract, and we look forward to continuing to fight for worker power on our campus—as well as celebrating the powerful changes we have pushed forward at this institution already,” the bargaining team said in a statement released on Monday.
Missouri Adopts CWA Labor Standards for $1.7B Broadband Expansion Program: Thanks to the local organizing work of Communications Workers of America (CWA) District 6’s Broadband Brigade, Missouri has adopted CWA’s proposed labor standards, which will create good union telecommunications jobs as broadband access expands throughout the state. Missouri received more than $1.7 billion in federal funding for its Broadband, Equity, Access, and Deployment Program to expand high-speed internet access to underserved communities through President Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure law. CWA’s labor standards include prioritizing telecom companies that use a directly employed workforce (not subcontractors), that hire locally, and that use training/apprenticeship programs to recruit and train a highly skilled workforce.
Supreme Court Rejects Alaska’s Attack on Public Unions: On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy's attempt to undermine and weaken unions that represent state workers. In 2019, Dunleavy issued an order preventing public sector unions from automatically collecting union dues, rehashing the same argument that it infringes on free speech. ASEA/AFSCME Local 52, which represents workers who keep the state’s government agencies functioning, sued over this union-busting activity and won. Lower courts in Alaska then overturned the policy and now the highest court in the country has refused to hear the state’s appeal. This failure is the latest attempt by anti-worker groups to extend the Supreme Court’s 2018 Janus v. AFSCME ruling.
Wells Fargo Workers in Florida Win Union Election: Bankers and tellers at a Wells Fargo branch in Daytona Beach, Florida, voted last week to join the Communications Workers of America’s (CWA’s) Wells Fargo Workers United. This is the second-ever successful election at the megabank. Momentum around organizing Wells Fargo branches is building quickly across the country. Just weeks ago staff at a branch in Albuquerque, New Mexico, became the first to win a union election, and workers in Wilmington, Delaware, filed for a union election soon after. Despite Wells Fargo’s anti-union attacks, these workers are fighting to secure a meaningful voice on the job to improve conditions for themselves and their customers.