Worker Wins: There Is Power in a Union

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

CBS News Digital Unionizes with Writers Guild of America East: CBS News Digital writers and editors announced last week they are organizing with the Writers Guild of America East (WGAE) and are calling on management to voluntarily recognize them. The 46-member bargaining unit includes staffers for as well as CBS’ mobile website, social media channels and news app. WGAE—which already represents their colleagues at CBS News and CBS News Streaming—emphasized that especially amid a recent spike in layoffs and corporate mergers in the news industry, forming a union is critical for journalists to protect themselves and ensure they can keep doing the work they care about. In a statement delivered to management, CBS News Digital Union said, “As a union, we want to ensure that all of CBS News Digital’s staff are protected and treated fairly as we continue on this journey together. We look forward to meeting you at the bargaining table.”
Workers at Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin Vote to Unionize: Workers at Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin have voted overwhelmingly in favor of forming a union with the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses & Health Professionals Local 5000 (WFNHP), an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). In a press release from early last month, staff cite wanting to provide their patients with the absolute best care possible as a core motivation for unionizing. WFNHP emphasizes that Planned Parenthood and the labor movement have both faced an onslaught of political attacks historically and presently, and that this organizing victory is a critical step toward fortifying the strength of both. “While health care workers are struggling through unprecedented challenges, many are coming together to improve their lives and better care for their patients by forming a union,” WFNHP President Connie Smith said. “There is power in a union, and our union will continue to use our power to guarantee that all health care is a human right.”
Faculty at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts Reach Tentative Agreement, Averting Strike: Faculty at the University of the Arts (UArts) in Philadelphia—members of United Academics of Philadelphia, American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Local 9608—reached a tentative agreement hours before a strike authorization vote that was scheduled for Monday. Over the past three years, unionized faculty have been in negotiations with school administrators for a first contract. Members have organized multiple actions, demonstrations and picket lines in the face of slow-moving bargaining to remind UArts that they were holding firm in their commitment to contract goals, including regarding job security, higher wages and health care. If the tentative agreement is ratified, it will be retroactive from Jan. 1, 2024, and will be in effect through August 2026. “More than three years after first forming, our UArts faculty union has won an agreement that helps establish pay equity, guarantees annual wage increases and builds real power and fairness for arts educators at University of the Arts,” said Bradley Philbert, adjunct professor of critical studies and member of the bargaining committee.
IGN Staff Votes to Form Union with The NewsGuild-CWA: Workers at IGN, a popular video game and entertainment media site, have announced that they are organizing with The NewsGuild-CWA (TNG-CWA). The IGN Creators Guild includes editorial and creative workers at the outlet, which is owned by digital media parent company Ziff Davis. There were 87% of the eligible members who signed union authorization cards in hopes of winning better pay, layoff protections, meaningful steps to increase staff diversity and more. “IGN is an incredible place to work! But so many of the talented creators that make it so incredible need more support than they’re currently getting, especially when it comes to competitive pay and adequate time off,” said senior reporter Rebekah Valentine. “And at a time when our industry faces so much uncertainty amid mass layoffs and the rise of generative AI, it’s more important than ever for us to ensure IGN remains a great place to work not just today, but for the future IGN that doesn’t exist yet.”
NLRB Ruling Affirms Freedom to Join a Union for Dartmouth Men’s Basketball Team: “Yesterday’s National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decision affirming the right of Dartmouth men’s basketball team to join a union is game-changing. College athletes put their heart and soul into excelling for their schools, working long, grueling hours and risking bodily injury each and every day. These athletes, like so many other young workers, are standing together to improve their lives. The labor movement stands in firm solidarity with student worker-athletes seeking a voice on the job.” Read AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler’s full statement here.
San Diego Signs Construction Labor Agreement with Unions: In a victory for workers in San Diego, the City Council unanimously passed a blanket project labor agreement (PLA) on Wednesday. This agreement reverses a years-old ban on PLAs and will cover projects that have a construction value of at least $5 million for the first two years, and then include projects with a construction value of $1 million or more starting in July 2026. The city is expected to award 111 contracts for construction projects during the current fiscal year that are estimated to cost about $635 million total, providing workers with good union jobs with better wages, safety protocols and regulations. “This PLA won’t erase the injustices of the past, but it can write a better and more equitable future,” said Carol Kim, the business manager for the San Diego County Building and Construction Trades Council. She’s the second woman and first Asian American to lead the council.
U.S. ‘Avatar’ Workers Vote for a Union in Boost for VFX Organizing Effort: The visual effects (VFX) artists who helped bring James Cameron’s “Avatar” epics to life voted to organize late last week with the Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) in a National Labor Relations Board election. These workers include creature costume leads and environment artists as well as others in the stage, environments, render, post viz, sequence, turn over and kabuki departments. VFX artists cited waiting to gain comparable benefits and pay as their union brothers, sisters and siblings and have greater input into working conditions as core reasons for their decision to organize. This victory is just the latest unionization in the largely nonunion VFX space—in fall 2023, artists at Marvel and Walt Disney Pictures voted unanimously to join with IATSE. “This is a huge step forward for our industry as a whole—we’ve come together as a united front to affirm our worth to not just the studios, but to the public as a whole. For too long I’ve been scared about where VFX is going, and even considered leaving. Now I actually feel like there’s a future for us, and I’m excited for it,” lab generalist Kristin Kamera said in a statement.
The Onion Union Reaches Tentative Deal with Management, Averting Strike: Hours before their current contract was set to expire, as workers prepared for a strike, the Onion Inc. Union—an affiliate of Writers Guild of America East (WGAE)—reached a tentative agreement with owner G/O Media. The deal will now go to the 36 creative workers in the bargaining unit and the WGAE Council for a ratification vote. The union represents the creative staff at The Onion, The A.V. Club, Deadspin and The Takeout. Core issues for staff members are common ones for a lot of news outlets right now, including regulating artificial intelligence usage, increasing wages and improving benefits. 
Brown University Prepared to Voluntarily Recognize Postdoc Union: Brown University has announced it would recognize the Brown Postdoc Labor Organization (BPLO)—made up of university postdoctoral researchers and Dean’s Faculty Fellows—once the National Labor Relations Board certifies collected signatures. If successful, BPLO will join Rhode Island Federation of Teachers and Health Professionals (RIFTHP) Local 6516—an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT)—which also represents graduate workers, community coordinators and teaching assistants at Brown. “Our generation (is) realizing that you can’t just rely on the benevolence of institutions to protect your rights,” said Caroline Keroack, a postdoctoral research associate and BPLO organizer. “You have to stand up and be in solidarity with your co-workers to get what you deserve.”
Duke Raleigh Hospital Maintenance Workers Organize: Maintenance workers at Duke Raleigh Hospital became the first in North Carolina to organize this year after voting Friday to join Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 465. This victory comes after another recent win last year in North Carolina’s Research Triangle, which includes Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, where roughly 2,400 graduate student workers at Duke University won their election to join SEIU Workers United Southern Region Local 27. Maintenance workers now will be able to collectively negotiate a contract that addresses pay, job security and fair treatment within the Duke University Health System. “We’re just trying to provide for our families, be treated fairly and have our hard work respected,” said longtime Duke Raleigh worker Corey Brown. “People have kids, houses and lives at stake, and before the hospital could do pretty much whatever they wanted. Now we will have the power to secure our future together.”
Trulieve Magnolia Workers Organize in First Election for Arizona Cannabis Agricultural Workers: Workers at Trulieve’s central cannabis production facility in Phoenix made state history last week when they voted in favor of organizing with United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 99. In a 37–4 vote, they became the first cannabis agricultural workers in the state to form a union; it was only the second union election to be administered by the Arizona Agricultural Employment Relations Board. This is a massive win for the cultivators and post-harvest workers who make the more than $1 billion industry in Arizona possible. “Today, employees [at the] Trulieve Magnolia [facility] have proved that no matter the obstacle, when working people stand together in solidarity and demand better for themselves and their families, there is nothing they cannot achieve,” said Jim McLaughlin, president of Local 99.
Emerson College Resident Assistants Win Union Election in Unanimous Vote: Residential assistants (RAs) at Emerson College voted unanimously to join Office and Professional Employees (OPEIU) Local 153, becoming the first student workers to organize at the Boston campus. Members of the Emerson Union for Resident Assistants (EURA) play a number of essential roles at Emerson, acting as support networks for first-year students, first responders in emergency situations in the dorms, mentors and more. EURA is the eighth cohort of RAs to form a union with Local 153 since 2022. They join their union brothers, sisters and siblings at Boston University and Tufts University in the fight to improve working conditions, policy transparency and wages for student workers. “Now that we have won our union, we will be able to start the bargaining process….We want to make the RA position more equitable for future RAs that step into the role while also preserving the parts of the job that we love, and we believe that collective bargaining will help bring meaningful change to this role,” said Casper Apodaca, a third-year RA and member of EURA’s Organizing Committee.