Having Our Hard Work Respected: 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.

Growing in the Cannabis Industry: “Those of you who follow our updates a little more closely than the average partner might have noticed that over the past year or more, we’ve talked a lot about our successes in organizing in one particular industry: legal cannabis. In January, I was fortunate enough to attend one of our first ever bargaining sessions with a cannabis employer. As we continue to grow by leaps and abounds in this industry—we have yet another election in just over a week—I think it’s time we discussed it in detail so anyone with questions can understand why there’s been a strong focus on these workers.”

Workers at José Andrés’ The Bazaar Say They Want to Form Union: “Workers at José Andrés’ flashy D.C. restaurant The Bazaar have announced their intention to form a union with Unite Here Local 25. The union announcement did not say how many employees would be included, but the restaurant has a large staff. The union said it would include a range of jobs, including hosts, food runners, cooks, waiters, bartenders and more. Bloomberg reports it would cover about 140 employees. The union says a ‘supermajority’ of employees supported the move. It seeks management to voluntarily recognize their union.”

U.S. ‘Avatar’ Workers Vote to Unionize in Boost for VFX Organizing Effort: “U.S.-based visual effects artists who help bring James Cameron’s 'Avatar' epics to life have voted to unionize in a National Labor Relations Board election. Of an eligible 88 workers at Walt Disney Studios subsidiary TCF U.S. Productions 27 Inc., who assist with productions for Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment, 57 voted to join the union and 19 voted against, while two ballots were void. These workers include creatures costume leads and environment artists as well as others in the stage, environments, render, post viz, sequence, turn over and kabuki departments.”

Chicago Tribune’s Unionized Newsroom Staff to Go on Historic 24-Hour Strike Thursday: ‘Enough Is Enough’: “In what’s believed to be a first in Chicago newspaper history, reporters and other newsroom staffers at the Chicago Tribune plan to go on strike Thursday, joining hundreds of other Tribune Publishing employees in a nationwide action after years of contract negotiations. More than 200 journalists and production workers at seven newsrooms across the country are participating in the 24-hour strike to demand fair wages and that management not eliminate their 401(k) match benefits, according to a news release from The NewsGuild-CWA, which represents the employees.”

The Onion Union Reaches Tentative Deal with Management, Averting Strike: “A strike has been averted at The Onion and several of its sister publications, at least for now. Hours before their current labor agreement was set to expire, The Onion union—representing staffers at The Onion, Onion Labs, The A.V. Club, Deadspin and The Takeout—reached a tentative deal on a new contract with owners G/O Media. According to union, affiliated with the Writers Guild of America East, the new agreement ‘made important gains in wages and workplace protections.’ No other details were immediately available.”

Culinary Union Reaches Deal with Plaza, 13 Resorts Still Without Contracts: “The Culinary Union said a tentative new five-year contract has been reached with the Plaza in downtown Las Vegas. News of the deal came in early Wednesday morning. The union says the agreement covers about 250 hospitality workers. This comes just hours after Culinary announced a tentative agreement with Treasure Island on the Las Vegas Strip.”

Advocacy Group for Retirees Endorses Biden in Re-Election Bid: “A grassroots group advocating for retired Americans endorsed President Biden in his re-election bid Tuesday, citing his accomplishments that have benefitted seniors during his first term in office. The board of the Alliance for Retired Americans (ARA), a nonprofit group with more than 4 million members founded by the AFL-CIO, voted Tuesday to make the endorsement official, according to a release provided exclusively to The Hill.”

Duke Raleigh Hospital Maintenance Workers Vote to Join a Union: “‘We’re just trying to provide for our families, be treated fairly, and have our hard work respected,’ said Duke Raleigh worker Corey Brown in a press release from the state AFL-CIO. ‘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.’”

Pitt Graduate Workers Request Union Recognition: “Graduate workers at Pitt are asking for voluntary recognition of their union, claiming majority support for collective bargaining. Hundreds of graduate workers, United Steelworkers organizers and unaffiliated supporters gathered on the first floor of the Cathedral of Learning Tuesday to deliver a letter to Chancellor Joan Gabel with a request.”

Union Members Secure Wage Increases at West Michigan Harding's Stores: “Union workers at Harding's stores in Hartford voted to ratify a new contract Friday. Members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 951, or UFCW, voted on Jan. 26 in favor of a three-year agreement for Harding's Store #965 that would feature significant wage increases for employees.”

Columbus Museum of Art Becomes First Ohio Museum to Ratify Union Contract: “The Columbus Museum of Art announced Tuesday it has ratified its first contract with AFSCME Ohio Council 8. The museum is the first in Ohio to ratify a union contract. Brooke Minto, the museum's executive director and CEO, said in a released statement, ‘The Columbus Museum of Art is happy to have reached its first collective bargaining agreement with AFSCME Ohio Council 8. This commitment signifies a mutual desire between both parties to achieve an agreement that is both equitable for our colleagues and economically viable for the organization.’”

Biden Orders U.S. Contractors to Reveal Salary Ranges in Job Ads: “The Biden administration plans to require companies with federal government contracts to disclose expected salary ranges in job postings, as part of a broader effort to boost race and gender pay equity. U.S. contractors, as well as federal agencies, will also be prohibited from using a job applicant’s compensation history to set their starting pay. ‘These new actions adopt commonsense policies that will help pay millions of workers fairly, close gender and racial wage gaps, and yield tangible benefits for the federal government and federal contractors,’ President Joe Biden said in a statement coinciding with the 15th anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. That law overturned a U.S. Supreme Court decision that restricted when workers could file pay discrimination complaints.”

Brown Prepared to Voluntarily Recognize Postdoc Union Pending Signature Validation: “The University will recognize the Brown Postdoc Labor Organization—the first dedicated union on campus for postdoctoral researchers and Dean’s Faculty Fellows—provided the signatories in BPLO’s petition for unionization are validated by federal mediators. BPLO filed a representation petition with the National Labor Relations board Dec. 28, roughly three weeks after they announced their intention to unionize. In administering the petition, organizers seek to demonstrate that they have enough support to form a union, according to Caroline Keroack, a postdoctoral research associate and BPLO organizer.”

Sports Illustrated Union Files Labor Grievance Over Mass Layoffs: “The union representing the staff of Sports Illustrated filed an unfair labor practice charge against the magazine’s publisher, alleging it engaged in illegal union-busting tactics when it sent layoff notices to all of the unionized staff, according to a copy of the complaint reviewed by The Washington Post. According to the complaint, the NewsGuild alleges Arena fired employees because of their ‘support of the Union engagement in Union activities and/or engagement in other protected activities.’”

500 Nurses at Chicago Area Hospital Plan Third Strike Since August: “Hundreds of nurses at a hospital in Joliet could be walking off the job again next week. The 500 union nurses at Ascension Saint Joseph in Joliet notified the hospital on Monday they plan to walk off the job for two days on Feb. 8 and 9. The same nurses also went on strike twice last year—in August and November—amid a contract standoff with management. The nurses said they're upset Ascension has implemented the terms of its ‘last, best and final’ contract offer, which the union rejected in December, claiming it failed to deal with their concerns over staffing.”

WSU’S Coalition of Academic Student Employees Ratifies Its First Contract: “At academic institutions nationwide, student workers continue to organize. Student staff at Washington State University are the latest to get a big win. The Coalition of Academic Student Employees has ratified its first union contract. With the agreement, student employees will get paid vacation for the first time, as well as earn six weeks of paid parental leave.”

Local Transit Union Members Are Near-Unanimous in Vote to Strike for Better Wages: “Bus drivers, mechanics and other members of the transit union voted to authorize a strike as they seek better pay and more safeguards in a new contract with their employer. Union members were able to vote through 6 a.m. on Friday. We've now learned the majority of those union members voted to strike rather than accept the latest contract offer from Transdev, which runs our public bus system for the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada.”

Down East Community Hospital Nurses Rally for Improved Working Conditions and Patient Safety: “Nurses and technicians at Down East Community Hospital are holding rallies this weekend to call attention to the chronic staffing shortage at the facility that they say is a safety issue. They're part of the Maine State Nurses Association and have been bargaining for a new contract since last September.”