A Historic Union Victory: 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.

Bitter Battle Rages Over Effort to Raise Pilot Retirement Age to 67: “The battle over whether pilots older than 65 should fly commercial jets is still raging, although many in the airline industry say the pilot shortage has ended, ending the need. The contentious issue is being addressed as part of Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization, which has become one more area where the Senate version is in conflict with the House version. The Senate version has the support of labor including the Air Line Pilots Association. ‘Raising the pilot retirement age is a solution in search of a problem,’ ALPA President Jason Ambrosi said Wednesday. ‘Labor doesn’t want it; airlines are not calling for it, and the FAA says it shouldn’t happen. I’m not sure why we should be arguing about this.’ At the press conference, Ambrosi was joined by Liz Shuler, president of the AFL-CIO, and Greg Reagan, president of the AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department, an indication of labor backing. ALPA represents 77,000 pilots at 43 U.S. and Canadian airlines.”

CBS News Digital Staffers Form Union, Demand Voluntary Recognition from Management: “Amid a wave of layoffs sweeping across the media industry, writers and editors at CBS News Digital have formed a union with WGA East for the purpose of collective bargaining. An ‘overwhelming’ majority of CBS News Digital’s 46-member bargaining unit signed union cards on Monday, Feb. 5, according to WGA East—and they are asking management to recognize the union. The union covers workers at CBS News digital platforms including, its mobile website, social-media channels and the CBS News app.”

Unionized Hospitality Workers in Baltimore to March for Better Pay: “Hospitality workers in Baltimore, from hotels to stadiums, are set to march Thursday for equal pay. The unionized workers say they're struggling financially since they last bargained, pointing to rising prices nearly everywhere. ‘Prices for gas and groceries have gone up so much since we last bargained,’ La'Tan Smith, a cook at the Hilton Baltimore, said in a statement announcing Thursday's demonstration. ‘As a cook, I make more than a lot of my co-workers, and I still have to choose between paying my car payment and buying food. We shouldn't have to struggle this much just because our bosses think they get away with paying Baltimore workers less.’”

After Three Years, Unionized Faculty at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts Reach Tentative Contract Agreement: “After three years of negotiating, unionized faculty at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts (UArts) announced on Instagram Sunday that they have reached a tentative contract agreement with school administrators for a first contract. The agreement came hours before a strike authorization vote slated for Monday. This would be the first contract passed since UArts faculty unionized in November 2020. The union has been fighting for such issues as job security, wages, and healthcare. Previously, there were also wage disparities between departments, as well as those teaching studio and lecture courses. They have held multiple actions, demonstrations, and picket lines, with contract negotiations beginning in March 2021. The union is organized under the United Academics of Philadelphia, American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Local 9608.”

IATSE Puts Strike Authorization Vote on the Table as Negotiations Near: “The major Hollywood crew union IATSE is planning on a potential strike authorization vote if deals on two major labor contracts are not reached around the time they expire on July 31. The union indicated that it is factoring the possible vote into its negotiations strategy in new contract campaign websites for its upcoming Basic Agreement and Area Standards Agreement talks. Both websites present a timeline of events before and after negotiations begin on March 4 for the Basic Agreement (covering West Coast workers) and, after, for the Area Standards Agreement (applying to workers outside of New York and L.A. and projected to begin in late April). Around the July 31 expiration date for the two deals, which collectively apply to more than 60,000 industry workers, IATSE says it expects either a ratification vote for a tentative deal or a vote that will gauge members’ interest in a walkout, ‘depending on the status of negotiations.’”

Roosevelt High School Launches Pre-Apprenticeship Program with Local 66: “The Roosevelt School District and Laborers Local 66 celebrated this week the launch of an impactful new construction pre-apprenticeship program at Roosevelt High School. The LEARN Program, created by the Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA), equips students with applied academic, work and life skills that provide them with a solid foundation to enter a U.S. Department of Labor-Recognized Apprenticeship program. The Roosevelt School District is the first school district on Long Island to offer the LEARN Program, which has had success in school districts throughout the country.”

Wellesley Organized Academic Workers (WOAW) Union Vote Passes: “On Jan. 30, Wellesley Organized Academic Workers (WOAW) announced that the vote for a WOAW-UAW union had passed. ‘This historic union victory is an expression of our desire for a stronger, more connected community where everyone can thrive,’ read an email from Erin Battat, Heather Bryant and Annie Brubaker on behalf of the WOAW-UAW organizing committee.”

‘This Is Life-Changing’: Emerson Faculty Union and College Reach New Collective Bargaining Agreement: “After working off-contract for more than half a year and making gradual progress in negotiations, Emerson’s full-time faculty union ratified the ‘life-changing’ terms of a new collective bargaining agreement with the college at the start of the month.”

Allegiant Stadium Workers Push for Union Ahead of Hosting Super Bowl: “With the spotlight on Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas ahead of Super Bowl LVIII, workers at one of the NFL’s newest venues are pushing to unionize. During a press conference Tuesday morning inside the local culinary union’s headquarters, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations Sports Council, UNITE HERE and the NFL Players Association came together and called on Allegiant Stadium to allow its workers to join a union.”

Biden Meets with Culinary Workers on Eve of Nevada Primary: “President Biden met on Monday with members of Nevada’s powerful culinary workers union, after the union averted a planned strike by reaching contract agreements with Las Vegas properties over the weekend. Biden visited the Vdara Hotel, one of the properties where the union agreed to a contract for its members, and greeted workers in an employee cafeteria—shaking hands, taking photos and at one point appearing to FaceTime with someone on a worker’s phone. ‘Wall Street did not build America. The middle class built America. Unions built the middle class. There would be no middle class without the unions,’ he told the crowd. ‘So I came to say thank you. Not just to say thank you for the support that you’ve given me last time out, but to thank you for having the faith in the union.’”

Guest Editorial: The Power of Workers and Unions in 2024: “Last year, scenes of striking workers and picket lines dominated the news. Workers from all corners of the American economy—from writers and auto workers, to teachers and health care professionals—came together to fight for their fair share. The labor movement had a big moment in 2023. I hope we can say the same in 2024.”

IGN Staff Votes to Unionize with NewsGuild-CWA: “Employees at IGN, the popular video game and entertainment media site, have announced that they are unionizing with the NewsGuild-CWA labor union. The IGN Creators Guild consists of editorial and creative workers at IGN, which is owned by digital media parent company Ziff Davis. The guild is currently made of over 80 employees, with 87% of the eligible members signing union authorization cards. The union will be fighting for better pay, layoff protections, measurable steps that increase staff diversity and more.”

Alabama Arise Announces Newly Formed Staff Union: “The staff, leadership and board of Alabama Arise are thrilled to announce the launch of Alabama Arise Workers United-Communications Workers of America (AAWU-CWA), the newly formed Arise staff union. AAWU-CWA is an affiliate of CWA Local 3908. ‘I am honored to be a part of an organization that allowed us to make our own choice about whether or not to join a union,’ said Formeeca Tripp, Arise’s southeast Alabama organizer. ‘Even though we have a safe work environment, it is reassuring to know I have job security and a voice as a union-represented worker.’”

Teachers Strike at Two Chicago Instituto Charter Schools After Failing to Reach Deal: “More than 40 members of the Chicago Teachers Union at two Instituto charter schools went on strike Tuesday after the union said it failed to reach a new agreement with the school’s operator. ‘We want to have the administration respect not just us but also the students that are here,’ said science teacher Louis Lucas. Teachers hit the picket lines in front of Instituto Health Science Career Academy and said they’ve been working without a contract for two years.”

The Onion Union Ratifies Strike-Averting Contract: “Creative workers at The Onion, The A.V. Club and Deadspin and other titles owned by G/O Media have ratified the tentative deal that averted a potential strike. Out of 36 members in the Writers Guild of America East-represented bargaining unit, 33 voted ‘yes’ on the labor agreement reached Jan. 31 while three rejected the deal, the WGA East announced on Tuesday. ‘We’re thrilled about this deal that addresses our unit’s top concerns, and we’re so grateful to every person who showed support throughout our bargaining process. Our unit’s strength and solidarity, together with our incredible labor allies, got us here,’ the Onion Union said in a statement. Members of the bargaining unit work at The Onion, Onion Labs, The A.V. Club, Deadspin and The Takeout.”

Union Membership Grew by 139,000 in 2023, Thanks to Worker Wins: “Union membership grew by 139,000 in 2023, according to a report on union density released Jan. 23 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Union membership in the private sector increased by 191,000 members, with a majority of new members under the age of 45. More than 900,000 union members won double-digit wage increases through new contracts last year. ‘Workers are fed up with low wages, few benefits, and a lack of dignity and respect on the job, which is precisely why more are interested in joining a union now than ever before,’ said Liz Shuler, president of the AFL-CIO.”

The Latest Union Shop on Broadway? Phoenix Comics Workers Organize for Retail Representation: “Broadway still might be a union street. After last spring’s celebration of ten successful years at 113 Broadway E, Phoenix Comics staff are kicking off the next ten having successfully formed a union represented by UFCW 3000. Elise Oziel, one of Phoenix’s six staff members, told CHS the team began discussing the formation of a union last summer.”

Is Dance Poised for a Union Boom?: “Lots of dancers are union members—that isn’t new. Many of the country’s largest dance companies are unionized with the American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA), and dancers who work on Broadway are members of the Actors’ Equity Association. The Radio City Rockettes, Cirque du Soleil performers, and dancers at Disney and Universal theme parks are members of the American Guild of Variety Artists, and many other commercial dancers are members of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA).”

Las Vegas Culinary Union Avoids Strike After Agreeing with Properties on New Contracts: “Ahead of a Monday morning strike deadline, the Culinary Union announced deals over the weekend with several Downtown Las Vegas properties, and said they will not go on strike, even though workers at one Las Vegas resort do not have a contract. On Sunday night, the union announced a tentative five-year agreement with the Downtown Grand Hotel & Casino, hours after announced a deal was reached with the Golden Nugget Las Vegas. ‘These were tough negotiations,’ Culinary Union Secretary-Treasurer Ted Pappageorge said in a statement. ‘It took over 2 years of preparation, 10 months of negotiations, lots of hard work, committee meetings, sleepless nights, and worker-led organizing. No victory in our union’s history is ever guaranteed and thousands of workers who participated in rallies, protests, civil disobedience, picketing, surveys, picket sign making, strike voting, and delegations inside the properties sacrificed to win a better future for themselves and our families.’”

Labor Market Grew 353,000 in January, Soaring Past Expectations: “The U.S. economy added 353,000 jobs in January, a shockingly strong pickup, even as higher interest rates continue to ripple through the economy. The unemployment rate held at 3.7%, and has now been below 4% for two years, the longest stretch of unemployment since the 1960s.”

Smith College Student Dining Workers Vote for Union: “Dining workers at Smith College voted overwhelmingly Thursday in favor of organizing as United Smith Student Workers (USSW), a new union affiliated with the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 153. ‘I am so excited that my co-workers and I are joining the wave of undergraduate workers unionizing to fight for a better workplace and a better campus,’ Sasha Rtishchev, a sophomore on the organizing committee who works at the Dawes dining hall, said in a statement.”

Sign That Strikes Are Back in Fashion: Workers Walk Out at Vogue Magazine: “The NewsGuild organized the strike to protest what they say is Condé Nast’s bad faith bargaining in negotiations over layoffs. The company is proposing to lay off 94 members, nearly 20% of the bargaining unit. In January management reduced its own proposal for severance pay, a classic case of ‘regressive bargaining’ that violates the requirement under federal law to bargain in good faith.”

Virginia House of Delegates Passes Bill to Raise Minimum Wage to $15 by 2026: “The Virginia AFL-CIO today celebrated the advancement of Delegate Jeion Ward’s bill to raise the state minimum wage as it successfully passed the House floor by a vote of 51-49. Virginia’s minimum wage has incrementally increased from $7.25 per hour to $12 per hour over the last three years. HB1 builds on the progress started in 2020 by raising the minimum wage to $13.50 by 2025 and $15 per hour by 2026. ‘No one who works a full-time job should struggle to make ends meet, but wages have not kept up with inflation,’ said Virginia AFL-CIO President Doris Crouse-Mays. ‘We commend the House of Delegates for standing with workers and passing our union sister Delegate Ward’s legislation. The governor has said he wants to address the cost of living, so he can start by signing this bill and giving Virginia’s minimum wage workers a raise.’”