Worker Wins: We Deserve Safe Working Conditions

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

Sega of America Workers Ratify Union Contract, Protecting 150 Employees: Workers at Sega of America have ratified their first collectively bargained contract with the U.S. arm of the multinational video game and entertainment company, setting new standards for the industry. The agreement covers about 150 full-time and temporary employees in a variety of roles, including brand marketing, localization, marketing services, product development, sales and quality assurance (QA). Members of Allied Employees Guild Improving Sega (AEGIS), an affiliate of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), secured important concessions, including base-building raises for all employees, protections against layoffs, a fair grievance process and a commitment to crediting people on games they’ve worked on, including early QA testers, who are often the lowest-paid in the chain of production. 

Museum Workers Ratify Deal with MASS MoCA, Ending Weekslong Strike: After holding the picket line for nearly three weeks, unionized workers at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) have successfully ratified a new contract that delivers victories on core member issues. MASS MoCA Union members, who are part of International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) Local 2110, voted to approve the two-year deal Tuesday evening after a unanimous endorsement from the bargaining committee. Wins include an increase in base wages to $18 an hour, a 3.5% across-the-board raise, additional holiday pay—as well as overtime pay for shifts lasting longer than 10 hours—and more. 

Medical School Residents at Western Michigan University Vote to Unionize: Over 260 residents and fellow physicians at the Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine (WMed) overwhelmingly voted to form a union as the Resident & Fellow Alliance (RFA), an affiliate of American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Michigan. Medical workers are aiming to create a voice for residents and fellows at WMed in addition to improving patient care, raising salary standards, creating more flexibility in time off and codifying fair educational stipends. Members say that the 60- to 80-hour workweeks they regularly put in aren’t reflected in their pay and that residency programs leave them with few avenues to negotiate over issues such as working conditions. With the union, they’ll have more of a say. 

UNITE HERE Members Ratify New Contract with 34 Southern California Hotels: Thousands of Southern California hospitality workers represented by UNITE HERE Local 11 overwhelmingly voted to ratify a new contract containing historic wins after repeated rolling strikes since the summer of 2023. Workers at 34 hotels, who led the largest hotel strike in modern U.S. history, won higher pay, increased employer contributions to pensions, fair workload guarantees, health care protections and more. This includes room attendants, cooks and other nontipped workers at some of Los Angeles’ most high-end properties, such as the Beverly Hilton and the Waldorf Astoria. By the end of this contract, workers will see a 40%–50% increase in wages, with half of the rise being delivered in the first year of the agreement. 

California AMC Workers Vote to Unionize with IATSE: Workers at the Universal Cinema AMC at CityWalk Hollywood in Universal City, California, have officially voted to unionize with the Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE). Ushers, cooks, bartenders and all other nonmanagement employees of the theater are part of the new bargaining unit. This victory is the second location of the national theater chain to unionize with IATSE; the first was AMC DINE-IN South Bay Galleria 16 in Redondo Beach, California. Staff first filed for their election at the National Labor Relations Board in February, citing concerns with low wages and unfair scheduling practices. 

SAG-AFTRA Members Ratify TV Animation Contracts: In a ratification vote that ended on Friday, SAG-AFTRA members have ratified new three-year television and basic cable animation contracts covering voice actors, with overwhelming support. The new contract provides for 7% wage increases in the first year of the contracts—which will be retroactive to July 1, 2023—and additional increases in the second and third year, establishes Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Juneteenth as contractual holidays and allows SAG-AFTRA to request up to two meetings a year with companies and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers to ensure performers are paid on time. In terms of artificial Intelligence protections, the deal includes strong language that states a “voice actor” can only refer to humans, grants rights to performers when any digital replica is “recognizable” as them, provides foreign residuals when a voice actor’s work is digitally translated into another language and exhibited, and mandates that producers must negotiate with with the union if they use a synthetic voice instead of a voice actor. 

TWU Local Reaches Tentative Agreement with Allegiant Air: Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 577, representing 1,700 flight attendants working for Allegiant Air, announced a tentative agreement last week on a five-year contract. Bargaining began in August 2022 and would be Local 577’s second-ever contract if ratified. The agreement secures wage increases ranging from 20% to 41.2% for members, with an average wage increase of 25%. In addition to pay bumps, workers also would get improvements to contractual pay credits based on the amount of time a flight attendant spends on duty, yearly pay increases of 3% throughout the life of the contract, lump sum bonuses at ratification, health insurance benefits and improved 401(k) match. 

Shelf Life Books Becomes First Richmond, Virginia, Bookstore to Form a Union: Workers at a popular new and used bookstore in Richmond, Virginia, have officially joined United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 400. Shelf Life Books staff made history as the first unionized bookstore in the city, with the owners choosing to voluntarily recognize the union after every eligible worker signed authorization cards. Members hope that by joining a union, they’ll be able to strengthen the largest independent bookstore in Richmond and improve their job security amid trends in the bookseller industry as corporate giants like Amazon eat into local businesses. 

Nitehawk Cinema Workers in New York Join Union Despite Union-Busting Campaign: After notifying management last month of their intention to organize with the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) Local 2179, workers at Nitehawk Cinema’s Prospect Park location in Brooklyn voted in favor of the union last weekend. Staff at the dine-in theater cited unfair labor practices, unstable pay, harassment and scheduling and safety concerns as core reasons for forming a union. The Nitehawk Workers Union bargaining unit includes full and part-time bartenders, line cooks, food runners, porters and servers. While the Nighthawk owner and management deployed scare tactics, spread misinformation about unions and intimidated staff across departments, workers secured a victory in their election. 

AGMA and Dance Theatre of Harlem Announce Unanimous Union Victory for Dancers: After just over a month since coming forward with their intent to organize, dancers at the Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH) have won their election to form a union with the American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA). The vote was unanimous and DTH management has publicly stated its intention to work in good faith with AGMA to improve the well-being of its dancers and strengthen the industry as a whole. Established in 1969, Dance Theatre of Harlem holds the distinction of being the first Black classical ballet company. While it used to be an AGMA company, DTH closed its doors in 2004 and severed ties with the union. Then, when it resumed operations in 2012, it reopened as nonunion. 

Oakland Museum of California Workers Win Voluntary Recognition of Union: The Oakland Museum of California voluntarily recognized OMCA Workers United, an affiliate of AFSCME Council 57 Cultural Workers United and the museum’s first union, last week. Back in February, museum workers first announced their plans to form a union to secure better wages to keep up with Bay Area cost of living, affordable health care and a voice at the institution—specifically to weigh in on how OMCA can better embody values of equity and anti-racism. OMCA Workers United represents a range of staff roles, including preparators, curators, designers, ticketing and retail associates, and program developers. 

Oregon Public Broadcasting Workers to Join SAG-AFTRA: Workers at Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) and KMHD Jazz Radio have announced that they will join SAG-AFTRA. The notice was sent to management last week, and staff are asking for voluntary recognition. The unit would include roles like hosts, reporters and digital, audio and video producers who are dedicated to telling important and compelling stories from around the Pacific Northwest and through radio, TV and online media. Both OPB and KMHD have seen immense growth over the past few years, with KMHD solidifying its place as one of the region's most respected jazz stations. 

Madison Sourdough Workers Ratify Union Contract That Boosts Pay, Benefits: Workers at Madison Sourdough in Wisconsin, who are affiliated with United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) Local 1473, have ratified their first contract with the bakery, nine months after negotiations launched in June 2023. The agreement, a first-of-its-kind in Madison, Wisconsin, raises base pay and includes guaranteed annual raises, along with paid sick time and other benefits, for around 40 bakers, baristas, dishwashers, cooks and delivery drivers. Additionally, Madison Sourdough Workers United and the bakery have established a joint labor-management safety committee.