Part of a National Movement: 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.

Senate Approves Bill to Reauthorize FAA and Improve Air Travel: “The Senate on Thursday passed legislation to reauthorize federal aviation programs for the next five years and put in place new safety measures and consumer protections for passengers, at a moment of intense uncertainty and disruption in the air travel system. The bill, which still must win final approval in the House before becoming law, would provide more than $105 billion to the Federal Aviation Administration and another $738 million to the National Transportation Safety Board for airport modernization, technology programs and safety. It would also bolster the hiring and training of air traffic controllers, codify airlines’ refund obligations to passengers, ensure fee-free family seating and strengthen protections for passengers with disabilities.”

First Lady Honors Teachers at Inaugural State Dinner: “First lady Dr. Jill Biden shined a spotlight on educators making an impact during the inaugural Teachers of the Year state dinner on May 2. From the president to national dignitaries, academic instructors and support staff from every U.S. state, territory and the Department of Defense Education were honored with special recognition, in addition to receiving an award from the Council of Chief State School Officers. ‘The real threat is that public education is central to our democracy, central to opportunity, central for kids in communities to thrive. [Book bans are] just another obstacle to stop us from doing the best job we can to help all kids learn,’ Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, told The Informer. ‘Every time there’s an obstacle that threatens a teacher, or makes it so hard that they leave the profession, or has them teaching on eggshells.’”

Bill Introduced to Protect U.S. Call Center Jobs: “Senators Bob Casey, Sherrod Brown, and Catherine Cortez Masto have introduced the United States Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act aimed at preventing the outsourcing of American call center jobs overseas. The bill seeks to protect American workers and consumer data by imposing restrictions and penalties on businesses that relocate call center operations abroad.”

Penn Grad Workers Say ‘We’re Part of a National Movement’ After Union Win: “Thousands of graduate student workers at the University of Pennsylvania—about 97%—voted to unionize in early May. The Graduate Employees Together University of Pennsylvania, or GET-UP, is behind the drive to affiliate with the United Auto Workers, which often represents student worker unions. The union election was scheduled for mid-April but was delayed after the University of Pennsylvania tried to exclude several hundred student workers through the National Labor Relations Board appeal process, but the university failed.”

More Than 400 Lab Professionals at LabCorp Win a Union: “Lab professionals employed by the medical lab services company, LabCorp of America, held a union election from March 1–3 where 434 workers voted to join together in a union with the Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals (OFNHP), a local affiliate of the 1.7 million-member [American Federation of Teachers] AFT. These healthcare professionals work at labs within seven Legacy Health facilities in Oregon and Washington, including Emanuel and Good Samaritan in Portland, and Salmon Creek (WA).”

Trade Union Reaches Recognition Agreement with Brightline West Train Maker: “The company tapped to manufacture the trains for Brightline West's high-speed rail project will recognize any potential unionization effort from workers. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, or IAM, announced Tuesday that it reached a voluntary recognition agreement with Siemens Mobility. According to IAM, the agreement will allow future employees to get information about union representation. If a majority of workers petition to join IAM, Siemens will recognize the union and begin collective bargaining immediately.”

Introducing the Smith College Libraries Workers Union: “On April 9, library workers at Smith College voted unanimously in favor of unionizing with the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 153. The new union is known as the Smith College Libraries Workers Union (SCLWU). A month before the election, workers at Smith College Libraries (SCL) announced their union by delivering a letter to the college’s President and Board of Trustees where they asked that the union be voluntarily recognized.”

National Nurses Week 2024: RN Reflects on the State of the Profession, Calls for Change: “Monday, May 6 kicks off National Nurses Week, and it gives folks an opportunity to show their love and appreciation for the people who take care of the sick, injured and dying. Catherine Kennedy, a registered nurse and the Vice President of National Nurses United, told USA TODAY that there needs to be systemic change on the federal level to give nurses the best chance to care for their patients.”

More Than Ever, ‘Union Wages Buy More’: “This 74-year-old union retiree (American Federation of Teachers) remembers those old Kentucky State AFL-CIO novelty license plates that proclaimed ‘Union Wages Buy More.’ That’s true more than ever today. ‘Union members in the United States saw record raises, while nonunion workers’ pay barely beat inflation over the past 12 months, latest U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data shows,’ says Thursday’s Team AFL-CIO Daily Brief in a short synopsis headlined ‘It’s Better in a Union: U.S. Union Members See Record Pay Raises, Outpacing Nonunion Workers.’ The brief also cites BLS statistics released on Tuesday that showed ‘wages of private sector union members have risen 6.3% since March 2023.’”

Retail Workers Vote to Form Florida’s First H&M Union: “Retail workers at an H&M clothing store in Melbourne overwhelmingly voted to unionize Friday, forming a historic first H&M union in the state of Florida. According to Will Cox, an organizer with the United Food and Commercial Workers, the election was secured by a supermajority of workers at the Melbourne Square Mall store, who voted in favor of unionization on Friday.”

Biden Vetoes Bill Against Joint Employer Rule: “President Joe Biden vetoed a Congressional Review Act measure to overturn the National Labor Relations Board rule broadening joint employer liability, fulfilling a promise made in January, the White House announced Friday. The CRA measure passed the Senate in a nearly party-line vote in April, and passed the House of Representatives in a largely, but somewhat less, polarized vote in January. The veto saves the NLRB’s rule legislatively, but the regulation was vacated by a federal judge in Texas in March, though it may yet be appealed. The NLRB’s rule expands the bargaining obligations and liabilities of employers that reserve control of essential conditions of employment or exercises such control indirectly.”

How Changes to Non-Compete Agreements and Overtime Pay Could Affect Workers: “For millions of American workers, the federal government has taken two actions that could bestow potentially far-reaching benefits. In one move, the Federal Trade Commission voted to ban non-compete agreements, which bar millions of workers from leaving their employers to join a competitor or start a rival business for a specific period of time. The FTC's move, which is already being challenged in court, would mean that such employees could apply for jobs they weren't previously eligible to seek. In a second move, the Biden administration finalized a rule that will make millions more salaried workers eligible for overtime pay. The rule significantly raises the salary level that workers could earn and still qualify for overtime. On the social media site X, the AFL-CIO labor organization said the rules will ‘restore and extend overtime protections for hard-working Americans.’”

Middle Rio Grande Irrigation Workers Unionize: “Irrigation workers at the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District voted to form a union with AFSCME Council 18 on Tuesday, according to a news release from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees in New Mexico. Council 18 is the umbrella organization for the various city, county, and state locals affiliated with AFSCME.”