Investing in Infrastructure: 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.

Transit Agencies Must Replace Most Maintenance Workers This Decade: “The public transit industry employs 430,000 workers and is anticipating 243,000 job openings for mechanics over the next decade, according to a report from TransitCenter. The industry should build on successful partnerships between agencies, labor unions and high schools and colleges to recruit a more diverse maintenance workforce, the report says.”

UC Medical, Service Workers Picket for Higher Pay, Housing Help: “Thousands of UC workers, including hospital technicians, custodians, gardeners, security officers and parking attendants picketed on UC campuses and medical centers Wednesday, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The employees, represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 3299, are demanding higher pay and help with housing. The union has been negotiating a new contract since January. The workers said their wages have not kept up with inflation and rising rents, according to the Chronicle.”

SIU School of Medicine Ratifies New Contract with Union Workers in Springfield: “After long negotiations and bargaining, the SIU School of Medicine has come to an agreement about their contracts with their employees. After 14 months of negotiations, the school and the AFSCME Local 370 agreed to and ratified a new contract on Tuesday. Nearly 800 employees work in positions represented by the union, according to AFSCME. The new contract includes a sustainable pay increase in addition to the 17.2% increase the school has made since 2019.”

Meet the Michigan Workers Supporting Biden Over Trump: “Union workers are standing behind President Joe Biden’s efforts to invest in manufacturing, infrastructure, and clean energy—and sounding alarms over what another Trump administration could mean for Michigan’s middle class. John Coleman has already decided which candidate will earn his vote in this year’s presidential election. As a union organizer for metal workers across Michigan, he said it was a relatively simple decision that all boiled down to an even simpler underlying philosophy: ‘We support people who support labor. Period,’ Coleman, of Traverse City, told The ‘Gander.”

Investing in Infrastructure Helps Everybody: “My family is my life, and I’m grateful that the Biden administration’s infrastructure legislation was written with families like mine in mind. Not only is it expected to create 2 million jobs per year through the course of a decade, it incentivizes companies to hire union workers and pay non-union laborers a fair prevailing wage. This protection of wages for millions of workers gives us a real chance to grow the middle class, and marks the difference between delivering jobs and building careers.”

Nurses Are Pushing Back on AI in Health Care. Here's Why: “According to a new survey from National Nurses United (NNU), 60% of nurses don't trust their employers to prioritize patient safety when implementing new artificial intelligence (AI) technology. For the survey, NNU gathered responses from over 2,300 RNs and members of the organization between Jan. 18 and March 4. In total, 40% of nurses said their employer had introduced ‘new devices, gadgets, and changes to the electronic health records’ over the last 12 months. Half of respondents also said that their employers used algorithms based on electronic health record (EHR) data to determine patient acuity and need for nursing care.”

SAG-AFTRA Applauds Scarlett Johansson for Rebuking OpenAI Over Voice that Sounded Like Her: “SAG-AFTRA, the labor union that represents thousands of Hollywood actors, commended Scarlett Johansson for publicly calling out OpenAI for using a voice that sounded ‘eerily similar’ to hers in its new GPT-40 model. ‘We thank Ms. Johansson for speaking out on this issue of crucial importance to all SAG-AFTRA members,’ a spokesperson for the guild said in a statement Tuesday. ‘We share in her concerns and fully support her right to have clarity and transparency regarding the voice used in developing the Chat GPT-40 appliance ‘Sky.’’ ‘SAG-AFTRA members are among the most talented and often most recognizable people on the planet,’ the union spokesperson added. ‘That is why we’re strongly championing federal legislation that would protect their voices and likenesses—and everyone else’s as well—from unauthorized digital replication.’”

Postdocs Unionize at Albert Einstein College of Medicine: “Postdoctoral researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, a private nonprofit institution in the Bronx, have unionized with a 152-to-32 vote. Einstein Researchers United, the new union, said postdocs voted Wednesday and Thursday. It said it will represent about 230 workers. The union is affiliated with the UAW. Brandon Mancilla, director of the UAW region that contains New York City, said in a news release that the postdocs ‘overcame intense opposition from the Einstein administration to win their union.’”

Flight Attendants Union Meets in Atlanta Amid Push to Unionize at Delta: “Leaders of the Association of Flight Attendants are holding their national convention this week in Atlanta, the hometown of Delta Air Lines—the union’s white whale it has sought for decades to organize. The airline industry is highly unionized, and the AFA represents cabin crew members at more than a dozen carriers. But Delta, nestled in the more union-averse South, has remained an anomaly among the nation’s largest carriers with pilots as Delta’s only major unionized group. Holding the convention in Atlanta was a decision ‘to go somewhere meaningful,’ said Sara Nelson, international president of the Association of Flight Attendants.”

Resident Assistants at Tufts, Barnard Form Unions to Improve Their Jobs: “As my sophomore year at Tufts University comes to a close, I’ve been reflecting on enjoyable moments and my accomplishments that have occurred over the course of the school year. One of the achievements I’m most proud of is that my union—the United Labor of Tufts Resident Assistants, part of OPEIU Local 153—ratified our first contract. The union contract was the result of about seven months worth of negotiating with the Tufts administration over resident assistants’ pay, benefits, and working conditions, and we ratified the contract with 96% ‘yes’ votes. What excites me the most, though, is knowing we’re part of a wave of resident assistants organizing at campuses across the country.”

Workers at Better Buzz Coffee in Hillcrest Vote to Join UFCW Local 135: “Workers at Better Buzz Coffee’s Hillcrest location voted overwhelmingly Friday to join the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 135, the union announced. Baristas, trainers and shift supervisors, who organized under the name Better Buzz United, cast ballots in an election held by the National Labor Relations Board. The workers had cited concerns about wages, benefits, scheduling and overall workplace safety as reasons for seeking union representation.”

Disneyland Character Workers Vote to Unionize with Actors’ Equity: “Another union is coming to Disneyland. On Saturday, a majority of the amusement park’s character workers voted to unionize with Actors’ Equity Association in a National Labor Relations Board vote, ushering more employees at Disneyland into the union fold. Nine hundred and fifty-three workers voted ‘yes’ to join Equity, while 258 voted ‘no.’ The parties now have several days to file any objections, and if none are submitted, the results will be certified. ‘They say that Disneyland is ‘the place where dreams come true,’ and for the Disney cast members who have worked to organize a union, their dream came true today,’ Actors’ Equity Association president Kate Shindle said in a statement on Saturday.”