Increased Grassroots Momentum Behind Organizing: 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.

Workers Are Voting to Join Unions at Record High Rates: “Why it matters: It's a reflection of increased grassroots momentum behind organizing—helped along by a strongly pro-worker National Labor Relations Board, under Biden appointee Jennifer Abruzzo. Zoom in: Workers voted in favor of a union 74% of the time this year (through April)—a jump from 2019 when it was 69%. In 2023, there were 1,777 union elections—the highest number since 2010, when there were 1,942.”

Gwen Mills Elected President of UNITE HERE, First Woman to Lead the Union in Its 130-Year History: “‘On behalf of the 12.5 million union members in the AFL-CIO, I am thrilled to celebrate the election of Gwen Mills to her first full term as President of UNITE HERE. President Mills is a visionary leader who has helped guide UNITE HERE through some of the hospitality industry’s most challenging and transformational moments. When the pandemic devastated the hospitality industry and nearly all UNITE HERE workers lost their jobs, President Mills put members to work and created one of the country’s most powerful and effective get-out-the-vote operations, unleashing victories up and down the ballot in the 2020 and 2022 elections,’ said AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler. ‘Under her leadership, UNITE HERE is delivering historic new contracts for workers, expanding into new workplaces and regions, and bringing in more women and people of color—not only to be a part of the movement, but to lead it. President Mills and UNITE HERE show us every day what a modern, inclusive and resilient union looks like—a union that empowers its members to fight and win. We look forward to continuing our fight together to improve the lives of hospitality workers—and all workers—across this country.’”

Groups Urge FEMA to Recognize Extreme Heat, Wildfire Smoke as a ‘Major Disaster’: “The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), one of the petition’s signatories, pointed to the need for more labor protections for those called in to assist with these weather events. ‘Too many workers are exposed to extreme heat and wildfire smoke on the job without adequate safety measures in place. Not only do we need to develop strong worker protection standards to meet the demand of the changing environment and intensifying climate disasters, we need the federal government to take action now to release resources,’ Liz Shuler, president of AFL-CIO, said in a statement.”

Biden's Cabinet to Tout Economic Accomplishments Ahead of Debate: “President Joe Biden’s Cabinet is fanning out nationwide this week to promote ways the administration has worked to reduce costs, a coordinated effort targeting a top issue for voters. As part of the tour, 18 Cabinet members and senior White House officials will hold more than two dozen events in 15 states in the days leading up to the first presidential debate between Biden and former President Donald Trump. The stops include presidential battleground states such as Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada and Pennsylvania, and will feature local officials in tough districts.”

Fire Grants and Safety Act Receives Senate Approval: “The U.S. Senate has passed the Fire Grants and Safety Act (S. 870), as reported by the IAFC. This legislation aims to extend and fund the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program and the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program. Edward Kelly, General President of the IAFF, highlighted the impact of AFG and SAFER grants: ‘Lives in every state have been saved by AFG and SAFER grants, including the lives of firefighters.’ He also praised the IAFF’s Government Affairs team for their efforts in advancing the bill.”

How Donald Trump Worked to Destroy America’s Labor Unions: “Although Donald Trump has been eager to garner support from American labor unions for his re-election campaign, there are lots of reasons he’s not going to get it. Chief among them is his record in sabotaging the nation’s labor movement. During his decades as a wealthy businessman, Trump clashed with unions repeatedly. And, upon becoming president, he appointed people much like himself―from corporate backgrounds and hostile toward workers―to head key government agencies and departments. Naturally, an avalanche of anti-union policies followed.” 

U.S. High Speed Rail Coalition Unveils Road Map with Guidance on How to Launch High-Speed Rail Project: “The U.S. High Speed Rail Coalition unveiled a roadmap with guidance on how to launch a high-speed rail project. The first-of-its-kind action plan is intended to equip advocates with practical tips, realistic expectations and strategic support as they work to launch new high-speed train projects in their regions. ‘High-speed rail lines are complex megaprojects with unique challenges,’ said Bernard Cohen, senior advisor for planning and operations at Alternate Concepts Inc., as well as former Massachusetts Department of Transportation secretary and the principal author of the roadmap. ‘We’ve created a practical guide that demystifies what’s involved in launching a new high-speed rail project.’”

Behind the Supreme Court's Anti-Union Gift to Starbucks: “In response, AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler rightly noted the court had ‘sided with corporate power…in a direct attack on the fundamental freedom to organize a union on the job. The NLRB exists to resolve labor disputes and ensure workers can exercise our right to join a union, free from intimidation and retaliation. The board obtained an injunction in federal district court to reinstate the Memphis Seven while deciding the case. The system worked as it is supposed to—until the Supreme Court got involved.’”

ALPA: WestJet Encore Pilots Ratify New Contract with Wage Increases that ‘Set a New Standard’: “WestJet Encore pilots have ratified a new five-year contract that secures pay raises and more flexible schedules that enable better work/life balance, their union says. The new contract goes into effect immediately and is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2024, said the Air Line Pilots Association International (ALPA), the world’s largest airline pilot union. ‘The ratification of this contract is a step toward our company and our pilots working together to put the airline in a more competitive position,’ said Capt. Carin Kenny, chair of the WestJet Encore ALPA Master Executive Council. ‘Since negotiations began, we were clear that to attract new pilots to the WestJet Group and retain the ones currently flying for our airline, we needed a contract that provides competitive compensation, improved scheduling flexibility, and a level of career progression.’”