Better Pay and Benefits

Mine Workers and Graduate Workers Win Big Victories

Graduate workers who earn low pay but do the same work as tenured professors are leading the charge to achieve equal pay and benefits on college campuses. These workers are not deterred by aggressive university administrators or archaic labor law—they are forging ahead. And they are just one of many groups of working people who understand that there’s power in numbers when working people come together. Here are some highlights of victories won:

Yale Graduate Students on Hunger Strike for Union Recognition
Yale University graduate teachers have been fasting since April 27 to bring the administration to the bargaining table with Local 33 UNITE HERE. The teaching assistants voted in February to join UNITE HERE, becoming the latest group of graduate students at private universities to unionize. The administration has failed to acknowledge the union and begin contract negotiations.

UPenn Graduate Workers Vote to Join AFT
Graduate student workers at the University of Pennsylvania filed a petition May 30 to affiliate with the American Federation of Teachers. The unit could include as many as 2,300 teaching and research assistants. The organizing drive began in March, and students hope to negotiate together to address funding insecurity, health care benefits, family leave and inadequate mental health resources.

Northwestern University Nontenure-Faculty Union Vote Certified
Nontenure-track faculty members at Northwestern University are finally free to negotiate together after the National Labor Relations Board certified a July 2016 union election. The unit, organized under SEIU as Local 73, will include both full-time and part-time faculty.

Mine Workers Win Health Care Battle in Congress
Mine workers won the fight to secure health care for 22,600 retired coal miners, their dependents and widows in the 2017 congressional budget. This hard-fought victory was made possible by the thousands of United Mine Workers of America members and supporters who marched, rallied, made phone calls and wrote letters to their representatives.

Disney/ABC, AT&T, Cooling and Heating Workers Win Contract Fights
Communications Workers of America recently ratified several contracts that improved working conditions for its members. A deal was reached at Momentive Performance Materials in Waterford, N.Y., ending a 15-week strike. The 700 IUE-CWA members successfully fought back against management demands for drastic wage cuts and cuts to retiree benefits. At AT&T Southwest, 20,000 CWA telecom workers won an agreement that calls for AT&T to bring 3,000 new jobs, the majority of which now are offshore, to the five-state region. Also, 3,000 broadcast employees and technicians at Disney/ABC ratified a new contract, along with 3,000 technicians, customer service representatives and warehouse/administrative workers at DIRECTV, and 570 workers at New Flyer in St. Cloud, Minn., the country’s biggest bus manufacturer.

Thrillist Staff Joins Writers Guild of America, East
Ninety-five percent of Thrillist’s staff can negotiate together for more transparent communication from management, greater workplace diversity and better entry-level pay after voting to join the Writers Guild of America, East union. The 65 staff members include editorial, video and distribution workers.

IBEW Helps Rail-Car Construction Return to Chicago’s South Side
Electrical Workers members will account for the majority of full-time manufacturing employees when a new rail-car manufacturing facility opens on Chicago’s South Side in 2020. IBEW will represent about 110 of the plant’s 170 full-time manufacturing employees. Construction could provide work for another 150 members. The plant will construct up to 846 of the new 7000 series subway cars for the Chicago light-rail system.

NFLPA Welcomes New Players and Partnership
More than 250 new players guaranteed their right to negotiate together after joining the National Football League Players Association during the weekend of the NFL draft, April 27-29. At the NFLPA Debut event, the union hosted 50 of the top prospects to educate them about its mission and resources. NFLPA also announced a partnership with wearable device company WHOOP on April 24. Each player will receive a device so they can track and own their biometric data, including sleep, recovery and training, as a way to advance their safety and athletic performance.

BRS Welcomes Denver Transit Operators
Fifty-three workers from the Denver Transit Operators exercised their freedom to join together with the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen. The maintenance of way and dispatching department employees voted, by an overwhelming majority, to join the union. BRS will start working right away on an agreement that addresses many of the issues it learned of through the organizing meetings. A new local will be chartered for the DTO members. DTO is a private company with a 29-year contract to operate and maintain the new commuter rail system in and around Denver for Colorado’s Regional Transportation District.

Contact: Carolyn Bobb (202) 637-5018