Jonah Furman is a labor movement organizer and writer. One of his many writing projects is his Newsletter, Who Gets The Bird. Jonah has graciously allowed PPOW to publish excerpts from his newsletter.
STRIKES & NEGOTIATIONS
WA state strikes & neogitations news ( details below): Washington State's UFCW Local 21 is flirting with authorizing a strike. Also included below is Furman's latest info on the Deere and IATSE strikes.
A Deere worker, Richard Rich, was killed by a driver while leaving a picket line in Milan, IL, early Wednesday morning. Members had been complaining for weeks about non-functional streetlights on the busy road, and at worksites across the company, members complained of being forced to cross dangerous roads on foot to reach the picket line, as Deere would not allow them to park on company property. You can donate to Rich’s family here. On Saturday, Deere and the UAW announced they had a tentative agreement, on the seventeenth day of the 10,000-member strike. Contract highlights (not, it should be noted, actual language changes, which is of course crucial, and has been a point of contention in past Deere contracts) came out Sunday, after some was leaked Saturday night. Voting is set to begin Tuesday 10am Central Time, and we’ll know Tuesday evening which way it went. As for what’s actually in the thing, the headline is that they doubled the first-year raise to 10% upon ratification (and went up to 20%, as opposed to 12%, over the six-year contract), and they killed the “third tier” (i.e., they saved the pension from being eliminated for all new hires). What it doesn’t do is end the post-’97/pre-’97 divide; post-’97 hires still have no healthcare after retirement, and still have a weaker pension (though this offer even further boosts the pension, so instead of 1/3rd of what pre-’97s have, it’s probably closer to half of what pre-’97s have). Lots of people are asking me whether it’s going to pass. I don’t know whether it’s going to pass. Lots of members are still committed “no” votes, but a member I spoke to who hasn’t voted “yes” in 20 years says this will be his first yes vote on a Deere contract. I think it’s incredibly heartening that 10,000 workers can strike a Fortune 100 company and double the raise and save the pension from elimination. It’s of course not enough, but could be considered one battle won in the war against two-tier. Or you could say that if Deere was ready to move this far in 17 days, another couple weeks — especially as they begin their next fiscal year — could get the workers even further.
UFCW Local 21 in Washington state is holding some informational pickets this week and a “town hall” that I think will include discussion of a strike authorization vote but I don’t have a good source on that.
IATSE has come to another tentative agreement, this time for the 20,000 or so members across 23 locals under the Area Standards Agreement, which follows the pattern of the larger Hollywood Basic Agreement but has some core differences. Members of the 36 locals covered by the two big contracts have yet to see contract language, but there have been town halls on the local level to go over the highlights that have been released. The local leaders under the Hollywood Basic put out a statement recommending a yes vote, but acknowledging that there will be some sizable group of members voting no. This is a departure from the last contract in 2018, where one of the largest locals recommended a “no” vote; she has come to Jesus this time around, apparently. It’s unclear when the actual vote will take place. Voting down a recommended tentative agreement is pretty rare, and IATSE’s electoral college-style system could result in a majority no vote on a contract that still gets ratified, but if the Deere workers taught us anything with their 90% rejection of a recommended TA, it’s that a strike isn’t off the table until the members cast their votes.
WA state new organizing news (details below):: what is happening with some hospital laundry drivers in Auburn, WA. I have also included some info on Starbuck workers attempts to unionize.
NLRB election wins…: 15 laundry drivers for Hospital Central Services in Auburn, WA voted 11-4 to join Teamsters Local 117.
Workers United won a favorable NLRB decision against Starbucks which means they get to have votes at individual stores, rather than across the whole regional chain. This is of course better for the workers because they have a better shot at winning some of the stores rather than having to win one big vote, including shops where workers are not yet organizing. Theoretically, this could be an opening across the country for organizing locations of the chain, but I haven’t heard of any other unions getting in on the action, or even Workers United spreading it beyond Buffalo, though I’m sure things are happening behind the scenes.
Read Jonah Furman’s full newsletter here to read more labor news on all the following topics (Don’t forget to subscribe and support Who Gets The Bird!)
- STRIKES & NEOGIATIONS
- POLITICS & LEGISLATION
- INTERNAL UNION POLITICS
- NEW ORGANIZING (ie, New election filings at the NLRB, NLRB election wins…and losses, and Security guards)
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