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Today's AFL-CIO Press Clips

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Today in DC


By Staff

May 9, 2024

One good text: Liz Shuler is president of the AFL-CIO, the largest federation of unions in the US.

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Claude Cummings Jr.: Don't let Congress widen the digital divide (Opinion)


By Bobby Burns

May 10, 2024

Nearly a third of Americans who don’t have broadband say the reason is because it costs too much — and unfortunately, Congress is prepared to let that figure rise dramatically. Lawmakers have yet to renew funding for the federal government’s Affordable Connectivity Program, or ACP, which is being rolled back as of today and will fully come to an end in coming weeks unless Congress takes action. Through the ACP, more than 23 million households have received either reduced bills or effectively free internet service. The shutdown of the ACP will hurt communities of color the most, with over 30 percent of Black families lacking home internet, and rural communities as well.



Unions Struggled in the South for Years. The Economy Gave Auto Workers an Opening.

The Wall Street Journal

By Paul Kiernan

May 11, 2024

For two decades, Jeremy Kimbrell and his co-workers at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Alabama could expect to hear the same thing when they raised concerns about pay, time off or working conditions: With no college degree, you should just be happy to have a job. Those days might be over. Roughly 5,000 hourly employees of the Tuscaloosa-area facility are set to vote starting Monday on whether to join the United Auto Workers. Just last month, 73% of employees who cast ballots at Volkswagen’s slightly smaller plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., opted to unionize, a first for a foreign-owned auto factory in the South. The vote in the week ahead will be a pivotal moment in the UAW’s organizing blitz in the South’s booming auto industry. 


Grocery store employees in central Oklahoma city join union amid allegations of mistreatment

The Item

By Brian D. King

May 10, 2024

Employees at an Oklahoma outlet for a Colorado-based grocery store chain voted to unionize Thursday following a series of protests and claims of unfair treatment, especially for pregnant women and working mothers. Natural Grocers workers voted 11-9 to join United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1000, a nonprofit that negotiates contracts on behalf of small businesses. Joe Lee, UFCW Local 1000 organizer, said the union will pull a handful of employees to negotiate terms.


The United Auto Workers faces a key test in the South with upcoming vote at Alabama Mercedes plant


By Kim Chandler and Tom Krisher 

May 11, 2024

After 20 years at the Mercedes-Benz factory in Alabama, Brett Garrard said he is “not falling for the lies anymore” and will vote for a union. A month after workers at a Volkswagen factory in Tennessee overwhelmingly voted to unionize, the United Auto Workers is aiming for a key victory at Mercedes-Benz in Alabama. More than 5,000 workers at the facility in Vance and a nearby battery plant will vote next week on whether to join the union. A win at Mercedes would be a major prize for the UAW, which is trying to crack union resistance in the Deep South, where states have lured foreign auto manufacturers with large tax breaks, lower labor costs and a nonunion workforce.


No Contract, No Pirouettes — Ballet Dancers Are Organizing for Labor Rights


By Naomi LaChance

May 11, 2024

As they perform Swan Lake, dancers at Miami City Ballet in Florida have been facing a union-busting campaign from the company’s management. Their case went to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which ruled on May 8 in favor of the dancers seeking to unionize, clearing the way for a union election on May 14. These dancers are just one group in a wave of ballet companies unionizing with the American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA). But in Miami, organizing dancers endured significant challenges.




Sesame Workshop Writers Ratify New 5-Year Contract


By Katie Campione

May 10, 2024

It’s official: Writers Guild members at the Sesame Workshop have got a new contract. The writers “overwhelmingly” approved the five-year collective bargaining agreement, the guild announced on Friday. Sesame Workshop writers reached a tentative deal in April, but not before unanimously voting to authorize a strike against the nonprofit organization. The deal was struck just in time to avoid a work stoppage.


Rhode Island Energy and its UWUA-BUW locals reach agreement on new five-year contracts

Fox 44 News

By PPL Corporation

May 10, 2024

Rhode Island Energy, a subsidiary of PPL Corporation (NYSE: PPL), has announced it reached an agreement on new five-year contracts with the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA), AFL-CIO, Locals 310 and 310B, and Brotherhood of Utility Workers (BUW), which currently represent 526 employees. "We value each of our employees and their dedication to serving our customers and are proud of the positive partnership between our unions and company leadership. These contracts are the result of our ongoing collaborative efforts," said Greg Cornett, president of Rhode Island Energy. "I am pleased that company and union leaders worked together to reach an agreement. We look forward to continuing our shared commitment to provide safe, reliable, sustainable and affordable energy to our customers and communities across Rhode Island."


Saint Vincent union workers picket amid strained contract negotiations

Worcester Business Journal

By Mica Kanner-Mascolo

May 10, 2024

In yet another addition to ongoing disputes between Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester and its workers, the hospital is embroiled in contract negotiations with UFCW Local 1445, a union representing about 300 Saint Vincent employees. Those employees include housekeepers, secretaries, transporters, personal care assistants, critical care technicians, and nursing assistants, said Jack Fell, communications director at UFCW. The union members are seeking four main revisions to their contract: a fair, living wage, job protection from outsourcing to temp agencies, safe staffing levels, and affordable health insurance, said Fell.


Apple faces growing labor unrest at its retail stores


By Ramishah Maruf

May 10, 2024

Apple faces plenty of challenges this year including regulatory scrutiny in Washington, sluggish sales in China and a competitive landscape in AI. Now, its leaders also have to contend with labor unrest. Apple store workers in Towson, Maryland, made history in June 2022 when they voted to form the first union at one of the tech giant’s sleek US stores. Since 2023, the worker group outside of Baltimore has been in contract negotiations with Apple management. Now, workers are weighing a strike. Saying management has yet to meet their core demands, the Maryland workers are holding a strike authorization vote on Saturday, one of the strongest labor actions taken against the Big Tech company yet. And it’s far from the only labor challenge Apple is battling in the US.


Educational Student Employees authorize strike at WWU

The Stand

By Staff

May 10, 2024

A supermajority of Educational Student Employees at Western Washington University (WWU) voted resoundingly by 93 percent to authorize their union’s elected bargaining committee to call a strike if significant progress is not made in their negotiations for a first contract. Seventy-three percent of the entire unit cast votes, with a total of 686 Yes, and 55 No. The 1,100 Educational Student Employees at WWU are members of Western Academic Workers United-United Auto Workers (WAWU-UAW). The union won recognition last June and has been bargaining a first agreement with the University administration since September.


Members of Arkansas Postal Workers Union protested in Fayetteville

4029 News

By Ka'Tani Gouch

May 10, 2024

The Arkansas Postal Workers Union protested in Fayetteville Thursday after they said the U.S. Postal Service took away their ability to comment at board meetings. There used to be three minutes of public comment at postal board of governors meetings. This comes after the USPS said they were moving some mail processing operations to Oklahoma City from Fayetteville in December 2023. "We want to keep our mail processing here locally," said Ike Mills, APWU president. "We don't want it sent to Oklahoma City to only further delay the mail that's already been delayed."


Union members overwhelmingly approve contract with grocery stores

Brainerd Dispatch

By Renee Richardson

May 10, 2024

The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 663 and management from Quisberg’s and Miner’s grocery stores agreed to a contract. Jessica Hayssen, communications and legislative/political director for UFCW Union Local 663, in a phone call Thursday, May 9, confirmed union members approved the negotiated contract. On April 22, the union reported a tentative agreement was reached with the grocery stores in Brainerd, Baxter, Crosby and Pequot Lakes. A vote was scheduled May 2.


UAW files more unfair labor practice charges against Mercedes

Alabama Political Reporter

By Chance Phillips

May 10, 2024

On May 6, the United Auto Workers filed two more unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board. The UAW accused Mercedes-Benz of having utilized coercive statements and coercive rules in order to prevent workers from exercising their right to a free and open union election, and of laying off and refusing to hire pro-union employees. One set of charges are under section 8(a)(1) of the National Labor Relations Act, which makes it an unfair labor practice “to interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed” by the NLRA.


Sesame Workshop Writers Ratify Strike-Averting Deal

The Hollywood Reporter

By Katie Kilkenny

May 10, 2024

After mounting a strike threat that was later averted, Sesame Workshop writers have ratified a new five-year labor contract that their union president is touting as “groundbreaking.” Twenty-eight out of the group of 35 workers voted to support a tentative deal reached on April 19, while the remaining seven abstained from voting. The Writers Guild of America East and West, which represent the workers, who write shows including Sesame Street, Helpsters and The Not Too Late Show With Elmo, announced the results on Friday.


Machias hospital turns to mediation amid union negotiations

The Maine Monitor

By Joyce Kryszak

May 11, 2024

A federal mediator is stepping in after a strike earlier this month by Down East Community Hospital’s 50 nurses and technicians failed to end an impasse. A new round of negotiations will begin May 16, with the mediator facilitating talks between the hospital and the Maine State Nurses Association. The Maine State Nurses Association represents 33 nurses and 17 technicians across various departments at DECH, roughly 12 percent of the workforce at the 26-bed facility in Machias. They have been working under the terms of a two-year contract that expired in mid-October.


IATSE West Coast Locals and Studios Tackle AI, Wages in Latest Week of General Negotiations

The Hollywood Reporter.

By Katie Kilkenny

May 10, 2024

IATSE West Coast Locals and major Hollywood studios and streamers tackled issues including AI and wages in their latest week of general negotiations, the union reported to members on Friday. The two parties also discussed working conditions, the issue of companies allegedly subcontracting work that IATSE believes is covered under its contract to outside parties, IATSE’s Videotape Agreement (which covers some reality shows, game shows, awards shows, live TV and half-hour shows) and sideletters that the union wants to do away with.


University of Pittsburgh faculty ratifies 1st union contract

Trib Live

By Bill Schackner

May 11, 2024

About 3,500 University of Pittsburgh faculty represented by the United Steelworkers have ratified their first contract with Pitt, and it includes a $60,000 salary floor for full-time professors, yearly raises and enhanced job protections. The union Saturday announced results from weeklong voting on the main Oakland campus and branches at Greensburg, Johnstown, Bradford and Titusville. It culminates a near-decadelong effort to secure collective bargaining rights for academic workers at Western Pennsylvania’s largest university. The contract, covering full-time and part-time faculty, runs through June 30, 2026.


Local pharmacists say Walgreens needs new Rx for pay, working conditions 

Forest Park Review

By Jessica Mordacq

May 10, 2024

More than a dozen Walgreens pharmacists and supporters gathered outside stores in the area in late April and early May to draw attention to what they said is inadequate pay and working conditions. At the Walgreens in Forest Park at 7200 Roosevelt Road May 3, they stood in front of a large inflatable rat as a truck with a video screen on its side displayed “We <3 Walgreens Pharmacy Staff!” while it drove around the block. The action came as a part of the Phed Up Pharmacists Tour, where Walgreens pharmacists who had the day off visited 46 Chicagoland Walgreens. They aimed to raise awareness for inadequate pay and working conditions for the company’s pharmacists, who have been working without a contract for the last nine months, according to the National Pharmacists Association-Laborers’ International Union of North America (NPhA-LIUNA), which represents nearly 900 pharmacists at 400 Chicagoland Walgreens locations.  


Apple workers in Maryland vote to authorize work stoppage

The Washington Post

By Lauren Kaori Gurley

May 12, 2024

Unionized employees at an Apple Store in Towson, Md., have voted to authorize a strike amid union accusations that the tech giant isn’t bargaining in good faith in negotiations over its first union contract. If workers actually strike, it would be the first work stoppage by employees of the company’s more than 270 U.S. retail locations. The workers’ vote, which concluded late Saturday, allows the union to stage a walkout at any time, although it has not announced a strike date, according to the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM). The union represents some 100 Apple employees at the store in Towson Town Center, a mall in the Baltimore suburbs. In 2022 it became the first Apple retail store in the country to vote to unionize.


Hotel union workers end strike against Virgin Hotels Las Vegas with contract talks set for Tuesday



May 12, 2024

Nevada’s largest labor union concluded a 48-hour strike Sunday meant to pressure Virgin Hotels Las Vegas to agree to a five-year contract on wages and benefits. More than 700 workers with Culinary Union Local 226 walked off the job at the 1,500-room hotel-casino near the Las Vegas Strip on Friday morning and ended the strike Sunday morning. Contract talks are set to resume on Tuesday. Guest room attendants, cocktail and food servers, porters, bellmen, cooks, bartenders, and laundry and kitchen workers were among those walking the picket line in front of Virgin Hotels, formerly the Hard Rock Las Vegas.



Labor-backed bill banning 'captive audience' meetings awaits House action

Capitol News Illinois

By Alex Abbeduto

May 10, 2024

With two weeks left before the General Assembly's spring session is set to adjourn, negotiations continue on a labor union-backed initiative that would allow Illinoisans to skip religious and political work meetings without reprimand. Dubbed the “Worker Freedom of Speech Act,” Senate Bill 3649 advanced out of the Senate on May 2 with only Democratic support. The Illinois AFL-CIO labor organization brought the measure to Sen. Robert Peters, D-Chicago, in an effort to ban what the unions refer to as employer-sponsored “captive audience meetings” pertaining to religion and politics. Labor advocates say the meetings give employers an opportunity to coerce employees to listen to anti-union rhetoric.



South Florida AFL-CIO hosts bipartisan kickoff for 2024 get-out-the-vote campaign

Florida Politics

By Jesse Scheckner

May 11, 2024

For organized workers in Miami-Dade with a hankering for morning grub and democracy, there’s no better place to be Saturday than the kickoff for the South Florida AFL-CIO’s 2024 Get Out the Vote (GOTV) campaign. The ticketed event, open to union members and the press, includes a who’s who of elected state and local officials from both sides of the political aisle — and a slew of candidates hoping to either join them in public service or supplant them. And it’s supporting a good cause. Event proceeds will pay for the South Florida AFL-CIO’s electioneering efforts behind candidates the organization believes will strengthen the rights and protection of unions and workers throughout the county. “It’s our biggest fundraising event for the electoral season,” Political Director Deborah Dion told Florida Politics. “The South Florida AFL-CIO is putting boots on the ground, flyering and helping endorsed candidates. All that takes a lot of resources. That’s why we’re doing this event.”



The history behind the National Association of Letter Carriers’ annual Stamp Out Hunger food drive


By Joy Saha

May 11, 2024

Each year, on the second Saturday in May, letter carriers across America give back to their communities by collecting food donations for those in need. The annual act of service is part of the National Association of Letter Carriers’ (NALC) Stamp Out Hunger food drive — which is the largest one-day food drive in the nation to date. Hoping to organize a collective effort, the NALC along with the United States Postal Service (USPS) and American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) held its first pilot food drive in October 1991. The effort was a major success and encouraged the creation of a national food drive that officially debuted in 1993. The drive was organized for the second Saturday in May at the request of food banks and pantries. Because most food donations were received around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, food shelves were often understocked come spring. Food banks and pantries were also high in demand amid late spring since many school breakfast and lunch programs were not available during the summer months.  



Corporate America Never Really Quit Forced Labor


By Josh Eidelson

May 11, 2024

Now Walker, a 37-year-old recently paroled after 15 years in prison, has teamed up with nine still-incarcerated fellow plaintiffs, as well as some prominent labor lawyers and unions, to file a class action. They’re suing Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, the state’s attorney general, the prisons commissioner, parole board leaders, and a slew of cities, along with companies they claim rely on forced labor, including Hyundai supplier Ju-Young, beer distributor Bama Budweiser of Montgomery, and franchisees of KFC, McDonald’s, and Wendy’s. The workers suing are all Black. Their class action accuses the defendants of human trafficking, racketeering and violating the Ku Klux Klan Act, which targets conspiracies to deprive people of their constitutional rights. They argue that the government officials colluded to keep Black people imprisoned and available as cheap labor and that the companies conspired to profit from the coerced work. The suit, filed right before Christmas, says it seeks “to abolish a modern-day form of slavery.”



Social Security has good news for retirees: their payments will increase as of this date

La Grada

By La Grada

May 10, 2024

The Social Security Administration has confirmed some good news for millions of retirees across the nation. As of today, retirees will get more money under a new proposed plan that is intended to change the cost of living adjustment (COLA) computation formula. Changing this formula will lead to an increase in Social Security payments that will help Americans offset their essential needs and make ends meet. According to Roman Ulman, president of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the current COLA calculation does not adequately account for the inflation that seniors suffer, particularly in health care. As a result, the COLA must represent how inflation affects seniors so that we can pay our costs and keep our monthly Social Security benefits steady. COLAs were established in 1975 and are based on data from the third quarter—July, August, and September—annually. This year’s COLA was 3.2 percent. That was less than half of the historic 8.2 percent increase beneficiaries received the previous year. For the average recipient, the 3.2% COLA represented a $50 per month increase. It is important to highlight that the Alliance for Retired Americans, the AFL-CIO, and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees all support Gallego’s plan. In the Senate, Sen. Bob Casey, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, has introduced related legislation.