Outten & Golden: Empowering Employees in the Workplace

Posts Tagged ‘bargaining’

The Skies Just Got Friendlier for Working People: Worker Wins

Thursday, August 24th, 2017

Our latest roundup of worker wins begins with flight attendants and air traffic controllers standing together to make the skies safer for working people and travelers and includes numerous examples of workers organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life. 

Flight Attendents Reach Tentative Agreement with Mesa Airlines: Flight attendants at Mesa Airlines, represented by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA), stood together in efforts to have the work they do as aviation’s first responders recognized. They successfully announced that they have negotiated a tentative agreement with management on a four-year agreement that would provide more than 1,100 flight attendants with economic and quality of life gains.

Teachers Who Train Air Traffic Controllers Join IAM: In an effort to make the skies safer and improve the lives of working people, more than 280 instructors at SAIC in Oklahoma City have joined the Machinists (IAM). Facing a strong anti-union campaign from SAIC, the instructors successfully organized and now have more leverage to make sure the public is safer.

Swissport Workers Stand Together and Put Employer on Notice: Cleaners and ramp agents at Bush Intercontinental Airport voted to join the IAM, citing broken promises on pay, scheduling, overtime, and working conditions. IAM Organizer Fabian Liendo said: “Workers stood together throughout the campaign and put Swissport on notice. These new IAM members sent a clear message and are prepared to fight to secure much-needed job improvements. They should be very proud of what they’ve accomplished.”

Graduate Employees at University of Chicago to Hold Election in October: When the university attempted to deny its’ graduate employees right to come together to negotiate for a fair return on their work, the working people fought back. Their efforts were rewarded when the National Labor Relations Board rejected the university’s argument and ruled that a union election can go forward. The election is scheduled take place in October.

In Near-Universal Vote, Nurses in Turlock, Calif, Vote to Join CNA: Nearly 300 registered nurses at Emanuel Medical Center in Turlock, California, voted overwhelmingly (284-4) to join the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United. Chelsey Jerner, an emergency room RN, said: “As patient advocates, we voted yes to have a collective RN voice to enhance positive patient outcomes at our hospital. Patient safety is our number one priority.”

Oregon Service Industry Workers Earn Protection from Unfair Scheduling: A coalition led by the Oregon Working Families Party fought for legislation that would protect retail, hospitality and food service workers from unfair scheduling practices. Gov. Kate Brown (D) signed the bill into law earlier this month. Working Family spokesperson Hannah Taube said: “This is a huge moment for labor rights in America. Oregon’s Fair Work Week legislation is one of the most important labor victories in decades for low-wage workers. We hope Oregon is the first of many states to expand scheduling protections for workers—knowing when you work more than a day in advance is essential to parents, students and many other workers trying to make ends meet with two or three different jobs.”

More than 40,000 Educators in Puerto Rico Join AFT to Fight Education Austerity: On Aug. 3, the Asociacion de Maestros de Puerto Rico (AMPR) signed a three-year agreement with the AFT in order to fight back against austerity and privatization in education that is having a devastating impact on students and teachers in Puerto Rico. AFT President Randi Weingarten said: “The people of Puerto Rico didn’t cause this crisis, but they’re forced to shoulder most of the burden because of the actions of hedge funders and irresponsible government deals.”

Lipton Tea Workers in Suffolk Organize for First Time in Plant’s 60-Year History: For the first time in the history of the Lipton Tea production plant in Suffolk, Virginia, employees have voted to unionize. The vote was 109-6 to join United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 400.

This blog was originally published at AFLCIO.org on August 24, 2017. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Kenneth Quinnell is a long-time blogger, campaign staffer and political activist. Before joining the AFL-CIO in 2012, he worked as labor reporter for the blog Crooks and Liars. Previous experience includes Communications Director for the Darcy Burner for Congress Campaign and New Media Director for the Kendrick Meek for Senate Campaign, founding and serving as the primary author for the influential state blog Florida Progressive Coalition and more than 10 years as a college instructor teaching political science and American History. His writings have also appeared on Daily Kos, Alternet, the Guardian Online, Media Matters for America, Think Progress, Campaign for America’s Future and elsewhere.

Postal Workers Fend Off Attacks in New Contract

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

Alexandra BradburyThis article was first posted at Labor Notes.

They didn’t end three-tier in a single blow. But in a new contract covering 200,000 members, the American Postal Workers Union made serious headway and fended off most concessionary demands, including the Postal Service’s effort to create yet another tier.
The union entered bargaining with little obvious leverage. It was up against a management that’s been openly collaborating with postal unions’ Congressional foes to push a frenzy of cuts—slashing delivery standards, shutting down mail plants,privatizing work, and selling off post offices to real estate sharks.

Postal workers can’t legally strike. If the union and management don’t reach a deal, an arbitrator writes the contract—which is what finally happened. Arbitrator Stephen Goldberg announced the results July 8.

He stopped short of eliminating the three-tier system, as the union had proposed. But the new contract shrinks the number of bottom-tier workers and improves their situation, while defending the traditional raises and no-layoff protection for the two upper tiers.

New York City mail processing clerk Carl Ross was riding the train to work when he read the results on his cell phone. “I think I screamed out loud,” he said. “It’s gone a long way towards making Postal Support Employees feel like they’re part of the U.S. Postal Service.”

The Postal underclass

Postal Support Employees (PSEs) are the worst-off members of the APWU, stuck in an indefinite temporary status. Since the last contract in 2010, all new hires have landed in this limbo.

They do the same jobs right alongside traditional career employees, but receive lower wages and minimal benefits. And their temporary status means PSEs always have to fear for their jobs—so management can squeeze more work and “flexibility” out of them. “You go wherever the management wind takes you,” Ross said.

He’s one of many union members who traveled to Washington, D.C., to testify to the arbitrator about working conditions. Six-day weeks and forced overtime every night are routine for PSEs in his facility, he said. Workweeks range from 50 to 70 hours.

“I come to work to provide a better life for my family,” Ross said, “not to forsake my family for the job.”

The old contract laid out a process to convert PSEs who were working full-time hours into career positions eventually, based on seniority. But management always dragged its heels, said Ross, a steward. It pushed each grievance to national arbitration, stalling results for months or more.

So the number of PSEs has hovered near the contractual limits—till now, up to 10 percent of all workers in motor vehicles and maintenance, and 20 percent of clerks. In negotiations, the Postal Service sought to add even more.

Steps forward

Instead, the new contract mandates that thousands will be converted to career positions by September 3. In the maintenance and motor vehicle crafts, with the conversion of all 3,500 PSEs, the category will vanish entirely. New hires in those crafts will go right into career status.

Not so in the union’s biggest craft, clerks, which includes workers at post office retail windows as well as those who process the mail in sorting plants. A thousand of the longest-serving clerks will be converted, leaving 27,000 PSEs.

These remaining temps will get a cumulative raise of 7 percent plus 50 cents an hour during the three-year agreement, plus access to Postal Service health benefits, six paid holidays (they had zero; career employees get 10), and for retail clerks, a uniform allowance.

The new holiday pay hit home for Ross. Last Christmas he was made to work a 12-hour shift, without it.

Other contract highlights include a one-year moratorium on further outsourcing of postal retail work (Staples, the target of a union boycott over its grab of APWU work, isn’t affected), a hold on plant closings at least through April 2017, and a bar on further subcontracting of motor vehicle work.

On the minus side, employees’ share of health insurance premiums will go up—the one major concession management got.

How they did it

What worked? One factor was a change in attitude at union headquarters. The last contract was settled without arbitration, when the previous officers agreed to the three-tier system.

Angry at the giveaways in that deal, members unseated their top officers in 2013, voting in a slate of activists who pledged to “stop the bleeding” by involving members and resisting concessions.

This time the Postal Workers held out against management’s demands through a year and a half of bargaining, mediation, and arbitration. “We could have settled for a new contract last year,” President Mark Dimondstein wrote in a message to members. “But it would not have been an agreement acceptable or fair to you, the member.”

On the job, workers built pressure by wearing union shirts and buttons every Thursday with the message “Good Postal Service! Good Jobs! Good Contract!” To bosses, even a simple disruption of routine can be unnerving. Managers in San Francisco soon showed their ruffled feathers—they distributed official T-shirts and told workers to wear those on Thursdays instead. Some workers refused; others gamely put on management’s shirts, but decked them out with union buttons and stickers.

As the contract expiration neared last year, the union organized a day of action, holding “I Stand with Postal Workers” rallies in 130 locations around the country. Members handed out leaflets, talked with customers about the union’s plan to defend and expand postal services, and gathered hundreds of thousands of signatures on support postcards mailed to the Postmaster General.

Once arbitration began, the union brought dozens of workers to D.C. to testify about their on-the-job concerns. Goldberg wrote that especially “the impassioned testimony of the PSEs” moved him to reject the Postal Service’s push to expand the temp category any further.

“For the first time, I felt included in my own future at the Postal Service,” Ross said. “That I had some contribution to making a better life for thousands of employees across the country—it’s actually quite humbling.”

A house divided

A half-million postal workers make up the nation’s biggest unionized workforce, split among four unions.

The biggest are the APWU and the Letter Carriers (NALC), whose members deliver letters and packages door to door in cities. Smaller unions represent Rural Carriers and Mail Handlers, the latter a division of the Laborers union.

After the APWU agreed to three tiers in its 2010 contract, the Postal Service went after the other three unions for the same concessions. The Letter Carriers and Mail Handlers fought it to arbitration. In the end arbitrators imposed tiers, although both unions got better deals for their middle tiers than the APWU did—lower starting pay than first-tier workers, but the same top pay.

And all the unions ended up funneling their new hires into third-tier perma-temp categories, similar to PSEs: City Carrier Assistant, Mail Handler Assistant, and Rural Carrier Associate.

The APWU contract results are sure to loom large in the bargaining now underway for the Letter Carriers and Mail Handlers. The Rural Carriers have already settled their contract, agreeing to continue the tiered system—a fact that arbitrator Goldberg cited in his decision to impose the same on the APWU.

The relationship among the four unions had been testy since the ’90s. Leaders officially buried the hatchet in 2014 with the proclamation of a Postal Union Alliance.

The division “allows management to play one union against the other,” Dimondstein wrote. “We would be much stronger in future negotiations if all postal workers were united in one big postal union.”

UPS-set

A factor Goldberg weighed heavily was the poor standards at the Postal Service’s most obvious competitors. The law instructs arbitrators that postal workers’ pay and benefits should be comparable to the private sector.

In its successful case to preserve the PSE tier for clerks, management leaned on evidence that at UPS and FedEx, retail and mail processing workers earn even lower wages.

It’s no wonder that FedEx workers and retail workers at UPS are low-paid, since they’re nonunion. But it’s a scandal that the part-time union members who sort packages for UPS, a wildly profitable shipper, make so little per hour that they’re driving down standards in the public postal service. UPS new-hire sorters and loaders make $10 an hour and are guaranteed only three and a half hours of work a day.

For that, we can thank another union administration that’s gone along with tiers—the Teamsters. Members angry over contract givebacks there are running a reform slate for the union’s top offices this fall. A major theme in their campaign is the demand to end “part-time poverty” at UPS.

The APWU and UPS-Teamsters contracts will both expire in 2018. If reformers were at the helm in both unions, could we hope for a coordinated campaign to fight tiered pay in the entire package delivery industry?

This article originally appeared at Labor Notes, and Inthesetimes.com on August 15, 2016. reprinted with permission.

Alexandra Bradbury is a staff writer with Labor Notes.

Employers Keep Shifting Costs to Workers Under Obamacare

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

in these timesObamacare enrollment season is here again, and people with insurance through the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces are being urged to look at their options.

It’s been a year since the exchanges originally opened. Despite spectacularly incompetent website design and poor management by the federal and many of the state exchanges, most of the glitches were finally resolved, and 7.3 million people signed up and paid for private insurance through the marketplaces.

Seven million more people also gained coverage under Medicaid in the past year—despite the fact that 23 states continue to refuse to accept federal funds to expand Medicaid to their own residents, affecting 11 million more Americans.

Late last year, the Labor Campaign for Single Payer posted our Briefing Paper, ”10 Things Unions Need to Look Out for When Bargaining Under Obamacare.” We asserted that, “because it relies on employment-based coverage to provide the lion’s share of healthcare insurance while, perversely, undermining key aspects of that coverage, we have concluded that the ACA will place new stresses and pressures on collective bargaining.”

Resources for Bargaining

Are you preparing to bargain health care? The Labor Campaign for Single Payer has just posted a new video, “How to Negotiate Healthcare under the Affordable Care Act,” a 30-minute tutorial for union activists and staff.

As we predicted, the assault on employment-based benefits continues unabated. A recent survey reports that 71 percent of Fortune 500 companies plan to raise employee contributions for their health insurance, and 73 percent have already moved or plan to move to so-called “consumer-directed health plans,” a fancy catchphrase for skimpy plans that shift costs onto the consumer.

In addition, 30 percent report that they plan to dump pre-65 retirees onto the health insurance exchanges, and 24 percent are moving to keep part-time hours under 30 per week. Employers are required to provide health insurance for all full-time employees (counted as those working 30 hours or more) or pay a penalty under yet-to-be-enforced ACA rules.

Walmart recently announced it was eliminating health care benefits for 30,000 part-timers who work less than 30 hours per week. It’s joined by dozens of other major corporations in the retail and hospitality industries who are eliminating employer-provided benefits for their low-wage and part-time workers.

These actions highlight the contradictory and unstable consequences of the ACA. Many of these workers may be able to access more affordable benefits in the health care exchanges, while Walmart gets away with a huge shift of its employment costs onto the backs of taxpayers.

Cost shifting isn’t only affecting low-wage workers. In Philadelphia, an unelected School Reform Commission unilaterally cancelled its contract with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, pulled out of the existing Health and Welfare Fund, eliminated retiree benefits, and imposed a 10 to 13 percent co-pay on working teachers.

Bargaining Advice

Unions are wrestling with the new bargaining environment created by the Affordable Care Act. The Labor Campaign for Single Payer understands that the only long-term solution is to take health care off the bargaining table by making it a right for everyone in America. In the meantime, we stand in solidarity with workers everywhere fighting to defend hard-won benefits.

Getting ready for contract negotiations? The Labor Campaign for Single Payer has just posted a new video, “How to Negotiate Healthcare under the Affordable Care Act,” a 30-minute tutorial for union activists and staff.

The video was prepared by the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers union (UE), based on their extensive bargaining experiences under ACA. It includes recommendations for contract language, as well as language to avoid.

Until we win single-payer Medicare-for-All, health care benefits will continue to be the biggest cause of strikes, lockouts, concession bargaining, and givebacks. We need to finish the job. The best way to guarantee health care for every worker is to guarantee health care for all.

This story was first posted at Labor Notes and then reposted on Inthesetime.com on December 2, 2014. Reprinted with permission. http://inthesetimes.com/working/entry/17409/employer_costs_obamacare

About the author: Mark Dudzic is National Coordinator of the Labor Campaign for Single Payer.

Bargain to Organize: From Boon to Embarrassment

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

One sign, among many, of labor’s current travails is the stalled union growth strategy known as “Bargain to Organize.”

More than a decade ago, there was no bigger buzzword in union organizing circles. When John Sweeney was elected AFL-CIO president in 1995, he encouraged affiliates to employ the tactic by pressuring unionized companies to permit uncontested organizing drives at their non-union facilities or subsidiaries.

In one model Bargain to Organize campaign that began in 2008, the 6,000 SEIU members employed by Help At Home, a for-profit home healthcare company, used their own contract negotiations in Illinois to confront management about its record of union-busting in neighboring Indiana.

Then-SEIU organizer Matt Luskin reported that after an aggressive membership mobilization campaign, Help At Home signed an agreement that not only gave raises and better benefits to Illinois workers, but also “expanded the organizing rights of thousands of workers in other states where the company operates.”

Bypassing The Board

In every industry setting, the goal of Bargain to Organize has been some combination of management neutrality, card check, and/or a “free and fair” election process that enables workers to engage in union activity without harassment, threats, intimidation or job discrimination.

One major success for the strategy came after a five-year struggle in the 1990s, when the Communications Workers for America (CWA) finally won a card check and neutrality deal that now applies to employees of AT&T Mobility. Under its terms, AT&T will recognize CWA if a majority of the workers in a pre-specified bargaining unit sign union authorization cards. The American Arbitration Association (AAA) conducts the card count and certifies the results. AT&T Mobility managers are not allowed to interfere with union organizing activity. Management is even obliged to provide CWA with employee information and workplace access that’s not required under National Labor Relations Board election rules.

This negotiated process eliminates the Board’s role in determining the scope of new bargaining units–a frequent source of representation election delays. Plus, it avoids the costly, uphill battle of an employer-contested NLRB election campaign.

Through card check, more than 40,000 AT&T cellular technicians, customer service reps and retail salespeople have gained union contract coverage. In the heyday of Bargain to Organize, similar large-scale membership gains were made by the Teamsters at UPS Freight; UNITE HERE at the Hilton Hotel chain; the SEIU and other unions at Kaiser Permanente; and, most recently, the SEIU and California Nurses Association at Hospital Corporation of America (HCA). (For more details on some of these struggles, see “A Look at Three ‘Strategic Campaigns.'”)

Fewer Deals To Be Made?

In the last several years, however, few AFL-CIO or Change To Win affiliates have made any new large-scale Bargain to Organize breakthroughs. Although some unions are still waging “leverage campaigns” to neutralize employer interference–like UNITE HERE’s crucial Las Vegas battle with the non-union Station Casino chain–existing bargaining relationships have not yielded additional protections for unrepresented employees at Verizon, General Electric and many other partially unionized firms.

Instead, unions in telecom, manufacturing, and other industries have been thrown on the defensive by management demands for contract concessions. In this climate, union proposals for organizing rights have become “throwaway demands.” The demonization and defeat of “card check” in labor’s failed 2007-10 campaign for the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) has led some unions to abandon that approach in favor of the old model of secret ballot elections (with an employer pledge that they will be “free and fair.”) However, in many tough bargaining situations, “even those modest steps are next to impossible now,” says one top union leader. “That’s why most people aren’t even trying anymore.”

Where some unions have continued to use their bargaining relationships with employers to gain or maintain membership, the results have become increasingly controversial and even legally questionable. They have revived longstanding rank-and-file concerns about unfavorable trade-offs between contract standards and growth.

What Quid Pro Quos?

Such Bargain to Organize tensions and controversies are not new. When I was working with CWA members in the 1990s at the phone company now known as Verizon, it took much education and discussion before local union activists embraced the idea of putting organizing-related demands on a par with wages, benefits, and working conditions. Even after organizing rights became a strike issue–in a 17-day walkout by 75,000 Verizon workers in 2000–some influential local officials still viewed card check and neutrality as a far-removed “national union issue.” (Many International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers strikers viewed it as just a CWA issue!)

In 2008-2010, as I reported in The Civil Wars in U.S. Labor, the costly series of disputes that enveloped SEIU, CNA, and UNITE-HERE arose partly over Bargain to Organize strategy disagreements. Then-Change to Win leaders Andy Stern and Bruce Raynor argued that “contract relief” was needed to gain an organizational foothold in healthcare, food service, and other industries. If local unions weren’t willing to partner with management and promise some degree of “labor peace,” too many nursing homes, hospital chains and catering contractors would thwart unionizing efforts.

In one problematic Stern-Raynor organizing experiment, newly recruited food service workers ended up in a nationwide “local,” Service Workers United (SWU); SWU members were covered by a “template agreement” that sometimes undercut existing local UNITE-HERE contracts with the same employers. Adding insult to injury, the affected workers belatedly discovered that top union negotiators had secretly agreed to restrict membership activity–such as informational picketing, consumer appeals, and other contract campaign tactics–that would be necessary to win future wage and benefit improvements.

Bargaining for De-cert Protection

Critics of this non-transparent, concessionary approach now cite United Healthcare Workers-West, SEIU’s third largest affiliate, as the latest practitioner of a debased form of Bargain to Organize. Instead of mobilizing its members like SEIU’s Illinois Healthcare affiliate did at Help at Home, UHW has bargained to keep its existing dues-payers from escaping to the new National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW).

Earlier this year, UHW was faced with the defection of 750 workers at Seton Medical Center to NUHW. So the incumbent union made a side deal with the hospital owner, the Daughters of Charity, which consolidated five separate bargaining units into a single one covering 3,000 employees. This tentative agreement–designed to make decertification more difficult–was made contingent on subsequent union approval of pension and medical plan changes.

When these proposed givebacks were revealed in late April, Daughters of Charity workers discovered that they will now have a 401(k) account rather than be covered by a defined benefit pension plan; they will pay 25 percent of the monthly premiums for previously free PPO medical coverage; their out-of-pocket costs for medical plan utilization (doctor visits, prescriptions, etc.) will double; and workers who fail to meet various “Wellness Program” standards for personal healthiness will pay 20 percent more for the cost of their insurance premiums.

To get these concessions approved, UHW conducted a rushed two-day ratification vote that began less than 12 hours after a settlement was announced. (The SEIU constitution requires 3-days advance notice of such votes; workers at Daughters of Charity got only nine hours.) According to workers who complained to SEIU president Mary Kay Henry, UHW reps refused to provide them with copies of the tentative agreement. Disgruntled Daughters of Charity workers continue to organize for NUHW and expect an NLRB re-run of the election they narrowly lost at Seton Medical Center in March.

Employee Free Choice?

At Chapman Hospital, a non-union hospital in southern California, UHW/SEIU engaged in organizing misconduct that publicly discredits the very concept of card check–playing into the hands of the rightwing, corporate opponents of Employee Free Choice Act. UHW announced last winter that 220 workers had formed a new bargaining unit after a card-check process agreed to by management. In June, however, the NLRB issued an unfair labor practice complaint against Chapman and UHW, charging that the hospital had recognized the union without real majority support. To avoid a hearing, both parties signed a settlement earlier this month that removed UHW/SEIU as the bargaining representative of the hospital workers.

In Kentucky, the NLRB has also cracked down on a similar example of company-union collusion. On August 1, the Board asked a federal court to issue a rare 10(j) injunction against the UAW and Voith Industrial Services, a contractor hired by Ford in February to transport newly assembled SUVs from its Louisville assembly plant. This car haul work was previously performed by 160 members of Teamsters Local 89 employed by Jack Cooper Transport, a signatory to the IBT’s national auto transport contract. According to the NLRB, almost all of these experienced, $20-an-hour Teamster drivers were replaced when Ford brought in Voith instead. Voith’s replacement workforce (paid $11 per hour) then came under an inferior contract, pre-arranged with the UAW, per a similar deal involving Ford and Voith in Michigan last year. Recognition of the UAW was granted before most new drivers were even hired.

“We believe this is an unlawful collective bargaining relationship,” NLRB regional director Gary Muffley told the Louisville Courier Journal on August 11. The NLRB is seeking an order that would reinstate the displaced drivers and restore the Teamster bargaining relationship that’s been in place since 1962.

Bargain to Organize’s bottom fishing, like the UHW’s card check sham at Chapman or the UAW’s undercutting of the IBT in car-haul, may add to “union density” on paper but it’s not going to boost workers’ power or help anyone make contract gains. Likewise, the challenge of persuading union members that they have stake in union growth strategies only gets more difficult when concession bargaining becomes a way of slamming the door on employee free choice between competing unions.

This blog originally appeared in Working In These Times on August 21, 2012. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Steve Early is author of Embedded With Organized Labor: Journalistic Reflections on the Class War at Home, is a labor journalist and lawyer who has written for numerous publications. He was a Boston-based international representative or organizer for the Communications Workers of America for 27 years, and is a member of the editorial advisory committees of three independent labor publications: Labor Notes, New Labor Forum and Working USA.

16,000 Workers Ratify New Contracts at AT&T - and More Bargaining News

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

This post originally appeared in the AFL-CIO blog on October 5, 2009. Reprinted with permission from the author.

New contracts for 16,000 AT&T core wireline workers, members of CWA and IBEW, and more news from the “Bargaining Digest Weekly.” The AFL-CIO Collective Bargaining Department delivers daily, bargaining-related news and research resources to more than 1,200 subscribers. Union leaders can register for this service through our website, Bargaining@Work.

SETTLEMENTS

CWA, AT&T: Members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) ratified a new three-year contract with AT&T. The pact, covering 7,000 core wireline workers around the country, includes a 9 percent pay increase over the term and maintains quality health care.

IBEW, AT&T: Nearly 9,000 core wireline workers in Illinois and Indiana, members of the Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 21, ratified a new three-year agreement with AT&T on Tuesday. Nearly half of AT&T’s 120,000 wireline workers have ratified contracts, while negotiations continue with CWA in the East, Southeast and Southwest regions.

USW, Bridgestone-Firestone: Completing the latest round of rubber tire industry bargaining, United Steelworkers (USW) members at Bridgestone-Firestone ratified a four-year agreement covering 4,500 workers at seven plants. Wages and benefits are protected, including health care for both active and retired workers. Members also ratified new agreements with Goodyear and Michelin.

UNITE HERE, Multiple Casinos: Members of UNITE HERE Local 54 overwhelmingly approved a new two-year contract with four Atlantic City casinos. The agreement with Harrah’s Atlantic City, Bally’s Atlantic City, Caesars Atlantic City and the Showboat Atlantic City provides wage increases for most workers and guarantees benefits will not be cut.

AFSCME, City of New Britain: AFSCME Local 1186 ratified a new contract with the city of New Britain, Conn., last week. The new contract comes just months after a four-year contract was reached, but since then, the city’s budget has suffered with the economic downturn. The new contract includes a six-month wage freeze in exchange for a no-layoff guarantee.

AFM, Grand Rapids Symphony: Members of the Grand Rapids Federation of Musicians (AFM) ratified a new two-year contract with the Grand Rapids Symphony. The 80 musicians will maintain there current pay but agreed to small cuts in benefits to avoid layoffs.

Multiple, Kennecott Utah Copper: Members of four unions have ratified a seven-year contract with Kennecott Utah Copper. The contract, covering 1,280 members of IBEW, Machinists (IAM), Operating Engineers (IUOE) and USW, includes a wage increase of approximately 5 percent each year.

Multiple, State of Rhode Island: Three of four state employee unions in Rhode Island have voted to approve the contract proposed by Gov. Donald Carcieri. SEIU Local 580, the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE) Local 400 and a health care worker’s arm of the National Education Association (NEA-Ind.) voted for the agreement, which includes 12 furlough days over two years but avoids layoffs. The state’s largest public sector union, AFSCME Council 94, will tally its votes tomorrow.

NEGOTIATIONS

IFPTE, Spirit AeroSystems: The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), IFPTE Local 2001, has reached a tentative agreement with Spirit AeroSystems. The contract would cover 783 engineers and includes a 3 percent bonus, annual wage increases and guaranteed compensation for overtime. Union negotiators unanimously recommended members vote in favor of the agreement.

AFSCME, State of Illinois: An Illinois judge issued an injunction last Monday to halt the layoff of 2,600 Illinois state workers, saying it violated the workers’ union contract. AFSCME Council 31 filed the lawsuit to prevent the layoffs of its members, many of whom are corrections officers, arguing that prison layoffs would risk the safety of the remaining corrections workers. The state and union will head to arbitration.

IAM, Daimler Trucks: The IAM is hopeful for a new contract at a Daimler Trucks plant in Oregon, which the company had previously announced would be shut down. The company put on hold plans to transfer work from Portland to Mexico and North Carolina, saying it received a new military contract, but the union says the plans changed because of the large amount the company would have to pay out for pensions if it shut down.

BCTGM, Kellogg Inc.: The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers has reached a tentative three-year agreement with cereal maker Kellogg Inc. The contract would cover 1,450 workers at four plants, represented by Local 3-G in Battle Creek, Mich., Local 50-G in Omaha, Neb., Local 252-G in Memphis, Tenn., and Local 374-G in Lancaster, Penn.

UAW, Deere and Company: UAW has reached a tentative agreement with agricultural equipment maker Deere and Co., covering 9,500 workers and 17,000 retirees. The proposed six-year contract will be voted on by 15 UAW locals.

Multiple, City of L.A.: The Los Angeles City Council approved a plan to offer early retirement to 2,400 city workers. The plan would offer cash bonuses to workers who retired early, in an attempt to save money and avoid possible layoffs. The Coalition of City Unions must vote to ratify the plan before it returns to the city council for final approval.

CNA/NNOC, Temple University Hospital: Nurses at Temple University Hospital postponed a three-day strike, which was to start Friday. The members of the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals (PASNAP-CNA/NNOC) overwhelmingly rejected a proposal by Temple University Hospital.

Multiple, Republic Airways Holdings Inc.: Flight attendants and pilots for Midwest Airlines, represented by the Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA-CWA) and the Air Line Pilots (ALPA) respectively, continue to negotiate over seniority lists with the Teamsters (IBT), which represents crews of Midwest’s new owner, Republic Airways Holdings Inc. Midwest’s legacy crews face layoff by Dec. 1, when the Boeing 717 jets they fly will be grounded.

Disclaimer: This information is being provided for your information only. As it is compiled from published news reports, not from individual unions, we cannot vouch for either its completeness or accuracy; readers who desire further information should directly contact the union involved.

About the Author: Belinda Boyce. Before joining the AFL-CIO Collective Bargaining Department as research analyst, I worked for six years in the AFL-CIO Organizing Department: three years in Voice@Work and three years in the Center for Strategic Research, working on organizing, issue, and political campaigns. I attended Penn State University, where I became a rabid fan of Nittany Lion football, and later graduated from Florida State University College of Law.

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