Labor News

May 7, 2021

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(This article first appeared in the May/June 2021 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)

1,300 Steelworkers on Strike Across Five States

On March 30, around 1,300 workers, represented by the United Steelworkers (USW), began a strike at nine Allegheny Technologies Incorporated (ATI) sites in Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut.

The steelworkers have not received a wage increase since 2014. When negotiations began in January, the company refused to offer any increases, and instead demanded severe concessions, including increased health care costs. Though the workers continued to bargain in good faith, management resorted to unfair labor practices, refusing to provide the union with necessary information during bargaining. These unfair labor practices pushed the workers to begin the strike.

ATI lost money during the pandemic, yet continued to compensate its executives with million-dollar salaries while closing plants and cutting union jobs. According to ATI’s financial reports, the company has laid off 1,400 people in 2021. “We are willing to meet with management all day, every day, but ATI needs to engage with us to resolve the outstanding issues,” said USW International Vice President David McCall. “We will continue to bargain in good faith, and we strongly urge ATI to start doing the same.”

“Through generations of hard work and dedication, Steelworkers at ATI have earned and deserve the security of a union contract,” McCall continued. “We cannot allow the company to use the global pandemic as an excuse to reverse decades of collective bargaining progress.”

Workers remain on strike as this issue goes to press. Future updates on this story will be provided at

APWU Joins UNI Global Union’s #MilMinutos Campaign for the Victims of Armed Conflict in Colombia

On March 15, the UNI Global Union launched the #MilMinutos (1,000 minutes) campaign, in response to increased violence in Colombia against social justice leaders and trade unionists. The campaign’s aim is to gather 1,000 one-minute videos, representing the 1,091 trade union and social leaders murdered since the signing of a peace agreement in 2016 – to push international organizations, including the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to take action.

A 2016 Peace Agreement brought an official end to the country’s decades-long armed civil conflict. However, political violence against social justice leaders and trade unionists has only increased since the signing of the agreement, with murders, assassinations, and massacres increasing dramatically since the inauguration of President Iván Duque in 2018.

As part of the campaign, President Dimondstein recorded his own video, committing the APWU’s support to the people of Colombia. “The murder of trade union and social justice leaders, fighting for workers’ rights and justice in Colombia, is an outrage and must be stopped. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights should be invited to Colombia to help put an end to this political violence,” President Dimondstein said in the video.

APWU members are encouraged to record their own videos for the campaign. Be sure to tag #MilMinutos, @TuMuevesCol and @uniamericas when posting videos to Twitter and Instagram.

Trade Unionists Leading Protests Against Military Coup in Myanmar

In the previous issue of the American Postal Worker, we reported on the February 1 overthrow of Myanmar’s democratically-elected government by the military. Since the coup, trade unionists have led the people’s fight to restore democracy in Myanmar, even as violence against protesters has escalated.

Over 700 civilians have been murdered by the junta since the coup. In response to the increasing violence, trade union leaders have led the protest movement, calling for a nationwide general strike and shutting down major sectors of the economy. Most recently, protesters engaged in a “silent strike,” refusing to celebrate and leaving streets empty during the Buddhist New Year. More information will be provided on as the situation in Myanmar develops.

Illinois Governor Signs Bill Expanding Chicago Teachers’ Bargaining Rights Following Decades-Long Struggle

On April 2, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker (D) signed H.B. 2275 into law, following an over 25-year campaign by Chicago teachers to expand their collective bargaining rights. The new law is a repeal of the 1995 Chicago School Reform Amendatory Act, which split bargaining issues into two different categories.

Following the 1995 law’s passage, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) was only able to bargain over economic issues such as pay and benefits during their contract negotiations. Other issues, including class sizes, the length of the school year, and other measures to help the common good, were classified as “voluntary” issues that could only be negotiated upon if the school district agreed.

CTU members have been active in the state for over a decade pushing for its repeal. During the CTU’s successful strikes in 2012 and 2019, the union’s demands centered on common good issues, including increasing the number of nurses in schools and increasing funding for counselors.

“With the passage of this law and our commitment to common good bargaining, our students and families can at last realize their right to real equity, and never has that commitment been more important than today,” said CTU President Jesse Sharkey. “Families are struggling under the dual weights of a pandemic that has disproportionately hammered their families and the income inequality and economic hardship the pandemic has exacerbated. Our union is committed to their recovery.”

AFL-CIO Leads National Day of Action to Pass the PRO Act

On April 8, the AFL-CIO led a digital Day of Action to push the Senate to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act. During the event, supporters made hundreds of thousands of calls and texts to the Senate, asking senators to sponsor the legislation.

The PRO Act, which was passed by the House of Representatives, if enacted, would be the most comprehensive labor law in decades. The bill would make organizing unions far easier, ban mandatory company anti-union meetings, end so-called “right-to-work” laws and speed up the union election process, among other provisions. President Biden has promised to sign the bill should the Senate pass it.

“It’s not surprising that nearly half of non-unionized workers say they would vote to join a union today if given the chance. That’s 60 million people knocking at our doors. The PRO Act would welcome them in,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “It would make sure that workers can form a union if they want to, free from employer interference and coercion.”

Currently, the bill has 47 cosponsors in the Senate; Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has promised the bill will get a floor vote once it gains 50 cosponsors. The three holdouts from the majority democratic caucus are Sens. Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema (both D-AZ) and Mark Warner (D-VA). Much of the volume of calls on April 8 went to those offices. Calls were also directed at Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who become a cosponsor after the Day of Action.

Go to /proact to find out how you can be involved in getting this important legislation passed.

Results of Amazon Union Election in Bessemer Shows Why We Need the PRO Act

In the past two issues of The American Postal Worker, we reported on the historic election to form the first union at Amazon in the United States. The election, held among nearly 6,000 workers at the company’s warehouse in Bessemer, AL, gained massive public interest in the media and inspired solidarity from fellow workers, allies, and community members across the country.

The close attention to the election in the media also cast a spotlight on Amazon’s brutal union-busting tactics, and the lengths the company went to defeat the workers seeking to join the Retail, Warehouse and Department Store Union (RWDSU). These tactics – which ranged from tripling the size of the bargaining unit, to multiple mandatory anti-union meetings, to harassing workers with text messages, to defying the NLRB by having a mailbox installed at the warehouse – were crucial elements of the company’s successful attempt to crush their workers’ attempt to organize.

The final results of the mail-in election saw a vote of 1798-738 against the union (not including 505 challenged ballots). Immediately following the election, the RWDSU filed unfair labor practices charges against Amazon for their conduct.

“Working people deserve better than the way Amazon has conducted itself during this campaign. This campaign has proven that the best way for working people to protect themselves and their families is to join together in a union,” said RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum. “However, Amazon’s behavior during the election cannot be ignored and our union will seek remedy to each and every improper action Amazon took. We won’t rest until workers’ voices are heard fairly under the law. When they are, we believe they will be victorious in this historic and critical fight to unionize the first Amazon warehouse in the United States.”

The election in Bessemer showed just how much the deck is stacked against workers trying to organize, especially in large elections against companies with nearly unlimited resources. That’s why the labor movement is currently united in a campaign to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act in order to prevent the type of conduct workers faced in Bessemer. “All APWU members are strongly encouraged to call their senators and urge them to pass the PRO Act,” said President Dimondstein. “As union members, we know the importance of collective bargaining for good pay, benefits, and health and safety protections. All workers deserve the right to organize for the same things.”

Over 1,100 Mine Workers on Strike in Alabama

On April 1, over 1,100 mine workers, represented by the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), began a strike against mining company Warrior Met in Alabama. The strike, covering workers at all of the company’s locations, follows UMWA’s filing of unfair labor practices charges against the company with the NLRB. Warrior Met has demanded drastic concessions, refusing to negotiate in good faith on a new contract with the union.

“Our members are the reason Warrior Met even exists today,” said UMWA International President Cecil E. Roberts said. “They made the sacrifices to bring this company out of the bankruptcy of Walter Energy in 2016.”

“These productive, professional miners at Warrior Met mined the coal that meant the company could become successful again,” Roberts continued. “And Warrior Met has capitalized on their hard work, earning tens of millions in profits for their Wall Street owners. They have even rewarded upper management with bonuses.” The strike has moved into its third week as this issue goes to press. Miners have indicated they will stay on the picket lines as long as it takes to win a good contract. Future updates on the strike will be provided on

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