Labor News

August 27, 2021

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(This article first appeared in the September-October issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)

Nabisco Workers on Strike Across the Country

On August 10, 200 workers at a Nabisco bakery in Portland, OR, represented by Bakers, Confectioners, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) Local 364, began a strike against the company’s demands for drastic contract concessions and in protest of the continued outsourcing of jobs while the owners are making record profits. The strike quickly spread to all four other Nabisco locations across the country; on August 12, distribution center workers in Aurora, CO walked off the job, followed by 400 workers at the company’s factory in Richmond, VA on August 16 and those at the factory in Chicago on August 19. Workers at the factory in Norcross, GA joined the strike on August 23.

During the entire pandemic, Nabisco bakery workers were frontline, essential workers and rather than being treated with dignity and respect the company is refusing to negotiate a fair contract. “Nabisco workers in all five locations are saying strong and clear: stop exporting our jobs to Mexico and end your demands for contract concessions,” said BCTGM International President Anthony Shelton. “The BCTGM will take all appropriate action necessary in order to reach a contract settlement that treats Nabisco workers fairly and equitably.”

40,000 Child Care Workers in California Ratify First-Ever Union Contract

In 2019 40,000 child care workers in California secured collective bargaining rights for the first time when Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law allowing workers to form a union. Following a successful vote to form Child Care Providers United, the union negotiated an agreement for its first-ever union contract with the state of California.

The historic agreement, approved by 99.6 percent of voting members, includes long overdue pay increases for child care providers as well as new state investments in the child care system that creates more jobs and increased childcare enrollment opportunities by 200,000.

The contract’s ratification follows over 15 years of struggle by child care workers, including multiple vetoes of collective bargaining rights bills by the state’s previous governors.

“This moment is why union membership matters. I cast my vote last week, and for the first time, I got to have a say in my future as a provider. Before I joined CCPU, I had no way to talk to the State of California about my pay or working conditions,” said child care provider Angelica Mares. “Joining CCPU, I finally felt my voice was heard.”

Postal Workers in Senegal Hold Nationwide Protest Amidst Funding Crisis

On July 8, UNI Global Union’s postal affiliate SNTPT held protests in 11 different regions across Senegal against the current financial crisis at Post Senegal, the country’s postal service. Due to severe financial mismanagement, many postal services have been suspended, workers’ paychecks are arriving months late, and family allowances are going unpaid, according to UNI Global Union.

The protests in Senegal demanded that the government fix the financial crisis and pay what is owed to postal workers and their families, a total equal to around $102 million in US dollars.

“The workers of Post Senegal are experiencing a deep the midst of a global pandemic, postal workers have demonstrated their importance by providing essential services throughout the country,” said SNTPT General Secretary and UNI Africa Post & Logistics President Ibrahima Sarr.

“Despite the important role they play in the social and financial inclusion of the population, they are now facing unusual delays in salary payments and are at risk of losing their jobs due to financial difficulties resulting in cash flow tension,” Sarr continued. “The State still owes the Post a debt that needs to be settled to relaunch the postal activities and to ensure that the post can assume its public service mission in Senegal.”

Colectivo Coffee Workers Win Union Following Long Campaign Against Union-Busting

On August 23, following over a year of struggle against brutal union busting tactics, around 400 workers at Midwest coffee chain Colectivo Coffee won their union, following the NLRB’s decision to open and count challenged ballots cast during the election in April. That vote ended in a 99-99 tie, but all seven challenged ballots – now official – voted ‘Union Yes’ certifying the workers’ victory.

The new union, organized with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), covers all workers at every Colectivo Coffee café location across Wisconsin and Illinois, including baristas, bakers and other workers, and makes Colectivo the largest unionized coffee chain in the country.

The workers’ victory followed a long struggle, with management immediately retaliating against organizers following the workers initially going public with their desire for a union. Though the chain touts its “progressive” values, management hired a union-busting law firm and held multiple mandatory anti-union meetings.

“We are very proud of the workers at Colectivo Coffee! They have taken a bold and necessary step toward ensuring that every employee has fair treatment and dignity in their work,” said IBEW Local 494 Business Manger Dean A. Warsh. “We hope that the courage and hard work that Colectivo Coffee workers put into their victory inspires others in the hospitality/service industry to organize a union at their workplace.”

New York Times Tech Workers Hold Walkout in Protest Against Management Union Busting

On August 11, hundreds of tech workers at the New York Times staged a half-day walkout, protesting management’s union busting tactics since going public with their intent to join the staff Guild in April.

Management denied voluntary recognition, instead demanding an NLRB election, and began forcing workers to attend captive-audience meetings. Management is also attempting to shrink the bargaining unit by one third, filing with the NLRB to exclude roles such as data analysts and designers, and only include tech engineers.

In addition to the walkout, workers are circulating a petition to demand the end to union busting tactics and a swift NLRB election covering the entire 600-person unit. “The Times is using these combined coercive tactics to attempt to prevent us from exercising our rights to join together and bargain for a more equitable, sustainable, and diverse workplace. It is our right as workers to organize and show support for our union, and this right is protected by federal labor law,” the petition says. “It’s clear the Times won’t practice their own stated values without public accountability.”

NLRB Hearing Officer Recommends New Union Election at Bessemer, AL Amazon Facility

On August 2, an NLRB Hearing Officer issued a recommendation for a new union election at the Amazon fulfillment center in Bessemer, AL, due to Amazon’s illegal unionbusting tactics during the first election.

The NLRB Regional Director must now determine whether a new election should take place at the facility. That decision, widely expected to be in the union’s favor, can be appealed to the NLRB in Washington, DC by either party.

Further updates on the NLRB process will be posted on

800 Car Mechanics on Strike at Chicago-area Dealerships

On August 1, following the expiration of their union contract, more than 800 car mechanics at 56 car dealerships in the Chicago area began a strike, demanding stronger base pay guarantees and more management contributions to health and welfare funds. The strike began following workers voting 97 percent in favor of rejecting the final contract proposal from the Chicago Automobile Trade Association. The workers are represented by the Association of Machinists (IAM) Local 701.

While the Trade Association represents 120 dealerships in the Chicago area, nearly half of individual dealers have negotiated new contracts with Local 701. The union is demanding the Trade Association meet the terms of those contracts for the remaining 56 dealerships.

“IAM Local 701 members have spoken. These hard-working mechanics deserve the respect of a strong labor contract that shows the importance of their work,” said IAM Midwest Territory General Vice President Steve Galloway. “I am proud of these members. They’re holding the line and demanding respect on the job, which includes fair wages and the training needed to keep Local 701 auto mechanics at the top of their craft.”

500 Grocery Warehouse Workers Win New Contract Following Strike Authorization

On July 30, over 500 Fred Meyer grocery store distribution center workers in Puyallup, WA won a new four-year agreement. The new agreement came two weeks after the workers, represented by Teamsters Local 117, voted unanimously in favor of striking following management’s refusal to include improved safety protections in their contract proposal.

During the pandemic, Fred Meyer’s profits have skyrocketed as the demand for groceries increased. However, the company refused to properly protect the safety and health of its distribution center workers. Following the strike authorization, the new tentative agreement includes stronger safety language. As this issue goes to press, the members are currently voting on ratification.

“We were relentless,” said shop steward Matt Collins. “From fighting the company to implement basic measures like efficient temperature checks, to our resounding strike vote, to punishing hours of bargaining, we bring this victory back to our coworkers with our head high. We are proud to raise standards of what is a strong union contract.”

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