Unions Can Still Strike—Don’t Let the Supreme Court Tell You Otherwise / by Alexandra Bradbury

For the moment, the labor movement may have dodged a bullet. The Supreme Court did not do what many had feared it would do in the case of the cement drivers’ strike at Glacier Northwest: overrule longstanding precedent that employers generally cannot sue unions in state court over strikes covered by the National Labor Relations Act. Photo: Teamsters Local 174

Originally published in Labor Notes on June 1, 2023

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Glacier Northwest v. Teamsters Local 174 is outrageous—valuing property over workers’ rights. But it could have been much worse.

Unions still have the right to strike. Employers still can’t generally sue unions in state court for losses caused by strikes. But the decision does open the door to whittling away those rights more in the future.

The practical impact of the Court’s decision is that employers will be suing unions more often for alleged property damage caused by strikes—and that therefore unions (and their attorneys) are likely to be more cautious.

But the Court did not do what many had feared it would do in this case: overrule longstanding precedent that employers generally cannot sue unions in state court over activities—like strikes—covered by the National Labor Relations Act.

Instead, it found that this case fell under an already-existing exception for intentional damage to employer property or failure to take reasonable precautions to prevent such damage.

Workers and unions are right to be furious at this ruling. But we should be careful not to sensationalize or overstate it—which could do more damage to the right to strike than the ruling itself does, by making workers scared to exercise it.

“American workers must remember that their right to strike has not been taken away,” said Teamsters President Sean O’Brien in response to the ruling. “All workers, union and nonunion alike, will forever have the right to withhold their labor.” His statement went on:

The Teamsters will strike any employer, when necessary, no matter their size or the depth of their pockets. Unions will never be broken by this Court or any other.

Today’s shameful ruling is simply one more reminder that the American people cannot rely on their government or their courts to protect them. They cannot rely on their employers.

We must rely on each other. We must engage in organized, collective action. We can only rely on the protections inherent in the power of our unions.


The question the Supreme Court considered in the Glacier case was whether the employer could sue Teamsters Local 174 in state court over the allegedly intentional destruction of the company’s concrete when striking drivers who had set out with deliveries of ready-mix concrete returned their loaded trucks, requiring the company to dispose of it before it set.

Prior court cases say that an employer can’t sue a union in state court over activity arguably covered by the National Labor Relations Act. Instead, the employer has to go to the National Labor Relations Board.

There is an exception, though, if striking employees intentionally damage employer property or don’t take reasonable precautions to protect employer property. For example, in one case, employees walked out of a foundry when molten iron was ready to be poured—which the court found could have caused substantial property damage.

This exception is narrow: property damage that is intentional or caused by a lack of reasonable precautions. It doesn’t include things like economic losses due to temporary closure of a store or factory, strawberries rotting in the field because farmworkers are on strike, or milk going sour in the fridge because baristas have walked out.

The trial court in Washington state dismissed Glacier’s claim because it found that the Teamsters’ strike action was arguably protected under the National Labor Relations Act. The Washington State Supreme Court affirmed.

The United States Supreme Court has now overruled that decision and sent the case back to the trial court, because it says that—assuming the facts alleged in the employer’s complaint are true—the union did not take reasonable precautions to prevent concrete from hardening.

The Supreme Court did not order the trial court to decide against the union, just that the case be allowed to proceed. And it left open the possibility for the state courts to dismiss the case again, depending on what the NLRB does about a pending unfair labor practices complaint against Glacier related to the same strike.

The NLRB issued its complaint against Glacier after the Washington State Supreme Court affirmed dismissal of the state court case. The U.S. Supreme Court explicitly did not rule on whether the lawsuit would have been preempted if the NLRB had issued the complaint earlier.


Depending on how future cases play out in state and federal court, Glacier could end up being a relatively small change to labor law or another in an escalating series of court decisions chipping away at the right to strike.

Already the laws are stacked against powerful strikes. Employers routinely obtain injunctions limiting where and how many strikers can picket; economic strikers can be permanently replaced; secondary targets often can’t be picketed; and so on.

Comparisons to other areas of law, like abortion rights, are useful. Roe v. Wade was not overturned in one night. It took nearly 50 years of legal battles in which courts questioned and undermined Roe v. Wade, until a conservative majority finally overruled it.

Similarly, right-wing attorneys and judges will try to build on Glacier to expand employers’ ability to sue unions. But for the moment, the labor movement may have dodged a bullet.

Alexandra Bradbury is the editor of Labor Notes.

The Writers’ Strike Reminds Us Hollywood Is a Site of Class Struggle / by Leonard Pierce

Writers Guild of America (WGA) East members participate in a “Rally at the Rock” strike event outside of the NBCUniversal offices on May 23, 2023 in New York City. (Michael M. Santiago / Getty Images)

Originally published in Jacobin on May 29, 2023

The writers of your favorite movies and shows are workers just like you. They deserve your solidarity.

If TV seems bad lately, wait until you see what next year has to offer. The Writers Guild of America (WGA) took to the picket lines on May 2 and has been out for three weeks. With studios standing firm and firing off inflammatory and possibly illegal provocations, the strike — the first by screenwriters in fifteen years, when the WGA walked out for over a month — shows no sign of ending soon. And while writing jobs are often denigrated as soft and frivolous by reactionaries (echoing the rhetoric of bosses), the current strike serves as a reminder that Hollywood has always been part of the broader push and pull between labor and capital.

Many issues are at play in the strike, most of them concerning automation. Almost all of the guild’s twenty thousand members are facing severe reductions in their income as studios reclassify streaming media as a sort of protected category, resulting in writers receiving a tiny percentage of what they once made from residuals. Additionally, buying the tech hype of the moment, some studios — very likely being sold a bill of goods by equally profit-hungry bosses in a different industry — believe that they can cut writers out of the equation by replacing them with artificial intelligence.

If the ownership class in Hollywood thinks that it can crush the writers’ strike and go on with business as usual, pausing only to teach ChatGPT how to write a convincing episode of prestige television, it’s likely in for a rude awakening. The Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), the union that represents film and television actors, is already picketing in solidarity with the WGA, and its national executive director has urged members to vote to authorize a strike. Meanwhile, the Directors Guild of America (DGA) is itself engaged in contract negotiations with the studios, and the revenue-stripping from streaming is a common thread between all three unions. If directors, writers, and actors all struck together — a big if, to be fair — executives might have to start tap dancing on street corners to pay their mortgages.

Hollywood: A Hotbed of Class Struggle

While the entertainment industry is often derided by both the Right (as effete, snobbish elites) and the Left (as frivolous creators of propaganda and distraction), it’s a vital part of the US economy. The film and television industries alone are worth more than $2 trillion, and business is booming, growing at a rate of nearly 9 percent a year.

The entertainment sector employs nearly five million people, and is one of the most heavily unionized in the country; its loci in New York and Los Angeles, two of the country’s most expensive cities, encourage active participation by members who need good wages just to remain living where they work. What’s more, entertainment industry workers have been unionized longer than many industrial and service unions. Hollywood saw a huge union push in the 1930s, and the oldest union in the business — the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), which started out representing vaudeville workers — has been around for almost 150 years. The WGA emerged in the 1950s out of a merger of five different unions, one dating back to 1921, giving bargaining power to workers who had previously been treated by studios as disposable.

The entertainment industry has also been a boon for other unions. Teamsters Local 399, representing Hollywood, is one of the biggest and most influential chapters in the country. It is likely to put its full weight behind the WGA, especially as Teamsters face a likely strike of their own later this year at UPS. Peripheral unions, from those representing trades and crafts to newer ones focused on service, are all impacted by entertainment-sector strikes. And even studios’ attempts to sidestep fair labor practices by dumping work on the burgeoning tech industry are finding that easier said than done — this industry, too, is pushing to unionize. Bad news for the CGI-driven superhero movies that have so far been cash cows for studio bosses.

Still, anyone who knows the history of labor knows that the moneyed class doesn’t put down its weapons, no matter how organized labor is. Hollywood bosses have a long history of going after workers, most prominently through anti-communist witch hunts and other moral panics. The Hollywood blacklist of the 1940s and 1950s put thousands of people out of work and ruined careers. It censored and suppressed movies about unions, even when they weren’t about unions in the industry (a good lesson that bosses may hate class solidarity when it’s carried out by workers, but are never shy about engaging in it themselves). The red-baiting reverberations echoed for decades.

More recently, strikes in the late 1980s by the DGA and WGA (whose 1988 strike lasted almost six weeks, the longest in its history, and cost the industry half a billion dollars) revolved around production credits, which not only help set pay rates and other compensation, but are also critical tools for workers to secure future jobs. Much as the current strike springs from uncertainty about how AI will impact the writer’s job, the last WGA strike, which ended in February 2008, dealt with the impact of new technologies as more and more entertainment product was created for the internet. It’s a recurring story: technological developments generate great promise and excitement, but the bosses are keen to make sure that none of the benefits flow to people who do the work.

What’s at Stake

Among the most insidious tactics of bosses in the creative fields is to tell workers that they’re “special” and “unique,” that they use their brains and hearts and not their hands to create value. Management knows that most artists are passionate about what they do, and studios reinforce that sentiment, knowing many will settle for less because they feel lucky to be “doing what they love.” But it’s the same old story since Karl Marx (himself a professional writer) laid things out: workers, in the arts or elsewhere, create the value but don’t get to decide what to do with the profits. Artists deserve a dignified existence, not a demotion to personal assistants for a computer program.

It can be hard to know how to help with the strike, as it’s unclear how long it will last or how many other unions will join in solidarity strikes. The WGA isn’t yet calling for boycotts, and SAG workers are required by law to show up for filming as long as they’re under contract. But there are still plenty of things you can do, from pushing your unions to engage in solidarity actions with the WGA to donating to strike support funds. Many chapters of Democratic Socialists of America are planning support activities, and if you’re located in New York or Los Angeles, you can join the picket lines yourself. It also helps to name and shame prominent entertainment industry figures who cross the pickets.

Most of all, it’s incumbent upon all of us to keep alert to the copious propaganda the studios will release as the strike drags on, including the absurd claim that the guild wants to establish a “hiring quota.” Molding public sentiment is a big part of what the entertainment industry does, and union busting is disgusting even when it’s done by the people who pump out your favorite movies and television. Remember that a dream factory is still a factory, and while some of the writers on strike have been greatly enriched by their work, many others are struggling to get by in an industry that values their labor less and less every year. Dividing the sympathies of the working class is the oldest trick in the bosses’ book, and the solution to worker exploitation is that you should make more, not that you should make less.

Hollywood has always been addicted to self-promotion and mythologizing, as might be expected from a town built on shaping the stories we tell. But behind all the hype is the concrete, often unglamorous struggle between owners and the workers. At times, the bosses think they’ve finally found the solution to breaking the power of organized labor once and for all. But the studios are in an unenviable position. With foreign markets more valuable than ever, and huge blockbusters costing so much to produce that they can’t afford to fail, the studios have become risk-shy and penny-wise. If they try to freeze out the writers, and actors and directors join the strike, we may have an answer to the question: What if we made a movie and nobody came?

Leonard Pierce is a Chicago-based writer and editor. He is an organizer with the Democratic Socialists of America and studies the intersection of working-class politics and twentieth-century American culture.

Black unionists map state by state plan to oust right wingers / by Mark Gruenberg

Black trade unionists vow, at their convention, to defeat right-wingers in control of key state governments. | via CBTU

Originally published in the People’s World on May 26, 2023

NEW ORLEANS—Facing a crucial election in 2024, delegates to the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists convention are laying plans here for fighting the right, state by state, concurrent with preparing for the national campaign for the presidency next year.

“We will not back down” in “the fight against white privilege,” CBTU President Terry Melvin said in his May 24 keynote address to the crowd of approximately 1,000 delegates and guests (see separate story).

The right, having failed to convince a majority of voters to support its extreme agenda, has retreated to its old tactic, adds Machinists National Legislative and Political Director Hassan Solomon: “If you can’t beat ‘em, stop ‘em from voting.”

Melvin gave a full-throated endorsement to the re-election of Democratic President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris—the first African-American woman in one of the nation’s top two jobs. Others discussed how the right-wing anti-voting mantra applies to state legislative battles and voting rights.

It applies not just in swing states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Ohio but in strongly “blue” states with large Black voting blocs, such as Illinois. And it applies in states such as Missouri, where Republican gerrymandering turned a former swing state “red”—except when its voters rejected right-to-work in a referendum several years ago.

The right-wing reaction to that 62% win, which occurred after the legislature’s right-wing supermajority switched the vote away from November to early August in hopes people would be on vacation? They want to make initiatives and referendums harder to put on the ballot, and pass, says Donna Kirts, an Auto Workers retiree from Kansas City.

And defending referendums is just one example of what workers, including workers of color, must fight. Gerrymandered maps is another. Missouri used to have an evenly split state congressional delegation, but now it’s 6-2 Republican. So did Arkansas, now 4-0 GOP.

So did Tennessee, where Democratic Nashville’s majority people-of-color electorate was split between three Republican-dominated districts. The nine-member delegation now has one Democrat, Steve Cohen of majority-Black Memphis. Black voters are also packed together in one district and then split between others, in Alabama. With 27% of the population, they should have two of its seven lawmakers. Georgia is similar.

Brought in Medicare expansion

“Initiatives brought in Medicare expansion” during the pandemic, and the RTW defeat years before that, Kirts elaborated. To suppress referendums, which drew progressives, workers, and voters of color to the polls, rightist state lawmakers want to suppress turnout by raising the signature requirement from its current 180,000 statewide to more than 300,000.

Even if signature–gatherers meet that, a referendum would still need a 60% supermajority to pass. That meant RTW repeal would win and everything else, which got between 50%+1 and 60%, would not.

The rightists’ contempt for voters shows through in that idea, Kirts adds. “They say ‘The people clearly don’t know what they’re doing.”

But delegates interviewed admit there’s a problem with that strategy and it affects not just battling right-wing efforts to restrict and depress the vote: It’s reactive.

The right sets the agenda, leaving workers and their allies to play catchup and try to defeat their schemes after the momentum begins.

“When we let the talk shows and the TV shows set the leadership and the messaging, even a lot of our own union members” vote against their own interests, added 59-year UAW member Lew Moye, a St. Louis leader. One answer, he says, is year-round communication and education about the importance of local elections on issues that affect people day-to-day.

“We have to find a better way to communicate: Radio, TV, social media with our own members, many of whom have supported elected senators and representatives, to the detriment of Black and brown people.

“Our labor movement has lost track with our own members.”

Edison Frazier, the Machinists’ chief of staff, offered another idea for stopping the right: Mass community mobilization by reaching out to natural allies. Though he put it in the context of the three unions now jointly organizing at Delta Airlines—IAM, the Teamsters, and the Association of Flight Attendants—it applies to politics, too.

“Through community involvement, we can reach many, many allies,” he explained. “When our community leaders come out, our politicians come out. It makes a difference.”

n an interview with People’s World after moderating the Delta organizing panel, IAM’s Solomon said one way to stop the right is to fight its repressive schemes, both political repression and anti-worker legislation, at the earliest stage possible, such as in legislative committees.

“It’s easier to stop something in a committee of 20 than in a (U.S.) House of 435,” he said.

Expand bottom of ballot operations

Another is to expand unions’ political operation below the presidency, Congress, and even governorships. “At state legislatures, city councils, and even school boards nationwide, we are trying to expand voting rights,” Solomon said. “That means weekend voting, early voting, and that voting day should be a federal holiday.

“After all, we have airline workers on the day’s first, second, and third shifts,” round the clock. They can’t take time out to vote from 9 AM to 7 PM, normal voting hours in most states, or spend hours standing in voting lines.

All those ideas and more were in the Democrats’ original wide-ranging voting rights legislation, HR1, introduced in the early days of 2021 in the then-Democratic-run House. It passed there, on a virtual party-line vote—and fell victim to a threatened Senate filibuster, augmented by Sens. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., and Joe Manchin, W-W. Va., in the then-evenly split Senate.

Members of the Machinists Union attending the CBTU convention in New Orleans. | @MachinistsUnion via Twitter

Though he has the same targets for state and local elections, Teachers (AFT) Secretary-Treasurer Fedric Ingram, who is also a top African-American unionist, had a different reason for building from the bottom up, he said in a prior exclusive interview with People’s World.

The Democratic Party is so gerrymandered and decimated out of office in the Sunshine State that rabidly right-wing GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis—whom Melvin, a preacher, nicknamed “Ron DeSatan”—that it must recover via the grass-roots, starting with inroads at the local levels, then reaching greater density at those levels before trying for higher office.

It could take years, Ingram admitted, but it pays off in the long run. Other unionists have said Michigan’s 2022 pro-union sweep, the first in decades there, proves that. Pro-union Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s landslide over a Trumpite helped win pro-worker forces State Senate control for the first time in 40 years, and the state House for the first time in at least a decade.

And the first legislation that the new Michigan majority approved repealed the state’s right-to-work laws.

But Solomon’s comment is a reminder of a major blunder by workers and their allies in the 2010 election cycle. They concentrated on holding Congress, particularly the U.S. Senate, while ignoring the lower-level races—and got clobbered that November. Hundreds of legislative seats were lost, along with many governorships.

The subsequent right-wing Republican governors, led by Wisconsin’s virulent union foe Scott Walker, but also including—later—Michigan’s John Engler and Indiana’s Mitch Daniels, enacted a raft of anti-worker anti-union laws.

Then they cemented their control through excessive, but legal, gerrymandering. And the gerrymandered lawmakers elected in 2020 continued that particular onslaught. That post-2020 lopsided line-drawing, where lawmakers chose their constituents rather than the other way around, is what made the recent Pennsylvania special state House elections so important. The split there overcame the 2020 gerrymander, giving pro-worker forces a one-vote margin.

It also pointed up what can be done to fight the right if you plan far enough ahead, and put the plans into effect. That’s because even when there were Republican governors in Illinois (Bruce Rauner), Maryland (Larry Hogan), and Massachusetts (Charley Baker), those states didn’t follow that anti-worker lead. In them, unionists and their allies elected and kept, pro-worker supermajorities in legislatures, thwarting the three.

Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People’s World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but a holy terror when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners. El galardonado periodista Mark Gruenberg es el director de la oficina de People’s World en Washington, D.C. También es editor del servicio de noticias sindicales Press Associates Inc. (PAI).

We Are All Salts / by Chris Townsend

Starbucks workers confront managers at the company’s Manhattan regional headquarters on May 1, demanding that the company negotiate and stop retaliating against union activists. When workers are fired and victimized for exercising their rights to unionize, salting is a completely justified response. Photo: Jenny Brown.

Originally published in Labor Notes on May 3, 2023

Today’s revival of union “salting” could not be more welcome or more urgently needed.

A tactic as old as the labor movement itself, salting describes going to work in an unorganized workplace where there may be a chance to help initiate new union organizing.

It’s also a label for taking jobs at already unionized employers, hoping to play a positive role. But here I will deal with the former: taking jobs to help spur new organizing.


Whatever amount of salting is underway today—it’s impossible to precisely measure—it cannot come soon enough. The U.S. labor movement is mired in a crisis that threatens its very existence.

A bare fringe of the working class, 10 percent, belongs to a union. The rate of unionization has been cut in half in the past 40 years.

Virtually all employers are ferociously anti-union, and they’ve been able to construct enormous legal and illegal obstacles to unionization efforts.

The unorganized workplace is a de facto dictatorship of ever-lower wages and living standards, where blue collar, white collar, and even professional workers are held helpless in the employer’s grip.

With an army of unorganized workers arrayed against the dwindling union garrison, it is unlikely that any further forward progress for the existing unions or the working class as a whole will be possible without a revival of union organizing on a larger scale.

Widespread salting can and must be a component of these urgently needed organizing campaigns.


Union organizing efforts today are at best incidental and sporadic. Occasional large or name-brand campaigns achieve some media attention and provide an illusion of union vitality.

Several recent sizeable graduate student wins, the Starbucks movement, Amazon, and activity in the nonprofit sector are all welcome—but are still collectively too small to reverse the overall decline.

Organizing efforts in the public sector are largely stalled, with union recognition still banned in many states and localities. In the private sector, the number of National Labor Relations Board-supervised union authorization elections now hovers at historically low levels.

I joined the labor movement in 1979; that year 7,266 NLRB elections were held, with a union win rate of almost 45 percent.

In 2021, the number of union elections fell below 1,000, with a win rate not much more than 50 percent. The 2022 numbers show some improvement, but nothing approaching what’s needed.

The size of the units organizing today has also shrunk significantly, translating into far fewer workers organized.

While the U.S. union movement is the most financially wealthy union movement on planet Earth, allocations of resources to tackle the organizing crisis are minuscule and often short-lived. (See Chris Bohner’s “Viewpoint: It’s Time to Tap into Labor’s Fortress of Finance.”

The 2022 AFL-CIO Convention’s much-publicized “transformational” organizing initiative remains invisible. Some individual unions have increased the resources they are dedicating to new organizing, but the sheer size of the task demands far more. Salting is one way that activists can dive in to initiate organizing and pull the institution along.


Employers decry salting as illegitimate. In fact, they routinely allege that workers who help lead any union organizing campaign in the workplace are “union plants.”

Bosses allege this even when it’s an absurdity—the sincerity and authenticity of everyone who challenges their total control must be discredited.

Anti-labor politicians occasionally team up with employers to denounce salting, in an attempt to somehow scandalize it. Bogus Congressional hearings have been held from time to time to denounce salting.

The current salting efforts at several name-brand corporations may catch the attention of these extremist anti-union elements in the current Congress. So be it. Their clumsy efforts in the past, given to shrill hyperbole and wild exaggeration, have always fallen flat.

The defense of labor’s salting projects must take an above-board, straight-on approach: Salting is often the required form of resistance to the employer’s workplace dictatorship.

When organizing is a de facto illegal act—when workers are fired and victimized by the tens of thousands for exercising their paper right to unionize—salting is the completely justified response.

It acts as a catalyst for the workers already on the job who are frequently supportive of unions but nearly purged of hope and terrified of organizing, for fear of retaliation. When the workplace has been reduced to this situation, those who confront it as salts are doing truly commendable work.

Ultimately, all of us are salts. We have no means to earn a living other than finding a boss to hire us—and why shouldn’t we desire to start a union, or strengthen an existing union, while we’re there?

Chris Townsend has been a union member, organizer, and staff member for 44 years, spending the bulk of his career as a staffer for the United Electrical Workers and the Amalgamated Transit Union. Contact him at cwtownsend52@gmail.com.

Workers confront bosses at Starbucks headquarters, NLRB backs them / by Mark Gruenberg

Starbucks workers like these in Iowa City are part of a nationwide wave of workers unionizing. | Starbucks Workers United/Twitter

Originally published in the People’s World on May 12, 2023

NEW YORK—Starbucks workers seeking to unionize the giant coffee chain have had a busy and hectic time, centered around a May Day march on its Manhattan headquarters to demand the firm sit down and bargain contracts with workers at unionized stores, as a group.

So did a National Labor Relations Board administrative law judge in Boston, Bloomberg News reported. The judge filed his overriding labor law-breaking decision on April 26, even before dozens of New York-New Jersey metro area Starbucks workers jammed the corporation’s lobby on May 1. They met silence from a stony-faced security guard.

“Instead of engaging in a conversation, corporate managers just stood there silently and did not accept the petition, which was signed by workers and local elected officials in solidarity,” Starbucks Workers United tweeted after posting video of the May Day standoff on its twitter feed. “Why is  @Starbucks corporate so afraid of even speaking w/ workers, who it calls partners?”

“Starbucks CEO Laxman Narasimhan,” successor to founder and lead stockholder Howard Schultz, “is continuing Starbucks’ ruthless union-busting campaign that includes firing over 230 union leaders across the country and shuttering union stores. Starbucks continues to attempt to undercut the union by refusing to bargain.”

It uses ‘flimsy complaints such as the size of the bargaining committee,” the unionists said in a statement before a Chicago press conference, also on May Day.

The NLRB’s administrative law judge agreed. He declared Starbucks broke labor law by refusing to bargain with the workers at a minimum of 144 stores as a group, as the pro-union workers and SWU demand.

The judge’s ruling doesn’t count more NLRB charges filed against Starbucks at four Chicago stores, also on May Day. Most involved rampant labor law-breaking at the Hyde Park Starbucks, at East 55th St. and South Woodlawn Ave., across 55th from the University of Chicago.

Those counts include illegal discipline, illegal one-on-one meetings, and eventual illegal firing last year of Hyde Park pro-union worker Jasper Booth-Hodges, NLRB Administrative Law Judge Geoffrey Carter said. He added Starbucks illegally disciplined worker Maria Fantozzi of the Logan Square store for wearing an anti-coronavirus mask sporting the words, “United we bargain, divided we beg.”

Other Chicago charges were filed against Starbucks stores on the North Side, including the store at North Clark St. and North Ridge Ave. There City Councilman Andre Vasquez, D-40th Ward, joined workers to demand bargaining, too, and to denounce company labor law-breaking.

That labor law-breaking, according to the administrative law judge, includes refusal to bargain in good faith, just like in the larger case.

In the big NLRB complaint, Starbucks retorted it wants to bargain store by store, one by one, with attendance limited and excluding local bargaining committees for that particular store. Starbucks also demands banning any Starbucks worker who cares to zoom in.

The NLRB’s mass bargaining ruling, from in its Boston region, was followed by the May Day march and the workers’ decision to post all their negotiating points on the Internet.

The action didn’t stop when May Day ended. It just shifted elsewhere. The most-notable shift was a May 10 sit-in at Cornell University’s administration building. That group noted Starbucks retaliated for pro-union votes at its four Ithaca, N.Y., area stores by declaring it will close them.

Students and workers hit back with their sit-in and a petition demanding Cornell sever all ties with Starbucks and find another coffee vendor for its dining halls. The university president accepted the petition, but made no promises.

The big action, though, was on the Internet and in the Big Apple.

In New York, baristas and other workers jammed the company’s lobby, brandishing their petition that Starbucks finally come to the bargaining table, and reading summaries of their stands. Individual workers stepped forward to complain of bad conditions, up to and including sexual harassment by local managers and customers. The stony-faced security guard did not reply.

“Instead of engaging in a conversation, corporate managers just stood there silently and did not accept the petition, which was signed by workers and local elected officials in solidarity,” Starbucks Workers United tweeted after posting video of the May Day standoff on its twitter feed. “Why is  @Starbucks corporate so afraid of even speaking w/workers, who it calls partners?”

“Starbucks workers from California to Maine, from Florida to Washington, face a lot of the same issues such as short staffing and unpredictable schedules,” SWU explained. “Low wages and unaffordable healthcare. Sexual and racial harassment, broken equipment, unfair discipline, and workplace favoritism. For this reason, we are seeking a national framework of agreements with Starbucks that, when signed, will solve these issues we’re all facing.”

Then, just to ensure the world knows what the Starbucks workers want, they started reading summaries of their positions, and posted them in detail on SWU’s site. Summaries include:

  • Right to organize: “Immediately halt all interference and intimidation and to agree to a fair process for union votes. When we secure Fair Election Principles as part of our contract with Starbucks, the company will be held to an ethical code of conduct designed to safeguard the organizing process.”
  • Discipline only for just cause, establishment of a grievance procedure and seniority rights, all spelled out within the contract covering all the stores.
  • Base pay of $20 hourly for baristas, with higher bases in high-cost areas, and 5% annual raises plus cost-of-living adjustments. And Starbucks must enroll all its workers, and pay on their behalf, into its 401(k) plan, regardless of how many hours they work.
  • Guaranteed and consistent working schedules.
  • Safety on the job to feature “a strong commitment to racial justice, including protections against racial harassment and bigotry from customers, co-workers and managers and zero tolerance of sexual harassment.” Starbucks would have to make and keep “respect and dignity commitments” to workers, and establish joint safety committees at each store to tackle unsafe working conditions.
  • 100% company-paid health insurance with $10 maximum worker co-pays for full- and part-timers. The insurance should cover not just medical care and prescription drugs but dental and vision care and life insurance, and “improved access to mental health services.” Insurance would also cover domestic partners and would restore benefits to transgender people. Starbucks cut them off last Oct. 1.

Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People’s World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but a holy terror when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.El galardonado periodista Mark Gruenberg es el director de la oficina de People’s World en Washington, D.C. También es editor del servicio de noticias sindicales Press Associates Inc. (PAI).

Shuler on Deaths On The Job: ‘This report should not have to exist’ / by Press Associates

Construction sites are among many places where workers are injured and where workers die. Today is Workers Memorial Day, commemorating workers injured and killed on the job. | AFL-CIO

Posted in the People’s World on April 28, 2023

WASHINGTON—Flourishing a copy of this year’s AFL-CIO Deaths On The Job report, a very moved federation President Liz Shuler had a blunt message for the nation’s errant employers: “This report should not have to exist…These pages should be blank.”

She had good reason to say so.

Shuler joined a large crowd in the U.S. Labor Department’s main auditorium to honor the 5,190 workers killed on the job in calendar 2021, the latest federal data available, and the data the AFL-CIO uses for its annual report.

But unlike past years, this crowd was dominated by families of dead victims of employer neglect, malfeasance, and outright refusal to make working conditions safe.

Other victims, in videoed interviews, told of how they learned their loved ones died. Even though they knew they were being filmed, many of them broke down.

Shuler had to compose herself. Her short speech immediately followed the filmed interviews. It wasn’t easy. But she reminded the crowd and the nation that behind the dry numbers in the long report were real people who lived, died—and shouldn’t have.

“These pages should be blank,” she said with emphasis and a catch in her throat. “Every one” in the report “is someone who woke up one day, kissed their children or their partner goodbye, and expected to come back—and didn’t.

“We have to fight like hell to make sure not one more family goes through this.”

The pages of Death On The Job 2023: A Toll Of Neglect aren’t blank, though. They compiled details of the carnage in time for Workers Memorial Day, April 28. The first detail was positive: Since unions, led by the late Tony Mazzocchi, pushed the Occupational Safety and Health Act through Congress just over 50 years ago, calculations show it’s saved at least 688,000 workers’ lives.

“But over the years, the progress has become more challenging as employers’ opposition to workers’ rights and protections has grown, and attacks on unions have intensified,” the report says.

“Big corporations and many Republicans have launched an aggressive assault on worker protections. They are attempting to shift the responsibility to provide safe jobs from employers to individual workers, and undermine the core duties of workplace safety agencies.”

Despite the flak and outright opposition from the corporate class, the U.S. must stay committed to the goal of eliminating death, disease, and injury on the job, the report says. “Reducing burdens on families and communities must be a high priority,” it declares.

“Employers must meet their responsibilities to protect workers and be held accountable if they put workers in danger. Only then can the promise of safe jobs for all of America’s workers be fulfilled.” The report’s numbers show how far there is to go:

  • 5,190 workers were killed on the job in the United States in 2021, or one every hour and 40 minutes. The fatality rate rose to 3.6 per 100,000 workers. It was 4/100,000 for Blacks, the highest rate in 19 years.
  • “Employers reported nearly 3.2 million work-related injuries and illnesses,” and that figure doesn’t include all the coronavirus victims. But 1.5 million nursing home residents caught the modern-day plague. The report says the overall injury and illness toll is estimated at between 5.4 million and 8.1 million.

The illness figures also don’t count 120,000 workers who died from occupational diseases—everything from black lung to cancer caused by inhalation of toxic fumes, minute particles, or both.

Also not counted or inadequately counted: Musculoskeletal (ergonomic) injuries, heat-related illnesses and death, and the complete toll from workplace violence, a particular hazard to nurses.

  • The death rate for Latinos topped that for both Blacks and whites. Speakers noted workers of color are overrepresented in the most dangerous jobs.
  • On-the-job death rates were highest in Wyoming (10.4 deaths/100,000 workers, three times the national rate), North Dakota (9/100,000), Montana (8/100,000), Louisiana (7.7/100,000), and New Mexico and Alaska (6.2/100,000 workers each),

Energy production dominates all those states except maybe New Mexico, where it’s third. Energy industries had the third-highest death rate among all occupational groups (14.2 deaths/ 100,000 workers), trailing only farms, forests, and fishing (19.5/100,000) and transportation and warehousing (14.5/100,000). Construction was fourth (9.4/100,000).

  • OSHA’s still understaffed, even though it had 145 more job safety inspectors in 2021 than its 755 the year before. Those states which run their own OSHAs had 971 safety inspectors in 2021. Together, those two forces were so small and the number of workplaces, 10.8 million, was so large that it would take 190 years to inspect each U.S. workplace.
  • When OSHA flags firms for job safety and health violations, the fines—often negotiated downwards between the agency and employers—are small costs of doing business: An average of $4,534 per serious violation that U.S. inspectors found, and half of that for state OSHA inspections. Only 128 cases of wrongful death on the job have been prosecuted since OSHA began.

The report recommended hiring more inspectors, and vastly increasing the fines, among other moves. “in a country with the technology we have, there should not be a need to chronicle thousands of deaths,” Shuler said. “This is not a back-in-the-day problem, it’s a today problem.”

Press Associates Inc. (PAI), is a union news service in Washington D.C. Mark Gruenberg is the editor.

AFL-CIO’s Liz Shuler calls GOP demands an ‘affront to working people’ / by Mark Gruenberg

AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler | Michael Dwyer/AP

Originally published in the People’s World on April 28, 2023

WASHINGTON—AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler is describing the GOP demands to undo the progress made by the Biden administration in exchange for lifting the debt ceiling as an “affront to working people” and she has branded those demands as a complete cave-in by Speaker Kevin McCarthy to the radical right in his party.

Brushing aside protests from workers and their allies, the right-wing House Republican majority approved a $1.5 trillion increase in the U.S. debt limit coupled with 22%—at least—reductions in spending, and axing everything from green jobs to battling climate change to Project Labor Agreements for federally funded construction. The party-line vote was 217-215.

House passage, however, may be as far as this measure, HR2811, will get. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., declared it “dead on arrival” there. Democratic President Joe Biden said he’ll accept only a “clean” debt limit hike to prevent a first-ever U.S. default—and veto anything else.

The debt limit hike is important because it will let the government keep paying money to cover past bills. If the limit is breached and the government defaults, millions—including Social Security and Medicare recipients and federal workers—will feel immediate financial pain.

Biden himself forecasts a default would immediately cost 870,000 jobs and throw the economy back into a depression. Other foes said the job losses could be even higher.

AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler was blunt about the bill’s impact, criticizing House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who pushed the legislation through at the behest of his radical right Freedom Caucus, the 40-lawmaker tail that wags the Republican House dog.

“House @SpeakerMcCarthy’s default debt ceiling plan is an affront to working people,” Shuler tweeted at 3:16 pm, just before the vote. “The AFL-CIO is strongly urging Congress to reject this plan to careen our nation into default, which would tank the economy and put millions of workers at risk.

“The Limit, Save, Grow Act of 2023 poses an imminent threat to the retirement security of hundreds of thousands of Americans, life-supporting benefits, and programs for veterans, seniors, children, and low-income families,” her second tweet said.

“This misguided legislation will also harm our economy by slashing vital federal investments in clean energy & new technologies to expand domestic manufacturing & put millions of people to work.”

Adds more details

AFL-CIO Legislative Director Bill Samuel added more details.

McCarthy’s “reckless legislation would have devastating real-life effects on working families, students, veterans, the elderly and the disadvantaged,” Samuel wrote.

“The cuts would mean the end of Medicaid coverage for as many as 10 million low-income Americans. Countless children, families, and veterans would lose food assistance. The plan would reverse targeted debt relief for 40 million student borrowers and decrease aid to all 6.6 million Pell Grant recipients. It also would eliminate more than 200,000 Head Start slots for children.”

Veterans’ care, vaccines and personal protective equipment against the coronavirus, mass transit money, and “rebuilding our manufacturing base around clean energy jobs” would also be on the chopping block, Samuel said.

“Veterans care needs to grow, not shrink,” so the VA can care for the rising numbers of badly injured, but surviving veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, Government Employees President Clarence Kelley, himself a veteran, wrote lawmakers. “For this reason alone, HR2811 should be defeated.” Biden wants a 5.4% increase in the VA’s budget.

And Treasury Employees President Tony Reardon said HR2811 would widen the federal deficit by $120 billion over a decade. That’s because McCarthy would eliminate money to hire and train 87,000 more IRS agents to go after rich and corporate deadbeats.

McCarthy’s cuts “also could jeopardize unspent funds in the multiemployer pension rescue plan, the ‘Butch Lewis Act,’” part of Biden’s anti-covid American Rescue Plan Act, Samuel said. “Destroying the retirement income security of more than one million hardworking Americans is an outrageous and unacceptable price for a debt deal.”

McCarthy “also would dim hopes of transitioning to a cleaner energy economy and rebuilding our manufacturing base around clean energy jobs,” Samuel said. But McCarthy’s bill tracks overall Republican support of fossil fuels, tax cuts for the rich, and denial of global warming.

Jason Walsh, executive director of the BlueGreen Alliance, the top union-environmentalist coalition, expanded on Samuel’s point. He called McCarthy’s bill “the Ship U.S. Jobs Overseas Act.”

“This bill would destroy Inflation Reduction Act investments that are already spurring job growth around our country building our clean energy future here at home,” he said. The measure “also kills policies” like Project Labor Agreements and prevailing wages “to ensure the jobs created are good-paying, safe jobs with workers who are properly trained. “

“And, they get rid of vital credits that would grow clean energy jobs in rural communities and communities that have suffered job losses for decades due to offshoring of manufacturing jobs.” Walsh estimated the tax credits would help create “green” factories employing 1.7 million people.

“Republicans in Congress want America’s energy future made overseas. President Biden and Democrats took action to manufacture it here. It’s as simple as that,” Walsh concluded.

Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People’s World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but a holy terror when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.El galardonado periodista Mark Gruenberg es el director de la oficina de People’s World en Washington, D.C. También es editor del servicio de noticias sindicales Press Associates Inc. (PAI).

Lobstering Union (IAM 207), Maine Building Trades unions, Maine AFL-CIO Back Proposal to Protect Fishing Jobs & Create Union Jobs in Offshore Wind / by Andy O’Brien

Photo credit : Andy O’Brien

Originally published in the Maine AFL-CIO News on Apil 20, 2023

The Maine Lobstering Union (IAM 207) and the Maine AFL-CIO Executive Board have voted to support a proposal that would protect fishing grounds while also allowing offshore wind development in a way that creates good union jobs. The Maine Lobstering Union, IAM Local 207, the building trades, the Maine Labor Climate Council and others have worked tirelessly on the legislation, LR 741, — with the support of bill sponsor Sen. Mark Lawrence and Senate President Troy Jackson  — to protect core fishing grounds and set high fisheries, environmental, equity, and labor standards on offshore wind development.

“We applaud the Maine Lobstering Union, Building Trades locals and others for doing the spade work to develop a solid plan for workers that protects Maine fisheries and guarantees good union jobs in the development of this new industry,” said Matt Schlobohm, Maine AFL-CIO Executive Director. “When we work together to develop a worker led vision for climate action, we can create new union jobs, protect existing industries and tackle climate change head on.”

Sen. Mark Lawrence (D-York Cty.) submitted legislation in January to create a schedule in Maine for procuring offshore wind power after the the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management initiated the process to lease federal waters for offshore wind development in the Gulf of Maine. Lobstermen, Building Trades unions, the Maine Labor Climate Council and others worked with Lawrence and Senate President Troy Jackson to come up with the compromise. In a guest column last week, IAM 207 Director Ginny Olsen wrote that the legislation is “our best chance for protecting our industry” in terms of what is likely to happen with offshore wind.

A critical piece of the legislation is that it functionally excludes offshore wind development in Lobster Management Area 1 (LMA – 1), a critical fishing ground for Maine lobstermen and women.  The Maine AFL-CIO’s support for the bill is contingent on the inclusion of this language.

“With these two developments under way, the time to act is now,” wrote Olsen “…Although our position is nuanced, we do see this legislation – and its clear language that heavily disincentivizes and functionally excludes development of offshore wind in Lobster Management Area 1 (LMA-1) – as the best opportunity to be a part of the coalition to ensure that lawmakers stand with our members and act decisively to protect our way of life.”

The proposal would also require project labor agreements for construction work and Labor Peace Agreements (PLAs) for operations, maintenance, and maritime work. PLAs are pre-hire negotiated agreements laying out terms and conditions on a project to ensure that projects are completed on time and under budget using a ready supply of skilled labor paid living wages with benefits.

It would require developers to prioritize the utilization of registered apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs and hiring of Maine residents, indigenous tribal member, and workers directly impacted by the growth of offshore wind energy.

In addition, LR 741 would also protect lobster fishing grounds by incentivizing developers to site wind facilities outside of Lobster Management Area 1. It will require wind developers to invest in local fishing communities and will provide funding for wildlife and fisheries conservation and research and monitoring of impacts to wildlife, fisheries, and the marine environment in the Gulf of Maine.

The Maine AFL-CIO has worked for the last five years to convene unions to develop the labor movement’s vision and plan for a worker led climate action plan that tackles inequality and climate change together and creates thousands of union job in the process. This work led to the development of the Maine Labor Climate Council, a union coalition which organizes to carry out this pro-worker vision for climate action

Andy O’Brien is the communications director for the Maine AFL-CIO, a statewide federation of 160 local unions representing 40,000 workers. However, his opinions are his own and don’t represent the views of his employer. He is also a member of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1445.

Adjuncts hold rally urging Maine Community College System to pay part-time faculty a fair wage / by Evan Popp

Christine Livia, a student at the Maine Community College System, speaks in support of the system’s adjunct faculty union at a rally Thursday | photo credit: Beacon

Originally published in the Maine Beacon on April 21, 2023

Close to 50 people rallied in South Portland on Thursday to call on the Maine Community College System to agree to a new contract with adjunct faculty members that pays them a fair wage. 

The rally, held at the campus of Southern Maine Community College — one of seven higher education institutions within the system — comes as the adjunct faculty union has been negotiating for a new contract since January, when the previous agreement expired. The adjunct union is a chapter of the Maine Service Employees Association (MSEA), SEIU Local 1989.  

“The Maine Community College System relies on us, they need us, and they can’t function without us. And we deserve the respect that comes from that,” Katrina Ray-Saulis, an adjunct professor within the system and the chapter president of the union, said at Thursday’s event. 

(Disclosure: Ray-Saulis is a contributor to Beacon). 

The battle over how college’s should treat adjuncts — who are typically part-time, non-tenure track professors that work for less money and don’t have the job security year-to-year associated with tenure-track professors — is playing out around the country. Nationwide, colleges and universities have increasingly filled faculty positions with adjuncts as a cost-cutting measure. Fifty years ago, about 80% of teaching positions were tenure-track. But that proportion has flipped on its head, as advocates now estimate that 75% of college teaching positions around the country are filled with adjunct instructors and that adjuncts teach over half of university courses. 

The situation at the Maine Community College System (MCCS) is similar. Noel Gallagher, director of communications and public affairs for MCCS, said there are 572 adjuncts teaching in the system during the spring semester and 358 full-time faculty members. Gallagher added that under their respective contracts, full-time faculty are required to teach a minimum of 15 credit hours a semester — and have additional responsibilities at the college — while adjuncts can teach a maximum of 12 credit hours per semester. However, most adjuncts at MCCS (87%) end up teaching less than the 12-credit-hour maximum allowed in their contract, the university system said. 

As contract negotiations between adjuncts and MCCS continue, the main sticking point appears to be compensation. Ray-Saulis said under the terms of their last union contract, adjuncts across the system are paid $930 per credit hour. That means if they teach a one credit course, $930 is all they would make for a 15-week class. If the course was worth three credits, they would be paid $2,790 for those 15 weeks, Ray-Saulis said. 

Given the amount of work that goes into teaching, she said that’s not a lot of money.  

“You have all this time [spent] communicating with students, corresponding with students outside of class time, grading, updating your courses … all that falls under that same $930 a credit hour. And when you break it down, it’s basically minimum wage for a lot of people,” she said.

Supporters of the adjunct faculty union at a rally Thursday | Beacon

MCCS students who attended Thursday’s rally agreed. Christine Livia, who studies at Central Maine Community College in Auburn, said attending school there has been an empowering experience. That’s why it’s all the more disappointing that many professors aren’t being paid adequately and don’t have long-term job security, she said.

“Frankly, as a student, I think it’s really unfair that the people who are working really hard to ensure I have an awesome education aren’t making a living wage,” Livia said, noting that one professor told her that he works multiple jobs just to make ends meet.

“To the community college system management: Respect your workers, give them a living wage and long-term job security and allow them to thrive in the same way that they want to see their students thrive,” Livia added. 

In the current contract negotiations, Ray-Saulis said some progress has been made with MCCS management around updating the system’s anti-discrimination policy and creating additional professional development opportunities for adjuncts.

However, she said the response to requests for increased pay has been disappointing. 

“They’ve moved very little on compensation,” she said of MCCS management. 

In a statement, David Daigler, president of MCCS, agreed that the key sticking point in negotiations is wages. Daigler said the institution has offered adjuncts a wage increase of 4.5% in each year of a proposed two-year contract. Given the current rate of $930 a credit hour, that would amount to a raise of a little over $80 to the credit hour rate over the course of that agreement. Daigler said that would add to action taken in the last round of contract negotiations that provided uniform pay rates for adjuncts in different colleges within MCCS and increased wages for adjuncts between 15% and 82%, depending on the particular campus they taught at. 

“We highly value the adjunct faculty at our colleges,” Daigler said. “They are a critical part of the excellent instruction at Maine’s community colleges and we deeply appreciate their work.”

Daigler added that “adjunct faculty who wish to teach more classes and be paid the same as full-time faculty can apply for full-time faculty positions.” He said 41% of full-time faculty hired at MCCS since 2018 were previously adjuncts within the institution. 

However, Ray-Saulis said given the amount of time and energy adjuncts spend on teaching — along with the student loans many have — she believes they should be paid around $1,800 a credit hour. Still, she acknowledged that it’s unlikely MCCS will agree to that figure this time around and said the union has pitched raising pay to $1,200 a credit hour for adjunct faculty — more than what MCCS has offered thus far. 

Adjuncts are also looking for increased respect, and in particular respect for those who are long-time instructors at MCCS, she added. Ray-Saulis said she’s been teaching at the institution for five years but makes the same amount as adjuncts who have been teaching there for over 20 years. The new contract should allow those who have been at the institution longer to receive additional compensation, she argued. 

At the end of Thursday’s rally, Timothy McGuire, a field representative for MSEA, urged attendees to sign a letter of “community support” for adjuncts that would be delivered to Daigler and to take additional steps to increase visibility of the union’s campaign. 

“Post to social media and spread the message that adjuncts deserve a living wage,” he said. 

Overall, Ray-Saulis said Thursday’s rally was an important step in making MCCS management aware that adjuncts “know what we are worth.” 

“Adjuncts are smart, we are educated, and we have years of teaching expertise,” she said. “We have hands-on experience that directly benefits our students and that we bring directly into the classroom and we deserve to have that seen.”

Evan Popp studied journalism at Ithaca College and interned at the Progressive magazine, ThinkProgress and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. He then worked for the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper before joining Beacon. Evan can be reached at evan@mainebeacon.com.

Cives Steel Workers Rally for Fair Contract / by Andy O’Brien

Photo credit : Andy O’Brien

Originally published in the Maine AFL-CIO News on Apil 20, 2023

Members of Ironworkers Local 7, Machinists Local S6, the Maine Service Employees Association, Maine Education Association, Central Maine Labor Council, IBEW 1253, the National Association of Letter Carriers and others joined members of Ironworkers Local 807 in solidarity in front of Cives Steel in Augusta on Sunday. Local 807 members said they were excited to see so many other union members show up to support them in their struggle.

“It’s not every day you get a strong group like this. These workers are united and committed to bargaining for the best deal possible,” said Anthony Rosaci, Ironworkers General Organizer.

Rosaci credited the Maine AFL-CIO and Ironworkers Local 7 for helping to turn out union members to support the workers. He emphasized that “solidarity and remaining united” is what it will take to win this fight.

“I’ve worked for this steel company for almost four years now as a welder,” said Local 807 member Greg Whitney. “And this is by far the most I’ve seen the guys come together.”

“We’re glad we’re getting all the help (from other union members) and I’m hopeful everything that we’re doing is making a big difference,” said Local 807 member Sean McCarron.

“It’s great we have everybody come together like this. In the past, you know, we’ve had support, but nothing like this. This one has a little bit different air about it because we’re getting a lot more support,” added 807 member Jamie Lewis.

Andy O’Brien is the communications director for the Maine AFL-CIO, a statewide federation of 160 local unions representing 40,000 workers. However, his opinions are his own and don’t represent the views of his employer. He is also a member of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1445.