Labor Notes # 484

Meeting of DASH drivers, most of them seated and wearing red.

Transit in the Washington, D.C., area is heavily unionized. But until recently there was one stubborn holdout—the DASH bus system in Alexandria, Virginia.

The city debuted DASH 35 years ago to create a cheaper, nonunion alternative to the regional MetroBus service. It was set up as a nonprofit corporation owned by the city so that it would technically be privately run, disqualifying workers from receiving the city pension.

Workers in yellow vests sit around a lunch table at work.

Complaining isn’t the first step to organizing—it’s the graveyard of organizing. Just ask any union steward or rep who has listened to a member complain bitterly but refuse to take action.

If you’re a steward, officer, or rank and filer trying to fix problems on the job (or in the union), a good place to start is to rethink the role of complaining in your work culture.

There’s probably no easier way for co-workers to communicate with each other than by complaining. It’s the universal “go-to” for informal work chat:

UE protesters stand with a sign and a flag.

Three months after the largest manufacturing strike of the Trump presidency so far, locomotive plant workers in Erie, Pennsylvania, have a deal. Electrical Workers (UE) Locals 506 and 618 ratified a four-year contract on June 12.

In a qualified victory, the 1,700 members conceded a two-tier wage structure with a 10-year progression for new hires to reach parity with current workers, but beat back the company’s demands for a harsher version of two-tier and numerous other concessions.

box of ballots

Who will lead the NewsGuild is an open question after its first contested presidential election in 11 years.

Incumbent Bernie Lunzer squeezed out a few more votes than insurgent candidate Jon Schleuss. But Schleuss says Lunzer and his executive team violated a number of federal rules on the conduct of elections.

This prompted Schleuss and at least 60 other members to file challenges calling for a rerun.

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