While many union members and other workers are worried and horrified at the mounting war in Israel and occupied Palestine, U.S. unions so far have mostly remained silent.
Seventy-five thousand Kaiser Permanente health care workers struck October 4-6 in what was billed as the biggest health care strike in U.S. history.
It was also the first strike in decades by the SEIU-led Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions, the longtime standard-bearer for labor-management partnership. That partnership has frayed to the point of unraveling—though not for lack of interest on the union side. It’s Kaiser that has gotten mean.
The heat was scorching in Louisville, Kentucky, last Thursday. But what the windless day lacked in gusts, it made up in guts.
The union-made placards read: “United for a Strong Contract.” That resonated with auto workers at Ford who hadn’t been part of a contract rally for as long as anyone can remember.
And the picket line came alive when they broke away from the tedious repetition of “Who’s got the power? We’ve got the power!” and used their own chants.
With reformers at the helm, the Teamsters and the Auto Workers (UAW) are raising the bar for contract campaigns.
At Labor Notes we often hear from frustrated members of unions that have nothing like a contract campaign—members play no role in setting the agenda or building the momentum to win. Union leaders agree not to “bargain in the press,” squandering any chance to attract public sympathy. Sometimes the rank and file doesn’t even hear what’s going on until a deal is done.
If your union goes into negotiations right now and doesn’t win its biggest raise ever, you’re leaving money on the table.
Soaring inflation means it takes a bigger raise just to break even. And with unemployment low, labor has extra leverage to win more.
Dining hall workers at Northeastern University in Boston just approved a new contract that will raise them to $30 an hour by 2026—triple the $9 they were making in 2012 before they unionized.