Last Week in Southern Labor: 9/1 - 9/8
Updated On: Oct 17, 2023

Last Week in Southern Labor: 9/1 - 9/8

By JACOB MORRISON September 11, 2023

Here’s what Southern US workers were up to from September 1-7:

  • 10 workers at Blue Sprocket Pressing in Harrisonburg, VA filed for a union election with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 29

  • 9 maintenance workers at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital in Saint Louis, MO filed for a union election with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU)

  • 24 baristas at Starbucks in Jonesboro, GA filed for a union election with Starbucks Workers United. Two days after the filing, the union announced that Starbucks had terminated a 26 year employee - Logan Matthews - who was hired at a hiring event by Howard Schultz in retaliation for being on the organizing committee. Logan has worked at over 50 locations and opened 8 stores for the company. The incident he is supposedly being fired for happened in JULY, and yet he was only fired for it last week, days after he became a public union leader. This really underscores the arbitrary power that employers have when employees don’t have a union contract, and is all the more reason for every barista in the country to unionize - and fast. Shortly before we went live, the union announced that Logan had been reinstated after the backlash.

  • 44 workers at Continental Carbon Company in Ponca City, OK filed for a union election with the United Steel Workers. 

  • Back in April, Kim Kelly broke the news for The Valley Labor Report that a decertification petition had been filed at Warrior Met, to get rid of the UMWA as the union there. We are happy to report now that the NLRB has blocked the decertification attempt because they ruled the attempt was due to Warrior Met’s illegal practices both before and during the two year long strike. 

  • Two sets of workers withdrew their petition for union election:

    • 13 workers at PSA in Norfolk, VA withdrew their petition for unionization with the Teamsters Local 822

    • 130 workers at Transdev Services in Arlington, VA withdrew their petition for unionization with the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689.

  • 26 workers at Starbucks in Clemson, South Carolina voted 17 to 4 in favor of unionization with Starbucks Workers United

  • 17 workers at 10 Roads Express in Richmond, VA voted UNANIMOUSLY, 17 to 0, in favor of unionization with the American Postal Workers Union (APWU)

  • 39 workers at The Center for Pan Asian Community Services in Atlanta, GA voted 11 to 7 in favor of unionization with Workers United

  • CWA’s bargaining committee has come to a tentative agreement with Frontier Communications on a new 4 year agreement, after several contract extensions. The CWA said in their announcement: The contract achieves significant wage increases, preserves existing job security language, and maintains quality health and welfare benefits. In addition, Frontier has committed to creating additional jobs and a long-term work at home agreement. Members of the union will be voting on the agreement in the coming weeks. 

  • Walmart began paying some new hires $1/hr less in July - it was first reported on last week by the Wall Street Journal. With no union at Walmart, there is no bargaining over the change. 

  • Hundreds of sanitation workers - members of United Electrical Workers (UE) Local 150 - for the city of Durham, North Carolina went out on strike on September 6, and as of recording have not returned to work. Their demands include an immediate $5,000 bonus, pay for all work done outside of their job titles, and bringing all temporary employees on as permanent workers. They are being supported by the Southern Workers Assembly and have multiple events already planned for the next week. No cash, no trash! Despite public sector collective bargaining agreements being illegal in North Carolina, the union has been able to rack up impressive wins, including some that they discussed on our program last year. 

  • That’s not all that is happening in Durham - the Union of Southern Service Workers (USSW) held an action at a local Waffle House.

  • And that’s not all the USSW was up to last week - Waffle House workers in Atlanta, GA delivered a demand letter to their management.

  • United Campus Workers have been on a roll - last week they announced the formation of a new chapter at Virginia Tech in partnership with the Virginia Education Association’s Graduate Labor Union on campus. 

  • Graduate workers at the University of Florida announced that they had reached an agreement that includes a $2,200 increase to the minimum stipend, merit raises, and removal of outside employment restrictions. 

  • Shangrila dispensary workers with United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 655 in Columbia, MO are still on strike - they began in May.

  • Three Brothers Coffee workers with UFCW 1995 in Nashville, TN have been on strike since June

  • Memphis soy protein production workers with Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) Local 390G have also been on strike since June. 

  • Bargaining continues contentiously with the UAW. Stellantis and GM finally responded, with very similar offers to what Ford countered with. After GM’s response, UAW President said “GM either doesn’t care or isn’t listening when we say we need economic justice at GM by 11:59pm on September 14th. The clock is ticking. Stop wasting our members’ time. Tick tock.”

  • The American Association of University Professors (AAUP), released the results of a survey of professors at Southern colleges. Respondents said they are “deeply dissatisfied with higher education due to the impact of political interference and attacks on tenure.” Most would not recommend their state for work and many are looking for employment elsewhere. 

  • Retirement Systems of Alabama CEO David Bronner is warning that Republicans in the legislature and Kay Ivey are eyeing an “extreme school choice bill” for the next session. 

  • To support workforce development programs that prepare young people and help them access good-paying careers, the U.S. Department of Labor today announced the award of $14 million in grants to seven organizations in five states, including FL, VA, and GA to deliver workforce services when youth are out of school.

  • A rural carrier reached out to me on the decertification campaign last week - they said that they agreed about the need for reform but were very much opposed to a decertification effort. They recommended getting more information about the rural carriers union from United We Scan, which is a podcast by other rural carriers. 

  • Union Plus is an organization that provides discounts and benefits to union members - every they give out a bunch of money in prizes and Shiran Amir, a member of IATSE Local 700 won the grand prize of $40,000. She has committed her winnings to the Entertainment Community Fund, which was set up by her union to help stagehands out of work due to the ongoing entertainment strikes. Additionally, myself and Adam were winners of a $2,000 prize, which we will use on the show.

  • Brandy Booth told us about a wildcat strike he saw in 1993 that was the result of management trying to speed up the line without negotiating. When the workers told him to go through the bargaining process, he pulled the chairs from the assembly line. That’s when the workers “put down their tools, grabbed a coffee, and sat under the tree out back of the plant.” Booth said he young boss was reprimanded, had to personally put the chairs back, and undergo further training.

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