Last Week in Southern Labor: 10/27 - 11/4
Updated On: Nov 27, 2023

Last Week in Southern Labor: 10/27 - 11/4

By JACOB MORRISON November 7, 2023

Here’s what workers in the Southern U.S. and her Colonies were up to from October 27 - November 4:

  • 1223 workers at Manqual’s Office Cleaning Service in Guaynabo, PR filed for a union election with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1996

  • 1840 more maintenance workers, these with Xpert’s in San Juan, PA, also filed for a union election with SEIU Local 1996

  • 11 workers for video marketing company Whiteboard Geeks in Chesterfield, VA filed for a union election with the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 839, the Animation Guild

  • 41 workers at Wright of Virginia, a traffic control company, in Verona, VA filed for a union election with the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) Local 202

  • 20 workers at Starbucks in Durham, NC filed for a union election with Starbucks Workers United

  • 18 workers at Royals Hot Chicken in Louisville, KY filed for a union election with the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 227

  • 20 workers at Dr. Pepper / Keurig in Knoxville, TN filed for a union election with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 519

  • The General Drivers, Warehousemen and Helpers Local Union No. 89, an affiliate of the Teamsters, withdrew their interest in representing the 46 workers at the UPS Centennial Hub in Louisville, KY after initially showing majority support for the union

  • The Teamsters Local 988 withdrew their petition for a union election to represent the 12 staffers at SEIU Texas in Houston, TX - I tweeted about this yesterday because it seemed fishy, but it made it back around to the staffers themselves and turns out they got voluntary recognition, so that’s a great resolution to this - on to the contract!

  • 20 workers at Starbucks in Farmers Branch, TX voted in favor of unionization with Starbucks Workers United, 14-2

  • 17 workers at Rare Bird Coffee Roasters in Falls Church, VA voted in favor of unionization with SEIU’s Mid-Atlantic Joint Board 11 to 4

  • 4 workers at Panelmatic St Louis in Earth City, MO voted in favor of unionization with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1, 3 to 1

  • 213 workers at Phoenix Paper Wickliffe in Wickliffe, KY voted against unionization with the United Steel Workers International Union (USW) 57 to 146 (yikes)

  • 45 workers at Transdev in Lorton, VA voted in favor of ousting their old union - the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) - in favor of a new independent union - the Independent Supervisors Union. 20 votes for the independent union, 2 votes for OPEIU, and 1 vote for no union at all. When we announced this filing, friend of the show Chris Townsend sent us some background information. Apparently this is a small unit that should really be part of the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), which represents hundreds of other Transdev employees, but at the time the ATU wouldn’t organize them, so OPEIU did. Well, since they’re a smaller unit Transdev would try to pick them off and get them to accept a concessionary deal that they’d then take to ATU to try to get them to accept. So OPEIU has now been raided multiple in this shop with backing from company attorneys, and Chris had been able to help OPEIU stave off a raid in the past. But this new independent union won the election, and Chris suspects foul play from the company. A lot of drama for a small unit of workers! We’ll keep yall updated as we know more. And for everyone else, Chris said to pass on this message - “don’t get decertified, call Chris Townsend today!”

  • The NLRB General Counsel is prosecuting DHL for unfair labor practice charges after completing an independent investigation prompted by the Teamsters. The amended complaint includes allegations that DHL has surveilled workers discussing the union off site and interfered with efforts by DHL ramp and tug workers. Despite this interference, the ramp and tug workers voted overwhelmingly in April to join Teamsters Local 100. Other allegations include punishing and firing workers for engaging in union activity. A trial before a federal administrative law judge is set for Nov. 7.

  • The Machinists union put out a message from their General Counsel Laura Ewan about a recent Supreme Court ruling on religious accommodations. It stems from a letter carrier who was denied Sundays off. Previously, employers were able to deny religious accommodations if they created more than a “de minimus” hardship - a low bar. The Supreme court ruled unanimously that this was too low, and that employers would have to accommodate religious employees unless they could prove an undue hardship. Crucially, as Ewan points out, the Court specifically stated that employers and unions did not have to ignore seniority rights when making these determinations. Sounds good all around to me!

  • First Student bus operators who work for Buchanan County Schools in Missouri and represented by the Teamsters Local 955 voted unanimously to ratify their first supplemental agreement. The agreement includes 44 percent wage increase over the 3 year life of the contract, employer contributions to 401(k), monthly attendance bonuses, improved safety protections, and the elimination of a two-tier wage scale.

  • 160 members of Teamsters local 728 in Atlanta, GA ratified a new contract with Republic services that won wage increases, improved paid-time-off policies, and the recognition of Juneteenth as a paid holiday

  • The staff of the country’s largest union - the National Education Association - has released the results of a strike authorization vote revealing 100% support for a strike if necessary. This comes after the workers - members of the Association of Field Service Employees (AFSE) - have reportedly been working without a contract since 1 June, 2023. 

  • Arby’s workers in Kansas City, MO marched on the boss and delivered a petition signed by a majority of the workers there calling for better pay, benefits, and working conditions, including a five dollar wage increase and paid time off and parental leave. They were accompanied by Missouri House Rep. Eric Woods and others. They have given the company a two week deadline to respond. The workers are organizing with the Missouri Workers Center. 

  • Memphis soy protein production workers with Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) Local 390G have been on strike since June - last week they took their strike to New York to the headquarters of their company, International Flavors and Fragrances in coordination with the New York City Labor council that brought out several unions in support.

  • The UAW has a TA at each of the big three with huge gains including a 25% general wage increase, ending tiers, bringing back COLA, and getting Stellantis to reopen the Belvidere plant. There’s a lot more, but this is big news that is already having ramifications across the industry, including…

  • Nonunion Toyota announced immediate raises of 8-9% and a cut in the progression from 8 years to 4 immediately after the UAW announced their contracts. These are big improvements, and nonunion workers who want to get the rest of the gains that UAW members saw should unionize. 

  • 4,000 UAW members at Mack Trucks continue their strike. 

  • 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

  • The Teamsters International Union has invited all declared presidential candidates to attend a town hall with rank and file members

  • After Alabama kicked 22,000 off Medicaid in June, they kicked another 28,000 off in July, new data shows. 

  • Atmore News publisher and co-owner Sherry Digmon and Don Fletcher, a reporter at the outlet, were arrested last week for allegedly printing grand jury secrets stemming from an Escambia County District Attorney’s Office investigation into federal COVID-19 funds that were possibly improperly paid to seven former Escambia County School System employees.

  • Jimmy Williams, General President of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, released a statement on Twitter regarding the situation in Gaza, saying in part: A conflict of this magnitude cannot be fixed by bombs and bullets. The @GoIUPAT is proud to join the labor movement across the globe in calling for an immediate end to hostilities and de-escalation of tensions across the region.

  • International Paper will permanently close its containerboard mill in Orange, Texas. It also will permanently end production at two of its pulp machines: the #20 machine in Riegelwood, North Carolina, and the #4 machine in Pensacola, Florida. This will reduce production by 1.2 million tons annually and will result in 900 United Steel Workers jobs being lost.

  • Olympia, Washington-based Thurston-Lewis-Mason Central Labor Council (TLM CLC) voted unanimously to pass a resolution stating that the labor council ​“opposes in principle any union involvement in the production or transportation of weapons destined for Israel.” and encouraged the national AFL-CIO to ​“publicly support an immediate ceasefire and equal rights for Palestinians and Israelis.” The national AFL-CIO rebuked the council and sent a note to all principal and secondary officers of state federations and labor councils pointing to the policy that states that only the national federation has the authority to create positions on issues of national or international importance.

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