Monday, December 14, 2015

An Injury To One Is An Injury To All - Labor Newsletter 223 12-13-2015

An Injury To One Is An Injury To All
edited Steve Rossignol - Texas Labor Fund

1)    Worker Wins Update: From Airports to the Airwaves, Workers Make Gains Over Busy Fall

12/02/2015  AFL CIO Now Blog News

Anthony DeAngelo

Workers across the country have stood up in the past months to win better wages and working conditions.

UAW Members Ratify Contracts with Detroit’s Big Three: In the past two months, workers at General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler have ratified new contracts. The contracts, representing some 142,000 American workers, give autoworkers better pay, better benefits and bonuses.

Phoenix Airport Fueling Agents Join the IAM: More than 120 fueling agents at Swissport in Phoenix voted to unionize as a part of the Machinists (IAM). The workers chose to unionize over concerns with substandard wages, working conditions and the security of their jobs. Their collective action comes after a strong anti-union campaign.

Broadcast Workers Win First Contract: Workers at the Big Ten Network ratified their first college sports network union contract with the Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE). About 125 local freelance broadcast workers will receive pay increases, health benefits and annuity contributions as a part of their first contract.

B&H Workers Vote to Unionize: Employees at the biggest non-chain photo store in the United States, B&H, joined the United Steelworkers (USW), by an overwhelming 200–88 margin. The workers sought to form a union after complaining about unsafe working conditions and harassment issues.

AFGE Organizes Five Union Elections: AFGE welcomed new members from five different government agencies. These included 475 professional employees at the San Diego Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital, 200 physicians and dentists in Phoenix, five U.S. Environmental Protection Agency employees in Dallas, 37 guards at Fort Meade, Md., and 25 vocational rehab counselors at the VA in San Diego.

Media Publication Employees Unionize for Fair Representation: Al Jazeera America employees unionized for representation and job security, after management originally fought the organizing efforts. This organizing effort follows suit from several digital publications whose workers chose to unionize in 2015. The Al Jazeera digital journalists will be represented by the Communications Workers of America (CWA).

Barnard College Adjuncts Join Union: Barnard College adjunct professors overwhelmingly voted to form a union with the UAW in early October.

Envoy Air Joins CWA: Nearly 5,000 airline agents voted to join the CWA for fairness, a safer work environment, job security and better wages. This organizing effort is part of CWA’s representation of nearly 60,000 flight attendants at 19 different airlines.

2)    Carroll faculty petitions to unionize despite admin opposition

December 07, 2015 8:49 pm    MARGA LINCOLN Independent Record (Montana)

A majority of Carroll College’s faculty has petitioned the National Labor Relations Board for permission to form a labor union, which is being opposed by Carroll’s board and administration.

The MEA-MFT union and the Associated Faculty of Carroll College submitted the petition Dec. 1, and it goes to a public NLRB hearing at 9 a.m. Wednesday at the Federal Courthouse in Helena.

According to faculty spokesperson and English professor Kay Satre, the hearing could last several days, and it could be days or months before the hearing officer makes a decision.

If the NLRB approves the request, the faculty would hold a confidential vote on forming a union shortly thereafter, said Satre. They would need a vote of support by more than 50 percent of the faculty to proceed.

So far, more than 70 percent of the faculty has signed cards in support of forming a union, she said. Slightly more than 90 full-time faculty members would be affected, including professors, assistant and associate professors and instructors.

In announcing their intent to organize, the faculty group sent an Aug. 31 letter to Carroll President Thomas Evans, asking him to stand with them in support of forming a union, or to at least not stand in their way.

In their letter, the faculty quoted both papal and Catholic Church statements that support workers’ rights to organize unions.

Carroll President Thomas Evans declined to be interviewed for this story because he is focusing on the NLRB hearing, said Carroll director of public relations Sarah Lawlor.

However, he has submitted a letter to the Independent Record editor spelling out why he and the board oppose a faculty union.

“At Carroll, we operate under a shared governance model which emphasizes shared decision-making between faculty, the administration and the Board of Trustees,” Evans wrote.

“Shared governance is a collaborative approach to achieving common goals where faculty members are very much involved in the decision-making process. ... I strongly believe bringing in a third party would greatly diminish the collaborative nature of our work together.”

His letter further states that “We believe strongly that the faculty at Carroll College are instrumental in fulfilling the mission of the college and cannot be organized through the NLRB because to do so would violate the First Amendment separation of church and state.”

In addition, his letter states that faculty members are involved in managerial duties and therefore “are not eligible for unionization.”

Satre said that faculty would characterize the college’s shared governance as “a lot of consultation, but not decision-making power.”


“Our impetus (to form a union) comes from our desire as faculty to improve policies and processes at Carroll and to gain a more effective seat at the decision-making table,” Satre said. “The faculty care deeply about our students and our college.”

“(We) think a union is necessary because many of the most pressing issues seem structural and cultural to Carroll, not the result of one decision, one person, or one policy,” they wrote in their letter to Evans.

Faculty members have the longest careers at the college and the longest institutional memory, they wrote, and would therefore like to be partners with the administration, “but few of us perceive that to be the case now. We cannot regard ourselves as partners when so many of the important decisions at the college, including those that materially affect us personally and professionally are simply handed down to us.”

Some of the decisions having the most impact include budget decisions, work conditions and workload, Satre said.

This is not the first time Carroll faculty sought to form a union in the 24 years that Satre has been teaching at Carroll, she said. Two decades ago faculty members were interested in organizing, but they were told it was not legally possible, she said. But in 2015 the NLRB shifted some rules that have spurred this new effort.

“We are just pursuing our right to organize a union,” Satre said. “We are a member-driven organization. We will elect who sits at the bargaining table. It will be organized, led by and promote the interests of the faculty of Carroll College.”

3)       Culinary calls for contract talks after Trump workers vote for union

Posted December 7, 2015 - 12:38pm

By Howard Stutz, Las Vegas Review-Journal

A majority of workers at the Trump International Hotel Las Vegas voted for union representation, setting up potential contract talks between the nongaming hotel owned by billionaire Donald Trump and Las Vegas's largest labor group.

Culinary Local 226 said Monday a majority of the hotel's 500 employees eligible in the union's bargaining units voted in favor of union representation during elections sponsored by the National Labor Relations Board on Dec. 4-5. The NLRB confirmed the vote took place.

The Culinary called for immediate contract talks between the hotel and the labor group, which includes Bartenders Local 165.

"Trump Las Vegas should recognize the workers' vote immediately and sit down with us to negotiate a contract as soon as possible," said Culinary Secretary-Treasurer Geoconda Arguello-Kline.

Trump International Vice President Brian Baudreau was unavailable to comment, said a hotel spokeswoman.

The vote comes after the union focused attention on the hotel this summer, holding several protests in front of the building and drawing attention from Trump's high-profile GOP presidential campaign, making use of his catch-phrase, "Make America Great Again."

The Culinary has held several events in front of the hotel off the Strip along Fashion Show Drive.

Democratic presidential candidate Martin O'Malley, a former governor of Maryland, participated with the union in an August press conference. Meanwhile, Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton rallied with workers in October before the next day's nationally televised debate at the Wynn Las Vegas.

The vote comes a week after workers at the Trump International Hotel Toronto ratified their first contract with UNITE HERE, the Culinary's parent organization. Trump Toronto workers voted in favor of union representation nine months ago.

Last week, the Culinary and the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas reached agreement on a four-year contract for the hotel's nongaming workforce. The Culinary and Cosmopolitan were at odds since the property opened in 2010. Talks were renewed this year after an affiliate of the Blackstone Group spent $1.73 billion to acquire the Strip resort.

In a statement, the Culinary said other nongaming hotels on the Strip with union benefits include Four Seasons and the four Hilton Grand Vacations properties.

The move comes a week before Trump arrives in Las Vegas to participate in the nationally televised GOP presidential debate at The Venetian.

In August, Eric Trump, Trump's son and executive vice president of development and acquisitions for The Trump Organization, said the hotel has more than 650 valued employees who time after time have rejected union organization.

Trump's company owns the 64-story hotel and condominium tower, which opened in 2008. Treasure Island owner Phil Ruffin is a partner in the property.

4)    Trump workers approve joining Culinary Workers union

Updated: 12/07/2015  1:33 pm  CBS Ch. 3 Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS – After two days of voting in a National Labor Relations Board election, a majority of workers at the Trump International Hotel Las Vegas have voted to be represented by the Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and the Bartenders Union Local 165 of UNITE HERE.

More than 500 employees of the hotel are in the union’s bargaining units and were eligible to vote.

Trump Las Vegas workers voted Dec. 4 and 5 at their hotel.

This decision for workers at the luxury nongaming hotel co-owned by businessman Donald Trump and casino owner Phillip Ruffin, comes nine months after workers at the Trump International Hotel Toronto voted to join UNITE HERE, and one week after the Trump Toronto workers ratified their first contract.

“I’m so happy that our voices were heard and votes counted!” said Carmen Llarull, a guest room attendant at the hotel, “My coworkers and I look forward to negotiating a fair contract and making our lives better.”

“Trump Las Vegas workers have spoken loud and clear: They want respect, dignity, and the Las Vegas union standard,” said Geoconda Arguello-Kline, Secretary-Treasurer of the Culinary Union. ”Trump Las Vegas should recognize the workers’ vote immediately and sit down with us to negotiate a contract as soon as possible.”

“I’m proud to work at this five-star hotel and am even prouder that we have joined the union,” said Alma Zamarin, a food server at the property. “My coworkers and I need fair wages, good benefits, and job security at the Trump Las Vegas, just like workers at other non-gaming properties on the Las Vegas Strip.”

Other noncasino hotels on the Las Vegas Strip that are union and have union benefits: Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas, Elara Hilton Grand Vacations, Hilton Grand Vacations Suites on the Las Vegas Strip, Hilton Grand Vacation Paradise, and Hilton Grand Vacations Club at the Flamingo.

Culinary Workers Local 226 and Bartenders Local 165, Nevada affiliates of UNITE HERE, represent more than 57,000 workers in Las Vegas and Reno, including at most of casino resorts on the Las Vegas Strip. UNITE HERE represents 270,000 workers in gaming, hotel, and food service industries in North America.

5)    Striking Federal Contract Workers Stage Capitol Sit-In


More than two hundred striking federal contract workers seeking a $15 hourly wage and the right to form a union descended on Capitol Hill Tuesday for a sit-in rally in a Senate cafeteria and protest at Sen. Ted Cruz’s office.

Workers from several federal agencies, including Senate cafeteria worker Sontia Bailey – who recently secured Vice President Biden’s endorsement of the worker movement –rallied in the Dirksen Senate Office Building cafeteria.

Faith leaders supporting the effort delivered a letter to the representative of the Compass Group, the British food services company contracted by the Senate, before Capitol Police escorted workers out of the cafeteria.

The letter asked for the company to allow workers a “seat at the table” for the ongoing contract negotiations for the workers.

“Allow your workers the opportunity to self-organize and speak with one voice,” the letter reads.

A spokesperson for the Architect of the Capitol has not returned a request for comment on the negotiations.

Workers later descended on Sen. Ted Cruz’s office, where several dressed as the infamous “Grinch” delivered a fake award to the Texas Republican, singling him out as a prominent Republican and member of the Senate Rules Committee negotiating a new worker contract.

Organizers and protesters did not catch Cruz, but met briefly with the Texas senator’s press secretary asking him to pass along their message, which he agreed to do.

Several ministers, striking workers and Cruz’s spokesperson ended the protest by joining hands for a prayer.

Dr. Rev. Leslie Copeland of Grace and Race Ministries, who led the prayer, reminded Cruz’s staff in the prayer that “with great blessings comes great responsibility.”

“This is not really about policy, this is about people. It's about how people are able to care for their families,” she said.

Cruz’s office has not returned a request for comment on the meeting or the senator’s position on the worker movement.

6)  Chicago Teachers Union plans to vote on potential strike

By Emma Brown December 8, 2015  Washington Post

Chicago Teachers Union members plan to begin voting Wednesday on whether to authorize a strike, setting in motion the latest in a series of political challenges for Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

The teachers’ contract expired in June, and efforts to reach a one-year contract agreement with Chicago Public Schools fell apart during the summer amid differences over teacher evaluations, among other issues. Talks between the union and the nation’s third-largest school system restarted in August, but the two sides have been unable to reach a compromise on a number of issues, including staffing, salaries, pension contributions and health-care benefits.

“Negotiations are stuck in neutral, and it’s not clear that anyone on the other side of the table sees any problem with that,” said Jesse Sharkey, the union’s vice president, who added that the sides are no closer together now than they were three months ago. “I haven’t seen evidence of good faith in really trying to grapple with the problem of under-resourcing public schools, the problem of very deep cuts and systematic deficits,” Sharkey added. “We’re saying it’s time to move this process.”

According to the union, the Chicago school board — whose members are appointed by the mayor — has proposed changes that would amount to a 12 percent cut in total compensation over a three-year term.

The school board also has rejected union proposals for smaller class sizes and more librarians, counselors, social workers and art and music programs, according to the union, as well as proposals that would cost little to nothing, such as doing away with redundant testing and giving teachers more autonomy in grading student work.

Chicago Public Schools officials said it is premature for the union to threaten a strike because the mediation process is not complete and the mediator involved in the talks has not yet heard discussions on a number of important issues.


The school system officials said the union’s proposal would cost an additional $1.5 billion in spending, which they call unrealistic for a district in a serious financial crunch. Last summer, the district cut about 1,400 jobs — including 500 teaching positions — and school system leaders have said that thousands more layoffs might be necessary.

“CPS is looking for solutions to our $1.1 billion budget crisis, and a strike isn’t the answer,” said Emily Bittner, a school system spokeswoman. “We’re negotiating in good faith with CTU leadership to reach a fair, multiyear agreement that protects teachers, their jobs and our classrooms — and we encourage CTU to join with us in Springfield to fight for equal funding for Chicago children.”

Union leaders say the vote will last at least three days or perhaps longer, if that’s what it takes to make sure that all 27,000 members vote. Under state law, 75 percent of the union’s active members must vote yes in order to authorize a strike.

It would be the first step in a months-long process that would have to play out before teachers actually decide to walk off the job.

Three years ago, Chicago teachers went on a seven-day strike that helped them win significant concessions, including a reduction of the proportion of their evaluations that would be based on standardized test scores. The strike also drew national attention to the bruising battle between the teachers union and Emanuel, and this week’s strike vote comes as Emanuel hardly needs another distraction.

This year, he weathered the indictment of his handpicked schools superintendent, Barbara Byrd-Bennett, who in October pleaded guilty to taking kickbacks from a $20 million no-bid contract.

Now, since a video was released of an officer fatally shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, Emanuel is facing questions about a lack of accountability among Chicago police.

McDonald was running away from officers when he was shot 16 times, according to dashboard-camera footage city officials released only after a judge ordered them to do so. Emanuel fired Chief Garry McCarthy, but now the Justice Department has launched a broad civil rights investigation into the Chicago police.

Emanuel’s press office did not respond to a request for comment on the teachers’ strike vote.

7)     18 months later, still no contract for part-time Minnesota profs

By Tom Steward  /   December 8, 2015  /

A year and a half after voting to create the first union for part-time faculty at a private Minnesota college or university, adjunct instructors at Hamline University remain without a contract to show for it.

Faculty members of the Service Employees International Union Local 284 bargaining unit have met to negotiate with the St. Paul school’s administration more than 25 times.

“We have been seeking common ground and agreement with the Union on terms and conditions of employment to be embedded in a union contract,” Hamline University said in a statement. “We have bargained with the Union in good faith, and much has been accomplished toward a complete agreement.”

But the two sides remain deadlocked on a compensation package for some 200 adjunct professors in talks with an atmosphere the campus’ union steward has described as “temper and tension in the air.”

“The current best offer from the University does not even replace half of the lost buying power for those in the Hamline community whose pay is already at or near the lowest,” Local 284 union steward David Weiss said in his most recent SEIU blog post on negotiations.

“…But the biggest challenge we face in bargaining at present is not a matter of dollars, nor is it a matter of good faith. It is the question of whether Hamline has the audacity to bargain in the direction of social justice.”

A part-time religion professor, Weiss did not respond to repeated inquiries from Watchdog Minnesota Bureau. But signs point to a potential impasse in the ground-breaking labor talks on a contract for adjuncts, who teach about 20 percent of Hamline courses.


”They’re very frustrated, I think they thought it would’ve moved more quickly than it did,” said David Schultz, a tenured Hamline University political science professor who supports the union. “I’m not surprised. I don’t think Hamline wants to be the first school in Minnesota to let the adjuncts collectively bargain a contract.”

The two sides reached a tentative agreement on non-economic issues like grievance procedures in June, a full year after part-time faculty voted overwhelmingly to unionize. But as the focus turned to compensation, common ground became harder to locate.

“The administration did not count on our perseverance,” Weiss blogged in August. ”They expected us to settle for far less and far sooner. They did not expect us ever to raise our voices.”

On average, Hamline’s adjunct instructors get paid $4,300 per course. But union members say most part-timers earn $4,000 a class, the same rate as 10 years ago, which equates to an estimated $800 loss in buying power. The university has proposed a 10 percent pay increase in the current $4,000-per-course base salary paid to about 75 percent of adjuncts, but apparently no bump for those already at that level.

“While we already compensate our adjuncts competitively, we have presented the Union a compensation offer that would substantially raise the minimum base compensation rate for covered Hamline undergraduate adjuncts,” according to the Hamline statement.

Meanwhile, both sides accuse each other of attempting to divide the campus by pitting factions against each other.

“It has come to our attention that the Union is engaging in activities meant to pull our students, full-time faculty, and staff into their efforts to put pressure on the University for an agreement on their terms,” Hamline University president Fayneese Miller said in a Nov. 6 all-campus message.

Union representatives have sought to reassure members they’ll negotiate a pay increase that will cover the 2.1 percent in union dues set to be deducted from their paychecks. At the same time, they claim the charged campus atmosphere has intimidated some supporters.

“I’ve heard multiple tales of adjuncts—and also full-time faculty and staff—who say they are nervous, anxious, or outright scared to be visible in our contract struggle,” Weiss wrote in an August blog post. “The administration, intentionally or otherwise (and I suspect it’s a bit of both) has allowed a culture of fear to take hold at Hamline.”

The longer the process grinds on, the less chance of an agreement, according to a veteran Twin Cities labor management expert.

“If it’s gone on that long, it’s unlikely they’re going to reach agreement,” said Doug Seaton, an attorney who represents management in labor disputes. “And if the union hasn’t taken the action to strike whatever they think they can do there, they probably don’t have much leverage to do it.”

Ironically, adjunct professors at other private Twin Cities universities have already benefited more from the threat of a union than their Hamline colleagues who voted to join SEIU.

“Augsburg, Macalester, and St. Thomas have all made efforts to address adjunct faculty dissatisfaction—and they have done so, at least in part because we at Hamline successfully unionized,” Weiss wrote on his blog.


8)            East Aurora teachers union to vote on allowing possible strike

Sarah Freishtat Aurora Beacon-News  Dec 8, 2015

East Aurora teachers' union members plan to take a vote allowing a possible strike at a later date, according to the union.

The nearly 1,400 teachers and staff members of the union are set to vote over two days next week, Dec. 15 and 16. The vote, if approved, would allow the union to move forward with a strike after negotiating teams reach an impasse.

At that point, both sides would submit final proposals to the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board, which must be published for 10 days before the union can call a strike.

Union President Sara Imthurn said the vote is the next step in the negotiating process.


"Basically, we want all the members to have a voice in where we could go," she said. "It could be a strike, it could not be a strike."

East Aurora teachers and staff are working under the terms of a contract that expired in June. They have spoken at the past several school board meetings, expressing concerns about a sometimes tough work environment and a lack of support.

Union members twice voted down tentative agreements, and are working with a third-party mediator. The union also hired a fact-finder to look into the district's finances. He has not yet given a final report to union members, Imthurn said.

The previous agreements were rejected because members wanted clearer language about salary, other benefits and working conditions, such as the number of hours they work and time for planning, Imthurn said.

Negotiating teams are still working on those areas, she said.

The strike authorization vote is scheduled over two days to ensure all members, particularly those in larger schools, have a chance to vote, Imthurn said.

District spokesman Matt Hanley declined to comment on the vote.

Imthurn said both sides continue to negotiate, with another meeting scheduled in early January.

"We hope that we can make progress to a point where we feel like we can take it to the membership," she said. "Our goal is to get an agreement that will benefit all stakeholders."

9)      UAW Strikes Nexteer, Strikers Ordered To “STOP Damaging Vehicles!”


 Workplace Report 12-9-2015

After overwhelmingly rejecting their employer’s contract offer, United Auto Workers Local 699 have gone on strike against Nexteer Automotive, according to press reports.

“The membership spoke as one,” Chad Arndt, a member of UAW Local 699 “We voted down a contract that was unanimously not agreed upon.”

Union leadership took to UAW Local 699’s Facebook page to announce the strike.

Although the strike is only hours old, on the union’s Facebook page, strikers have already been ordered to “stop damaging vehicles.”

“I was just texted asking me to contact the union; plant 3 people STOP damaging vehicles!” says one message to members. “The media will eat us alive with this negativity and it is only showing our communities we are the aggressors and not the oppressed so please act like adults and keep a cool head. Remember, when a person turns to violence they have lost the battle. Solidarity!”

“To the people doing damage to vehicles: way to give the UAW a bad name and put us in a negative light,” says another message. “Assholes. You are striking to get fair wages from the COMPANY, not INNOCENT people passing by.”

10)     New union seeks recognition from USL

by Paul Kennedy, December 9th, 2015 7AM  SoccerAmerica Daily

The United Soccer League Players Association has formally requested recognition from the third division USL following a season-long unionization drive. It believes that it has established majority support necessary for recognition or to seek a formal election by the National Labor Relations Board.

Federal law provides for an employer to voluntarily recognize a union that can show majority support or it refuses to recognize it, allow the union to petition the National Labor Relations Board to conduct an election. A majority vote would result in certification.

According to the USLPA's tally, authorization cards were signed by about 53 percent of the league's professional players. The players have engaged a Washington D.C.-based arbitrator and mediator to perform an authorization card check necessary to verify majority support, a step before union recognition can be considered.

"The organization effort represents the players' desire to have a voice and a working relationship with the league," said Ted Philipakos, a player agent and professor at New York University’s Tisch Institute for Sports Management, Media, and Business, has been assisting the players. "It should be emphasized that the proposed union gained majority support by promoting collaboration with the league rather than activism against it.”

Tyler Ruthven of Arizona United SC and Paolo DelPiccolo of the Charlotte Independence have leadership roles in the campaign.

MLS has had a recognized union since 2003. The NASL has no union

11)          UAW Calls Off Nexteer Strike, Members Complain of Disorganization, Confusion

December 9, 2015  By Editor  Workplace Report

SAGINAW, MI—Within one day of calling over three thousand workers out on strike against Nexteer Automotive, the union called off its strike saying it had reached a new tentative agreement.

“The UAW International, which took over negotiations Tuesday morning, instructed Local 699 to send its 3,350 members back to work without a contract and without any opportunity to vote on the end of the strike,” reports WSWS’ Jerry White.

Formerly Delphi Saginaw Steering Systems, Nexteer was bought in 2010 by China-based Pacific Century Motors.

Following the announcement of the strike’s cessation on the union’s Facebook page, members commented on their confusion, as well as complained of the union’s seeming disorganization.

Some members appeared confused over whether or not they would get strike pay for the brief strike.

The new tentative contract offer still needs to be ratified by the membership. However, if the UAW has the same type of skepticism it had weeks ago with the Detroit Three contracts, passage may be difficul


12)        Janitors’ union authorizes strike if contract agreement can’t be reached

By Colleen Wilson Fairfield County Business Journal

Published 3:44 pm, Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The 32BJ Service Employees International Union of janitors in the Hudson Valley and Fairfield County voted Dec. 5 to authorize a potential strike if an agreement can’t be reached for an expiring contract.

About 1,000 commercial building cleaners met at the Westchester County Center on Saturday to vote on the strike option, which is a routine vote during contract negotiations.

Talks between the union and employers, known collectively as the Hudson Valley/Fairfield County Contractors Association, began Nov. 18.

The current contract went into effect in 2012 and is set to expire Dec. 31. It affects about 3,500 union members who work in nearly 300 buildings in Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess, Rockland, Orange and Sullivan counties in New York and Fairfield County in Connecticut.


Gladys Jimenez, a bargaining committee member for 32BJ SEIU who has been with the union for 30 years, said, “We’re looking for a better contract and a fair raise.”

Specifically, union members are calling for increases to minimum incrementally-increased salaries - which, as part of the last contract, started at $12.85 per hour in July 2012 and increased to $14.10 per hour in October, though some are contracted to make more than that - as well as increasing the number of full-time worker hires and keeping health insurance benefits for full-time employees.

The Contractors Association, which is made up of numerous contractors including ABM Industries Inc. and United Services of America Inc., said in a prepared statement that it is committed to reaching a mutually beneficial agreement for all involved parties.

“We recognize that, in these economic times, customers need to manage costs very carefully,” the statement said. “We will continue to work hard at the bargaining table, and we’re confident that we will achieve a successful contract settlement.”


13)          Kalitta Air Pilots Authorize Strike

Pilots At DHL Express-Affiliated Carriers Announce Support

WILMINGTON, Ohio, Dec. 9, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Pilots employed by Kalitta Air, LLC, have voted overwhelmingly, 213-7, to authorize a strike against the Ypsilanti, Mich.-based cargo airline.

Kalitta Air operates a fleet of Boeing 747 aircraft in support of the global network of DHL Express, a division of the German logistics company, Deutsche Post DHL.  Ninety-two percent of eligible pilots voted in the referendum. Ninety-seven percent of voting pilots voted to authorize a strike. The pilot group is represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Airline Division, Airline Professionals Association Teamsters Local 1224.

"The pilots of Kalitta Air have sent a strong message to the airline's management and their customers, including DHL, and potential customers," said Scott Nelson, the elected chairman of the APA Teamsters Local 1224 Kalitta Air Executive Council. "Our members are prepared to strike over management delay tactics, violations of federal law, mistreatment of pilots and their continuing refusal to agree to a significantly-improved labor contract."


Negotiations between the union and management started in October 2010.  The company delayed responding to union wage and benefit proposals for more than two-and-half years. On Oct. 30, 2015, the United States District Court for the Eastern District ofMichigan issued an injunction against the carrier for violating federal labor laws. Union communications have complained about persistent unprofessional conduct by managers and expressed alarm over the number of pilots that are considering leaving Kalitta Air for other airlines.

ABX Air, Inc., Atlas Air, Inc. and Southern Air, Inc. also perform flight operations in support of the DHL Express global network. Following the announcement of the strike authorization vote, union leadership at those carriers pledged to support the Kalitta pilots in the event of a strike.

"Gone are the days when pilots viewed one another as competitors in a race to the bottom that benefits our employers at the expense of our own paychecks and profession," said Daniel C. Wells, president of APA Teamsters Local 1224.  "Carriers like Kalitta need to make major improvements to pilot pay, benefits and working conditions if they are to retain and attract quality pilots and ultimately survive the worsening pilot shortage. This is true for all of the carriers where Local 1224 represents pilots. Status quo violations and uncompetitive pay and benefits will produce strikes and disruptions of customer networks, not labor peace and stability."

Contract negotiations are currently subject to mediation efforts by the National Mediation Board, the federal agency that oversees labor relations in the airline and railroad industries.

"Kalitta pilots want to be treated with professional respect and work under a labor contract that is comparable to those of our peers at other airlines," Nelson said.  "Unfortunately, management seems stuck in the past and continues to insist on substandard terms and conditions of employment as a better course of action.  They need to change course before it's too late."

The union has several initiatives planned for early 2016 aimed at publicizing the escalating labor dispute with Kalitta Air.

The Airline Professionals Association Teamsters Local 1224 is affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Airline Division and represents nearly 4,000 members among 11 air carriers that operate both passenger and cargo aircraft. Local 1224 is the certified bargaining unit that represents all flight crew members employed by ABX Air, Inc., Allegiant Air, Atlas Air, Inc., Brendan Airways, LLC, Horizon Air Industries, Inc., Hyannis Air Services, Inc., Kalitta Air, LLC, Kalitta Charters II, LLC, Miami Air International, Omni Air International, Silver Airways Corporation, and Southern Air, Inc.


SOURCE Airline Professionals Association Teamsters Union Local 1224

14)       Coca-Cola, union agree to federal mediation as strike continues

Alexia Elejalde-Ruiz  Chicago Tribune  December 9, 2015

The union representing striking Coca-Cola workers accepted the company's offer for federal mediation, even as it shot back at a letter the beverage giant mailed to employees defending the company's behavior during contract negotiations.

Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Refreshments said it reached out to a federal mediator last week after negotiations for a new labor contract ground to a halt amid accusations the company was bargaining in bad faith.

Members of Teamsters Local 727, the union representing 319 production and warehouse workers at facilities in Nilesand Alsip, took to the picket lines Thursday to protest what the union calls unfair labor practices. It was the first strike at the Chicago-area plants since 1985.

The union on Tuesday agreed to federal mediation after polling its membership, but the strike will continue until an agreement is reached, said Will Petty, spokesman for Teamsters Joint Council 25, an affiliate of Local 727. "We are hopeful that this can restart negotiations and help us reach an agreement as quickly as possible," he said.




Wednesday, December 9, 2015

SPUSA Statement on the Murder Committed by Chicago Police and Attacks Against Minneapolis Black Lives Matter Activists

SPUSA Statement on the Murder Committed by Chicago Police and Attacks Against Minneapolis Black Lives Matter Activists

Laquan McDonald, presente!

The 17 year old child murdered by the Chicago police, represents another in a string of signals sent to the Black community and people of color everywhere. 16 bullets, most in his back, most after he was already down. It was a lynching, the video replayed over and over on social media. The cop has been charged, the police chief has been fired. Does this help? Will it bring justice for terrorized communities? By punishing individual actors without changing the entire broken system, the myth of "bad apples" is perpetuated. This is a systemic crisis in which murder is not only accepted, but encouraged. It is encouraged when cops cover for each other, encouraged when one person is indicted in a murder and another fired for covering it up.

The crisis further reveals its face when civilians, fueled by nationalistic rhetoric that ostracizes and dehumanizes people of color, take up arms against the movement. The shooting of Black Lives Matter protesters in Minneapolis was another public lynching, this time by radical racists who weren't wearing a uniform.

The systematic targeting, shooting down of people of color is public lynching. It does not need to happen to everyone, it does not need to happen in every town. Lynching is a warning; stay silent, do not step out of line. If you so much as walk down the middle of the street, if you dare to participate in a social movement, you could be executed in the street. If you are Black or brown in America, you hear the signals loud and clear.
These attacks are not acceptable in any capacity. We can not sit by and stay quiet. We cannot let these Terrorists win. Together, we must organize and face these and all other forms of oppression and repression.

In Solidarity with all People of Color

written by the SPUSA People of Color Commission and passed by the Socialist Party USA National Action Committee 12/8/2015

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Trans-Pacific Partnership Text Finally Released

Trans-Pacific Partnership Text Finally Released: A Disaster for Workers, Communities and the Planet, and a Gift to Multinational Corporations

By James Wheat

After years of secret negotiations, the full text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership has been released. If passed, it will be the largest trade agreement in the world, covering 38 percent of the world's economy. It will be unprecedented in its scope. It will be an utter disaster for workers, communities, and the planet, and will cement and expand corporate rule.

The TPP will be a repeat of other free trade agreements, such as NAFTA and the US-Korea Free Trade Agreement. The Economic Policy Institute demonstrated that the latter lost nearly 60,000 jobs[1] while the former cost nearly 689,000 jobs.[2] As the TPP covers a much larger portion of the global economy, we can expect a much larger loss of jobs. But it is not simply American workers who will suffer. NAFTA also exacted a heavy price on Mexico, where cheaper American agricultural products flooded the market and undercut the price of domestic products. Many Mexican smallholder farmers were no longer able to make a living and left the land, and dependency on American agricultural products increased. Mexico now imports 42 percent of its food.[3]

The TPP will also water down international environmental protections. It will eliminate the government's ability to regulate natural gas exports by requiring the Department of Energy to automatically approve all exports of liquefied natural gas to all TPP countries.[4] This will encourage greater LNG production, much of which will be extracted through fracking.

Additionally, the TPP will establish an Investor-State Dispute Settlement system, similar to the one implemented by NAFTA. Under such a system, a corporation may sue a government in a secretive court for passing a law which diminishes that company's profits. This means that companies could challenge laws such as those that require GMO labeling, discourage smoking, or prohibit the use of certain chemicals. In one such case, Methanex, a Canadian corporation, sued the United States government for $970 million after California restricted the use of a gasoline additive. Currently, PhillipMorris is suing Uruguay and Australia over laws related to cigarette packaging. Even if these cases are resolved in the country's favor, as in the Methanex case, their high costs can serve as a deterrent for other countries. New Zealand recently reversed its decision to implement a cigarette packaging law after the lawsuit against Australia.[5]

Ultimately, the TPP will displace jobs in the United States and abroad, it will lead to further environmental degredation, and it will continue the consolidation of corporate rule. As socialists, we are opposed to a world where the people work for the benefit of corporations. Let us work to build a world where the economy works for us! Oppose the TPP!

[1]     Robert E. Scott. (14 March, 2014). U.S.-Korea Trade Deal Resulted in Growing Trade Deficits and Nearly 60,000 Lost Jobs. Economic Policy Institute. Retrieved from
[2]     Robert E. Scott. (3 May, 2011). Heading South: U.S.-Mexico Trade and Job Displacement After NAFTA. Economic Policy Institute. Retrieved from
[3]     Timothy A. Wise. (2 January 2014). How Beer Explains 20 Years of NAFTA's Devastating Effects on Mexico. Global Post. Retrieved from
[4]     The Sierra Club. (Undated). An Explosion of Fracking? One of the Dirtiest Secrets of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement. Retrieved from
[5]     Jim Armitage. (22 October, 2014). Big Tobacco Puts Countries on Trial as Concerns over TTIP Deals Mount. The Independent. Retrieved from

Sunday, November 1, 2015

On De-funding Planned Parenthood

by James Wheat

On October 19, the Texas government announced that it was cutting off funding to Planned Parenthood clinics.[1] This is in response to videos released by the Center for Medical Progress that allegedly show Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of fetal tissue and altering abortion procedures. Multiple federal and state-level investigations have found no evidence of such practices at Planned Parenthood clinics. No court of law has found Planned Parenthood or any of its employees guilty of these practices.

And yet, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission has terminated funding for Planned Parenthood based only on these videos and allegations in other lawsuits.[2] The Health and Human Services Commission argues that cutting off funding to Planned Parenthood “will not affect access to care in this State because there are thousands of alternate providers in Texas”.[3] If we examine the available data, we can see that this is not the case, and that thousands of people will be adversely affected.

Planned Parenthood is not the only provider of contraceptive services in the United States, but it is the largest, providing services to 36 percent of people receiving publicly-supported contraceptive care.[4] In many counties in Texas, that number is considerably higher: Fort Bend County, 43%; Travis County, 66%; Hidalgo County, 72%. In nine counties (Angelina, Cooke, Ellis, Falls, Johnson, Navarro, Starr, Tarrant, and Walker), 100% of publicly-supported contraceptive care is provided by Planned Parenthood. Of the nearly 1.7 million women in Texas in need of publicly-supported contraceptive services, more than 474,000 live in counties where Planned Parenthood serves 50 percent or more of all clients.[5] Thus, by removing funding for Planned Parenthood, the state government has gravely impacted the availability of reproductive healthcare for hundreds of thousands of women across the state.

As socialists, we recognize that a woman's control over if, when, and how to have children is fundamental to the liberation of women. As noted by the Women's Commission during a previous attempt to defund Planned Parenthood, the Socialist Party “believe[s] that access to a broad range of reproductive choices is a right of all women. This includes safe, affordable and on demand access to abortion, as well as access to birth control and prenatal care.”[6] Defending our sisters' rights to reproductive choice goes hand-in-hand with our struggle against capitalism. Let us oppose the state government's decision to shackle women by limiting access to reproductive healthcare! Support the liberation of our sisters!

[1]     Texas cuts off Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood. (19 October, 2015) The Associated Press. Retrieved from
[2]     Office of Inspector General, Texas Health and Human Services Commission. (19 October, 2015). Notice of Termination.  Retrieved from The Houston Chronicle
[3]     Office of Inspector General, paragraph 2.
[4]     Jennifer Frost and Kinsey Hasstedt. (8 September, 2015). Quantifying Planned Parenthood's Critical Role in Meeting the Need for Publicly Supported Contraceptive Care. The Guttmacher Institute. Retrieved from
[5]     Jennifer J. Frost. (14 August, 2015). Response to inquiry concerning geographic service availability from Planned Parenthood health centers. [Correspondence to Lisa Ramirez-Branum, Congressional Budget Office] Table 3. Retrieved from
[6]     Andrea Pason and Kristin Schall. (26 February, 2011). Stop the Right Wing Attack on Women! Statement by the Socialist Party USA Women's Commission. Retrieved from   

Monday, July 6, 2015

A Statement on Greece

The Greek people have overwhelmingly rejected the continuing austerity measures of the global corporate banking community, measures which were caused by and exacerbated by those same corporate banks.

The Socialist Party of Texas stands in solidarity with the Greek people, and continues to stand in solidarity with people everywhere who reject this corporate domination.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Union Organizing Drive at Accenture!

Union Organizer Andrew Bushard is looking for interested individuals to help him organize Austin call center workers at Accenture, the state of Texas health care clearinghouse center. His efforts so far have met with very limited success and Andrew is seeking people to apply for work at Accenture and “salt” the workplace with more organizers.

Andrew has already experienced problems with management removing  posted union notices.

Interested parties can contact Andrew at or call him at 512-217-3984.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Letter to the Editor of the Victoria Advocate

Editor, the Advocate:

It was with a considerable amount of amusement that I read the recent letters from Allen Novosad and Charles Clapsaddle.

Both identify a real and worsening problem: uncompromising political discord. Both identify a culprit: one of the major political parties. Both identify the reason: a fundamental change in the makeup of those parties, even stating in identical words that they have been "hijacked by radicals." It is ironic, then, that they are both correct in that political dysfunction is smothering the government's ability to work effectively.

While many people are herded into two large factions to squabble about petty issues, our resources, natural and human, are being despoiled by a tiny group of people wielding almost unimaginable power. This struggle is reminiscent of the old adage "divide and conquer."

Though both parties claim to represent the people, in reality, both are beholden to the interests of this economic elite above and against the public at large. Martin Gilens, author of the Princeton oligarchy study - and who literally wrote the book on the subject, had this to say: "There are a set of economic issues on which the Democratic Party is more ... supportive of the needs of the poor and middle class ... it's by no means a strong relationship. Both parties have, to a large degree, embraced a set of policies that reflect the needs, preferences and interests of the well to do."

When asked about the reasons for this, he remarked, "... two crucial factors. One ... is the role of money in our political system, and the overwhelming role that affluent individuals and organized interests play ... the second thing is the lack of mass organizations that represent and facilitate the voice of ordinary citizens. Part of that would be the decline of unions in the country ... over the last 30 or 40 years. And part of it is the lack of a socialist or a worker's party."

If you want a true democratic revolution, if you want a political party truly independent from our current system, if you want a voice anywhere in government, check out the platform and principles of Socialist Party USA.

John Schlembach, Victoria
May 8, 2015 at 4:09 p.m.   The Victoria Advocate

(John is the Socialist Party organizer in the Victoria Area)

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Book Review: Kyle G. Wilkison, (2008). Yeomen, Sharecroppers, and Socialists: Plan Folk Protest in Texas, 1870-1914.

Book Review

Kyle G. Wilkison, (2008). Yeomen, Sharecroppers, and Socialists: Plan Folk Protest in Texas, 1870-1914. College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press. ISBN-13: 978-1-60344-065-3. 297 pages with appendices, notes, bibliography and index.

Review by James Wheat

In this book, Collin College history professor Kyle G. Wilkison examines the effects of changing economies on the rural poor of East and Central Texas and their responses to these changes. During this forty-five-year period, the rural population went from majority farm-owners practicing subsistence farming to majority tenant-farmers primarily producing cotton. The culture of interconnected, but fiercely independent yeoman farmers gave way to the disconnected and alienating culture of cotton-based capitalism.

Wilkison presents analyses of both quantitative data and first-hand accounts of life in turn-of-the-century Texas, providing a historical picture that is easily accessible. This book is of great interest to socialists in general, but is especially critical for modern Texas socialists. The author illustrates that socialism was able to address the concerns of rural Texans, and that socialist candidates received the support of large portions of the population. Understanding how we achieved this in the past is an important step to finding success for modern socialists.

Chapter Summaries

Chapter one is an introduction, and is not included in this summary. Chapter eight is Wilkison's own conclusion, which better summarizes this work.

Chapter two uses data from the decennial censuses to illustrate the quantitative changes that occurred in this period. Wilkison compares the changes in East and Central Texas, and uses Hunt County as a small-scale sample representative of both regions. Using data such as the number of hogs and milk cows per farm, the percentages of improved farmland, and the production of cotton, Wilkison effectively demonstrates the link between cotton and tenancy.

Chapter three looks at the distribution and composition of wealth, and the social characteristics of households in Hunt County. In the four-decade period, not only did the wealthy become wealthier and the poor poorer, but the percentage of totally impoverished persons also increased. Between 1870 and 1910, the bottom 70 percent of the population experienced decreases in their share of household wealth, while the top 30 percent gained.

Chapter four uses interviews to illustrate the culture of the yeoman farmers. Through these interviews, we are able to see how this culture valued independence (privileging farm ownership), hard work (with prescribed gender divisions), and egalitarianism (one interviewee relates how a newly-arrived snobby neighbor who, rather than inviting all of her neighbors, picked guests for her party found her geese plucked of feathers the next morning).

Chapter five continues to use interviews, but shifts focus to look at the effects of class and race. Farming families frequently looked out for each other, sharing crops when they were abundant and caring for the crops of others when they were sick. Despite this sense of community, African Americans were routinely and violently excluded, and white supremacy was widely enforced.

Chapter six focuses on the rural church. Although most Texans belonged to mainstream Protestant denominations, the responses of the various churches to the changing economic realities varied wildly. Some churches, especially those courting more middle-class and townfolk congregations defended the right to private property and capital accumulation. Other churches condemned this consolidation of wealth and land as a sin. It is in this chapter that socialists begin to appear. This chapter also details how religion was a source of conflict for these socialists, with orthodox socialists opposing religious socialists who used Biblical scripture to support socialist arguments.

Chapter seven analyzes political resistance to the changes that rural Texans faced in this period. This chapter features Greenbackers, Populists, and the Farmers' Alliance. However, it is socialists who feature most prominently. This chapter details how the Texas Socialist Party adapted to one individual condition of Texas, shifting from a hardline, collectivist position on land ownership to a policy of ownership based on occupancy and usage. Following this change, socialists received 1 in 6 votes in Hunt County, and over 30 percent in some rural voting districts. However, the chapter also details how the Texas Socialist Party was unable to overcome the belief in white supremacy. This, combined with Democratic demagoguery and the reduction in the electorate due to the poll tax, prevented greater support for the socialist position.