On the picketline

NLRB moves toward recognizing college athletes as workers

A National Labor Relations Board memo, issued by a lead attorney for the agency, states that athletes at private universities have the right to collectively bargain, join a union, and authorize a strike. This decision is crucial to any legal challenge athletes may bring to assert their rights as school employees. Even though the memo excludes public universities (which the NLRB has no jurisdiction over), there may now be the opportunity to target an entire league or athletic conference made up of both private and public institutions. 

University sports teams like men’s football and basketball generate tremendous revenue. Athletes on the field or the court should share a bigger piece of the pie. Given the exploitation by coaches, trainers, etc., it is essential that young athletes have their rights as workers defined.



Farmworkers in New York state unionize

Farmworkers at Pindar Vineyards become the first in the state of New York to successfully unionize. The state Public Employment Relations Board certified Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW to represent Pindar workers Sept. 27. Across the state, farmworkers fought for years and finally pushed lawmakers to pass the Farm Laborers Fair Practice Act in 2019, which guarantees their right to collective bargaining and to receive workers compensation and  unemployment benefits. A majority of farm laborers across the state are migrant workers. 

On October 11, shortly after the Pindar Vineyards workers’ victorious union drive, activists from Voces de la Frontera in Milwaukee organized a walkout of hundreds of Latinx and immigrant workers to demand key immigration rights be included in the budget bill before Congress. More strikes are planned up to October 31st when the Senate is expected to vote on the budget.



Health Care Workers Strike Wave

Strike begins at Mercy Hospital in Buffalo, N.Y., Oct. 1. Credit: Communication Workers of America, District 1

Kaiser Permanente is the latest hospital organization facing a potential strike. Nurses and other health care workers and technologists numbering 24,000 in California and Oregon have agreed to take strike action if their demands for safer staffing and pay equity aren’t met. 

Two thousand nurses at Mercy Hospital of Buffalo walked off their units and are striking for the same issues around unsafe conditions and short staffing. The New York state attorney general issued a cease and desist order to Huffmaster, the strikebreaking firm hired by the Catholic Health chain that owns Mercy. The order states that Huffmaster must “immediately cease providing services to Mercy Hospital as either an employment agency or watch, guard, or patrol agency, and ensure that Huffmaster employees are not interfering with the picketers’ right to protest.” 

In the longest nurses strike in Massachusetts’ history, Tenet Corporation continues its stranglehold on negotiations with St. Vincent nurses in Worcester. Hospital corporations around the country are putting profits over patients and nurses, who are fed up with compromising their patient care standards to make fat cat hospital CEOs richer.


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