On the picket line

Strike by 1,000 union electricians   

Limited Energy electricians, members of IBEW Local 46 in the Seattle area, have been on strike for over 10 weeks. On June 15, they are voting on a new, hopefully advanced, contract offer. The workers just voted “no”on an earlier offer from the National Electrical Contractors Association on June 11.

The Limited Energy electricians unit install and repair systems such as fire alarms, building security systems and phone and fiber optic lines. They are striking for paid holidays (they don’t have any!), better pay and increased safety measures. The workers have received a lot of picket line support from other unions. Labor solidarity has allowed them to shut down multiple job sites. 

Mega-billion dollar corporations, such as Microsoft and Amazon, have had their operations disrupted by the strike. After staying strong on the picket lines for 10 weeks, the electricians deserve to get their best contract ever!

Waffle House workers win

Service workers at the 2,000 Waffle House restaurants across the country will receive a pay increase of up to $3 per hour, depending on location, years of employment, and shift differential. This is a victory, especially in the South, where most Waffle House restaurants are located. 

Waffle House workers in Georgia are members of the Union of Southern Service Workers. The USSW formed at a labor summit in 2022 as a union of “workers coming together to use our strength in numbers to get things done together we can’t get done on our own.” (Labor Notes, Nov. 22, 2022)

Georgia workers were able to organize strikes and send petitions to Waffle House management, demanding a living wage and on-site 24-hour security. Their efforts proved a benefit to all Waffle House workers. Company CEO Joe Rogers admits it is a massive additional investment, and his plans are to pass the cost on to consumers, especially in high cost of living areas. 

The mandatory $3 meal fee stolen from Waffle House employees’ daily wages, a practice that USSW took to the Department of Labor for investigation, will also go away thanks to the organizing efforts. Katie Giede, who works at a Georgia Waffle House, said she doesn’t believe the increases would have come about without people speaking up, demanding more from the company and making headlines.

Harper Magazine staff unionize 

Workers at the prestigious Harper Magazine announced they are seeking to be represented by United Auto Workers Local 2110. Harpers Union released a statement last month, declaring that “they believe Organized Labor is a necessary next step for the 174-year-old publication — the oldest general-interest monthly in the country — and in that spirit have presented management with a request for voluntary recognition. 

“We ask that management now help us to establish a more equitable, inclusive and transparent workplace, one in which we are provided with fair salaries and overtime, a safe and salutary working environment, access to fair grievance procedures and due process, and basic job security. As our industry faces unprecedented turbulence, we want only to safeguard our future, and that of the magazine, against those forces that threaten to corrode the viability of print journalism.” (x.com/harpersmagunion)

UPenn student workers ratify contract

UPenn resident advisors rally at Philadelphia City Council.

The University of Pennsylvania resident advisors’ union members voted unanimously to ratify their first labor contract, becoming one of the first RA unions in the country with a collective bargaining agreement. The RAs were organized in 2023 as a unit of the Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 153, which was certified by the National Labor Relations Board after achieving a supermajority vote in favor of representation.

 Although the first bargaining session with UPenn went well, negotiations stalled until the union filed a complaint against the university citing “endless delay tactics and disrespect.” OPEIU organizer Scott Williams reported that the university began negotiating again and provided a compensation proposal only after the RA union filed charges, put out a public petition, and held a rally on May 8. (thedp.com, June 11)

Contract wins include a $3,000 stipend the first year of employment, increasing to $3,100 for subsequent years, 150 free meals (up from 130 previously), grievance and arbitration procedures, support during the disciplinary process, and no losses in previous compensation, duties, or rights, including the right to hold multiple campus jobs. 

The contract also states that there are no limits on striking. Given the recent oppressive tactics that the UPenn administration used to shut down pro-Palestine student encampments, the UPenn RAs and OPEIU organizers showed tremendous determination to demand and secure their rights. When we fight, we win!  

Jim McMahan contributed to this article.

Marie Kelly

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