Subscribe to E-Update here.  
Labor Report

Happy Labor Day!

“Workers across America have organized labor to thank for the workplace protections they enjoy today, including the 40-hour workweek, minimum wage, mandatory overtime wages, and the ban on child labor. On this, the 125th anniversary of Labor Day, I salute the unions that built our nation and are keeping it strong.” – Senator Tartaglione

How to Commemorate Labor Day the Labor-Friendly Way

The AFL-CIO has once again teamed with the union-oriented website Labor411 to compile an updated list of foods, refreshments, and other holiday-related supplies made by companies that support their workers and embrace organized labor. The AFL-CIO and Labor411 recommend that you look for these brands during your Labor Day shopping.

“The items below are made by companies who treat their workers fairly and give them a voice on the job,” Labor411 stated in a blog post. “Send summer out in style, and let’s all help shop our way to a stronger America.”

The list of foods includes Ball Park franks; Butterball turkey tenderloins, drumsticks, burgers, and franks; Dearborn Sausage Company; Empire Kosher chicken and turkey; Farmer John; Foster Farms poultry; Hormel beef, pork, and chicken franks; Omaha steaks; Sara Lee buns; and Oroweat buns.

Preferred beers include Budweiser, Coors Light, Sam Adams, Shock Top, Rolling Rock, Red Stripe, Miller Genuine Draft, Beck’s, and Henry Weinhard’s.

Weber grills (including Genesis, Summit, and Q series), Rubbermaid coolers, and Solo cups, plates, and bowls, are also on the recommended list.

Unions Enjoying Historically High Approval as Labor Day Reaches Milestone

As the labor community celebrates the 125th anniversary of the first Labor Day, public approval for labor unions has reached one of its highest levels of the last half-century, according to a new Gallup survey.

The poll found that 64% of Americans approve of labor unions, a figure that surpassed 60% for the third consecutive year and represented a 16% increase from 2009, a year when the nation’s unemployment peaked at 10.0% as a result of the Great Recession. Just three times since 1967 has the approval rating as measured by Gallup been higher: 66% in March 1999, 65% in August 1999, and 65% in August 2003.

“Higher public support for unions in the past few years likely reflects the relatively good economic conditions in place, particularly low unemployment,” the Washington, D.C., based analytics company stated in an August 28 website post.

Approval has risen consistently by 16 or 17 points among Democrats, Republicans, and independents, although Democrats remain much more likely to support organized labor (82%), compared to Republicans (45%). According to the survey, 14% of Americans live in a union household, while 10% of working adults are union members.

In a Labor Day 2019 message posted on the AFL-CIO website, the international federation noted the growing support for unions in the U.S.

“This Labor Day, working people in every corner of the country have good reason to be proud. Our movement is on the rise,” the message stated. “We are marching and striking and organizing. We are refusing to accept business as usual. … We have the power to make our workplaces fair, our jobs safe and our communities inclusive and just.”

Nearly 800 Bucks County Hospital Nurses Vote to Unionize

A bargaining unit of nearly 800 nurses at St. Mary Medical Center in Bucks County has voted to join the Pennsylvania Association of Nurses and Allied Professionals in one of the Philadelphia area’s largest successful unionization campaigns of recent years, according to the Inquirer.

Among the nurses who took part in the vote, 403 elected to join the union, while 285 were opposed. The results were tabulated on August 23.

Supporters of the unionization effort have campaigned for months against what they claim has been declining staffing, safety, and patient care at the Langhorne-area medical facility, as well as cuts to their on-call pay and sick leave. The Inquirer reported that they met with management over a year-and-a-half period to address their issues, but they did not get the relief they sought.

The not-for-profit Trinity Health owns St. Mary, along with four other Philadelphia-area hospitals. Three of those facilities remain non-union. Based in Michigan, Trinity operates one of the nation’s largest Catholic health systems.

In July, nurses met with numerous Bucks County-based elected officials to share their concerns. They also complained that the administration was attempting to interfere with their unionization effort, reported.  In response, the lawmakers – including seven state legislators and a county commissioner – issued a letter to the hospital’s president on July 11 urging the administration to “reconsider any actions they are taking to prevent a vote to unionize.”

On August 5, nurses and their supporters demonstrated at the entrance to the hospital campus to raise awareness about their complaints and the forthcoming union election, the Courier Times reported.

20,000 Communications Workers Strike AT&T to Protest Bargaining Tactics

More than 20,000 unionized AT&T employees in the Southeastern U.S. walked off the job for four-and-a-half days to protest what leaders of the Communications Workers of America characterized as “bad faith” bargaining by the company, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

The CWA District 3 members have been without a contract since August 3, when their latest four-year deal with AT&T expired. They walked off the job on August 24. In a statement posted to the District 3 website that day, the union complained that the company had not authorized its negotiators to make a deal. Union members had previously authorized their leadership to call a strike.

“It turns out that for over three months, we have been bargaining with people who do not have the real authority to make proposals or to reach an agreement with us.  AT&T has also changed the rules of the game by changing our agreement about how we meet and bargain.  As a result, CWA was forced to file unfair labor practice charges against AT&T for bargaining in bad faith,” the union stated.

Strikers returned to work at the union’s direction at 1 p.m. on August 28 as contract negotiations resumed.

“The company saw how seriously you and your members took the protest and that you would not stop until they bargained with us in good faith,” the union told its members in another website post.

KADN-TV of Louisiana described the labor action as “the largest private-sector strike in over a decade to hit the Southern U.S.”

Viral Crowd Funding Effort Eases Teachers’ Classroom Expenses

For millions of conscientious teachers across the country, it’s been an annual late-summer ritual for as long as they can remember: digging deep into their own pockets and bank accounts to buy classroom supplies for the upcoming academic year. These are supplies that their schools probably should fund, but do not or cannot fund – necessities like pencils, erasers, markers, composition books, construction paper, and glue.

This year, the pre-Labor Day routine got a lot less expensive for countless educators thanks to a bright idea by a fourth-grade teacher in a poor, rural Texas town, along with the power of crowd funding. In July, Courtney Jones began the #clearthelists project by creating a closed Facebook group where teachers were asked to post their classroom wish-lists.

“Three weeks in, 30,000 educators from around the country had joined, buying each other supplies from lists as a way to support their peers,” the Inquirer reported.

As the buzz and the “#clearthelists” hashtag spread to other social media platforms, teachers were encouraged to post their lists to the Amazon or Donors Choose websites, and to share those posts on Twitter and Instagram. Donors began to take notice too. As of late August, Jones estimates that 400,000 people have participated in some way, according to the Inquirer.

Celebrities like Khloe Kardashian and Tim McGraw donated and Tweeted about it. NBC News reported the story to a national audience. Al Roker interviewed Jones for a Today show segment. Third-party organizers began their own fundraising campaigns, like the one created on GoFundMe by an organizer named Casey Donahew. As of August 30, it had generated more than $68,000 from about 1,000 individual donors.

As the newly purchased supplies began to arrive in classrooms across the country, recipients took photographs of their bundles and shared them on social media to perpetuate the campaign.

“It was amazing to go there and see the pictures of the gifts and classroom photos. It’s a little more intimate,” Jones told NBC.

“Teachers work hard, sometimes tirelessly sacrificing time and resources from our own families,” another teacher told the network. “I know I speak for all teachers when I say a little bit makes all the difference, not only in our lives, but the lives of those they love and teach.”