Booming Business at Alabama Shipyard Fuels New Union Campaign

by  Bruce Vail


The Austal shipyard in Mobile, Alabama specializes in building littoral combat ships like the USS Independence. (Austal)

Rapid business growth may be the key to finally unionizing shipbuilding workers in Mobile, Ala., where an Australia-based defense contractor has successfully fought union organizing for more than a decade.

That’s the estimation of Ron Ault, President of the AFL-CIO’S Metal Trades Department (MTD), an umbrella group for unions representing boilermakers, machinists, pipefitters, and other skilled shipbuilding workers from around the country. “There is a boom in Gulf Coast shipyards now,” Ault says, and high demand for skilled workers may give unions a foothold. Gulf shipyards are recruiting workers from all parts of the country, including heavily unionized areas, and the presence of this whole new generation of workers is a real opportunity for labor organizing, according to Ault. Continue reading

IBEW Chimes In with Obamacare Concerns

By Bruce Vail

In a new ad campaign, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) asks the President to close Obamacare loopholes that would leave many construction workers without coverage.   (From the IBEW website)

In a new ad campaign, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) asks the President to close Obamacare loopholes that would leave many construction workers without coverage. (From the IBEW website)

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) added its voice last week to the growing number of labor unions with complaints about how President Barack Obama is handling implementation of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA), better known as Obamacare.

The 725,000-member IBEW released a white paper on July 11 calling for changes to how the law treats multi-employer plans (also known as Taft-Hartley plans). These plans, which are jointly administered by unions and their employers, are endangered by the ACA because it will discourage employers from participating in the plans, and place some existing union employers at a financial disadvantage. The health insurance of more than 350,000 IBEW members covered by such plans is at risk, says IBEW spokesperson Jim Spellane. Continue reading

Southeastern Mass. techs win union and collect bargaining rights at Comcast!


IBEW The Right ChoiceFall River, MA — Comcast technicians at the Fall River and Fairhaven Massachusetts garages have been working together for over two years to win union recognition and the right to sit down with management to discuss improving their wages and working conditions.

The techs lost their first NLRB union election in December 2011. With one election behind them, the techs in Southeastern Mass. knew what to expect the second time around. Comcast’s use of contractors and changes in technology gave them the determination to stay the course.

The techs waited more than a year after their first vote to regroup and rebuild their strength. Then they quickly signed up their co-workers for a second election. Management was stunned when they got notification from the NLRB.

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Union Reactions to Obama Re-election

Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka

Tonight, working families across the country celebrate the re-election of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden – and breathe a sigh of relief that our country will move forward on the path of sanity and shared prosperity. Nothing about the last four years has been easy, from the Great Recession to Hurricane Sandy, from unrelenting partisan obstruction by Republicans to the greatest onslaught of negative ads ever unleashed against an American president.

Throughout the tumult, President Obama and Vice President Biden have been steadfast allies of working men and women and the values we cherish, focused on repairing the economy, rebuilding the ladder to the middle class and investing in our shared future. That’s why workers and their unions made an historic effort on their behalf, bringing home the vote for the President from Nevada to Ohio, from Wisconsin to Pennsylvania.

With “Osama dead and GM alive” and the economy beginning to pick up steam, we are ready to work together with the President and all willing parties to win greater equality and economic opportunity for all – starting with ending the Bush tax cuts for the rich and opposing any cuts to Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid benefits.

Below are statements from the AFT, UFCW,UAW AFGE , UFW, SEIU, IBEW, and IAM
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Workers Stand for America and a Second Bill of Rights

by Mike Hall

On Aug. 11, thousands of American workers will come together in Philadelphia in the first major action of the Workers Stand for America campaign, the centerpiece of which is America’s Second Bill of Rights:

Full employment and a living wage.
Full participation in the political process.
A voice at work.
A quality education for all.
A secure and healthy future.

The goal of the Workers Stand for America mobilization, announced earlier this month by Electrical Workers (IBEW) President Edwin Hill and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, is to counter those forces preaching austerity for the vast majority of working families and focus national attention on jobs, economic opportunity and restoring the American Dream for all.

At the rally participants will be encouraged to sign America’s Second Bill of Rights and then to call on lawmakers of both parties to add their signatures of support. Says Hill:

Our message to both political parties is to return to the basic values that created America’s best days….Republicans and Democrats need to hear what the people are saying and break through the gridlock and the attacks on the rights of workers at all levels of government.

America’s Second Bill of Rights will be presented to delegates at both the Democratic and Republican conventions and to candidates this fall.

The Workers Stand for America campaign is not just a union movement, says Trumka.

This is not a union bill of rights. And our campaign and rally on Aug. 11 is not just for union members. As the largest body of organized working people in America, the labor movement is leading the way, but we invite all who share our goals and values to sign on in support of America’s Second Bill of Rights.

Click here to find information about the Philadelphia rally—scheduled from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. EDT— and if you can’t attend, click here to add your name to America’s Second Bill of Rights.

Don’t forget to share information on Twitter, and click here to visit Workers Stand for America Facebook page.

Mike Hall is a writer for the AFL-CIO Now blog, where this report originally appeared.

Organizing Wildfire and Wildcat Strikes Spread Among Cablevision Workers

by Mike Elk

Mike Elk

After nearly two decades of Cablevision workers attempting to organize in New York City, it suddenly appears that they’re meeting success. This story perhaps precipitates a broader trend about how, given the hope of the Wisconsin Uprising and Occupy Wall Street, workers are reinvigorated to fight back against slashed wages and poor working conditions.

In January of this year, in a campaign involving a massive training of shop stewards, political support from elected New York City officials, and community outreach with groups like Occupy Wall Street, 282 Brooklyn-based Cablevision workers voted to unionize with CWA (for more on the dynamics of this incredible campaign, read my story here). Then a group of 120 from the Bronx—employed by Corbel, a Cablevision subcontractor—went out on a wildcat strike to protest cut wages. Last month, those Corbel workers voted to join the IBEW.

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Democrats look to unions for convention fundraising; unions unwilling

by Laura Clawson

Struggling to raise enough money for the Democratic National Convention after rejecting contributions from lobbyists and corporations and limiting individual donors to $100,000 contributions, the Democratic party is looking to unionsto close the funding gap. There’s a big problem with that expectation, though: From the moment the DNC’s location in Charlotte, North Carolina was announced, unions have made clear their displeasure at the Democratic party holding its biggest event in a state with anti-union laws and the lowest percentage of unionized workers in the country.

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How the IBEW Union Apprenticeship Saved My Life

by Cory McCray

As I anticipate my upcoming 29th Birthday, I realized how a decade can change a person’s life so drastically. I find it a privilege to give thanks to God for providing me with family, community, and most of all the IBEW Local 24 for being an instrumental tool in directing me in my path.

As I reminisce about my trials and tribulations as a young adult, I give honor to those who helped me to overcome my adolescent growing pains we call learning curves. Those growing pains are what I focus on in my decision making skills today. Also, the experience I have received from being associated with the IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) Local 24 was able to give me a clear foundation and structure to move further in the right direction.

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Two More Takes on Verizon

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 08:  Verizon Communicati...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

In addition to Steve Early’s article on the challenges facing Verizon workers, we would like to recommend articles by two Talking Union contributors, Josh Eidelson and Mike Elk.

Josh Eidelson writes on the American Prospect website.

The strike was an impressive show of large-scale solidarity. At best, it may have tempered the company’s ambitions to undo 50 years of contract improvements in these negotiations, but it didn’t take the largest worker concessions—including increased health-care costs—off the table. The limits of this strike are a painful reminder that, even if workers can protect their current contracts, Verizon has been winning its 16-year war to reduce their relevance….

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Big Organizing Challenge Remains After Temporary Truce at Verizon

Verizon picket line in Oakland

The striking unions at Verizon made it clear from the beginning that they might return to work without a settlement if they were convinced management would get serious at the bargaining table.But the 45,000 union members returning to work on Tuesday after a two-week strike would do well to remember the words of Verizon’s Marc Reed when picket lines were taken down Saturday. Said Reed: “We remain committed to our objectives.”
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