March 8 is International Women’s Day (IWD), an annual tradition that began over a hundred years ago. While celebrations continue worldwide, few people remember that the holiday was first initiated by American Socialists. As legend would have it, they were inspired to hold a demonstration in order to mark the anniversary of an 1857 female garment workers’ strike in New York.
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UE News Updates
On February 5, members of Local 1004 overwhelmingly approved a new three-year agreement with their employer, Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital. The agreement includes increased raises over the last contract and higher hourly evening and night shift differentials, and also protects members' health insurance benefits and retirement plan matching contributions.
By a margin of nearly 2 to 1 over the incumbent company union, Renzenberger rail crew drivers at more than 30 rail yards covering the length of California have voted in a mail-ballot election to be represented by UE. Like Renzenberger drivers who have previously joined UE in Illinois, Indiana, New Jersey and Ohio, these workers suffered from low wages, outrageously unfair work rules, abusive bosses, and lack of benefits.
Since the birth of UE Local 150, the North Carolina Public Service Workers Union, in 1998, one of its central goals has been the repeal of North Carolina General Statute 95-98, which outlaws collective bargaining and union contracts for all state and local public employees. Local 150 delegates and leaders often tell other UE members that this law is a “Jim Crow law.” For Black History Month 2014, the UE NEWS asks, “What is Jim Crow?”
It took more than two years of bargaining on a contract renewal that should have been completed in June 2011. But in December workers in the North Haven Department of Public Works unanimously ratified a new four-year agreement with substantial raises, back pay for delayed raises, and other improvements.
A growing movement of low-wage workers is demanding a living wage for workers in fast food, retail, and other industries in this country that make huge profits by paying employees less than what they need to support themselves.
Beginning in 1947 and continuing until 1977, GE intentionally dumped approximately 1.3 million pounds of highly-toxic polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) into the Hudson River from Fort Edward and the neighboring plant in Hudson Falls (now closed.) GE also polluted the soil and groundwater under its plants and in the surrounding communities.
At the end of difficult negotiations in which members conducted a six-week contract campaign, Local 1421 has a new three-year contract with Tree Island Wire that includes a new healthcare plan that drastically reduces workers’ costs.
Local 1421 members at Stepan have a new three-year contract with 2.5 percent raises each year. The contract was settled in just two bargaining sessions.
“We really didn’t give anything back,” says Local 1421 President Bryan Martindale. “We made one concession in order to fight off a greater evil.” The company tried to impose a two-tier wage system, calling the lower tier a “training wage.” “They wanted to hire people at $6 less per hour. We beat them on that.”