In a “Giving Tuesday” email to supporters of UE’s international solidarity work this morning, UE Director of International Strategies Kari Thompson announced that “In 2023, we are planning to return to in-person member exchanges with workers in other countries, if health conditions continue to allow.” Specifically, Thompson said, UE is making plans for a worker-to-worker exchange with UE’s close allies in Mexico, the Frente Auténtico del Trabajo.
UE NEWS Updates
Over 200 members of UE Local 1466-United Graduate Workers picketed at an entrance to the University of New Mexico’s main campus yesterday, calling on the university to settle a fair contract by December 7. Following the picket, they delivered a petition signed by over 800 people to the university administration.
Earlier this week, workers in Ontario won an inspiring victory against their right-wing government. Premiere Doug Ford’s government passed a special bill in an attempt to impose a contract on 55,000 education workers and revoke their right to strike. Those workers went on strike anyway, receiving support from the rest of the province’s labor movement (including important support from UE’s close Canadian ally Unifor), and on Monday the government announced it would withdraw the bill.
On October 25, 2022, UE Local 896-COGS, which represents almost 2,000 graduate employees at the University of Iowa, won a recertification election for the third time in six years, with the support of nearly 70 percent of the bargaining unit. Due to a union-busting law passed in 2017, all public-sector union workers in Iowa must vote to recertify their union by a margin of 50 percent plus 1 before every round of contract negotiations.
Members of amalgamated UE Local 221 who work for the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity (CVOEO) ratified a new three-year contract this past week. The contract covers workers who work for Head Start programs, community action offices, food shelves, and a variety of other programs across the four Vermont counties of Chittenden, Addison, Franklin and Grand Isle.
Members of amalgamated UE Local 1421 who work at the Stepan Company ratified a new three-year contract in mid-October.
The contract raises wages by 4, 3.5 and 3.25 percent. Workers received a $1,000 bonus upon ratification, and will receive an additional $2,000 bonus in their first pay period after November 16.
On Friday, October 28, housekeepers at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, joined by over 100 supporters, rallied for $20 per hour and an end to pay-to-work policies.
Organized by the Workers Union @ UNC, a chapter of UE Local 150, the march and rally featured speak-outs from housekeepers as well as statements of support from the Campus Y, Siembra, and The Black Student Movement. The housekeepers delivered 2,100 petition signatures supporting their demands to the chancellor's office.
More than 50 UE members from more than 15 locals participated in a four-part online workshop in September called “Building Union Power.” Members met one evening per week to develop their internal-organizing skills and strategize to put those ideas into practice.
On October 30, Brazilian voters elected former metalworkers’ union leader (and former two-term president) Luiz Inácio da Silva, popularly known simply as “Lula,” as president. Lula defeated incumbent president Jair Bolsonaro, a close Trump ally who during his four years in office attacked unions, encouraged violence against opponents, and oversaw massive deforestation of the Amazon rainforests — hastening climate change and putting the entire world at risk.
In a statement released after the victory, the union federation Central Unica dos Trabalhadores (CUT) called the election a “victory of hope” over “fear, coercion and corporate electoral harassment,” and over those who tolerate and encourage “violence as a method of doing politics.”
“Not to recommend it, not to suggest it, but to demand change — that right there is the union difference.”
That’s what being in UE means to thousands of Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate workers, said Nishad Gothaskar, a member of the UE Local 256 (MIT GSU) bargaining committee. Flanked by over a dozen fellow members of his local, Gothaskar reviewed Local 256’s bargaining goals for delegates to the UE Eastern Region’s fall council meeting, which was held on Saturday, October 29.
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