UE Local 896-COGS (Committee to Organize Graduate Students), the union of graduate teaching assistants and research assistants at the University of Iowa, ratified a new two-year contract this week. They blocked the university's efforts to take back much of what they'd gained in past contracts, and instead made important gains in many areas, thanks to membership involvement.
UE Local 1135 ratified a new four year contract with the Tulip Corporation on December 22 after a contract campaign that included membership mobilization and a vote to strike. The battle became heated over raises and health insurance as well as fair treatment in the workplace. The auto parts company committed several unfair labor practices (ULPs) during bargaining, including unilaterally changing the health insurance.
After more than three weeks on strike, the members of UE Local 279 at Weir Valves and Controls returned to work today, Tuesday December 16, under the terms of the most recent “last, best and final offer” from the company, and a return to work agreement that was negotiated by the union and company on Monday. The members voted unanimously on Friday, December 12 to return to work under these terms, but at this point no contract is in place yet.
UE Local 267, the union of the 350 service, trades and maintenance workers at the University of Vermont (UVM), ratified a new three-year contract in October. Negotiations, which began in March, were tough at times, but the new agreement achieved the key goals of the membership. “We were able to reach a decent contract with the university that included a wage increase and the availability of vacation time to our members. This is an agreement which we can build on in the future,” said Local President David Hamilton.
Following a month of negotiations and the big October 24 plant gate rally by Northeast Region delegates and Local 234 members, the local on October 29 reached agreement on a new three-year contract with wage increases of 4 percent, 2 percent and 3 percent.
Life insurance and accidental death and dismemberment were significantly improved, and will now equal the employee’s straight time annual earnings, rounded up to the next thousand, with a minimum of $33,000 and a maximum of $50,000. Previously the coverage was $29,000.
As one year ends and another is about to begin, we wish all our members and your families the best in the holiday season and health, peace and prosperity in the New Year. We also think this is an appropriate time to reflect on where our union and the working class movement have been, and where we’re headed.
Members of Local 279 were entering the fourth week of their strike at Weir Valves and Controls, determined to outlast the company. "While it's tough to face the prospect of being on strike through the holidays, our members are prepared for that," said President Kevin McPherson. "We recently had a membership meeting and had mostly bad news to report about the December 4 federal mediation session with the company, and informed them they should probably count on being out on strike for the remainder of the year,” said McPherson, “but the members took it in stride.
On Friday, November 21 the 50 members of UE Local 279 went on strike to maintain their wages and benefits. They work for Weir Valves and Controls where they manufacture a variety of large-scale commercial valves and valves for nuclear power plants. The strike is now entering its third week.
A strike support rally will take place outside the plant on Saturday, December 13, at noon. The Weir Valves plant is located at 29 Old Right Road in Ipswich, MA.
After a four year struggle for a real union and four months of negotiations, including 13 days at the bargaining table, Renzenberger drivers in California have ratified their first UE contract by a margin of more than 96 percent. In a major breakthrough, the union won the company’s agreement that drivers in California and the Chicago area – two of the company’s biggest markets – will be under the same contract, which will expire August 23, 2018.