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Service + Solidarity Spotlight: Wisconsin AFL-CIO Supports Striking UAW Members at Vollrath Manufacturing

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Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we’ll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

On April 4, more than 250 members of UAW Local 1472 went on strike at Vollrath Manufacturing in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. The workers at Vollrath produce deep drawing, metal spinning, metal fabrication, annealing, polishing and finishing, and refrigeration systems. The workers are striking over wages and the equitable elimination of wage tiers for employees.

President Stephanie Bloomingdale (AFT) said the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO fully supports the UAW members: “The Wisconsin labor movement proudly stands in solidarity with our sisters and brothers of UAW Local 1472 on strike at Vollrath in Sheboygan for a fair and just contract. UAW Local 1472 members are holding the line to protect our American middle class and standing up for fair wages and benefits. We urge Vollrath to come back to the table and negotiate in good faith with meaningful proposals to reach a mutually agreeable contract. It’s never easy to go on strike. The brave members of UAW Local 1472 are coming together and taking courageous action to protect and advance good jobs in our local communities across Wisconsin.”

This blog post originally appeared at AFL-CIO on April 11, 2022.

About the Author: Kenneth Quinell is a Senior Writer at AFL-CIO.


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How to Create an Employee-First Hybrid Office

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The hybrid workplace is the workplace of today, tomorrow, and long into the future. It provides flexibility that employees love. Plus, it helps businesses simultaneously reduce their operating costs and boost productivity and efficiency. 

There’s a lot to like about the hybrid workplace. Yet how you build your hybrid office can have far-flung effects on your company’s success. 

An employee-first hybrid office is key. This office ensures the wellbeing of employees is put front and center. The office allows employees to feel and perform their best. It also empowers businesses to get the best results from their hybrid workers. 

Why You Need to Create an Employee-First Hybrid Office

The sooner you embrace an employee-first hybrid office, the better. Many companies are expected to adopt hybrid workplaces in the months and years to come. This is due in large part to the fact that the hybrid workplace of the future is safe, sustainable, and flexible

A hybrid workplace gives employees opportunities to complete work tasks in a traditional office setting and outside of it. If employees have ongoing concerns about the COVID-19, they can continue to work remotely. Or, workers who prefer to come into the office frequently can do so. 

Meanwhile, businesses can reduce their carbon footprint by offering hybrid work opportunities. They can provide tips and tricks to help hybrid employees limit their electricity use and fuel consumption when they work at home, too. 

A hybrid workplace can help employees maintain a healthy work-life balance as well. Hybrid employees can spend less time commuting to work and more time at home with family. They can do so without sacrificing their workplace performance.

Tips to Create an Employee-First Hybrid Office

There are many things you can do to establish an employee-first hybrid office that meets your workers’ expectations. These include:

1. Learn from Your Workers

Find out what your employees want from your hybrid office. You can conduct employee questionnaires and surveys to collect feedback from your workers. Next, you can use this feedback to create a hybrid office that suits your workers perfectly. 

Consider your employees’ workplace rights relative to your hybrid office. Your hybrid employees must receive the same level of support as your in-house workers. 

2. Establish an Onboarding Program for Hybrid Workers

Make it easy for hybrid workers to hit the ground running. Create an onboarding program to ensure workers receive the tools and technologies they need to thrive. 

Your onboarding program can include steps for employees to follow when they begin working in hybrid roles. The program can explain what resources are available to help employees adjust to working remotely. It can highlight who hybrid workers can contact if they have concerns or questions, too. 

3. Keep the Lines of Communication Open

Communicate and host meetings with hybrid workers regularly. Verify hybrid workers understand their roles and receive ample support. If workers need help, they should have no trouble reaching out for assistance. 

Offer hybrid workers multiple communication platforms. You can communicate with hybrid workers via phone calls, emails, and other communications. In addition, you can use Slack and other real-time communication platforms. You can also leverage video conferences for face-to-face meetings.

4. Promote a Healthy Work-Life Balance

Educate hybrid workers about the value of a healthy work-life balance. Hybrid employees are expected to perform a wide range of duties. At the same time, they should take care of themselves. This ensures hybrid employees are well-equipped to perform at peak levels without putting their health in danger. 

Encourage hybrid workers to take regular breaks throughout the day. These breaks enable workers to step away from the hustle and bustle of work. When workers return, they can feel revitalized and ready to tackle any tasks. 

Provide flexible work hours and other perks to foster a healthy work-life balance among your hybrid workforce. That way, hybrid employees can use these perks to stay on track and be great at work. 

The Bottom Line on Creating an Employee-First Hybrid Office

An employee-first hybrid office can be a difference-maker for your business. The office can help your company attract and retain top talent and achieve its desired results. 

Start building an employee-first hybrid office today. You can establish a hybrid office where workers of all skill and experience levels can succeed. From here, your company can reap the benefits of your hybrid office for many years to come. 

This blog was printed with permission.

About the Author: Dan Matthews is a writer, content consultant, and conservationist. While Dan writes on a variety of topics, he loves to focus on the topics that look inward on mankind that help to make the surrounding world a better place to reside. When Dan isn’t working on new content, you can find him with a coffee cup in one hand and searching for new music in the other.


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Service + Solidarity Spotlight: UWUA Members Take Control of Workplace Safety

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Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we’ll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.

While COVID-19 has made safety and personal protective equipment topics of discussion worldwide, workplace hazards are nothing new for utility workers. And members of the Utility Workers (UWUA) union deal with dangers every day they are on the job. In the latest edition of UWUA’s quarterly magazine, The Utility Worker, the union features an article that explains how many of its locals are implementing a range of effective safety models at work.

“This important piece shows there’s no wrong way to strengthen workplace safety culture,” said UWUA President James Slevin. “From employing full-time safety representatives (models used by Local 1-2, Michigan State Utility Workers Council and California Water Utility Council, for example), to a peer-to-peer model (used at Locals 127, 648, 369 and 335), or a statewide consortium (like that used by Locals 428, 397, 427, 425, 434), these locals are setting the bar high. I’m confident there’s something we can take and apply in our work from all of these examples.”

This was originally appeared at AFL-CIO on 04/04/2022.

About the Authors: Kenneth Quinell is a Senior Writer at AFL-CIO.

Aaron Gallant is the Internal Communications Specialist at AFL-CIO


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The Art of Writing a Resignation Letter – For Leaving on Good or Bad Terms

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Resignation Letters – Good Examples from Allison & Taylor, The Reference Checking Company

While crafting a resignation letter is simple enough when you’re leaving an employer on civil terms, what do you do if you’re parting on less than favorable circumstances? Writing a resignation note in anger or haste could become an action you will later regret. 

On the other hand, a beautifully written resignation letter will stand out, even if you left as a result of poor performance.  Hopefully a thoughtful resignation accepting responsibility will  afford you great references in the future. 

Here are some examples of how your resignation letter might be worded for best effect. Allison & Taylor can also assist in crafting an appropriate resignation letter.

Example #1: Resignation Due to Philosophical Differences

Please accept this as my official notice of my resignation. As you are aware, over the last twelve months we have had numerous differences of opinion regarding my philosophies for corporate policy, best practices and goals for the company.

Unfortunately, it is clear to me that you and I will be unable to resolve our differences. Therefore, I feel that my resignation is the best option for the team and all concerned.

My last day at Allison & Taylor will be xx. I would appreciate meeting with you in the next week or so to discuss the transition of my duties to a successor.

Example #2: Resignation Due to Bullying, Harassment, Age Discrimination, or Sexual Overtones

As you may or may not be aware, some members of your management team do not adhere to appropriate company policy. Accordingly, I regretfully tender my resignation having experienced unsuitable corporate behavior.

It has been my pleasure building Allison & Taylor to its current level and I regret the unfortunate circumstances that compel me to leave the company.

Please advise if you wish to meet with me and my attorney in the near future to discuss these events, which have been brought to the attention of HR over the past 12 months. My last day will be xx.

Examples #3: Resignation Due to Perceived Shortfall in Employee Performance or Compliance with Corporate Policy

It is with heavy heart that I respectfully submit my resignation from Allison & Taylor, effective immediately.

I do so with the realization that a growing number of my peers view my recent actions with the firm as unprofessional and a poor reflection on the corporate image. To whatever degree this is true, I offer my heartfelt apologies and feel I would serve the company best by removing myself from our corporate arena.

Be assured that it has been my honor and pleasure to work with you and our organization over the past years. The company has become a second home to me, and I have come to think of my associates as more family than co-workers. I am hopeful that in some small way I have contributed to the firm’s success and respected position in the marketplace. 

I will be forever grateful for the business acumen and relationships that I have gained, and wish all organization members the very best in their professional and personal lives.

If you like the sound of the resignation letters above, head here to view more.

This blog originally appeared at Allison & Taylor on DATE. Reprinted with permission.

About JobReferences.com & Allison & Taylor, Inc., the Reference Checking Company:

The principals of this firm have been in the business of checking references & credentials for corporations and individuals since 1980. Over 40 years of assisting job seekers and those companies hiring them. For those seeking a promotion or a new job opportunity: JobReferences.com will call your former employer obtain your references, document them and give the results to you.


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The Importance of Providing Mental Health Days for Your Team

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With nearly 1 in 5 American adults being diagnosed with a mental health condition each year, introducing Mental Health Days in the workplace could, in theory, benefit around 20% of your employees.  

Although most workplaces agree that employee wellbeing is essential, there is still some uncertainty around the concept of ‘Mental Health Days’; from employers granting and embracing them, to employees feeling ashamed or embarrassed to request them. 

For some, managers and assistants alike, bringing up the topic of mental health may seem like a difficult conversation to have at work. But, changing mindsets and reframing mental health days will begin to break down stigmas and overall create a more open dialogue and a more productive and healthy work environment. 

Providing, and even encouraging, regular Mental Health Days could decrease extended periods of leave for employees, in particular Executives and Senior Managers. “Executives face unique stressors,” says Kayla Gill, Content Director at LuxuryRehabs.com. “With so many people depending on you, […] many executives feel like they don’t have the time or freedom to step away from work in order to begin recovery.” 

Granting regular Mental Health Day’s could alleviate some of the pressure that leads executives to seek recovery help from work-related stress. This can result in many serious problems, such as anxiety disorders and even substance abuse and addiction.

In this article, we will define what a Mental Health Day is, discuss why they are so important and how they can help to reduce work-based stress and anxiety, and ultimately help to reduce burnout.  

What is a Mental Health Day 

Much like a traditionally accepted ‘sick day’, a Mental Health Day is taking a day off to recover. Having a cold, sickness bug or another physical sickness may seem easier to ‘prove’ as there are obvious visible symptoms. But, struggling with mental health is often harder to explain as many of the side effects are invisible to others, though felt strongly by the sufferer. 

Mental Health Days could be scheduled in advance. For example, if employees are working towards a deadline, encouraging them to take a Mental Health Day after this has passed, to recuperate and de-stress following their hard work could see them returning refreshed. 

However, mental health isn’t always something that can be pre-planned or prepared for. Sometimes severe anxiety or other mental health disorders can come on suddenly, and employees may need to request a Mental Health Day in the morning for that day. 

Being accepting of all Mental Health Day requests is important to changing attitudes towards mental health in the workplace. Ensuring employees, of all levels, are aware of how to request them, in a safe space, will encourage uptake, contributing to employee wellbeing and overall company culture. 

Why Mental Health Days are Important

While having just one day off may not seem revolutionary, and it certainly won’t make stress or anxiety disappear, it is an important step in avoiding complete burnout. 

It encourages employees to recognize signs of stress before they become larger problems or contribute to developing anxiety disorders. But it is equally important for employers to look out for early signs of stress 

If multiple employees in the workplace and working remotely are requesting Mental Health Days, or there is a noticeable increase of them within a team or coinciding with a project, it could be a sign that workload is too much, deadlines are too tight, or overall stressors need to be addressed. 

How to reduce stress and anxiety in the workplace. 

Mental Health Days could be counterproductive for staff if met with negativity or suspicion. Staff could be hesitant to request Mental Health Days through fear of how they will be perceived or feelings of guilt for prioritizing their mental wellbeing. This leads to them not being able to fully relax and focus on self-care on their requested day. Here it is vital that there is a company-wide positive approach to Mental Health Days, and a united mission to reduce stress across the board. 

Although not all mental health days are impacted by work-related stress, it is still worth finding ways to reduce stressors for employees. Overwhelm and pressure are two key factors that contribute to stress and anxiety and could be a cause for staff to request mental health leave. 

Managing tasks, good communication and regular check-ins will help gauge team morale and present a space for issues to be aired in an accepting space.  

High performers and Executives are at a higher risk of burnout and more likely to experience workplace stress, finding it hard to say no at work and often having to manage multiple projects, teams and tasks. Noticing early signs of stress in these members, and all staff, will help to indicate where Mental Health Days could benefit, and where workload needs to be shifted. 

Final Thoughts 

With 40% of American workers finding their jobs stressful, implementing processes to alleviate stress in combination with scheduling Mental Health Days could have a huge impact on overall employee wellbeing and productivity. 

Recognizing signs of stress in staff, opening conversations about mental health, and encouraging scheduled Mental Health Days, especially after high-pressure projects can positively impact stress levels. 

This blog was printed with permission.

About the Author: Gemma Hart is a HR and Recruitment Specialist based in the South of England. Since graduating from Sussex University in 2016, Gemma has developed her skill set and knowledge around the future of recruitment and graduate education.


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Empowering Workers: Worker Wins

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Despite the challenges of organizing during a deadly pandemic, working people across the country (and beyond) continue organizing, bargaining and mobilizing for a better life. This edition begins with:

Baltimore County Public Library Employees Vote Overwhelmingly to Join IAM: Workers at the Baltimore County Public Library (BCPL) had a special reason to celebrate this holiday season. It was announced last week that 460 full-time and part-time library workers voted 77% in favor of forming a union with the Machinists (IAM). The successful vote comes after years of organizing, which included the IAM winning a new state law allowing BCPL employees to collectively bargain. “This is so exciting for Baltimore County Public Library workers,” said Anita Bass, a BCPL circulation assistant III at the Essex branch. “This will empower the staff of BCPL to continue to do the important work of fulfilling BCPL’s mission and vision. We need a system in place to protect and support each other, and a legally binding contract will give us that. I believe in the BCPL mission, and I know the IAM will help us accomplish that mission.” “Baltimore County Public Library employees have always been a critical pillar to our community, and now especially during the pandemic,” said IAM Grand Lodge Representative Bridget Fitzgerald, lead organizer on the campaign. “I could not be more proud of these professionals for joining together and standing strong for what they deserve. This is a victory for them, their families and all of Baltimore County, which rightfully relies on a strong and inclusive library system.”

SHoP Architects Employees Vote to Join Machinists: Employees at SHoP Architects in New York are seeking to become the first private sector architectural workers to successfully organize since the 1940s. More than 130 eligible employees at the firm have signed cards in support of forming a union with the IAM. The firm is known for work on the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and the Steinway Tower south of Central Park, among others. Workers are seeking to reduce their workload and increase pay, after they reported working long hours for pay that doesn’t allow them to pay off the thousands of dollars of student debt those in their field often accumulate. The organizing committee has asked SHoP for voluntary recognition and wants to start a conversation with SHoP’s partners on how to address the challenges they face—and begin making positive changes. “Many of us feel pushed to the limits of our productivity and mental health,” the members of the committee said. “These conditions have become detrimental to our lives and in extension the lives of our families. These concerns are the product of larger systemic issues within the discipline of architecture and are in no way unique to SHoP. From the moment we begin studying architecture, we are taught that great design requires endless time and effort, and in turn demands the sacrifice of personal health and relationships. We are taught that architecture is a greater calling and regardless of how the client is willing to compensate us, we will perform our duty because it is critically important for the greater good.”

Air Line Pilots at Sun Country Ratify Tentative New Contract: Pilots who fly for Sun Country Airlines, members of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), voted 93% in favor of ratifying a new tentative four-year agreement. The pact brings the pilots’ salaries, retirement and other work rules in line with their peers in the industry. The agreement was reached after seven months of negotiations, and reflects the growth and modernization of Sun Country in recent years. “We are proud of this contract that reflects the work we’ve done and contributions we’ve made to help the airline grow,” said Capt. Brian Lethert, Sun Country Airlines ALPA Master Executive Council chair. “We are committed to helping the company continue growing and achieving its objectives through this modern contract, which will ensure the airline is able to retain and attract pilots.”

Kellogg Strike Ends as BCTGM Members Ratify New Contract: After a strike that began Oct. 5, Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) members have approved a new five-year contract that includes “no take-aways; no concessions.” The workers at ready-to-eat cereal plants in Battle Creek, Michigan; Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Omaha, Nebraska; and Memphis, Tennessee, voted in favor of the new agreement, which includes: no permanent two-tier system, a clear path to regular full-time employment, no plant shutdowns through October 2026, increases in pension payments and the maintenance of cost-of-living raises. “Our striking members at Kellogg’s ready-to-eat cereal production facilities courageously stood their ground and sacrificed so much in order to achieve a fair contract. This agreement makes gains and does not include any concessions,” said BCTGM International President Anthony Shelton. “Our entire Union commends and thanks Kellogg’s members. From picket line to picket line, Kellogg’s union members stood strong and undeterred in this fight, inspiring generations of workers across the globe, who were energized by their tremendous show of bravery as they stood up to fight and never once backed down….The BCTGM is grateful, as well, for the outpouring of fraternal support we received from across the labor movement for our striking members at Kellogg’s. Solidarity was critical to this great workers’ victory.”

Oregon Grocery Workers End Strike with Tentative Agreement: Grocery workers, members of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 555, at Fred Meyer and Quality Food Centers in Oregon ended a strike after reaching a tentative labor agreement. The new contract provides wage increases, improved workplace protections, new retirement and health care benefits. The stores are part of Kroger-owned supermarket chains.

WGAE Ratifies Landmark Contract with VICE: On Friday, the Writers Guild of America, East, (WGAE) announced that its 160 members at VICE Media have ratified a new three-year contract that sets an increased minimum salary of $63,000 and provides minimum yearly wage increases ranging from 3% to 3.75%. The WGAE previously had four contracts at VICE representing four main editorial verticals, but the new contract combines them all into one agreement. “Thanks to a unified and strong union, workers across VICE will now work under one collective bargaining agreement,” said WGAE Executive Director Lowell Peterson. “This new contract and its substantial gains are a testament to the VICE bargaining committee’s diligent efforts to address the concerns and aspirations of workers at a company that continues to grow within the ever-shifting media landscape.”

Ironworkers Emerge Victorious in Strike Against Erie Strayer: After nearly three months on strike, the members of Ironworkers Local 851 in Erie, Pennsylvania, have declared victory. Management at Erie Strayer came “to the table in good faith today to meet us in our demands,” the union announced on Friday. The members of Local 851 held the line, day and night, for months in their fight for a fair contract. “This win is a testament to the power of worker solidarity, and that the best protection and future for workers everywhere is with a union contract made for workers and by workers,” the Ironworkers said in a statement. Their grit and determination to win, together with the support of the local community and the labor movement, is an example to us all.

Vodeo Games Workers Form First Video Game Union in North America: The employees at Vodeo Games have come together to form Vodeo Workers United, the first certified union of video game workers in North America. The union was organized with the Campaign to Organize Digital Employees-CWA (CODE-CWA). Thirteen workers at the video game company, including independent contractors, received voluntary recognition of their new union from their employer. With this recognition, Vodeo Workers United is set to begin bargaining a first contract. “All workers deserve a union and a say in how their workplace is run, no matter where they work, what their employment status is or what kind of conditions they work under,” said Myriame Lachapelle, a producer at Vodeo Games. “We have been inspired by the growing worker organizing within the gaming industry and hope we can set a new precedent for industry-wide standards that will better our shared working conditions and inspire others to do the same.”

OPEIU Members at MOVE Texas Ratify First Contract: Members of MOVE Texas United (MTXU), an affiliate of the Office and Professional Employees (OPEIU) Local 277, unanimously ratified their first contract on Friday, having secured significant gains at the bargaining table. Highlights of the new contract include full benefits paid for by the employer, 40% employee representation on the board, a $50,000 wage floor for full-time employees and a 32-hour workweek. MOVE Texas is a statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering underrepresented youth communities. “To begin at the start of the new year, the 47-page contract will set an unprecedented example for the labor movement in the nonprofit sector,” MTXU said after the vote. “After almost a year of negotiations between the employer and the union, MOVE Texas United can celebrate an inspiring process and several innovative strides.”

Blue Skies Ahead: TWU Members at JetBlue Ratify First Contract: Members of the Transport Workers Union (TWU) who work as flight attendants, or “inflight crewmembers” (IFCs) as JetBlue calls them, decisively ratified their inaugural contract on Monday with the airline. The union said that while successfully negotiating a first contract is not an easy feat to accomplish under ordinary circumstances, it was made even more challenging because of the COVID-19 pandemic and a skyrocketing number of assaults against aviation workers. TWU members at JetBlue have been fighting for a fair contract since overwhelmingly voting to form a union in 2018. “This is a tremendous victory for our 5,500 IFCs at JetBlue. In this time of uncertainty and peril, there is no greater security for workers than a solid contract,” said TWU International President John Samuelsen. “Our JetBlue inflight crewmembers are no longer ‘at-will’ employees of the carrier, but union workers whose employment is secured by an enforceable collective bargaining agreement. What a huge difference it is.” The new contract includes a grievance and arbitration system, work rule improvements, health insurance and retirement benefits, and wage increases.

Big Cartel Workers Form First Tech Union in Right to Work State: Tech workers at Big Cartel received voluntary recognition of their new union, Big Cartel Workers Union, on Monday in a groundbreaking organizing victory. Staff at the e-commerce platform for creative businesses are the first tech workers to form a union in a “right to work” state as the company is based in Salt Lake City. The union members, who are affiliated with Office and Professional Employees (OPEIU) Tech Workers Union Local 1010, will begin bargaining their first contract with their employer next month. “Tech workers are becoming increasingly aware of the power a union brings them at work,” said OPEIU Organizing Director Brandon Nessen. “Unionizing gives working people agency to advance not only their own interests, but the mutual interests shared by both staff and management.”

Wirecutter Union Members Reach Tentative Agreement for Their First Contract: Members of the Wirecutter Union, part of The NewsGuild of New York/CWA Local 31003, announced on Tuesday that they have reached a tentative agreement with management. The workers at The New York Times’ product review site have been fighting for their first contract for two years. They went on a five-day strike during the recent Black Friday shopping season to pressure management to stop its union-busting practices and negotiate a fair agreement. Rallying together with 100% membership participation in the strike, and with the entire labor movement and our allies backing them up, these union members now get to vote on a groundbreaking new contract that includes significant wage increases, the elimination of nondisclosure agreements in cases of harassment, and strong diversity, equity and inclusion commitments. “We’ve fought to build our power over the last two years, despite continuous union-busting from The New York Times,” the Wirecutter Union tweeted. “The result is a bargaining agreement we’re proud of.”

VTDigger Newsroom Employees Secure First Collective Bargaining Agreement: Workers at VTDigger, members of the Providence Newspaper Guild (TNG-CWA Local 31041), ratified their first-ever collective bargaining agreement. The three-year deal “establishes consistent standards, rewards longevity, guarantees minimum salaries and overtime pay, and continues to solidify the organization’s commitment to improving diversity, equity and inclusion. It has been a long and at times difficult conversation, but we had it as equals, and the organization is much stronger for it,” said Lola Duffort, co-unit chair of the VTDigger Guild. “I am delighted we have arrived—unanimously—at such a robust agreement.” The new contract includes minimum salaries, cost-of-living increases, paid sick leave, paid parental leave, overtime pay, salary increases and other benefits.

Graduate Researchers Secure Union Recognition and University of California: More than 17,000 graduate student researchers across the University of California’s campuses have secured recognition from the university as members of Student Researchers United, an affiliate of the UAW. UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada said: “The UAW is proud to welcome UC Student Researchers into our union family. They have shown what is possible when workers stand together and refuse to be divided. We look forward to supporting them as they bargain a strong first contract.” Members of the union held a series of protests demanding representation, employment security, protection from harassment and other common workplace protections.

Workers at iHeart Podcast Network Join WGAE: The WGAE broke the news on Thursday that a clear majority of workers at the iHeart Podcast Network—the fastest-growing division of iHeartMedia—signed union cards to organize with the WGAE. The guild is calling on management to voluntarily recognize the union of about 125 producers, editors, researchers, writers and hosts. The iHeart Podcast Organizing Committee wrote a letter to management explaining their decision to form a union with WGAE and expressing their desire for appropriate compensation and benefits, accountability mechanisms regarding diversity and inclusion efforts, and clear paths for advancement and job security. WGAE Executive Director Lowell Peterson said: “We are pleased to welcome the storytellers at the iHeart Podcast Network to the guild. A union is vital to ensuring podcast workers are able to build sustainable careers in an industry where their contributions have been essential to the sector’s continued rapid growth.”

Chalkbeat Workers Unanimously Ratify First Union Contract: Writers at Chalkbeat, represented by the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE), voted unanimously to ratify their first collective bargaining agreement. The bargaining committee said: “Our members unanimously voted yes on our first contract because these issues were such a priority. We’re all excited to have better guidelines that we know will make Chalkbeat a better place to work. Organizing as a union has already helped our unit members feel more connected, sharing their various work experiences across the country, and working together to make sure we all have better working conditions. We’re excited that Chalkbeat ultimately heard our concerns, and we’re certain the new contract will lead to even more powerful journalism. Strong journalists make for a strong Chalkbeat.” The contract includes salary increases, minimum salary levels, paid parental leave, overtime compensation, improved health benefits, improved protections against sexual harassment, improved health benefits for transgender employees and other gains.

Actors’ Equity Secures Anti-Discrimination and Harassment Provisions in New Agreement with Purple Rose Theatre Company: Actors’ Equity Association announced on Tuesday that the union has reached a new agreement with the Purple Rose Theatre Company in Chelsea, Michigan. Equity said the agreement reflects a shared commitment to creating a safe workplace, free from the discrimination and harassment the company experienced under its previous leadership. In addition to improved compensation and work hours, the two-year contract includes strong language prohibiting bullying, discrimination, harassment and retaliation. “This contract is now one of the strongest Equity contracts in the country in terms of protecting members from discrimination and harassment, and it will be a model for other theatres,” said Equity Assistant Executive Director and General Counsel Andrea Hoeschen. “Actors and stage managers will have a safer workplace because of the courage and efforts of those who revealed a range of working conditions at Purple Rose that were inconsistent with a safe, equitable, unionized workplace.”

SRU-UAW Wins Recognition from the University of California: In a massive victory for the UAW and the entire labor movement, Student Researchers United-UAW (SRU-UAW) announced Wednesday night that the University of California (UC) has recognized their union. SRU-UAW submitted union authorization cards in May after a months-long organizing campaign. Their recognition now means the union will represent 17,000 higher education workers at all 10 UC campuses and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. SRU-UAW members overwhelmingly voted to authorize a strike in November over UC’s refusal to recognize their bargaining unit. “This historic victory was brought about by the tireless efforts of thousands of student researchers who organized to win a union and a direct response to our massive strike authorization vote,” the union tweeted on Wednesday. “Now let’s win a strong contract for all student researchers!”

Front-Line Grocery Workers Vote to Form a Union with UFCW Local 1439: United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1439 announced Monday that some 250 grocery workers at Fred Meyer in Richland, Washington, will join the union after a victorious election, marking the first time in recent history that an entire store of grocery workers in the state have done so. The organizing win now paves the way for these new union members to move forward in bargaining their first union contract to strengthen pay, benefits and working conditions. “This is an unprecedented victory, inspired by the sacrifices of essential grocery workers during the pandemic,” said Local 1439 Secretary-Treasurer Jeff Hofstader. “We hope this inspires other grocery workers to stand up and exercise their rights.”

Dancers at Ballet Idaho Vote to Join AGMA: The American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA) and Ballet Idaho announced on Monday that the dancers of Ballet Idaho have voted to join AGMA. A vote was held on Tuesday, Nov. 30, based upon mutual agreement between the union and the performing arts company. Given the result in favor of forming a union, Ballet Idaho has recognized AGMA as the exclusive bargaining representative of the dancers. “AGMA is thrilled to welcome the dancers of Ballet Idaho into the union,” said Leonard Egert, national executive director of AGMA. “We look forward to a collaborative process with the management of Ballet Idaho, as the safety, well-being and long-term success of these artists remain a top priority for both parties.”

Carnegie Library Workers Reach Tentative Agreement on First Union Contract: After voting to join the United Steelworkers (USW) in 2019, approximately 300 workers at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh have reached a tentative agreement on their first union contract. The four-year contract covers eligible workers at 19 library branches and includes significant gains, including a voice in library decision-making, improved health and safety, pay equity for the lowest-paid workers and more affordable health care. Kira Yeversky, a clerk at the Homewood branch, said: “I’m so proud of every worker who shared their stories and fought for our first contract. They displayed true solidarity, and I can’t wait to see what this next chapter brings for all of us.”

PECSH-MNA Reaches Tentative Agreement at Sparrow Hospital: The bargaining team of the Professional Employees Council of Sparrow Hospital-Michigan Nurses Association (PECSH-MNA), an affiliate of National Nurses United (NNU), reached a tentative agreement with the hospital administration for a new three-year contract last Friday, averting a possible strike. The new agreement includes significant wage increases, no increases in health care premiums, a safe staffing process and contractually guaranteed access to personal protective equipment. “We truly believe that this contract will make a difference for caregivers working at our hospital, for the patients we serve and for our community as a whole,” said Katie Pontifex, RN, president of PECSH-MNA. “We are really proud of the solidarity shown by caregivers in advocating for our patients and our community.” In November, 96% of PECSH-MNA members voted to authorize a strike. Some 2,200 union members will cast their ballots in the coming days on whether to ratify the agreement.

MEBA Secures Pay Bonuses for Vaccinated Interlake Mariners: Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association (MEBA) President Adam Vokac announced last week that the union has agreed to a new pay policy to compensate fully vaccinated MEBA members sailing for Interlake Steamship Co. The policy doesn’t mandate vaccinations but provides a generous payment for those who are vaccinated or get inoculated against COVID-19, and sets up a system where an additional one-time payment is authorized for members if at least 85% of the fleet is certified to be fully vaccinated. The MEBA said it fully endorses this proactive and fair approach to motivate mariners to get vaccinated.

LIUNA Service Contract Workers Win Higher Wages: Hundreds of thousands of federal government contract workers will receive a pay raise as the Department of Labor’s Executive Order setting a $15 an hour minimum wage goes into effect in January. Thousands of Laborers (LIUNA) members working under service contracts for the federal government, including many supporting the U.S. military, also will benefit from this increase as well as the plan to index the minimum wage to an inflation measure, so that every year after 2022 wages will be automatically adjusted to reflect changes in the cost of living. “The Biden Administration should be commended for helping workers get ahead and ensuring that the workers who support the military and the federal government are able to support themselves and their families,” said LIUNA General President Terry O’Sullivan. “By setting a wage floor for federal contract workers with cost-of-living adjustments, many thousands of Laborers will earn higher wages now and in the future.”

This blog originally appeared at AFL-CIO on January 4, 2022

About the Authors: Kenneth Quinell is a Senior Writer at the AFL-CIO.

Aaron Gallant is the Internal Communications Specialist at AFL-CIO


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For 2nd straight month, Americans quit jobs at a record pace

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The figures point to a historic level of turmoil in the job market as newly-empowered workers quit jobs to take higher pay that is being dangled by businesses in need of help

Americans quit their jobs at a record pace for the second straight month in September, in many cases for more money elsewhere as companies bump up pay to fill job openings that are close to an all-time high.

The Labor Department said Friday that 4.4 million people quit their jobs in September, or about 3% of the nation’s workforce. That’s up from 4.3 million in August and far above the pre-pandemic level of 3.6 million. There were 10.4 million job openings, down from 10.6 million in August, which was revised higher.

The figures point to a historic level of turmoil in the job market as newly-empowered workers quit jobs to take higher pay that is being dangled by businesses in need of help. Incomes are rising, Americans are spending more and the economy is growing, and employers have ramped up hiring to keep pace. Rising inflation, however, is offsetting much of the pay gains for workers.

Friday’s report follows last week’s jobs report, which showed that employers stepped up their hiring in October, adding 531,000 jobs, while the unemployment rate fell to 4.6%, from 4.8%. Hiring rebounded as the Delta wave, which had restrained job gains in August and September, faded.

It is typically perceived as a signal of worker confidence when people leave the jobs they hold. The vast majority of people quit for a new position.

The number of available jobs has topped 10 million for four consecutive months. The record before the pandemic was 7.5 million. There were more job openings in September than the 7.7 million unemployed, illustrating the difficulties so many companies have had finding workers.

In addition to the number of unemployed, there are about 5 million fewer people looking for jobs compared with pre-pandemic trends, making it much harder for employers to hire. Economists cite many reasons for that decline: Some are mothers unable to find or afford child care, while others are avoiding taking jobs out of fear of contracting COVID-19. Stimulus checks this year and in 2020, as well as extra unemployment aid that has since expired, has given some families more savings and enabled them to hold off from looking for work.

Goldman Sachs, in a research note Thursday, estimates that most of the 5 million are older Americans who have decided to retire. Only about 1.7 million are aged 25 through 54, which economists consider prime working years.

Goldman estimates that most of those people in their prime working years will return to work in the coming months, but that would still leave a much smaller workforce than before the pandemic. That could leave employers facing labor shortages for months or even years.

Businesses in other countries are facing similar challenges, leading to pay gains and higher inflation in countries like Canada and the United Kingdom.

Competition for U.S. workers is intense for retailers and delivery companies, particularly as they staff up for what is expected to be a healthy winter holiday shopping season.

Online giant Amazon is hiring 125,000 permanent drivers and warehouse workers and offer pay between $18 and $22 an hour. It’s also paying sign-on bonuses of up to $3,000.

Seasonal hiring is also ramping up. Package delivery company UPS is seeking to add 100,000 workers to help with the crush of holiday orders, and plans to make job offers to some applicants within 30 minutes.

About the Author: The Associated Press is an independent global news organization dedicated to factual reporting. Founded in 1846, AP today remains the most trusted source of fast, accurate, unbiased news in all formats and the essential provider of the technology and services vital to the news business.

This blog originally appeared at Politico on November 12, 2021. Reprinted with permission.


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Nevada hospitality workers get ‘right to return,’ this week in the war on workers

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Wage theft is a huge problem that requires a creative solution, this week  in the war on workers | Today's Workplace

Nevada’s “right to return” law has gone into effect, requiring employers to rehire many hospitality workers laid off during the pandemic to their original jobs, or equivalents, as those jobs become available again. Workers will get 24 hours to decide whether to accept a job, and must be available to start within five days.

The non-union Station Casinos, however, are dodging the law for some positions, claiming that the law is just so complicated that they cannot figure out how to recall people to jobs in the right order, so as a result, Station won’t be filling some jobs at all. (The company has recalled 1,500 workers.) In case you were wondering about the motivation here, the company issued a statement about its decision attacking the Culinary Union.

Meanwhile, the workers who’ve long had good jobs in the Las Vegas hospitality industry just want their jobs back.

“I only want to work,” said one worker affected by Station’s decision. “I want all I lost in this time. I want to get it back.”

This blog originally appeared at DailyKos on July 10, 2021. Reprinted with permission.

About the author: Laura Clawson has been a Daily Kos contributing editor since December 2006 and a full-time staff since 2011, currently acting as assistant managing editor.


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June jobs report shows an unexpectedly strong 850,000 new jobs

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Wage theft is a huge problem that requires a creative solution, this week  in the war on workers | Today's Workplace

The U.S. economy is up 850,000 jobs, according to the June jobs report, and the past two months’ jobs reports were adjusted upward by 15,000. June’s jobs report is the strongest result in 10 months.

The unemployment rate rose slightly, to 5.9%, while the number of people who have been jobless for six months or more rose to 4 million, and “Black unemployment remains in deeply recessionary territory at 9.2%,” the Economic Policy Institute’s Elise Gould tweeted. “What boosted net job growth was an increase in people staying employed,” economist Aaron Sojourner tweeted. “Flows into employment from unemployment and from out of labor force both ticked down. The # of unemployed dropping out of labor force fell 363K=16%. Instead, they continued searching.”

A positive bottom line: “at this pace of job growth, the labor market would be back to pre-COVID health by the end of 2022—a recovery roughly *five times* as fast as the recovery following the Great Recession, thanks in no small part to the [American Rescue Plan],” EPI’s Heidi Shierholz wrote.

Notably, the leisure and hospitality industry gained 343,000 jobs, and that wasn’t just a one-month blip. “Over the last three months, leisure & hospitality has added 977,000 jobs—well over half of the 1.7 million total jobs added over that period,” Shierholz pointed out. Wages have risen in that industry; it’s almost like paying workers better helps draw in more workers. Pay remains abysmally low in leisure and hospitality, though.

There are still 6.8 million fewer jobs than in February 2020. With the jobs the economy would have added since then if the trends in place in early 2020 had continued, there is still a shortfall of more than 7.7 million jobs.

This jobs report cannot be seen as an endorsement of unemployment benefits cut-offs by Republican governors—it’s the June jobs report, but covers mid-May to mid-June, with those cut-offs starting in mid-June. A survey by the jobs search engine Indeed found factors other than unemployment benefits keeping unemployed people without college degrees from looking for work more aggressively.

The economy is rebounding, but the COVID-19 pandemic is not over yet, and the disruptions and trauma it has dealt to workers in all industries will be with us for a long time to come.

This blog originally appeared at DailyKos on July 2, 2021. Reprinted with permission.

About the author: Laura Clawson has been a Daily Kos contributing editor since December 2006 and a full-time staff since 2011, currently acting as assistant managing editor.


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U.S. added 559,000 jobs in May and unemployment dropped to 5.8%

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Interview with Laura Clawson, Daily Kos Contributing Editor | Smart  Bitches, Trashy Books

After a disappointing April jobs report, May looked significantly better with 559,000 new jobs added to the economy, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s still a little short of the 650,000 jobs analysts predicted, but unemployment ticked down from 6.1% to 5.8%, the lowest since the coronavirus pandemic began in March 2020. “America is on the move again,” President Joe Biden declared in response to the report. “No other major economy is gaining jobs as quickly as ours, and none of this success is an accident,” he said, crediting the American Rescue Plan with boosting the recovery.

The Economic Policy Institute’s Elise Gould described the overall report as “a promising sign that the recovery is on track.” Gould continued, ”If this pace continues over the next year, we will likely get down to 4% unemployment by mid-2022 and will be fully recovered before the end of 2022, fully absorbing losses plus population growth.” 

Another piece of good news is that women gained jobs after losing massive numbers of jobs throughout the pandemic, accounting for 56.2% of the new jobs in May. It’s just a start—women would need to gain jobs at that rate for 13 months straight to get back to where things stood in the before times, according to the National Women’s Law Center—but a start is better than another month of continuing to fall behind. Women’s labor force participation rose from 57.2% in April to 57.4% in May, still behind the February 2020 rate of 59.2%.

Nonetheless, there are still 7.6 million fewer jobs than in February 2020, with a total jobs gap of at least 8.6 million (to account for jobs growth that would normally have happened since then).

Once again, in contrast to the claims that restaurants are having trouble finding workers because of high unemployment benefits, the hospitality industry had big growth, adding 292,000 jobs. And while wages rose in hospitality, a possible sign of a labor shortage, EPI’s Heidi Shierholz notes that “the wages of typical workers in leisure and hospitality plummeted in the recession and have largely just regained their pre-COVID trend—i.e. they are now in the ballpark of where they’d be if COVID had never happened.” Josh Bivens had previously argued that rising wages in restaurants are consistent with the return of tipping customers, and may therefore not even represent higher wages being paid by employers.

There’s a long way to go, and too many people are still without jobs—remember that 7.6 million jobs are missing just from what existed in February 2020—as Republican governors make the political, not economic, decision to cut off the $300 weekly federal unemployment benefits supplement because supposedly that $300 is what’s keeping people from looking for work (even though it’s not). That’s increasing the suffering across the country even as people show, month by month, that they are looking to get back to work.

This blog originally appeared at DailyKos on June 4, 2021 Reprinted with permission.

About the author: Laura Clawson has been a Daily Kos contributing editor since December 2006 and a full-time staff since 2011, currently acting as assistant managing editor.


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