Working people won big in 2015. Whether it was coming together and voting “union yes,” or winning legislation for paid sick and family leave, we can say it was a very good year.
We’ve covered many of these “worker wins” stories over the last year on the AFL-CIO Now Blog. Here are some highlights you don’t want to miss:
Trump Las Vegas Workers Vote ‘Yes’ to Join Union: Workers at the Trump International Hotel Las Vegas voted “yes” to be represented by Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and Bartenders Local 165 of UNITE HERE. More than 500 employees at the hotel will now have a union voice.
Tennessee-based Volkswagen Workers Vote to Join Union: Approximately 150 skilled trades employees at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, Tenn., plant voted overwhelmingly to join a union earlier this month. The election, held under intense pressure from anti-working family advocates, is a critical step toward ensuring autoworkers and workers throughout the South have a greater voice in the workplace.
Huffington Post Workers Ask Management to Recognize Their Union: The Huffington Post continues the trend of new media unionizing, as the editorial staff asked management to recognize Writers Guild of America East as their union representative earlier this month. This move would make The Huffington Post the biggest digital news operation to opt for union representation. In the past year, working people have made significant gains in the media industry as The NewsGuild-CWA and Writers Guild of America East have scored major organizing wins, including Gawker, The Guardian US, ThinkProgress, Salon, Vice Media and Al Jazeera America.
UAW Members Ratify Contracts with Detroit’s Big Three: Workers at General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler have ratified new contracts. The ratifications, representing approximately 142,000 American workers, give autoworkers better pay, better benefits and bonuses.
More Americans Back Worker Efforts to Speak Out: According to a Gallup poll released in August, nearly 6 in 10 Americans approve of labor unions. Efforts by working people to rally around issues ranging from raising wages to improving access to collective bargaining have led to the highest approval rating since 2008. In addition, millennials reported being more pro-union than any other age group, while the proportion of respondents who want workers to have more influence in public debate has risen 12 points since 2009.
Working People Score Major Sick Leave Win in Pittsburgh: Working people rallied the Pittsburgh City Council to pass sweeping paid sick leave legislation in August. The bill, which passed by an overwhelming margin, requires employers with 15 employees or more to provide as much as 40 hours of paid sick leave per year, while smaller companies must provide up to 24 hours per year.
Google Contract Workers Searching for a Union: Contract workers with Google Express announced that they would hold elections to form a union. The approximately 140 San Francisco Bay Area workers are fighting against poor working conditions and a lack of contract stability.
University Employees Speak Out and Organize: More than 600 clerical, paraprofessional, technical and administrative employees of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill., announced the formation of a union, affiliated with AFSCME. The employees cited the need for a greater voice in the workplace, better wages and benefits.
Philadelphia Charter School Teachers Organize with AFT: Teachers and other staff members at Olney Charter High School voted to form a union, becoming the largest charter school in Philadelphia to organize. The teachers and staff will be represented by the Alliance of Charter School Employees, an affiliate of the AFT.
Virgin America Pilots Flying High with New Union: In June, pilots for Virgin America overwhelmingly voted to join the Air Line Pilots Association, International. The vote was the result of a yearlong campaign by the pilots to achieve a stronger voice in the workplace.
Envoy Air Joins CWA: Nearly 5,000 airline agents voted to join the Communications Workers of America for fairness, a safer work environment, job security and better wages.
Temple University Adjunct Faculty Win a Union Voice: In November, 1,400 adjunct professors won their union election.
NY Workers Press Lawmakers to Pass Landmark Equal Pay Law: Workers in New York secured a major win as the state Legislature passed a slate of equal pay protection laws that includes barring employers from telling workers they cannot discuss pay at work, and strengthening prohibitions on paying women and men disparately.
Maryland Taxi Drivers Deliver Major Reforms: Taxi drivers organizing with the AFL-CIO’s newest affiliate – the National Taxi Workers Alliance – in Montgomery County, Md., in July helped deliver major reforms to the county’s taxi industry, which will serve as a win-win for drivers and passengers. The Montgomery County Council unanimously passed legislation that creates a worker-driven co-op, provides protections against predatory taxi companies, makes it easier for drivers to compete against online ride-sharing programs and provides dramatically improved services for people with disabilities.
Marine Base Contractors in North Carolina Vote ‘IAM Yes’: One hundred thirty-three workers for EMI Services LLC at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station New River in Jacksonville, NC, voted “IAM yes” for union representation.