15 Tips for Union Stewards

We tip our Union hats to you who serve your union brothers and sisters. You accepted the burdens of workplace leadership. A position that is fraught with anxiety, frustration and immediacy, but is also a position that can be truly gratifying as you help and assist your co-workers.

Your position is a day-to-day activity of membership contact within your shop. Uniquely, by this position you have the opportunity to be on top of most situations that occur whether it is the company violating the contract or whether the Union business agent is unavailable to be there quickly.

Most members look first to their steward. You are most often available on a daily basis, you have frequent and direct contact with your union office and usually you have been in bargaining and understand intimately the essence of the contract language. This is not easy; whether you are a new steward or one with years of experience. We know you have a lot of people relying on you to protect their interests and to enforce their labor agreement.

UNION-STEWARD

So we’ve compiled a list of top “Quick Tips” to keep in mind. We know you know all of these, but we also know that as you work hard to serve, they can easily be forgotten by anyone…

1. You don’t have to be an expert. Stewards are always being asked questions. Don’t act like you know what you’re talking about when you don’t your friends and your co-workers will see through it right away. Say you’ll find out, and get back to them.

2. Figure out where to turn for answers. Your union officers and staff should be knowledgeable in contract interpretation and many areas of labor law. Other union activists can be important people to rely on. And depending on where you work, on the job there are undoubtedly a few people who work in different offices or departments who know more than anyone what goes on behind management’s closed doors.

3. Knowing how to delegate tasks is your most important skill. Recruiting volunteers is an easily learned skill. Some people do it naturally, others benefit from specific training in recruiting or team-building.

4. If you try to do it all yourself, it won’t work. You won’t be able to do anything as well as you could, you’ll get frustrated, and then you’ll burn out. The more people you get involved, the more you can accomplish.

5. Your job is to empower people. Give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, he’ll eat for a lifetime. If all you do is solve other people’s problems for them, what are they going to do when you’re not there? Help people learn how to solve their own problems.

6. Ask a lot of questions. Socrates didn’t become famous for nothing. The best ideas come from picking a lot of people’s brains and getting them to think about old problems in new ways.

7. Learn how to listen. With grievances and personnel problems, sometimes just being willing to listen is the most important thing you can do. When you’re organizing you need to know how other people feel and how they view the situation before you can influence them. Ask and listen.

8. Don’t let management treat you like pond scum. When you’re representing your co-workers as their union steward you are equal with the supervisor you’re dealing with. You’re both intelligent adults. On the job, your supervisor may have authority over you. But on union business, you’re his or her equal.

9. Never assume that management knows better than you. Most supervisors have little understanding of contract rights or labor law. They have experience in program or production and in supervision. Anything you learn about employees’ rights on the job makes you more of an expert in that area than they are.

10. Pick your fights. Defending your fellow employees is an important part of a union steward’s job, but if that’s all you do you’re always on the defensive. If you identify issues and take the initiative to demand changes, you’ll make important progress. Don’t let management control the agenda. Be pro-active and pick the issues that you think you can make some headway on.

11. Always get back to people. If you want your co-workers to have trust in you, you’ve got to be responsible and reliable. Don’t promise things you can’t deliver on, and be sure to follow through on what you do commit to.

12. Be organized in your own life. Pick a system and keep to it. How are you going to keep track of appointments and meetings? Where are you going to keep notes and reminders to yourself? Throw out papers you don’t need, and have a good system for finding the stuff you keep.

13. Be a responsible employee on the job. Not only is this important if you want your co-workers to have respect for you and your opinion, but it keeps you from getting into unnecessary trouble with management.

14. Maintain a sense of humor. On the one hand, ridicule can be a powerful weapon against an irrational supervisor. On the other, don’t take yourself too seriously. If you get self-righteous you won’t learn from your mistakes and you’ll turn people off.

15. Keep your eyes on the prize. There will be setbacks. There will be losses. Sometimes people will get angry at you, and sometimes you’ll start to wonder if it’s all worth it. But as long as you remember that collective action is the only real way to change things for the better, you’ll know that in the long run, helping to build the union is the best thing you can be doing for yourself and your family.

YOUR TURN

Whether a Union Member or Union Steward, do you have any tips to add to our list? Sound off on the Union Built PC Facebook Page, or on our Twitter or LinkedIn feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to the monthly Union Built PC UNION STRONG eNewsletter for articles, tips and guides like this delivered straight to your inbox. You may unsubscribe at any time.

 

Five Ideas For Union Recruitment of Young People

Communicating to and engaging with young people is notoriously difficult – even for major multinationals with millions of dollars in marketing budgets. For unions, which are under regular attack from media figures and conservative politicians, it is as difficult for join young people up and engage them in campaign as for any organisation.

A key for effective communication is to understand your audience. Communicating with young people requires this in spades. There is no such thing as generic “young person”. Like other groups of potential members, young people are united by common interests, education, income, demographics, needs, geographies, occupations, goals, communities and ethnicities (amongst other things).

The difficulties of encouraging young people to join unions are obvious, but here are some. Young people are more likely to have precarious employment and many will be working in a job they do not foresee as a long-term career. Being casual means they have a smaller income to pay union dues. Young people are often very mobile, so can change jobs easily (if they can find work at all).

Many young people are unaware that a union exists that would cover them. Increasingly, young people have high expectations for organizations in terms of the quality of communication experience: in print, online and on television and radio – it should be engaging, interactive and relevant. Their expectations upon joining may be quite high: as everything speeds up, everyone, including young people, expect instant responses and solutions to problems. The prevalence of smart phones amongst young people means that they’re more and more expecting organizations to have mobile-ready websites and other communications creative, like videos or games.

Finally, more and more young people want customized responses to their concerns and needs. Big service organizations like mobile phone companies, credit card companies, health insurance companies and media companies have responded by fragmenting their offers and allowing a “pick and choose” approach. These companies aren’t doing this because they like choice, but because their customers are demanding and expecting them.

Unions, unlike behemoths like Coke or Nike, don’t have massive marketing budgets. These multi-nationals spend a small fortune on market research, in an elusive search for “cool”. The result is often awfully superficial, and distils young people down to stereotypes focused on consumption. Where they excel however is their creative execution. Their ads are better produced, their websites more engaging.

Most unions understand many of the workplace concerns of young people. In most regards, the needs and desires of young people won’t differ much from their older colleagues. They want recognition and respect, and decent wages and conditions.

Unfortunately, unions are most often let down by their execution. Attempts to pitch at young people are often ham fisted, filled with “grunge” fonts and out-of-date “youth-speak”.

Social-Recruiting

So, having outlined some of the challenges, here are five ideas for unions to use when trying to engage young people at work:

1. Link careers with unions

Most young people who have casual jobs don’t see it as a career, especially if the job in question is one they have while attending college. Eventually however, they will embark on a career, and if they’re lucky, it will be one they are passionate about.

Unions should draw more clearly the link between a young worker’s interests and passions, and thus their future career, with the union. This can be difficult for unions covering those casual jobs — but for unions with coverage over those career jobs, engagement with your future members starts before they enter the workforce.

This is most obvious for young people pursuing professional jobs like teaching, nursing or engineering, but can apply for careers like the law, journalism, architecture or graphic design (or even accounting and marketing).

Having a campus outreach program, student membership (so you can give potential members a “trial” membership) and programs to strengthen the specific career is essential.

For unions that cover those casual, precarious work, it’s time to get more creative.

Perhaps investigate joint membership with those career, professional unions. When a teaching student at university gets student membership with the teacher’s union, could they have an associate membership with the union that covers their fast-food job? (This could be organised through a state or national peak body.) Could unions work with universities, colleges or schools, where the educational institution buys “bulk” membership for their students?

2. Don’t talk down to prospective members

Avoid thinking of the current generation like your own. This generation simply doesn’t think or act as you do.

The way that young people engage online or with television, or even with major corporate brands, is changing constantly. For most of you, when you were entering the workforce, Facebook and Twitter didn’t exist. Now things like Instagram and Snapchat are changing how young people create and distribute content. This generation has simply never lived without the Internet.

The bottom line here is that unions need to talk to young workers as equals. For a start, messages that emphasise how vulnerable young workers are, or how they are being exploited, can make young people feel devalued. Even though it’s true that young workers are more likely to be ripped off or poorly treated, starting from that point is less likely to engage young people.

Effective communication is often informal and personal, with engaging imagery. It is delivered across all key social sites, including through mobile and apps. It relies on peer-to-peer recommendations and often uses testimonials from other young people talking positively about their experience.

3. Put out your messages on multiple channels

Young people consume media through multiple channels. The phenomenon of multi-screen consumption is well and truly entrenched.

Moreso than ever, when a young person engages with an issue, company or cause, they do so on their mobile, and their tablet, and their computer, and the television. It’s no longer enough to have your message just in print, or just online, or just on TV or radio (depending on your budget).

Your message will not only be more meaningful, but it will be more engaging if it can be consumed through multiple channels.

At the risk of sounding obvious, unions should communicate with young workers in places they are likely to be. Don’t just launch your website or Facebook page. You need to promote your message in a wide variety of places: at the cinema, on TV, on Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, out-door, and in apps. In order to cut through the white-noise of modern marketing, you need to (unfortunately) increase your volume and your reach.

Unions are still playing catch up on this front. Most unions are still heavily invested in their print media: journals, posters, flyers. While some are broadening out to improving their websites, email and social media presence, substantial investment is needed still.

4. Use creative that aligns with young people’s lives

By the time they enter the workforce, most young people will have already formed tight social circles, whether through school, sport, music, church or other interests. While unions may not seem like it is their role to help workers “fit in”, it can be an important opportunity for organizers and delegates to engage with young workers. This means simple things like ensuring that delegates welcome young workers and help ensure they are included.

It also means that unions should use creative — that is, graphic design and text copy — that resonates with contemporary culture. I don’t mean that older people should write “cool” lingo. But union communicators and organizers should be aware of communication trends. This is a big challenge, but unions who want to engage with and join young people to the union need to invest more in creative graphic design and communication that is relevant and modern, and be able to adapt.

5. Don’t be stuck to the past

It can be difficult for unions to move quickly or respond to new challenges. As democratic organizations, unions often can only make big (but important) changes through democratic decision-making, such as annual or biannual council meetings or delegate conferences.

However, unions must take a fresh look at what their core message is (not just to young people, but overall). Focus and clarity are essential. What are unions all about? Why does the union exist?

If these simple things cannot be clearly expressed in a contemporary manner, then you will have trouble communicating to young workers.

The essence of all effective communication is focus. Unions must communicate a single thing clearly.

Be prepared to jettison the old ways of communicating — those “ten reasons to join” lists, and outdated slogans about “workers united will never be defeated”. Also, forget about your communications being one way. The days of broadcast communications being effective are over. Even big brands who advertise on TV find that their ads are being talked about on social media like Twitter or Facebook and more. Think about the new trend of major advertisers such as Burger King that activate your smart technologies by yelling out “Hey Alexa” in their ads.

More broadly than just messaging and communications, unions need to start creatively thinking about membership options and plans. Not just looking at price, but considering options where young people can join without the full “premium” service, or “online only” advice. How unions engage with young people will increasingly be online. Should unions look at 24-hour “chat” services to give advice instead of expecting face-to-face meetings with industrial officers or organizers? How can young workers engage in solidarity actions digitally? Unions need to come to terms with the notion that “full” engagement and commitment is a very high bar.

YOUR TURN

Given the challenges inherent in recruiting young Union members, what ideas do you have to try to drive membership among this generation? Sound off on the Union Built PC Facebook Page or on our Twitter or LinkedIn feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly UNION STRONG email newsletter. You may unsubscribe at any time.

 

Unions — Not Corporations — Stand for Freedom of American Workers

Freedom is one of the most cherished American principles. But freedom means more than the ability to speak your mind, practice your religion, or choose your own democratically elected leaders. Our freedoms don’t end with the First Amendment to the Constitution.

Freedom is also the ability to enjoy economic security and stability. And that means more than making a decent living and having enough to pay the bills. It’s about both financially supporting our families and having time to be there for them. Freedom is the ability to take your mom or dad to a doctor’s appointment, to attend a parent-teacher conference, and to retire with dignity.

Unions provide the power in numbers that allow workers to secure and protect these freedoms.

Unite

Unions champion policies that benefit all Americans. They fight for affordable healthcare for all, especially now, as Congress is considering legislation which would inexplicably throw millions of people off the insurance rolls.

Unions fight to improve the quality of public services. Union member Tyrone Wooten is an environmental technician at a medical facility in Flint, Michigan. He knows firsthand the devastating impact of the water supply contamination in his community. And he traveled 14 hours by bus last year to Washington, to protest the testimony of the Michigan governor, whose austerity policies led to the water crisis in Flint.

Unions are also on the front lines when it comes to retirement security participating actively in protecting public pensions and safeguarding Social Security.

RELATED: The Pros of Joining A Labor Union

It’s hard to believe anyone could be against pregnant women and infants having quality health services, families having clean drinking water, or retirees having rock-solid Social Security benefits. But many people actually are. The privileged and powerful — CEOs, massive corporations, and the wealthiest 1 percent — do not just oppose these freedoms. They rig the rules to undermine them and they spend billions of dollars lobbying against them.

And because Unions fight for these freedoms, the moneyed interests have made Unions a target. They want to use the courts to chip away at the rights and protections Unions have won for everyone. They have now petitioned the Supreme Court to take a case called Janus v. AFSCME, in which the plaintiffs seek to impose “right-to-work” as the law of the land in the public sector.

Right-to-work threatens the ability of working people to stand together in a strong Unions, drives down wages and weakens workplace protections, while redistributing wealth upward. Moreover, right-to-work has its roots in the Jim Crow south, where segregationists pushed it to restrict the labor rights of African Americans and keep them from finding common cause with their white coworkers. Right-to-work, in other words, was created to inhibit freedom.

RELATED: What Are The Common Topics In Most Union Contracts?

Americans value their freedom, and they define it broadly. It is the ability to earn a decent paycheck without sacrificing family life. It is the opportunity to live in a safe community and send your kids to a decent school. It is the peace of mind of knowing that an injury or illness won’t ruin you financially and that you can live in some modest comfort in your golden years.

The labor movement believes in — and are the guardians of — all of these freedoms. So, as the corporate special interests gear up for another well-funded attack, let us do everything in our power to protect and defend our freedom to join together in a union.

YOUR TURN

How is your Union taking a stand to protect and defend the freedoms and rights of American Workers. We want to hear your story. Sound off on the Union Built PC Facebook Page or on our Twitter or LinkedIn Feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly UNION STRONG email newsletter. You may unsubscribe at any time.

10 Most Common Mistakes Union Stewards Make

A good Union Steward is many things – an organizer, a negotiator, a counsellor, a peacemaker and a troublemaker. But there are certain things that a steward should avoid at all costs.

Stewards

Here we explore the 10 most common mistakes often made by Union Stewards…

1. Fail to represent fairly
Not only does this leave the union open to being sued for breaching its duty to provide fair representation, it’s just not the right thing to do. It undermines the whole purpose of the union and the very idea of solidarity.

2. Make backroom deals
Management is notorious for trying to get stewards to trade grievances. “I’ll let you have this case if you drop the one we talked about yesterday.” Every member deserves a fair shake and every grievance needs to be evaluated on its own merit. Never agree to anything you would be uncomfortable telling your entire membership about.

3. Promise remedies too quickly
You’re hurting both the member and your credibility if you pass judgement on a grievance prior to a thorough investigation. Only after you have spoken to the grievor and witnesses and consulted the contract, the employer’s rules and past practices are you in a position to make that determination. Given the frequency of poor and mixed arbitration decisions, no steward should ever promise victory.

4. Fail to speak with new workers
The most important way a union gains the support of a new member or a potential new member is by one-on-one contact with the steward. You not only want to provide new workers with information, but need to build a personal relationship and begin to get them involved in union activities from their first day on the job.

5. Fail to adhere to time lines
Even the strongest, iron-clad case can be lost if the time line specified in your contract isn’t followed. Even if management agrees to an extension, it is not in the union’s interest to let problems fester and grow. If you do get a formal extension of time limits, be sure to get it in writing.

6. Let grievance go unfiled
Every grievance that goes unfiled undermines the contract you struggled so hard to win. While most members see changes and problems only in terms of the impact on them, the steward needs to be able to understand a grievance’s impact on the contract and the union as a whole.

RELATED: Automating the Grievance and Arbitration Management Process

7. Meet with management alone
When you meet with management alone, suspicions may arise as to what kinds of deals you’re making. It also allows management to lie or change its story. More importantly, when the steward meets with management alone, it takes away an opportunity for members to participate in the union and to understand that it’s really their organization.

8. Fail to get settlements in writing
Just as you should protect yourself by not meeting alone with management, be sure to get grievance settlements in writing. Putting the settlement in writing helps clarify the issues and keeps management from backing down on their deal.

9. Fail to publicize victories
Publicizing each and every victory is an important way to build your local union. This publicity not only has a chilling effect on the employer, but helps educate your own members on their contractual rights. It also gives you something to celebrate and builds the courage needed to carry on.

10. Fail to organize
Stewards are much more than grievance handlers. They are the key people in the local who mobilize the membership, and they must be talkin’ union and fightin’ union all the time. Each and every grievance and incident must be looked at in terms of how it can increase participation, build the union, and create new leaders.

YOUR TURN

Are you a Union Steward whose learned from experience? What can you add to our list? Sound off on the Union Built PC Facebook Page or on our Twitter or LinkedIn feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to the monthly #UnionStrong email newsletter for articles like this one delivered straight to your inbox. 

Union Membership Hits New Low

Fewer American workers belong to labor unions than at any time since the government began tracking membership, according to a new report released Thursday.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics said just 10.7 percent of American workers were members of labor unions in 2016, down from 11.1 percent the previous year, and down from 20.1 percent in 1983, the first year the bureau collected union statistics. The number of union workers dropped almost every year during the Obama administration.

workers-demonstrating-during-the-general-strike-of-1926-pic-dm-304443606

“These numbers bear out a trend that’s been underway for some years, and it puts into starker relief the urgency of the moment for labor, now that the Trump administration is in power,” said Joseph McCartin, director of the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor at Georgetown University.

In 27 states, fewer than one in 10 workers are union members. Just 1.6 percent of South Carolina workers are members of labor unions.

On the other end of the spectrum, nearly a quarter of New Yorkers are members of a union, and almost 20 percent of those employed in Hawaii pay union dues.

More than half of the 14.6 million union workers in the nation live in just seven states — California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New Jersey and Ohio.

The long-term decline in union membership comes as the American manufacturing industry has fallen precipitously. The automotive industry alone, once the bedrock of the labor movement, now employs far fewer people than it did during its heyday.

Federal labor laws, first written after the Great Depression and seldom updated thanks to political gridlock, have hurt the union movement, McCartin said.

“We have a labor law that’s 80 years old, that was created for a different economy than the one we have now,” McCartin said. “As the economy changed and the law remained the same, it became increasingly difficult for unions to organize successfully.”

The long-term trend of declining union membership has been accelerated in some states, where Republican-led legislatures have passed so-called right-to-work laws that allow employees to opt out of paying union dues. Twenty-seven states have right-to-work laws on the books, after Kentucky passed a version earlier this year. Two more states, Missouri and New Hampshire, are moving to implement right-to-work laws in current legislative sessions.

Some companies that once employed thousands of union workers are opting to locate new production and manufacturing facilities in right-to-work states. Boeing, which employs tens of thousands of union workers in Washington, opened a new assembly line that builds its 787 aircraft in South Carolina, a right-to-work state, in 2011.

In recent years, Republicans in such states as Wisconsin and Ohio have targeted public employee unions, one of the last remaining bastions of strong labor participation. Just more than 40 percent of local government employees are members of unions, the BLS reported, the highest rate of any industry segment.

Older workers are most likely to be members of unions, while new entrants into the work force are least likely. Just over 14 percent of workers between the ages of 55 and 64 are union members, while just under 10 percent of those between 25 and 34 belong to unions.

YOUR TURN

What do you think we can do to increase Union Membership? We want to hear from you! Sound off on the Union Built PC Facebook Page or on our Twitter or LinkedIn feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly #UnionStrong email newsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.

The Pros to Joining a Labor Union

Thanks to labor unions, wages have improved, the workweek is shorter and the workplace is safer.

However, employers sometimes complain that unions are harmful to business and to the economy. From an employee standpoint, is being a union member beneficial? Here are some pros of union jobs.

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Better wages. The median weekly income of full-time wage and salary workers who were union members in 2010 was $917, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. For nonunion workers, it was $717.

More access to benefits. Some 93 percent of unionized workers were entitled to medical benefits compared to 69 percent of their nonunion peers, according to the National Compensation Survey published last year by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The survey represented about 101 million private industry workers and 19 million state and local government employees.

Unmarried domestic partners — same sex and opposite sex — also had access more often to these benefits if they were unionized. Workers with union representation also had 89 percent of their health insurance premiums paid by their employer for single coverage and 82 percent for family coverage. For nonunion workers, the comparable numbers were 79 percent and 66 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And 93 percent of unionized workers have access to retirement benefits through employers compared to 64 percent of their nonunion counterparts.

Job security. Nonunion employees are typically hired “at will,” meaning they can be fired for no reason. There are exceptions. Employers can’t terminate a worker for discriminatory reasons such as race, religion, age and the like. Nor can they fire an at-will employee for being a whistle-blower and certain other reasons.

However, workers with union jobs can only be terminated for “just cause,” and the misconduct must be serious enough to merit such action. Before an employee can actually be fired, he or she can go through a grievance procedure, and if necessary, arbitration.

Workers who know they can’t easily be fired, will be willing to speak up freely.

Strength in numbers. Unionized workers have more power as a cohesive group than by acting individually. What you gain is the muscle of collective action. Through collective bargaining, workers negotiate wages, health and safety issues, benefits, and working conditions with management via their union.

Seniority. Rules differ among collective bargaining agreements, but in the event of layoffs, employers usually are required to dismiss the most recent hires first and those with the most seniority last — sometimes called “last hired, first fired.”

In some cases, a worker with a union job who has more seniority may receive preference for an open job. Seniority also can be a factor in determining who gets a promotion. The idea is that seniority eliminates favoritism in the workplace. Ultimately, the chief advantage of seniority is it is completely objective.

YOUR TURN

What benefits do you see in being a Union Member? Sound off on the Union Built PC Facebook Page, on our Twitter or LinkedIn feeds and don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly #UnionStrong email newsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.

2016: Year in Review

Here’s looking back at some of 2016’s biggest #UnionStrong moments. We stand with you Sisters and Brothers!

NATIONAL…

scalias-death-ends-friedrichs-threatScalia’s death ends Friedrichs threat
In a case known as Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Association, the U.S. Supreme Court was getting ready to impose so-called “right-to-work” status on all public employees in the United States — making dues strictly voluntary and thus weakening unions considerably. But the death of conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in February resulted in a 4-4 deadlock on the case. The threat to labor could return, however, if a similar case is filed after another anti-union justice is appointed.

unions-count-verizon-strike-as-a-winUnions count Verizon strike as a win
America’s biggest strike in four years took place in April and May as 39,000 members of CWA and IBEW struck Verizon’s East Coast landline operations rather than accept contract concessions at the highly-profitable company. The strike ended after 45 days with a deal brokered by U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez on terms the union called a win, including 10.5 percent raises over four years, and protections against outsourcing of call center jobs.

Clinton loses in the electoral college
In the general election, Hillary Clinton had the support of nearly every labor union in the country, and she won nearly 3 million more votes than Donald Trump. But she lost where it mattered: The electoral college, thanks to narrow Trump wins in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

trans-pacific-partnership-dead-at-lastTrans-Pacific Partnership, dead at last
For the first time since NAFTA, a corporate-written trade deal died on the vine. The 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnerhip (TPP) was one of Obama’s top priorities, but broad public hostility to the deal — and the defection of some Republicans over industry concerns — prevented ratification in Congress. Trump’s election sealed its fate.

IN YOUR STATE…

Top legislative win: Minimum wage
With unions prepared to put minimum wage increases on the ballot, the Oregon Legislature stepped up to do the job and put the minimum wage on track to 12.50 to 14.75 by 2022, depending on the region. That amounts to an hourly raise of $3.25 to $5.50 an hour for hundreds of thousands of Oregon workers.

Biggest ballot defeat: Measure 97
Despite $16 million in local and national union money, a proposal to raise taxes on the biggest corporations doing business in Oregon was rejected by voters. As a result, instead of new investment in schools, health care and senior services, the state of Oregon faces a budget shortfall next year, once again.

Biggest union organizing wins:

  • 886 support workers at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center joined AFT.
  • 793 PSU grad students joined AFT/AAUP.
  • 310 hospital technicians at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center joined AFT.
  • 165 workers at Boeing paint contractor Commercial Aircraft Painting Services joined IAM.
  • 80 DirecTV workers joined CWA Local 7906.
  • 61 alcohol and drug treatment workers at Volunteers of America joined AFSCME.

Biggest union organizing losses:

  • 205 workers at a Jeld-Wen door plant in Chiloquin rejected the Machinists union in a 52-137 vote.
  • 179 workers at Portland Specialty Baking rejected the Bakers union in a 38-123 vote.

oregon-bernie-voteOregon Bernie vote: a mandate for bolder action by Democrats?
Hillary Clinton won among Democrats nationwide, but in Oregon, Democrats showed an appetite for a bolder kind of politics — backing a candidate who rejected Wall Street money and called for universal health care, free public college tuition, and a $15-an-hour minimum wage. In Oregon, Bernie Sanders packed arenas and outpolled Clinton by over 70,000 votes, 56 to 44 percent.

Minimum wage and sick leave
Raise the minimum wage to $13.50, and give workers the right paid sick leave? Voters did it, approving union-backed I-1433 by 59-41 percent.

sound-gets-serious-transit-investmentSound gets serious transit investment
Another ballot victory was voter approval for an ambitious 25-year plan to make $54 billion worth of transit improvements in the Puget Sound region, including 62 miles of light rail and new bus and heavy rail service to King, Pierce and Snohomish counties. The project will mean union jobs, less congestion, and a cleaner environment.

Madore is no more, in Clark County
Flamboyantly anti-union Clark County Commissioner David Madore — who once pushed unsuccessfully for a local “right-to-work” ordinance — lost reelection in the August primary. In the general election, union-backed candidate Tanisha Harris lost to John Blom, but local unions were still pleased to see their nemesis go.

berry-boycott-ends-with-union-dealBerry boycott ends with union deal
A three-year union boycott against Sakuma and Driscoll berries ended in September, when Skagit Valley agri-giant Sakuma Berries agreed to allow a union election and recognize and bargain a contract with the farmworkers union.

YOUR TURN

What were some of your biggest #UnionStrong moments of 2016? Sound off on the Union Built PC Facebook Page or on our Twitter or LinkedIn feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly #UnionStrong email newsletter for articles like this one delivered straight to your inbox.