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.

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Attention NJ Transit Commuters: Resources to Navigate the Rail Strike

About 105,000 people rely on NJ TRANSIT every day and railroad officials are already warning that if the strike happens, their contingency plan will only be able to accommodate around 40,000 commuters.

NJ TRANSIT RESOURCE CENTER: How To Get Around If NJ TRANSIT Shuts Down

Commuters are hoping today’s in-person negotiations could be the difference that will ensure their trains will keep running.

“We will not be able to provide the level of service or capacity that our rail service currently provides to our customers,” NJ TRANSIT Interim Exec. Director Dennis Martin said.

RELATED: NJ TRANSIT Strike… The Clock is Springing Forward Fast

union-nj-transit-railworker-strikeOfficials plan to increase bus service, PATH trains light rail and ferry service, and to rely heavily on park and rides. Still, car traffic getting into Manhattan could be disastrous.

“It’s gonna be very disruptive a lot of people are gonna be stranded,” a commuter said.

Some New Jersey towns have come up with their own contingency plans, intending to have Jitney vans shuttle residents to Newark so they can take PATH trains to the city.

“We don’t have enough Jitney capacity to handle our own residents so we’re going to limited to that and proof of residency will be required,” said one town administrator.

The strike deadline is midnight Saturday, March 12. If the strike happens, NJ TRANSIT plans to gradually scale down service starting on Sunday.

Union leaders said the major issues that divide the two sides — wage increases, workers’ health care payments and contract length — are still on the table. Both sides said progress was made Tuesday.

In regard to healthcare, union workers are protesting NJ TRANSIT’s demands for workers to put up 20 percent of their healthcare costs.

Martin questioned how the raise would be paid for at a board meeting on Wednesday, WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported.

“The structure of the settlement and the amount of the settlement will determine how we have to fund it,” Martin said.

When asked about raising fares to cover the costs, Martin said he “can not rule out” the possibility.

The unions have been operating without a new contract or raise since 2011.

Union Built PC and many of our team members are based in NY Metro. We have seen commuter-impacted strikes before and it is no laughing matter. We want to encourage you to plan ahead. If you’re a commuter who may be impacted by the strike click here for resources to navigate the NJ Transit strike.

NJ TRANSIT Strike… The Clock is Springing Forward Fast

The clock is ticking towards a possible NJ TRANSIT strike on Sunday, as contract negotiations between the organization and its unions are set to resume this morning.

The strike deadline is midnight Saturday, March 12. If the strike happens, NJ TRANSIT plans to gradually scale down service starting on Sunday.

fair contracct

Thursday afternoon, NJ TRANSIT negotiator Gary Dellaverson said no announcement of a deal was imminent.

“If there’s a shutdown, it will be terrible. It will be very inconvenient,” said NJ TRANSIT negotiator Gary Dellaverson said Thursday morning. “The discussions between us and the unions have continued, there’s nothing of value to report.”

RESOURCE FOR COMMUTERS: How To Get Around If NJ TRANSIT Shuts Down

After a day off from talks, leaders representing the 11 rail unions met with NJ TRANSIT officials face to face at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Newark for another round of talks.

“I don’t have anything very exciting to say,” Dellaverson said. “What we did this morning, for the last few hours, has been to continue to be precise with one another… as to the areas where there still remain differences between us.”

As talks commenced around 10 a.m., both sides expressed a desire to come to an agreement to avoid a potential strike.

“Whether it’s a today issue or a tonight issue or a Sunday morning issue, that’s just a game I don’t want to play,” Dellaverson said.

Rail union spokesperson Steve Burkert remained cautiously optimistic.

“We’re always hopeful that’s why we’re sitting, talking,” he said.

Dellaverson stressed the importance of keeping the discussions cordial.

“When you feel pressured, bad things happen,” Dellaverson said. “So I think trying to avoid that within reasonable measure is one of the things that we’re trying to do.”

Union Built PC and many of our team members are based in NY Metro. We have seen commuter-impacted strikes before and it is no laughing matter. We want to encourage you to plan ahead. If you’re a commuter who may be impacted by the strike click here for resources to navigate the NJ Transit strike.