By Sue Davis
Win contract extension
To circumvent the vicious anti-collective bargaining law that went into effect in Wisconsin on June 30, the Milwaukee County Board voted 15 to 4 on June 23 to extend the contract for the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses & Health Professionals Local 5001. Now the members will have union protection covering working conditions, benefits and a grievance procedure through Dec. 31, 2012. Local 5001 attributes the victory to members bombarding the board with phone calls explaining why the extension is win-win for everyone in the county.
Contract improves conditions
Nurses at the Cape Cod and Falmouth Hospitals were able to negotiate better working conditions for both patients and staff in their new three-year contract ratified on June 21. The members of the Massachusetts Nurses Association, an affiliate of National Nurses United, won strict limits on mandatory overtime, staffing improvements, and a process that improves care and protects staff on the CCH psychiatric unit. The nurses also get modest raises: a 2 percent bonus retroactive to Oct. 1, 2010, and 1 percent raises in 2012 and 2013. “In these tough economic times, we were able to achieve important gains, specifically to the quality of our working conditions, which was our primary objective,” said Nicky Powderly, FH bargaining unit chair. “With this agreement, everyone is a winner, particularly our patients.” (MNA release, June 22)
Union charges Target interfered with election
The month before the Food and Commercial Workers lost an election June 17 to unionize workers at a Target store in Valley Stream, N.Y., it filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board charging that Target harassed, intimidated and interfered with the rights of pro-union workers. The workers were protesting the company’s low wages and limited work assignments, which don’t allow workers to adequately support their families. UFCW President Bruce W. Both told the New York Times, “These workers are not backing down from this fight. … They are demanding a fair election. They are demanding justice and they are prepared to fight for it.” (June 18)
Progressive resolutions by National Writers Union
Four progressive resolutions were passed by the National Writers Union, United Auto Workers Local 1981 at its Delegates Assembly meeting in Detroit, June 24-26. Passed unanimously was one in solidarity with the struggle of public sector workers in Wisconsin to defend their right to collective bargaining. Also passed unanimously, another supported the International Longshore & Warehouse Union Local 10 action on April 4 in solidarity with the struggle in Wisconsin and called for all charges to be dropped and for all UAW local, regional and national affiliates to defend Local 10.
After noting the huge cost of wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, a resolution mandated that the NWU rejoin U.S. Labor Against the War and promote the anti-war movement in the labor community. The final resolution supported the Ethnic Studies program in the Tucson Unified School District, which has been outlawed by Arizona HB 2281, and called on the UAW to file an amicus brief and engage in a broad national education campaign to save the ES program. Rudy Acuna, who wrote the textbook on which the ES program is based, was an honored guest at the DA, inspiring NWU members to fight censorship of his book and to oppose the racism driving it.
Several NWU members took part in a bank invasion and protest on June 11 at a branch of Bank of America during a UAW Region 9A conference in Hartford, Conn. Chanting “Banks got bailed out, we got sold out,” the unionists brought the wrath of the people about the bank bailout and predatory loans that have led to a tsunami of foreclosures to one of the main perpetrators of the housing crisis. Region 9A vowed to include such actions at all future events.
Davis has been a member of the National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981 for 24 years.