Union Busting Firm to Host Biden Inaugural Event – 1400 Grocery Workers to Strike in Bronx – Maine Nurses Face Union Busting

Biden campaigns outside of PA AFL-CIO


Greetings from the Burgh, where snow is on the forecast. 

Union Busting Law Firm to Sponsor Biden’s Homestate Inaugural Event

As part of Biden’s inauguration, his home states of Pennsylvania (his birth state where he grew up) and Delaware are hosting a series of online Inaugural Events. However, the events have drawn criticism when it was recently discovered they were sponsored by Ballard Spahr, a law firm specializing in union avoidance. 

The firm, Ballard Spahr, was paid more than a million dollars to successfully defeat a union election of graduate employees at the University of Pittsburgh. The union drive was defeated by a mere 37 votes in April of 2019 in an election. 

“Can anyone from @PADems explain why a law firm that specializes in ‘union avoidance’ (as per their own website) is sponsoring this event Anyone?????,” tweeted Allegheny County Councilwoman Bethany Hallam. 

Help Us Cover Creative Ways Labor is Fighting Back Against Trump Rioters

With many frontline workers at risk because of Trump rioters, unions are finding creative ways to fight back. 

The flight attendants union successfully pushed to get federal authorities to include Trump riots on the “Do Not Fly List.” 

The hotel workers union in DC is asking hotels to close during the inauguration and authorizing its members to go on safety strikes if they feel unsafe. 

Transit workers in DC are also threatening safety strikes if conditions are unsafe in the transit system during next week’s inauguration. 

We are working hard to cover this story so help us stay focused on reporting and not fundraising. 

Donate Today to Help Us Cover How Workers are Fighting Back Against Trumpism

Maine Medical Center Workers Face Union Busting 

Facing the threat of COVID, hundreds of workers at one of Maine’s largest hospitals are now unionizing. 

“By joining the union, they will have a voice to protect their patients and ensure that they continue to receive the high-quality care they deserve, especially during the pandemic,” said Maine State Nurses Association President Cokie Giles. 

However, the hospital is fighting back with misinformation that unionization could actually hurt the nurses. 

“There are no guarantees as to what a union can do for our nurses in terms of pay, benefits and working conditions. Nurses could be better off, worse off or stay the same. From our perspective, the union cannot provide the solutions for the challenges we face at MMC,” Maine Medical Center President Jeffrey Sanders wrote in a letter to nurses this week. 

For more, see WMTW. 

1,400 Grocery Workers Threaten to Strike in the Bronx. 

For the first time since 1986, 1,400 grocery workers employed by Hunts Point Produce Market are threatening to strike as the company refuses to give grocery workers, who make $30,000 to $40,000 annually, a $1 an hour raise. 

Workers at Hunts had threatened to strike in the past. However, given the sacrifices that many frontline workers have made with workers getting sick, workers feel that now things are different. 

“What makes this different is that we see our members showing up for the past 10 months, a testament to their strength,” Teamsters Local 202 President Daniel Kane said at a rally yesterday. “Everybody out here will stand out here until we get a little justice, until the eyes of the powerful and wealthy start realizing that workers matter, that regular everyday people matter.”

For more, head to WCBS880.

Why a Nationwide Truckers Strike Hasn’t Happened 

One group of workers who has not gone on strike in major numbers so far are the nation’s truckers. Despite the low pay, long hours, overworked days, and unsafe conditions, a nationwide trucker strike hasn’t materialized. Fleet Owner has the story:

The Teamsters in the 1960s, then led by Jimmy Hoffa, not only negotiated rates for their union members but, by default, other drivers as well. The union negotiated The National Master Freight Agreement which set wages and working conditions for truck drivers across the country. Driver pay and benefits were relatively high, solidly middle class, and were often bettered incrementally during subsequent negotiations as a nationwide driver strike was a formidable threat.  

This all changed largely due to industry deregulation. Drivers lost their negotiating power as fleets undercut each other to entice shippers to sign on. Ironically, many independent drivers sought deregulation because they wanted to enter new markets and wrangle for higher rates, but deregulation was not always to their benefit.

“I don’t think the outcomes were everything they had hoped, but that’s a strong example of where owner-operators were able to see the goal that they wanted realized, which was to deregulate the industry,” [Steve Viscelli, a former driver and sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania] said. said. “Again, for many of them, I don’t think it turned out anywhere near what they hoped, but they certainly played an important, at least symbolic role, in representing to Congress and the Carter administration the downsides of regulation for small-business truckers.”

For more, go to Fleet Owner. 

Prop 22 Already Have Devastating Effects in California 

Over the American Prospect, our friend Alex Sammons has a look at how the effects of Prop 22 are more devastating than imagined: 

Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash will benefit most from the new regime. But companies beyond the gig economy saw their opportunity to get in on the low-cost labor pool. In January, grocery giants Vons, Pavilions, and Albertsons announced that they’d be firing their full-time, benefits-receiving delivery staff, venerated just months ago as “essential workers,” and replacing them with subcontractors from DoorDash, which has secured a nationwide deal to take over the service. Only unionized staff was spared in the layoffs. That move is a startling sign of things to come, as companies realize that Prop 22 allows them to subcontract the same labor at a lower cost, making Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Postmates, and Grubhub look more like traditional staffing agencies than innovative, high-tech products.

Meanwhile, health care stipends provided under the new Prop 22–devised “benefits” program are proving to be a pittance. Uber has offered no more than $400 a month toward health insurance for drivers who hit maximum hours standards, a small percentage of the overall cost (the average premium for the lowest level of coverage on the ACA exchanges for a family is $1,041 per month). To even qualify for the full stipend, workers must already be the primary policyholder on an existing plan and put in at least 25 “engaged” hours per week, excluding time spent waiting for jobs or driving to and from them. It takes about 40 hours of work to clock 25 hours of engaged time, according to the aforementioned Berkeley Labor Center study. 

For more, go to the American Prospect. 

Alright, folks, that’s all for today. Keep sending story ideas, tips, comments, and criticism to [email protected]

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About the Author

Mike Elk
Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter and alumni of the Guardian. In addition to filing nearly 2,000 stories from 46 states, Elk traveled with Lula from Sáo Bernando do Campos all the way to the Oval Office in the White House. Credited by the Washington Post for being the first reporter to track the strike wave systematically, Elk started Payday Report using his NLRB settlement from being illegally fired for union organizing in 2015. He lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh and works frequently in Rio de Janeiro, where he attended college at PUC-Rio. He speaks both Portuguese and Pittsburghese fluently. His email is [email protected]

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