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Strike Over as Brooklyn Car Wash Workers Win Landmark Pact

Adapted from RWDSU

526f36a552fdfafdb689b5b78b27b704_0_500_0After a more than four-months on strike during the coldest winter in recent memory,  ‘carwasheros’ at Vegas Auto Spa in Brooklyn, New York, have won a landmark contract agreement that includes wage hikes, strong worker protections and a $1,500-per-person signing bonus.

The owner also agreed to settle a suit the workers filed for wage and hour violations. The men will return to work on Monday.

“This is a perfect example of what can happen when courageous workers stick together in the face of adversity,” said RWDSU President and UFCW Executive Vice President Stuart Appelbaum.

“These brave carwasheros spent four months on the picket line, without an income, in a very cold winter. They understand the difference being in a union can make, and I am proud they are part of the RWDSU,” Appelbaum added.

The contract is the 9th in the car wash industry negotiated since the Wash New York Campaign – a collaboration of New York Communities for Change, Make the Road New York and supported by the RWDSU – launched three years ago. It is also the first contract at a Brooklyn car wash.

The two-year agreement includes two wage increases, paid time off, fair sharing of hours and overtime, a grievance procedure and  protection for immigrant workers. It is the strongest contract won in the industry with higher wages, more paid time off and the $1,500 signing bonus.

The agreement came a month after ‘carwasheros’ from across the city, joined by hundreds of  labor leaders, elected officials, advocates and community supporters staged a major march and protest at the car wash at 19th St. and 7th Ave. UFCW International President Marc Perrone and and Appelbaum were arrested at the protest as they showed their support of the rights of these workers. Read more here.

 

UFCW Local 655 Hosts Diversity Training for Local Leaders

UFCW Local 655 members and staff in Saint Louis, Mo., attended the first Equity and Inclusion Diversity Leadership Training put together by the UFCW Civil Rights and Community Action Department. Over the course of two and a half days, about a dozen UFCW Local 655 leaders from a variety of backgrounds participated in the first session of the three-part diversity training series. The training was developed to help increase staff and members’ knowledge and awareness of diversity issues and elevate the importance of inclusiveness in local unions. The program focuses on local union leaders developing cultural competence with a new set of attitudes, skills, and behaviors in order to have themselves and their organizations work effectively in cross-cultural situations and workplace diversity. Ultimately, the trainings are designed to empower participants to take action and help steer their local union to develop and promote organizational equity and focus on fairness in order to create change in a local union’s culture.

“Stepping outside of my comfort zone may be uncomfortable, but it can be a stepping stone for my future responsibilities as a leader in my local union. Thanks to the diversity training, I am ready to go back to work and start taking action to build relationships with other members to empower us to stand united for justice and equality in our union and in our communities,” said UFCW Local 655 member Amy Nichols.

UFCW Local 655 hosted their diversity training for local union leaders in response to the recent events in Ferguson, Mo., and the impact that the Ferguson events have had on the labor movement in the state. The first session in the diversity training is titled “Why Diversity Matters.” During this session, participants were involved in an open dialogue about the origin of racism, and the history of racial inequality and its roots in economic injustice. They examined different identities and how they relate to people in the workplace and society. Participants discussed the ways people experience or observe different forms of discrimination at work and in the community. They also learned about what being an ally and having solidarity means in a labor context.

“We need to have the difficult conversations with our coworkers, members, and the community about why this fight for equality is so important. We need to take the conversations from the trainings out to our workplaces and communities if we want to start taking real action to create change and an environment of inclusiveness,” said UFCW Local 655 staffer Theresa Hester.

During the first session, participants were later joined by young activists from Missouri, who are fighting for social and economic justice in Ferguson and throughout the state. Participants will follow up the training with recruiting members and coworkers for the April 15 Workers’ Day of Action activities.

“In today’s America where we are more diverse as a country than ever, it is incumbent on current labor to develop future leaders that act and look like our society. If our current labor leaders do not provide the needed training to a young diverse workforce our labor leaders tomorrow will not reflect the make-up of our society. On a broader spectrum, I would hope all leaders not just labor leaders would be training for a more diverse leadership team in the future. I believe the best possibility to end the wealth disparity in America is to have diverse leaders in the future and the only way to achieve this is to provide leadership training today to a diverse group of workers,” said UFCW Local 655 President Dave Cook.

“The training for new UFCW leaders is critical at this juncture of the union movement. Union leaders will need to have new skills to recruit and engage members in a changing workforce demographic. I’m encouraged to see union leaders such as UFCW Local 655 President Dave Cook, taking the initiative to embrace this challenge of diversity and racial equity and getting leaders in the local involved. Unions must take on the dual fight against the various “isms” both inside and outside the union. Unions are a critical part of the social justice movement that’s building power for all workers,” said Jamala Rogers, one of the diversity program trainers, a retired teacher and member of AFT.

UFCW Local 655 will complete the other two parts of the diversity program in the coming months. The second session will be “Race and Politics,” which will take place in July, and the third session “New Generation Diversity: I Am Today’s Leader,” will take place in November.

To see some great discussion and other highlights from this training session, click here.

To learn more about the diversity trainings and hosting a training at your local, contact the UFCW Civil Rights and Community Action Department at civilrights@ufcw.org.

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Nursing Assistants Unionize at Allegro Nursing Home

Vote Overwhelmingly to Join UFCW Local 1625

10982598_10150710991049945_4629064203368727338_oSt. Petersburg, Fla. — Last night, Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) at the Allegro Nursing Home in St. Petersburg, Fla., voted ‘Union Yes’ to join the 7,000 members of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Union Local 1625. Thirty CNAs on staff came together to form a union in order to improve working conditions at Allegro.

“I am so proud of my team today. We stood up to management’s efforts to intimidate and divide us, and together, we won,” said Eleanor Mitchell, CNA, who has worked for Allegro for 25 years. “With a union, we now have the power to shape a better future at Allegro.”

An election overseen by the National Labor Relations Board showed strong support for a union, with more than 90 percent of votes returned in favor of the union.

“The courage shown by these workers is extraordinary. These Certified Nursing Assistants are standing up for the dignity of all workers in the caretaking professions,” said Ed Chambers, President of UFCW Local 1625 headquartered in Lakeland, Fla.

The 30 CNAs were able to form a unit made up of a single job classification following a 2011 decision by the National Labor Relations Board in Specialty Healthcare and Rehabilitation of Mobile. This decision permitted CNAs to form union bargaining units by ruling that CNAs as “readily identifiable as a group” and as sharing a “community of interest.”

The workers will now begin negotiating with Allegro for their first union contract and seek to establish a more fair and transparent schedule for raises and better working conditions.

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Join the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) online at www.ufcw.org

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