by Rosalinda Aguirre
I come from two generations of Mexican immigrants who picked cotton, harvested hops and beets, and labored on the rail lines throughout the country. Through my parents’ work, I met men and women who toiled day after day in the fields for minimal wages and without health care. It was one of my first introductions to social inequality.
Continue reading OPINION: There Are No Shortcuts
by Guy Oron
Storyville Coffee baristas and bakers filed a petition to unionize on Feb. 17. If successful, the new union would represent a total of 14 workers at two locations: Pike Place Market and Queen Anne. In a public statement, the workers expressed their wishes to collectively negotiate a contract which would ensure a livable wage.
Continue reading Storyville Coffee Workers Are Unionizing to Fight for Better Pay
by Sally James
Nurses and other hospital-based workers joined union officials Dec. 13 to launch a lobbying effort aimed at creating minimum standards for staff numbers in hospitals.
In an emotional press conference by livestream, several workers shared their own experiences with covering gaps left by short staffing. There were staff shortages before the pandemic began, but the crucible of the outbreak made it worse. The project is called the Washington Safe and Healthy Campaign.
Continue reading Too Many Patients, Too Few Staff Members Create Unsafe Conditions, Unions Announce
by Meseret Amare
When I heard about a violent patient escaping and injuring 11 of my coworkers, including one who left the facility on a stretcher, I was terrified — but sadly, not surprised. As a mental health tech at a psychiatric hospital in Tukwila, we work with patients going through recovery at all stages — and sometimes, they can be volatile. My employer, Cascade Behavioral Health, rejected our request for trained security staff to help when crises like these arose. We were at risk — and had had enough.
Continue reading OPINION: Behavioral Health Workers Took On a Giant Corporation — and Won Big
by Alex Gallo-Brown
Last week, votes from the largest union election in recent American history — both in terms of the number of eligible workers and the media hype surrounding the campaign — were counted, and the results weren’t pretty if you’re a fan of workplace democracy, economic justice, or collective action. Only about 55% of the 5,800 eligible workers at the Amazon distribution center in Bessemer, Alabama, cast votes in an election that dragged on over the course of seven weeks. Of the 3,215 workers who did vote, only 738 chose to certify the union; 1,798 elected not to. Hundreds of additional ballots weren’t even counted, since they belonged to workers whose eligibility was contested and whose votes would not have changed the outcome, anyway.
It was a devastating outcome for organized labor, according to the national press, after weeks and months of optimism that the pro-union workers might succeed. For many who were on the outside, stories of insufficient bathroom breaks, erratic scheduling, low wages (relative to other warehouses in the area), and general job insecurity made the case for the union a slam dunk. That about 85% of the workers at Bessemer are Black and a majority women in an area of the country with a long history of civil rights struggle only added to the excitement. The workers would win in Bessemer and create a spark throughout the country, galvanizing low-wage workers everywhere to rise up and demand liberation from the conditions that have oppressed them. After decades of decline, labor unions in the U.S. would finally be reborn.
Continue reading OPINION: Loss in Bessemer Was the Beginning, Not the End, of Organizing Inside Amazon
by Guy Oron
On Friday, April 9, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced that the vote to form a union at the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama had failed. The historic campaign, which would have made the warehouse the first unionized Amazon workplace in the United States, lost by 738 votes in favor to 1,798 against, with an additional 505 ballots being challenged.
The result comes after several months of intense campaigning by both sides. Joining the pro-union side was a broad coalition of Democratic, labor, and progressive voices from across the country, including sitting president Joe Biden. However, the unionization drive was met with intense backlash from Amazon. The company was accused of employing a variety of union-busting tactics, including holding anti-union meetings during working hours, paying workers to quit so that they aren’t able to vote, and pressuring USPS to install a mailbox at the warehouse where voting could be monitored by Amazon officials.
Continue reading Local Workers and Labor Leaders React to Alabama Vote to Reject Amazon Union