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A new union is born in the South

December 1, 2022 // USSW workers and staff are bullish on their new union, believing that its fusion of labor and human rights organizing will help them secure livable wages, stronger safety protections, control over their work schedules, and new respect for the African Americans and Latinos who make up the majority of their members. They are encouraged by the growing public approval for labor unions and the increase in worker protest during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially among essential or frontline workers. They are also building off of nine years of organizing through Raise Up — the Southern expression of the Fight for $15 and a Union and an affiliate of the sprawling Service Employees International Union. Raise Up veterans like Gas and Smalls, and the Durham, North Carolina-based Ieisha Franceis and Jamila Allen, will be critical to the USSW's success. Beginning in September 2020 and continuing over the next year, Franceis and Allen led three walkouts that forced their employer, Freddy's Frozen Custard and Steakburgers, to agree to their demands for raises, paid leave for employees in quarantine, and new sanitation procedures. Franceis was initially hesitant about striking, but she trusted the much younger and more soft-spoken Allen, who had been meeting with Raise Up organizers for a year and gently prodding her coworkers to take collective action.

United Auto Workers Appear to Rebuke Leaders in First Vote by Members

December 5, 2022 // Insurgent candidates showed strength, citing corruption scandals and calling for a tougher bargaining approach. The union president seems headed for a runoff. The first United Auto Workers election open to all members appears to have produced a wave of opposition to the established leadership, signaling the prospect of sweeping changes for a union tarnished by a series of corruption scandals. As the count neared completion on Friday, the current president, Ray Curry, was in a close contest with an insurgent challenger, Shawn Fain, with each getting slightly under 40 percent. The remaining votes were scattered among three dark-horse candidates. If those results are confirmed by a court-appointed monitor overseeing the count, Mr. Fain and Mr. Curry will head for a runoff election in January.

The National Labor Relations Board is trying to silence employer speech

December 5, 2022 // The NLRB recently filed a complaint against Andy Jassy, CEO of Amazon, claiming a statement he made on CNBC constituted an unfair labor practice. When asked about the ongoing campaign to unionize Amazon, Jassy said: “It’s employees’ choice whether or not they want to join a union. We happen to think they’re better off not doing so, for a couple of reasons at least. You know, first, at a place like Amazon that empowers employees, if they see something they can do better for customers or for themselves, they can go meet in a room, decide how [to] change it — and change it. That type of empowerment doesn’t happen when you have unions. It’s much more bureaucratic, it’s much slower. I also think people are better off having direct connections with their managers.”

Former union leader found guilty of fraud, other crimes

December 5, 2022 // Hawaii is the Aloha State, but union members of IBEW Local 1260 are not singing a happy tune: A jury found a former union leader guilty of fraud, money laundering, and embezzlement by misusing union dues. Brian Ahakuelo, a former union business manager and financial secretary, was found guilty of 68 charges to fund an extravagant and lavish lifestyle for himself and his family members. Marilyn Ahakuelo, Brian’s wife, was found guilty of 46 similar charges. Brian Ahakuelo placed five of his family members on union payroll, where each earned a six-figure salary, and used $80,000 in union dues to fund travel to Japan.

Apple Store Employees Chide Union in Rare Display of Pushback

December 6, 2022 // Employees sign petition asking not to be represented by group Apple Inc. retail employees pushed back on unionization efforts at a location in St. Louis, with staffers saying they don’t want to be represented by the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers, a labor group that recently attempted to organize the store.

New Poll Shows Strong Support for Michigan’s ‘Right-to-Work’ Law as 10th Anniversary Approaches

December 6, 2022 // An overwhelming majority of Michigan residents approve of the state’s right-to-work law in a new poll commissioned by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Next week will mark the 10-year anniversary of the law’s passage. Right-to-work has strong support across Republicans, Democrats, Independents, men, and women. The support held for every age group and in every region of Michigan. Union household supported the law by a nearly 2-to-1 margin (55% to 28%).

Featured Research

Mackinac Center For Public Policy

New Poll Shows Strong Support for Michigan’s ‘Right-to-Work’ Law as 10th Anniversary Approaches

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Judge tells Amazon: Stop retaliating against employees

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A new union is born in the South

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Most NEA-Alaska Spending Goes to Its Staff, Not Members