(This article first appeared in the January-February 2018 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)
International Unions Denounce T-Mobile for Union-Busting
During a UNI Global Union conference, a coalition of information technology and telecommunication workers from over a dozen nations unanimously denounced T-Mobile and its parent company, Deutsche Telekom, for suppressing workers’ attempts to form a union in the United States. Countries included Argentina, Mexico, Bermuda, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Nicaragua, Peru, Saint Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay and the United States.
UNI Global Union is an international union association based in Switzerland, representing more than 20 million workers from over 900 trade unions around the world – including the APWU. UNI’s goal is to preserve and expand rights for all workers, across all industries.
T-Mobile promotes an “atmosphere of fear at the workplace,” said the coalition, adding that the establishment of a company-controlled union is a violation of International Labor Organization conventions, as as well as a violation of the United Nations Global Compact.
“I was proud to present the resolution, which highlights the anti-worker atmosphere that members of T-Mobile Workers United deal with every day,” said Teresa Casertano, CWA Global Campaigns and Orga- nizing Coordinator and UNI Information and Communication Technology Service Americas President. “The conference delegates were surprised and quite shocked and indignant that workers [in the U.S.] would be subjected to such resistance to their fundamental rights.”
The coalition also put out a call for action by both T-Mobile CEO John Legere and Deutsche Telekom CEO Timotheus Höttges, demanding that they “respect T-Mobile employees' right to collective representation.”
Communication Workers of America (CWA), which represents T-Mobile workers in the U.S., has been fighting in courts since 2014 to secure collective bargaining rights and launched a campaign to build public support. For more information visit, tmobileworkersunited.org.
Iowa Public Unions Overwhelmingly Vote to Stay Union
In 2017, Iowa passed a law that requires all public-sector unions to vote to recertify before they begin contract negotiations. The local unions are also required to get 50 percent of all members in the bargaining unit to recertify, not just 50 percent of all votes cast. This meant that if an employee did not vote, it was counted as a “no.”
Despite the union-busting bill, 88 percent of public union workers voted to remain union. Out of all ballots counted, 28,448 people voted to stay union and only 624 voted against. Early results show that 436 of the 468 bargaining units have been recertified.
Farmworkers, led by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), are calling for a boycott of Wendy’s fast-food restaurants, due to their refusal to responsibly source food.
Wendy’s is the last of the five, major fast-food corporations in the country that refuses to join the Fair Food Program (FFP) – an organization that ensures humane wages and condition for workers. Wendy’s also stopped buying tomatoes from Florida and instead purchases them from Mexico, where workers face wage theft, child labor and even slavery without access to any protection.
Throughout the year, the Boycott Wendy’s crew has been protesting at locations across the country, often joined by local student and advocacy organizations.
“What we want [Wendy’s] to do first is to commit to paying a penny more per pound for tomatoes to raise wages that have been stagnant for farm workers,” Lupe Gonzalo, a tomato picker from Florida told The Cap Times. “And second, to commit to a human rights code of conduct in which workers have access to shade, water, [and] clean bathrooms.”
Delegates to the 2016 APWU National Convention passed a resolution to boycott Wendy’s until it joins the FFP. For more information, visit boycott-wendys.org.
British Postal Workers ‘Up For’ A Strike
In October, 89 percent of postal workers, employed by privatized Royal Mail, voted to go on strike later in the month. The courts prevented the strike – Royal Mail obtained a high court injunction – and contract mediation began. Since then, workers remain fired up.
In early November, the union rallied during a national day of action, “We Are the 89.1 Percent Day.” Members have also been holding regular “gate meetings” where they discuss mediation updates. Royal Mail continues to propose massive cuts to workers’ pensions and benefits – along with service standard cuts.
Doncaster Branch Secretary Steve West said members seemed “angrier” this time, compared to the last two contract fights. “We didn’t really have social media back then, so people now are much better informed – and they’re more up for it,” he explained.
Area distribution representative Bobby Ravenall recalled that during one meeting, the departing night shift joined the arriving early shift to hear mediation updates. “Everyone’s up for [the strike] and 100 percent behind the union,” he said.
Right-to-Work Law in Hands of Missouri Voters
The fate of Missouri’s Right-to-Work (RTW) legislation is now in the hands of voters. RTW laws are designed to cut through the unified front workers represent to management and weaken unions.
Missourians will be given a chance this upcoming election day to decide whether or not thestate should remain RTW. The Missouri Secretary of State’s Of- fices needed 140,000 signatures from registered voters to get an amendment on the ballot to undo the union-busting legislation, and 250,357 workers and supporters signed their name.
“This is proof positive that Missouri’s working people want to decide for themselves and not leave it to Gov. Eric Greitens and his legislature to force this upon us,” Heavy Construction Laborers Union Local 663 President and Business Manager Jason Mendenhall told local KY3 News. “This so-called ‘Right-to-Work’ legislation hurts families and communities. We should have the right to protect ourselves with our right to vote.”
Tim Bell, Business Manager of the Western Missouri and Kansas Laborers District Council added, “Just the name ‘Right-to-Work’ is a lie. Federal law already protects workers from being forced to join a union. This is just a cash-grab, trying to take money out of the pockets of working people in Missouri.”