WASHINGTON – Workers across the country have stood up in the past month to fight for better wages and working conditions.
More Americans are backing worker efforts to speak out: According to a new Gallup poll released last week, nearly 6 in 10 Americans stated they approve of labor unions. Efforts by working people to rally around issues ranging from raising wages to improved access to collective bargaining have led to the highest approval rating since 2008. In addition, millennials reported being more pro-union than any other age group, while the number of respondents who want workers to have more influence in public debate has risen 12 points since 2009.
Online newsmakers make news with organizing wins: The last month has seen significant wins for reporters, especially those whose work is primarily focused online. From The Guardian’s United States based staff, to writers for online giants Gawker, Vice, and Salon, writers have pointed to a greater voice in the workplace, raising wages, and increased benefits as reasons for forming unions.
Hoosier workers win first contract battle: Earlier this month, workers at the Bloomingfoods Co-op, a co-op grocery store chain in Bloomington, IN ratified their first union contract as members of UFCW Local 700. The approximately 250 workers across the co-op’s five stores pointed to raising wages and a fair process for resolving workplace issues as big wins for their first contract.
Department of Energy workers win 2 ½ year contract fight: After nearly three years of negotiations, workers for Battelle, a contractor which operates the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Washington State, have agreed on a new contract. The members of the Hanford Atomic Metal Trades Council have cited raising wages and strong benefits as significant victories from the contract.
Sweet home raising wages: Last week, the Birmingham, Alabama City Council passed an ordinance to increase the city’s minimum wage to $10.10 over the next two years. Alabama does not have a state minimum wage, and instead uses the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.
North Carolina City approves significant raising wages victory: By an overwhelming margin, the Greensboro, NC City Council voted to raise wages for city employees, citing a high percentage of working people living below the poverty line. The council’s decision will raise wages to $15 by 2020 for city employees, and will begin with an initial wage hike to $10 an hour for regular employees and $12 for employees who receive benefits.
Working people score major sick leave win in Pittsburgh: Earlier this month, working people rallied the Pittsburgh City Council to pass sweeping new paid sick leave legislation. The bill, which passed by an overwhelming margin, requires employers with 15 employees or more to provide as much as 40 hours of paid sick leave per year, while smaller companies must provide up to 24 hours per year.