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January 26, 2020

On This Day in 1952
The federal minimum wage increased to 75¢ an hour.
- Voices of Labor

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Local and National News

Amports Teamsters approve new contract
Jan. 25, 2020 | Members employed at Amports overwhelmingly ratified on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020, a successor collective bargaining agreement providing wage increases, maintenance of Health & Welfare, and an enhanced vacation benefit according to seniority. The agreement has a four-year term. Amports is one of the largest auto processors in North America, handling vehicles for import and export at the Port of Baltimore. Local 355 represents more than 140 employees working in various classifications. Photos: Top, at the well-attended ratification meeting, members reviewed highlights of the committee-recommended tentative agreement before casting their secret ballot vote. Right, bargaining committee members (L-R) Daniel Stern, Sherry Mason, Danielle Barnes, and Dwayne Miles.

Update: Contract ratified at Penn Fibre; negotiations continue at Amports, others
Jan. 22, 2020 | Members at Penn Fibre approved in December a three-year contract that includes modest wage increases, improvements to the vacation allowance, and maintenance of Health & Welfare benefits. A new three-year agreement was ratified in December by members employed at Hallcon (formerly Renzenberger) providing significant wage increases, a signing bonus, cell phone and driver trainer pay, and language improvements that tighten up the employer’s notification obligation to the union. Negotiations continue for successor contracts at Amports; Baltimore Sun (pressmen); Piedmont Airlines and Transdev. Preparations for bargaining are underway at Allied Bindary, Bimbo Bakeries (Stroehmann’s), ALSCO, Airgas East, Contanda, Republic National Distribution Company, and State of Maryland.

Attention credit union members!
Jan. 21, 2020 | The Federal Credit Union located at the Baltimore offices will have a delayed opening Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020. The credit union will be open for business at 1 pm. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Tribune offering buyouts after hedge fund becomes largest shareholder
Jan. 15, 2020 | Tribune Publishing, the parent company of the Chicago Tribune, [the Baltimore Sun] and the struggling New York Daily News, is offering voluntary buyouts to [non-union] employees with eight or more years of service, it announced on Monday. “Although our digital successes provide good momentum, we continue to face industry-wide revenue challenges,” Tim Knight, president and CEO of Tribune Publishing, said in an email to employees at all nine Tribune newspapers. “Further, to reduce expenses and avoid turning to company-wide reductions of the workforce as a last resort, the company is offering this voluntary separation incentive plan to all eligible employees with eight or more years of company service.”  NY Post


Older news items are available at 355 News.

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How to Make Every Job A Good Union Job
Jan. 24, 2020 | OPINION | Our current system has profound shortcomings: First, worksite-by-worksite bargaining creates a major incentive for employers to fight unionization in order to avoid having to pay higher wages than their competitors. Second, it encourages corporations to outsource work to nonunion contractors or to classify employees as independent contractors. Third, it creates divisions between the lucky workers who belong to a union and those who do not, making it harder to win better conditions for all workers. A system that provides rights to all workers across a given sector, not just everyone at one worksite or one franchise, solves these problems. The many democracies that already have such a system have far greater collective bargaining coverage than the United States does. Not surprisingly, researchers have found that broad, sector-wide collective bargaining coverage tends to reduce economic inequality… BuzzFeed News
Overhaul US Labor Laws to Boost Workers’ Power, New Report Urges
Jan. 23, 2020 | U.S. LABOR | More than 70 scholars, union leaders, economists and activists called on Thursday for a far-reaching overhaul of American labor laws to vastly increase workers’ power on the job and in politics, recommending new laws to make unionizing easier and to elect worker representatives to corporate boards. The report argues strengthening labor unions and worker power represents the most effective strategy to combat America’s economic inequality and corporations’ sway over the economy and politics. “Today, the struggle to preserve democracy in the face of extreme wealth concentration is acute because we live in an historical moment when vast disparities of economic power have been translated into equally shocking disparities in political power,” says the report… The Guardian
House Revives Agenda After Impeachment Storm
Jan. 22, 2020 | LEGISLATION | House Democrats are preparing to turn the focus back to their policy agenda now that impeachment has moved over to the Senate… Democratic leaders are aiming for a vote before President’s Day on Feb. 17 on major legislation to strengthen union bargaining and to enact tougher penalties on employers that retaliate against workers seeking to unionize. The bill, called the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, would prohibit employers from making workers attend meetings meant to dissuade them… The Hill
Young Workers Key to a Resurgent Labor Movement
Jan. 21, 2020 | ACTIVISM | A decade that started with the worst recession in 75 years ended with a booming economy and record low unemployment rate. The “too big to fail” era also ushered in a new generation of workers far more progressive and activist than in the past. That’s a great thing for the labor movement. Certainly, young workers are concerned with the same issues that were the focus of those who came before them — fair wages for fair work, access to quality health care, and a stable pension that will enable a dignified retirement. But we are also more expansive in our approach fighting for workplace protections against harassment and discrimination, demanding LGBTQ+ rights, advocating for clean building practices and green investments that protect our environment and address climate change; and ensuring a healthy work-life balance for all employees… CommonWealth
Dr. King Understood the Power of Unions
Jan. 20, 2020 | ACTIVISM | In what would have been his 91st birthday, we celebrate the towering legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.—his moral force as a faith leader, his devotion to nonviolent resistance and, of course, the sacrifices he made to end legalized segregation in the South. But there is an often-overlooked aspect of his work: Dr. King was one of his era’s most fearsome champions of working people coming together to organize, build power and improve their lives. Here is how he put it in a speech to the Illinois AFL-CIO convention in October 1965: “The labor movement was the principal force that transformed misery and despair into hope and progress. Out of its bold struggles, economic and social reform gave birth to unemployment insurance, old age pensions, government relief for the destitute, and, above all, new wage levels that meant not mere survival but a tolerable life…” The Root
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