Alexandra Bradbury

Bargaining between health care giant Kaiser Permanente and a new union alliance representing 38,000 of its employees has come down to the wire.

“Kaiser is playing hardball,” said Oregon Federation of Nurses and Health Practitioners President Adrienne Enghouse, a 21-year nurse.

The unions that split from the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions this year to form the Alliance of Health Care Unions have emphasized their commitment to continuing a friendly partnership with the employer.

The movement for a no vote keeps growing at UPS.

Each UPS local sent two leaders to the union’s “two-person meeting” August 9 to hear the international union’s sales pitch and decide whether to recommend the agreement to the 270,000 affected members.

It’s typically a rubber-stamping, but this time local leaders had a lot of questions and criticisms. In a voice vote, roughly a third voted against recommending the deal.

Missouri Voters Overwhelmingly Reject ‘Right to Work’

Unions in Missouri are declaring victory after voters shot down a Republican-backed “right-to-work” law by a hefty 2 to 1.

The final vote count was 937,241 against the legislation to 452,075 in favor.

Missouri became the 28th state with a right-to-work law on the books in February 2017, when Republican Governor Eric Greitens signed the law at a ceremony in an abandoned factory.

There are no flashy special effects in Tyler Binder’s 12-minute video, “Why the UPS 2018 contract sucks!”

No stirring soundtrack, no animation, no laugh track. It’s just him and his whiteboard, explaining in plain language how the tentative agreement would affect every group of workers.

But the video went viral. Just two weeks after he uploaded it, it had 90,000 views on Facebook and 50,000 on YouTube.

In negotiations over the nation’s largest union contract, a three-way battle is raging. UPS is demanding new givebacks, top Teamsters are offering them up, and rank and filers are organizing a grassroots network to push for better—and getting ready to vote down a bad deal, if necessary.

In February, Chief Negotiator Denis Taylor threw one opposition leader off the UPS bargaining committee; in May he kicked off three more. Their apparent crime was breaking the information “brownout” that keeps Teamsters in the dark about their own contract negotiations.

Update, June 27: As expected, today the Supreme Court ruled against the union in Janus v. AFSCME District 31, invalidating agency fees. This makes the whole public sector open-shop. Coming soon: the Labor Notes guide to organizing in open-shop America.

It’s Friday morning, and you’re starting another 12-hour shift in the bitter cold. At least you know the end is in sight, because tomorrow is Saturday and you’re almost to the 60-hour weekly limit.

That is, until your manager hits you with the news: UPS has decided to exploit a loophole in Department of Transportation regulations to allow 70-hour weeks. You’ll be working tomorrow after all.

If there’s one lesson labor can draw from the events of 2017, it’s this—to survive and grow in the face of a nationally coordinated employer offensive, we’ll have to use the attacks against us as organizing opportunities.

My Quarter-Million-Dollar Baby

Call her our $250,000 baby.

In July my uneventful pregnancy took a turn—I developed a serious condition called preeclampsia and had to deliver a month early. Paloma weighed less than five pounds at birth, and spent a week in neonatal intensive care.

She was one of the larger and healthier babies in the ward; I learned that a stint in baby intensive care isn’t unusual these days. I’m grateful to live in a time and place where babies and mothers can survive what Paloma and I did. A century ago we might not have been so lucky.

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