Alexandra Bradbury

For public-employee unions in Wisconsin, an open shop isn’t even the worst of it. The anti-union Act 10, which Governor Scott Walker forced through in 2011, mandated annual recertification votes and all but eliminated collective bargaining. Some unions gave up on staying certified at all—but not the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association. So far its 4,600 members include 69 percent of the district’s teachers and a narrow majority of educational assistants.

“I think the key is get to them as often as you can, early in their career,” says General President Scott Hoffman. At each new-hire orientation, a representative walks new hires through the benefits the union has won. A week later there’s another chance, at the training session for window clerks. “We ask who still hasn’t joined or had anybody talk to them,” Hoffman says. “Try to get as many bites at the apple as you can in the beginning.”

The key is collective action, says Steelworkers Local 675 Secretary-Treasurer Dave Campbell. His union represents 4,000 workers in California and Nevada, many of them at oil refineries where workers get a window of opportunity to drop their membership each time the contract comes up for renegotiation. In each refinery of 300-600 workers, the union maintains around 90 percent membership.

The Staples boycott is over, and the union won. The Postal Workers (APWU) announced January 5 that the Postal Service will terminate its deal with Staples, closing down the 540 “mini-post offices” inside stores by the end of February and nixing plans to expand them to all 1,600 locations.

The union fought for three years against the deal, which amounted to contracting out post office work to the low-wage, non-union office retailer.

For the first time in nearly two decades, reformers have won seats on the Teamsters’ international executive board—and come within a hair’s breadth of unseating the incumbent administration led by President James P. Hoffa.

At last, November’s election deadline is almost here—clinching a dramatic race that featured a nail-biter of a nomination contest, a raucous convention, and an email scandal. Few undecided voters are left. The candidates have painted starkly different visions for the future of jobs, health care, retirement, and democracy itself. Now the outcome depends on how effectively each side can turn out its votes.

Trump vs. Clinton? Nope—I’m talking about the battle for the top seats in the Teamsters union. Ballots hit the mail October 6, and the vote count begins November 14.

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