Labor Notes #492

Following is an edited excerpt from Democratic Rights for Union Members: A Guide to Internal Union Democracy (available for $12 at, by the founder of the Association for Union Democracy. First published in 1979, this book remains as relevant as ever for those who are trying to reform their unions.

Bernie Sanders addressing a UPTE picket line in 2019.

For 2020, our local’s executive board set out to construct a more democratic and participatory endorsement process than we had ever had before.

First, a little background. University Professional and Technical Employees (UPTE-CWA Local 9119) is a statewide local representing more than 15,000 employees spread over 600 miles. Members work at 10 University of California campuses, three Department of Energy laboratories, and three community colleges.

Commercial office janitors, retail janitors, security officers, window cleaners, and airport workers march through the downtown Minneapolis skyway, carrying a banner that reads "Fighting Today for a Better Tomorrow," as part of SEIU Local 26's contract campaign.

Update: Local 26 announced today that it will call a one-day strike next week by its 4,000 members who clean commercial office buildings. Earlier this week, the union reached a tentative agreement on a four-year contract covering 2,000 security officers, with raises of 14 percent.—Eds.

“Twin Cities janitors and security officers vote to authorize strike over pay and sick leave,” read the headline in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Last June at the House Ways and Means Committee Hearing on Medicare for All, Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas lamented, “That great health care plan that your union negotiated for you? It’s gone. Banned under Medicare for All.”

A right-wing congressman with a 7 percent lifetime voting score from the AFL-CIO crying crocodile tears for union health care plans can easily be dismissed as just another absurdity of America’s political dysfunction.

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