Alexandra Bradbury

North Pole Elves Win Big with Escalating Strike


NEW: Listen to a wonderful radio version of this story (including additional quotes from Vixen), created by the good folks of Labor Radio on WORT in Madison, Wisconsin.

“Yes, Virginia, there is a S.A.N.T.A. clause!” shouted Elves, Reindeer, and Candy Stripers Local 1224 President Cindy Lou Who to whoops and cheers as North Pole workers celebrated their new contract, ending a two-month strike.

Record-Setting Strike Moves Kaiser the Old-Fashioned Way


Seventy-five thousand Kaiser Permanente health care workers struck October 4-6 in what was billed as the biggest health care strike in U.S. history.

It was also the first strike in decades by the SEIU-led Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions, the longtime standard-bearer for labor-management partnership. That partnership has frayed to the point of unraveling—though not for lack of interest on the union side. It’s Kaiser that has gotten mean.

The death of UPS driver Chris Begley, 57, who collapsed in August while making a delivery in 103-degree Texas heat, was no isolated incident.

Monitoring co-workers for signs of heat exhaustion has become a routine feature of the job, says fellow driver Seth Pacic, a shop steward in Begley’s union, Teamsters Local 767.

Pacic has learned to discern over the phone when a co-worker needs to find air conditioning ASAP—and when they’re deteriorating so badly that he should call paramedics and brave management’s wrath.

Lessons from Lively Picket Lines


The heat was scorching in Louisville, Kentucky, last Thursday. But what the windless day lacked in gusts, it made up in guts.

The union-made placards read: “United for a Strong Contract.” That resonated with auto workers at Ford who hadn’t been part of a contract rally for as long as anyone can remember.

And the picket line came alive when they broke away from the tedious repetition of “Who’s got the power? We’ve got the power!” and used their own chants.

Teamsters and Auto Workers Are Raising the Bar for Contract Campaigns


With reformers at the helm, the Teamsters and the Auto Workers (UAW) are raising the bar for contract campaigns.

At Labor Notes we often hear from frustrated members of unions that have nothing like a contract campaign—members play no role in setting the agenda or building the momentum to win. Union leaders agree not to “bargain in the press,” squandering any chance to attract public sympathy. Sometimes the rank and file doesn’t even hear what’s going on until a deal is done.

With just a week to go before the strike deadline, UPS and the Teamsters announced a tentative agreement July 25. There will be no strike on August 1.

It’s clear their strike threat paid off in a big way—to the tune of $30 billion, the union’s calculation of how much more UPS is spending on this contract than the last one.

The clock is ticking on the August 1 strike deadline of 340,000 UPS Teamsters. It would be the largest strike at a private employer in decades.

“People are actually paying attention,” said delivery driver Kioma Forero, a Local 804 shop steward in New York City. Customers along her route stop her to say, “I hope your negotiations go well.” The hosts are talking about it on Hot 97, the city’s top hip-hop station.