Sarah Hughes

Psychologists, social workers, therapists, and chemical dependency counselors are in the ninth week of an open-ended strike at Kaiser Permanente in Northern and Central California.

The 2,000 mental health care workers walked out August 15; their contract has been expired since September 2021. They’re members of the National Union of Healthcare Workers, which split from SEIU in 2010.

The Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health on June 24 overturned the Roe v. Wade precedent, erasing the constitutional right to an abortion.

Already for years, large parts of the U.S. have severely restricted abortion—especially hurting those least likely to have resources to travel for care, including poor, Black, indigenous, undocumented, and disabled people.

The U.S. has the highest maternal mortality rate of any wealthy country, and Black women are three times more likely to die from childbirth-related causes than white women.

Yes, Abortion Rights Are a Union Issue

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Abortion: it’s a topic unions shy away from. The logic is, why go there? You might alienate conservative workers who otherwise share your workplace concerns.

And it’s true, you might—though the issue is not as divisive as the GOP makes it out to be. A solid 61 percent of U.S. adults is pro-choice. Among those aged 18-29, it’s 74 percent.

It’s good to see unions begin to overcome this fear and take a stand—because, contrary to the narrative, abortion is a labor issue.

Must-see play for union leaders at Labor Notes!

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Waterwell, in association with Working Theater, present

7 Minutes

written by Stefano Massini
translated by Francesca Spedalieri
directed by Kristina Valada-Viars

"7 Minutes is an extraordinary play about the fear, anger, strength, and resilience of workers in a warehouse fighting against a concession. It touches on every aspect of those very difficult but detrimental conversations on the shop floor. It's a must see." -Anthony Rosario, Teamsters Local 804

VIDEO: What is Visual Strategy? Projecting Power in the Street

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Holding a union sign at a picket line or rally is a rite of passage for a fighting union. But how often do we stop to think about how we are using these moments of collective action to strengthen our sense of unity, pride, and power?

Labor Notes hosted the co-creators of Look Loud in a webinar filled with practical tips about how your union presents its message and power to the world, the joy of making beautiful and effective signage together, and how to stage rallies for maximum impact.

Last year’s longest-running strike came to an end in early January when nurses at St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts, overwhelmingly voted to ratify their new contract and return to work.

Nurses and mental health techs at a Tukwila, Washington, facility have won their safety strike after three and a half months on the picket line.

Sixty thousand film and television crew members are finally set to vote on tentative agreements announced in mid-October. Emboldened by the high turnout for their strike authorization vote, many members are continuing to speak out about the long hours and dangerous conditions they endure to produce profits for Netflix, Amazon, and Disney.

The union representing 60,000 film and television crew workers reached a tentative agreement with Hollywood producers October 16. The deal averted a first-ever national strike by the Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE), which was set to begin the next night—at least for the time being. The contracts will be voted on in the next several weeks.

At midnight on September 30, the national agreement expired between Kaiser Permanente and the Alliance of Healthcare Unions: 21 locals representing 52,000 workers. Now 35,000 of them have authorized strikes.

The heart of the conflict is a two-tier wage proposal, a rarity in health care. The company wants to create regional wage scales for everyone hired after 2022—meaning a giant cut in pay.

Kaiser isn’t hurting financially; last year it netted $6.4 billion, and it even returned $500 million in CARES Act funding to the federal government.

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