Baltimore-area Apple and Starbucks workers have led the way in nation and state forming unions. Now what? – Baltimore Sun – Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimore, Maryland 2022-06-29 06:00:00 –

Workers at Towson’s Apple Store won national attention and admiration from President Joe Biden after being the first to unite among US employees of the tech giant. In less than two months, Starbucks baristas in Baltimore’s Mount Vernon district became the first organization of coffee chain employees in Maryland.

Now the difficult part is coming. Workers are one of what union organizers consider to be a resurgence of the labor movement, but most of these campaigns are in their infancy and labor professionals have difficulty with the process of leaning in favor of employers. I warn you that you are facing.

“Labor law is not intended to promote the labor movement,” said Michael C. Duff, a law professor at the University of Wyoming’s Faculty of Law and a former government labor litigation officer at the National Labor Relations Commission. “There are many defenses available to employers.”

Some say the union’s efforts have become stronger as workers have been encouraged to become independent in the pandemic-related labor shortages. US workers have launched campaigns in recent months at Apple, Amazon, Starbucks, Google’s parent company Alphabet, and retailer REI. They have expressed concerns about wages, health and safety, and schedules, while seeking more say in workplace policies.

“A union for survival is one that can maintain employee interest, engage and inspire for a long time,” Duff said.

According to Duff, employers have many ways to challenge elections and file administrative appeals, which can delay the process or bring issues to court for extended periods of time.

For example, an employer can oppose a particular category of workers included in a bargaining unit. An employer who believes he has accidentally lost his appeal can simply refuse to negotiate and may send the proceedings to court. If negotiations are stagnant for more than a year, the employer can file a “decertification” petition if it can prove that most workers no longer want a representative. Employers can also switch to an independent contractor or close the location.

And it can be difficult for trade unions to prove that the employer’s next move is related to anti-union sentiment, Duff said.

When he discusses the latest news with labor law students each year, Duff tells them, “Please come back a year later, and if this is still going on, you have something.”

Employees of just three US corporate stores, including one in Apple’s Towson Town Center store, Atlanta, and one in New York, have announced plans to form a union.

Tawson’s Apple Workers joined the International Association of Mechanics and Aerospace Workers on June 18, with 65-33 votes.Employees gathered in the mall’s parking lot when the results were announced later that day. Cheers went up.

“It’s great to be the first Apple store to form a union in the country,” said employee Tijuana Dagger on Saturday. Get what you deserve. “

Biden told reporters in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware on June 20 that he was “proud” of Apple’s workers.

“Workers have the right to decide under what conditions they work or not,” he said.

But so far, Atlanta Apple Store workers have lost the fight. The Communications Workers of America, which they tried to join, withdrew the request for elections at the store.

The union said a fair election was “impossible” because Apple repeatedly violated the National Labor Relations Act. The union, which has charged the Labor Relations Commission, complained that Apple had spent tens of thousands of dollars on a “union avoidance” law firm in a campaign to intimidate and interfere with union representatives.

An Apple spokesman declined to comment on these claims and the Towson store vote.

The Organizing Committee has told workers in the Atlanta location that it plans to “reset” and work with other stores to “help them really prepare to come their way.” rice field. … this time is not our time. “

Amazon employees also face setbacks early on. Workers at the Amazon Warehouse in Staten Island, New York became the first in the history of a company that joined the Amazon Trade Union in a vote on April 1.

However, efforts to organize a second package sorting center on Staten Island were inadequate in late May. According to Labor Relations Commission filings and employee interviews with the Washington Post, the company fired and otherwise pushed back the workers involved in the organization.

In Maryland, two Amazon workers supported by a labor group called Amazonians United They were alleged in NLRB filing that they were torted from the facility After collecting petition signatures and encouraging workers to participate in the March strike in Upper Marlboro, Prince George’s County.

Amazon spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said the claim had no merit, and that employee support for the cause or group “did not take into account the difficult decision to let go of someone.” Added. According to Nantel, Amazon fired one of Maryland’s workers for theft and another for theft of time.

Seth Goldstein, an Amazon trade union lawyer, said on June 23 that Amazon has been challenging Staten Island workers’ votes for weeks to delay certification.

Nantel argued that Amazon opposed it because the union “suppressed and influenced the vote.”

However, Goldstein argued that: It’s not about the merits of the case. … the law shouldn’t be this complicated. You should not work in your employer’s favor. “

A NLRB spokeswoman said Towson’s Apple Store election party would challenge within five business days. If nothing is submitted, the board must approve the results and the employer must initiate negotiations with the union in good faith.

In Towson, the next step in the mechanic union involves being nominated and electing a committee to represent the workers, said David Di Maria, the union organizer of the Apple Store.

The committee will conduct a negotiation investigation and draft a proposal to offer to the company. According to Di Maria, topics are likely to include professional development, health and safety, and wages in general, especially in light of rising inflation.

“Employees love the company and their jobs and want room for growth,” Di Maria said. The timing of her proposal depends on what the priorities are. Is it a basic word, or are you trying to propose something that has never been done before?

Since last year, the union movement has spread at Starbucks cafes nationwide. April, Workers at North Charles Street Coffee Shop in Midtown With a 14-0 vote, we unanimously participated in Workers United, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union.

In front of NLRB, Starbucks argued that it was inappropriate to have a bargaining unit in a single store rather than a collection of stores in the district. After voting for Midtown Cafe, the company said in a statement that it would respect workers’ right to organize and follow the NLRB process, but still oppose the move to unions.

A Starbucks spokeswoman said in an email, “I’m learning from partners in these stores, as I always do across the country.” “From the beginning, we have the belief that it is better to be together as a partner, there is no unity between us, and our belief has not changed.”

Since then, Starbucks at Linshikham Heights has voted in favor of forming a union and has been certified. Nottingham; Olney in Montgomery County and Stevensville in Queen Anne’s County said Rebecca Hess, director of the Mid-Atlantic Workers’ Union. Belair’s Starbucks workers also voted for organization, but Starbucks has challenged the NLRB’s ballot counting process.

Authorized stores in Maryland and Virginia are preparing for the next step in the proposed proposal to Starbucks, Hess said. They review the company’s benefits package and work to maintain what they like, and “there’s a lot they like.” She said they hope to keep their promises, such as raising it to $ 15 an hour this summer.

“This doesn’t mean they’re angry with Starbucks,” Hess said. Before expanding, “I want Starbucks to return to its former responsible employer,” he decided to “commercialize what was once a good idea.”

Midtown Starbucks workers said They found themselves under pressure to run out of supplies, run out of staff on shifts, and be late or late when sick. To make matters worse, many were aware that the company had dismissed their concerns.

Nationally, 187 of the nearly 9,000 Starbucks stores have been elected to form unions, but no contracts have been signed yet.

Although contracts are still likely to be negotiated on a store-by-store basis, Hess said members are developing a national negotiation strategy with a national committee of local store representatives.

“To do this, everyone needs to stick together,” Hess said.

Duff, a professor of labor law, said the success of such a campaign depends on workers feeling “everyone is desperate.”

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“I think what desperate workers are feeling right now is that they are more likely to stay in the workplace and fight,” Duff said, especially as inflation erodes purchasing power.

He said work suspensions were on the rise before the pandemic and that health and economic crises exacerbated worker dissatisfaction.

“If an employer needs a worker, the worker has more bargaining power, which is the position the union wants,” Duff said.

Hess sees the Apple and Amazon campaigns as a boost to the Starbucks workers’ battle, and believes that the wave of organization is just the “tip of the iceberg.” During the pandemic shutdown, it became clear to workers that employers made money solely from frontline workers.

“Workers trying to confront the United States of America are a boost for everyone,” Hess said. “People who have never thought about organizing are reaching out …. We have been waiting for this day for decades.”

And she said young workers were leading the prosecution.

“They have nothing to lose, they have everything to gain,” she said.

Baltimore-area Apple and Starbucks workers have led the way in nation and state forming unions. Now what? – Baltimore Sun Source link Baltimore-area Apple and Starbucks workers have led the way in nation and state forming unions. Now what? – Baltimore Sun

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