Bull Moose workers unionize / labor jeopardy / penalties for union busting!

IN THIS EDITION:

  • NH Bull Moose Workers Form Union with UFCW 1445
  • Build Back Better Bill Strengthens Workers' Rights & Cracks Down on Union Busting
  • Apprentices Learn New Skills & the Value of Being Part of a Union
  • Please Share This Video to Show Your Support for Maine Med Nurses
  • Join Us for Maine Labor Jeopardy with WMLC - Tues. Sept. 21
  • “State of the Unions“ Podcast Is Back

NH Bull Moose Workers Form Union with UFCW 1445

Retail workers at Bull Moose in Salem, New Hampshire  voted unanimously to unionize with UFCW Local 1445 on Tuesday. The union vote comes after Bull Moose fired workers in May 2021 for speaking out about COVID-19 safety risks on the job after the store removed its mask mandate. 

Customers and the local community stood with workers unjustly fired and Bull Moose responded to the backlash by offering to rehire the workers last June. Bull Moose workers also cited workplace harassment as one of the major reasons for unionizing with UFCW Local 1445 as they seek to improve working conditions and ensure their voices are heard.

“We believe nobody who works at Bull Moose should have to worry about being fired for simply requesting safety improvements and speaking out against mistreatment,” said Whitney Villers, a Bull Moose worker in Salem, in a press release. "All of us are working hard to care for ourselves, our families, and our customers. What we are asking of management is to help us feel safe at work. We all deserve to have a voice, be heard, and be treated with dignity and respect at work. We’re looking forward to seeing Bull Moose workers across New Hampshire and Maine come together and join us at the negotiating table as we secure a union contract that improves these jobs for all of us.”

The next step for the newly unionized Bull Moose workers will be to bargain for a first union contract with Bull Moose management. Bull Moose also has locations in Bangor, Waterville, Lewiston, Brunswick, South Portland, Windham, Scarborough, Sanford, Portsmouth and Keene New Hampshire.

Build Back Better bill Strengthens Workers Rights to Organize

The US House and Senate are working hard on a Build Back Better budget bill that contains key labor provisions that strengthen workers' right to organize and increase penalties for union busting.  

The proposed bill dramatically strengthens penalties for employer unfair labor practices:

  • Civil penalties of $50,000 per violation 
  • Civil penalties up to $100,000 per violation for violations that cause "serious economic harm to an employee"; and
  • These increased Unfair Labor Practice  (ULP) penalties can be assessed against individual corporate directors and officers.

The Build Back Better bill makes the following corporate union busting tactics Unfair Labor Practices subject to these increased penalties: 

  • Permanently replacing strikers;
  • Locking out workers; 
  • Requiring workers to attend anti-union captive audience meetings;
  • Misclassifying workers; 

These new prohibitions would be enforced as if they were existing unfair labor practices under the National Labor Relations Act. Enforcement would result in civil monetary penalties, rather than the current meaningless requirement for a person or company to cease and desist from the prohibited behavior. These proposed changes would be a key step in protecting workers' freedom to organize and adding meaningful costs for union busting. Employers would finally have to think twice before engaging in union busting activity.

The Build Back Better bill also the restores the tax deduction for union dues and eliminates the ability of businesses to write off anti-union expenses.

In addition, it would require companies receiving clean energy tax credits to implement labor standards on renewable energy projects. The Build Back Better bill proposal also includes funding for universal pre-K, two years of free community college, universal paid leave, an extension of the child tax credit and expansion of Medicare to cover dental, hearing and vision.

Please tell our congressional delegation to support all of these critical provisions in the final Build Back Better budget bill! You can reach them at the following links:

Senator Angus King

Senator Susan Collins

Congressman Jared Golden

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree

"We Take Care of Our People" — Apprentices Learn New Skills & the Value of Being Part of a Union

This month, first-year union apprentices in Maine are heading to the classroom to learn the basic educational foundation in their chosen career paths as well as what it means to be a part of a union. 

There are many different apprentice programs offered throughout the state. Some are run by companies and others through community colleges. However, only union apprenticeships are tuition free, cover all expenses, pay apprentices while they learn their trades and provide the protection of a collective bargaining agreement from day one. This means that these workers have a legal document that not only guarantees their wages, rights and benefits, but also ensures that the union will find them work when they get laid off.

“We don’t care how much your income is and we don’t care who you know,” explainedJen McKenna, training director for UA Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 716. “If you show up, go through our application process, you’re going to have the same equal opportunities as everybody else.”

Currently, there are eleven federally registered apprenticeship programs in the state, but the most active union programs are run by UA Plumbers and Pipefitters 716, IBEW (1253 & 567), Laborers 327, Carpenters 349, Sheetmetal Local 17 and Ironworkers 7. When workers enroll in a union apprenticeship, they enter a different workplace culture. Most of the new apprentices have never had anyone to advocate for their rights in the workplace before. When they enroll in the program, they are given all of the union’s governing documents and are asked to attend union meetings so they can better understand what it means to be in a union.

“We see them as a human beings,” said McKenna. “We have very high standards and we don’t let them get away with anything, but if someone is struggling in class, we don’t kick them out if they have a hard time. We’ve had folks with substance use disorders and have gone through trauma in their lives, but they just needed to push pause. They didn’t need to be kicked out of the program. We take care of our people.”

Currently, unions throughout Maine have about 100 openings for new apprentices each year, but that number is set to grow. Due to the efforts of Building Trades unions, the Legislature passed two Project Labor Agreements on affordable housing and renewable energy. This will create many more union jobs for workers in the building trades and will prove that if we want to get the job done right and create quality, family sustaining jobs for Mainers, union labor is the way to go!

Please Share This Video to Show Your Support for Maine Med Nurses

Nurses and their patients at Maine Medical Center have created a new video that you can share to support the nurses as they bargain for their first contract. The nurses voted to form a union last spring and have begun first contract bargaining. Please share this video on FacebookTwitter and Instagram to show your support! Maine State Nurses Association/National Nurses United nurses “know what we need and what our patients deserve!”

Join Us for Labor Jeopardy — Tuesday Sept. 21

How's your knowledge of labor issues, the labor movement and labor history? Join the Western Maine Labor Council on Tuesday, September 21 at 6pm for a virtual Labor Jeopardy! Register here for the Zoom link. See you there!

"State of the Unions Podcast” Is Back

After being on hiatus for over a year, the national AFL-CIO has brought back the “State of the Unions” podcast. Join co-hosts Carolyn Bobb and Tim Schlittner and their guests as they discuss the labor movement, politics, activism and the important issues that matter to working people.

Subscribe to the "State of the Unions" podcast on Google Play MusiciTunes, SpotifyStitcherTuneInand anywhere else you can find podcasts.