The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) conducted 1,377 representation elections in 2013, down slightly from 1,385 in 2012. The union win-rate also stayed essentially the same, with unions winning 882 of representation elections last year, up marginally from 877 wins the year before. In terms of volume, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (Teamsters) led all unions, participating in 351 representation elections in 2013. But, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) organized the most workers of any union, gaining 53,472 members in 2013. Teamsters organized the second most, with 7,179 workers, while the International Association of Machinists (IAM) was third with 3,560.
The SEIU is using a “top-down” strategy in an organizing campaign with the California Hospital Association (CHA), threatening to file a ballot initiative the CHA opposes if the CHA refuses to enter a neutrality agreement. Reportedly, provisions of the neutrality agreement proposed by the SEIU include a three-year deal with access to 60,000 non-union employees and the creation of a $100 million “joint advocacy fund.” The CHA has countered by offering a five-year deal with access to 50,000 workers and a $60 million contribution into the joint fund with the other $40 million coming from the union.
A majority of service contractors working at New York City airports signed “commitment cards” indicating support for SEIU representation. The cards are intended to send a message to employers, but have no legal impact. Of the 6,100 contractors targeted by the SEIU, 4,051 signed cards or are already members. Roughly 3,300 of the non-targeted employees are already members of another local or union. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the airports, supports higher wages and benefits for airport service contractors.
Employees at six New York City Verizon Wireless stores voted 39-19 for representation by the Communications Workers of America (CWA). These employees are the first of Verizon Wireless’s 40,000 hourly employees to unionize. The CWA and Verizon previously had a card check agreement between 2000 and 2004, but all organizing efforts during that period failed.
Adjunct faculty at Northeastern University voted 323-286 in favor of representation by the SEIU. The 932-member bargaining unit victory is the third SEIU win among adjunct faculty at Boston-area colleges in the last seven months. The union now represents roughly 21,000 adjunct faculty members nationwide.
Adjunct instructors at the San Francisco Art Institute also voted (124-35) to be represented by the SEIU, following the example of 138 instructors at Mills College in Oakland, Calif. The SEIU and instructors at Mills College are preparing to begin negotiating their first bargaining agreement, and the instructors at the San Francisco Art Institute will next elect a bargaining team and conduct a bargaining survey to determine contract priorities. At the Art Institute, an adjunct’s starting salary is capped at $22,000 annually, and salary increases are discretionary.
Drivers for Uber, an app-based transportation service, have formed the App-Based Drivers Association and affiliated with the Teamsters. The Seattle group also elected a leadership council of seven members, which will meet to establish a mission statement and organizational goals. A Teamsters spokesperson said that the independent contractor drivers were unhappy with Uber’s compensation system, failure to pay for sufficient liability insurance, and alleged failure to follow laws and regulations. Drivers were also concerned with Uber’s practice of ending driver partnerships with no warning or appeal process.
An NLRB regional director determined that resident physicians at New York’s Beth Israel Medical Center were employees, clearing the way for a Committee of Interns and Residents (an affiliate of SEIU) representation election among 410 interns, residents, chief residents, and fellows in the proposed bargaining unit. In reaching this decision, the regional director distinguished the residents from graduate students whose work is a required part of their degree, and rejected the hospital’s contention that modern residents are “learners who perform less actual patient care.”