• AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, UNITE HERE President John Wilhelm, and approximately 100 other protestors were arrested while blocking the main entrance to the Hilton San Francisco Union Square Hotel as hundreds of other union members and supporters closed down the street during evening rush hour. The protest was held in an effort to bring national attention to contract negotiations taking place around the country for more than 50,000 hotel workers. Contracts covering thousands of UNITE HERE members expired in August 2009 in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago and remain unsettled. Health care benefits have dominated the negotiations between the union and Hilton.
  • The Association of Flight Attendants planned a January 7 picket of United Airlines operations at 17 different airports around the globe in an effort to draw attention to stalled contract negotiations with the Chicago-based airline. Negotiations between the parties commenced in April 2009. At the request of both sides, federal mediators stepped in to assist in August 2009. In announcing the protest, AFA emphasized that its frustration with United dates back to 2005 when flight attendants were forced to accept a 9.5 percent hourly wage reduction and the loss of other benefits as part of United’s post-bankruptcy reorganization.
  • According to participants in a panel discussion hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, organized labor is increasingly turning to corporate campaigns that attack a company’s reputation as a means to achieve union goals. Panelists explained that such campaigns are frequently used by the Service Employees International Union and have proven to be highly effective in industries that rely heavily on their reputations—e.g., employers in the health care industry and hotels. Typical corporate campaigns include coalition building with religious and other groups, public relations efforts, allegations of safety and health violations or wage and hour violations, as well as consumer boycotts and shareholder actions.
  • In an effort to settle a longstanding labor dispute between Grain Processing Corporation and UFCW 86D, Iowa Governor Chester Culver has ordered the parties to participate in nonbinding arbitration pursuant to Iowa Code § 679B.1. Grain Processing Corp. subsequently filed suit in federal court seeking relief in the form of preliminary and permanent injunctions arguing that the governor’s intervention is preempted by the National Labor Relations Act. A hearing has been set for February 12, 2010 on Grain Processing Corp’s motion for a preliminary injunction.
  • James P. Hoffa, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and Bob King, vice president of the United Auto Workers, led a rally of labor, environmental, and consumer groups outside the Embassy of Japan to appeal to the Japanese government for intervention in Toyota Motor Corp’s decision to close its manufacturing plant in Fremont, California. The rally was held in response to Toyota’s announcement in August 2009 that it would close the plant by March 2010. The plant employs approximately 5,440 workers and indirectly employs 35,000 Californians through 1,181 suppliers.