According to data from the Department of Labor (DOL), union membership fell to a new low in 2016. Union membership comprises 10.7 percent of the workforce, with the number of unionized workers decreasing by about 236,700. The number of workers covered by labor agreements also dropped to a new low of 12 percent in 2016, decreasing by 140,000. Meanwhile 14.6 percent of construction workers are in unions, up from 13.9 percent in 2016.
The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) withdrew its petition to represent professors at the University of Southern California’ (USC) Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. The faculty voted 127-113 in February 2016 against SEIU Local 721 representation, but the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ordered a second vote in April after finding a number of USC officials engaged in improper conduct during the election. Local 721 is still working to organize USC faculty members in other departments. Non-tenure-track faculty at USC’s Roski School of Art and Design voted to join the union in February.
The International Association of Machinists (IAM) is again seeking to represent some 2,850 Boeing Co. employees in North Charleston, S.C. IAM filed a similar representation petition in April 2015, which it later withdrew just five days before an election was scheduled to take place. Boeing South Carolina is a 265-acre campus that primarily has been responsible for assembling the rear fuselage of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner.
The Communication Workers of America (CWA) is going forward with plans to organize the retail banking industry, claiming support among 20,000 employees, including at U.S. Bank and Bank of America. The CWA says it is working on training bank employees as part of a campaign to give bankers a voice against sales policies requiring them to pitch unwanted financial products to customers.
Some 700 International Union of Electronic Workers (IUE)-represented employees at Momentive Performance Materials plants in Ohio and New York remain on strike after rejecting the company’s second contract proposal. In January, striking workers traveled by bus to the Saratoga, N.Y., home of the company’s chief executive officer, and passed out leaflets about the labor dispute to his neighbors. Momentive’s engineering team, experienced supervisors, and temporary replacement workers have replaced the workers during the strike. Contract sticking points include employee health, retiree, and leave benefits.
Approximately 320 Molson Coors workers, including producers, brewers, packagers, maintenance, and warehouse personnel, at the Carlingview Drive facility in Toronto, went on strike after their labor contract expired. The workers are represented by the Canadian Union of Brewery and General Workers Local 325.
International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT or Teamsters) Local 2010 initiated mass walkouts and a one-day strike at all 10 University of California (UC) campuses and facilities across the state. Some 12,000 administrative clerical support workers represented by the local, protested over alleged violations of state law and unfair labor practices, and in support of UCLA skilled trades workers on a five-day strike. In Los Angeles, protests and picket lines resulted in street closures around UCLA’s main campus and disrupted campus medical centers and administrative offices, including at UCLA Santa Monica Hospital and UCLA buildings at LAX and the Wilshire Center. Picketing and demonstrations also occurred at UC medical centers in San Diego and San Francisco. In addition, protesters demonstrated at UC Campuses in Santa Cruz, Berkeley, Irvine, Davis, Santa Barbara, and Riverside.
Following union-backed boycotts and an adverse NLRB ruling, the U.S. Postal Service agreed to curb a controversial arrangement allowing private employers to provide mail services at more than 500 Staples Inc. stores. The Postal Service’s largest union had mounted a three-year, multipronged campaign against the arrangement. After their victory against Staples, the American Postal Workers Union has released plans to boycott other major approved retailers.