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Via The Union Strong Blog: Labor 2016 -The Year in Review

Published Monday, January 16, 2017
by The Union Strong Blog

Looking back at the year that was, here’s a rundown of some of the major Labor events that occurred in 2016 from across the United States:

Scalia’s Death Ends Friedrichs Threat: In a case known as Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Association, the U.S. Supreme Court was getting ready to impose so-called Right-To-Work (for less) status on all Public Employees in the United States - making dues strictly voluntary and thus weakening Unions considerably.  But the death of conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in February resulted in a 4-4 deadlock on the case.  However, this threat to Labor Unions could return if a similar case is filed after another Anti-Union justice is appointed.

Unions Count Verizon Strike As A Win: America’s biggest Strike in four years took place in April and May as 39,000 Members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) struck Verizon’s East Coast land-line operations rather than accept contract concessions at the highly-profitable company.  The Strike ended after 45 days with a deal brokered by U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez on terms the Unions called “a win,” including 10.5% raises over four years and protections against outsourcing of call center jobs.

Clinton Loses In The Electoral College: In the general election, Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Clinton had the support of nearly every Labor Union in the U.S. and she won nearly three million more votes more than Donald Trump - but she lost where it mattered: The Electoral College, thanks to narrow Trump wins in the States of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Trade Deal Is ‘Dead At Last:’ For the first time since NAFTA, a corporate-written trade deal died on the vine.  The 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was one of Obama’s top priorities, but broad public hostility to the deal - and the defection of some Republicans over industry concerns - prevented ratification in Congress.  And - Trump’s election sealed its fate.

Top Legislative Win - Minimum Wage: With Unions prepared to put Minimum Wage increases on the ballot, the Oregon Legislature stepped up to do the job and put the Minimum Wage on track to $12.50 to $14.75 by 2022, depending on the region.  That amounts to an hourly raise of $3.25 to $5.50 an hour for hundreds of thousands of Oregon Workers.

Biggest Ballot Defeat: Measure 97: Despite $16 million in Local and National Union Money, a proposal to raise taxes on the biggest corporations doing business in Oregon was rejected by voters.  As a result, instead of new investment in schools, health care and senior services, the state of Oregon faces a budget shortfall next year, once again.

Some Of The Biggest Union Organizing Wins Across The U.S.: 886 Support Workers at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center joined the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).; 793 Penn State University Grad Students joined AFT/AAUP; 310 Hospital Technicians at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center joined AFT; 165 Workers at Boeing paint contractor Commercial Aircraft Painting Services joined the International Association of Machinists (IAM); 80 DirecTV Workers joined CWA Local 7906; and 61 Alcohol and Drug Treatment Workers at Volunteers of America joined the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME).

Berry Boycott Ends With Union Deal: A three-year Union Boycott against Sakuma and Driscoll berries ended in September, when Skagit Valley Agri-Giant Sakuma Berries agreed to allow a Union Election and recognize and bargain a contract with the Farm Workers Union.

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