Like the famous refrain set to music by the Rolling Stones, the desired outcomes of collective bargaining are often unpredictable.
This week kicks off with lots of news related to the UAW in the headlines including workers out of work on strike during Thanksgiving, and a pair of union contracts that were narrowly approved by hourly workers at GM and Ford. Food for thought for workers considering union representation, including those from Volkswagen who will be voting in early December.
Workers at Ford Motor Company narrowly approved a new labor agreement over the weekend, according to the UAW in a Fox News report.
51.3 percent of production workers and 52.4 percent of skilled trades workers voted in favor of the new contract, after more than a week of voting that concluded at U.S. operations of Ford on Friday night.
Meanwhile, the contract between General Motors and the UAW which had been delayed over concerns related to terms and conditions of the contract governing Skilled Trades workers has been also been narrowly approved. It appears as though ratification became possible after the company and union agreed to defer some bargaining issues into the grievance process.
“The General Motors Co. was notified on Nov. 20 that the agreement has been ratified,” wrote UAW Vice President CIndy Estrada in a letter to union leadership.
There will be grievances filed related to issues that led a majority of skilled trades workers to vote no, but that will not delay the contract any longer.
“It has been mutually agreed that appeal cases involving grievances filed on or after the effective date of the 2015 National Labor Agreement will carry the ‘CC’ designation for purposes of identification,” Estrada stated in the letter.
Members of Members of United Auto Workers Local 833 have been on strike a week and are walking picket lines in the snow moving into the holiday week. Kohler employees are striking over a multitude of issues including wages, increasing health care costs, and a two-tier wage scale.
Last week, workers from fast food and restaurant employers went on strike along with workers from other industry sectors like health care, child care, and retail, conducting strikes and protests in 270 cities across America. This week, workers at IKEA and Kohler are on strike.
According to the Patriot Ledger, a small group of IKEA workers in Massachusetts engaged in a one day work stoppage, preventing deliveries to a retail location.
Overnight workers at IKEA went on strike early Monday morning, shutting down operations at the Stoughton store in an effort to make the furniture company recognize their fledgling union.
The one-day strike, in which workers refused to move new products from trucks into the store, was prompted after IKEA refused to recognize a public petition delivered by the workers stating that 75 percent of them had voted to join the United Food and Commercial Workers, the nation’s largest private sector union with 1.3 million members.
In Sheboygan, Wisconsin, employees at a Kohler plant voted to go on strike for the first time in over 30 years after rejecting a last, best and final offer from the company during collective bargaining.
The first labor strike at the Kohler Co. in more than three decades began Monday with huge crowds of employees and their supporters marching outside company headquarters after union members rejected the company’s “final” contract offer a day earlier.
Update: On day two of the Kohler strike, a judge issued a temporary order preventing strikers from interfering with traffic around the Kohler facility. Police were on site on day one to assist non-union employees in gaining access to the worksite.
Second update: According to a report on Yahoo News, some U.S. airport workers plan to strike Wednesday night at seven of the busiest U.S. hubs over what they say are bad wages and threats against unionizing. Some 2,000 plane cleaners, baggage handlers and other workers will strike at New York’s Kennedy and LaGuardia airports, as well as Newark Liberty, Chicago O’Hare, Boston, Philadelphia and Fort Lauderdale, according to an SEIU representative.