News & Commentary

November 10, 2023

Greg Volynsky

Greg Volynsky is a student at Harvard Law School.

In Today’s News & Commentary: President Biden addresses autoworkers, Kaiser Permanente workers ratify contract, California farmworkers unionize, NYC cleaners prepare for strike, and Cornell graduate students unionize.

President Biden took off his blazer and pulled a red UAW t-shirt over his button-down in Belvidere, Illinois. Speaking to the autoworkers, the President touted the UAW’s success in negotiating with auto companies. Biden told the crowd “I want this type of contract for all auto workers and I have a feeling the UAW has a plan for that.”

Kaiser Permanente healthcare workers have ratified a new four-year contract following a significant strike. The strike began October 4, as Linh reported, and involved over 75,000 healthcare employees—making it the largest strike in U.S. healthcare history. The union reached a tentative agreement with the company on October 13th  (as I reported), and the deal has now been ratified, with almost all of the 85,000 union members voting in favor.

Farmworkers at a Stanislaus County tomato farm and packing company, DMB Packing, in California have successfully unionized under a new state law. The new law, effective as of May, allows workers to unionize using authorization cards. Just over half of the company’s 297 workers voted for union representation. DMB Packing is disputing the results​​​​​​.

As the real estate industry faces high vacancy rates and reduced property values, the New York Times reports that thousands of cleaning workers are prepared to fight against potential cuts to their healthcare benefits. On Thursday, the workers—part of 32BJ SEIU, a union that represents 20,000 commercial maintenance workers—gathered at demonstrations at several locations in New York City, appearing ready to strike for the first time in 27 years.

Cornell graduate students won their unionization election with a vote of 1,873 to 80, forming the Cornell Graduate Students United. This victory follows a failed attempt in 2017, when students voted 941 to 867 against unionizing. The shift marks the sharp trend towards unionization on college campuses.

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