Cleaners ready to strike
Thousands of New York City office cleaners and commercial building workers voted December 1 to authorize their bargaining committee to call a strike if necessary. Failure to reach a new contract by January 1 could trigger a strike of 22,000 office cleaners at over 1,500 commercial office buildings citywide.
“The real estate industry’s demands to roll back the wage and benefit standards of lower middle- class workers are unacceptable,” said Mike Fishman, President of SEIU 32BJ. “Today’s strike vote shows we are determined to keep our city a place that working families can afford to call home.”
The union is resisting management’s two-tier wage and benefit plan for new hires that would create a lower rung of workers. Management’s push for concessions comes at at time when business is good for the commercial real estate industry, which is seeing its highest sales since the boom years of 2006 and 2007.
After taking their strike vote, workers from Local 32BJ joined thousands of fellow unionists in a march for economic justice convened by the New York City Central Labor Council.
Wisconsin governor faces recall drive
The drive to oust Wisconsin’s union-busting Governor Scott Walker continues to gain momentum. The governor’s opponents began circulating recall petitions on Nov. 15 and within 12 days had collected more than 300,000 signatures. Under Wisconsin law, they must gather 540,000 legally valid signatures within a 60-day period in order to force a recall election. Walker took office in January 2011 and quickly angered many Wisconsinites with his assault on the collective bargaining rights of most public employees in the state, and his push for deep budget cuts along with tax cuts for the wealthy.
If the petition campaign succeeds, Walker would face a recall vote sometime in the spring.
Musicians’ union to clubs: Change your tune
Musicians from Broadway to symphonic orchestras to the recording session studio are covered by union pensions. Jazz musicians who play in night clubs have no such rights. But that may change. The American Federation of Musicians Local 802 in New York launched a campaign December 8 to unionize New York City’s nightclubs by handing out leaflets in front of the Blue Note in Greenwich Village. “We envision a world in which a musician can, while touring the jazz circuit, rack up enough pension benefit credit to be vested in the AFM pension fund and have a steady pension income when the time comes,” said Local 802 Vice President John O’Connor.