Working people won victories in two completely different arenas this week- organizing on the ground and in the rule making arena of the National Labor Relations Board.
First the victory on the ground. Graduate students at MIT have voted to form a union by a 2-to-1 margin.
Nearly 2,900 of over 3,800 eligible voters at MIT voted to affiliated with the United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America (UE).
Lilly Chin a union supporter who has been at MIT since enrolling as an undergrad in 2013, said high rents in MIT’s newly built graduate student housing and a slow official response to Black graduate students’ petition for more equitable admissions contributed to the success of the campaign. (MIT’s Black Graduate Student Association endorsed the union effort in January.)
“I think a union is very in line with MIT’s values of innovation — of trying things,” Chin said. “If the system’s not working, we’re all engineers here. We know we can design it better.”
In sharp contrast to the attitude of UW administrators in their dealings with the Teaching Assistants Association,, MIT administration congratulated the organizers, adding they QUOTE “we expect to meet with MIT GSU and UE leaders to begin good-faith negotiations over the terms and conditions of employments” for members soon.
Working people also won a victory on the legal front Thursday
National Labor Relations Board General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo issued a memorandum to all Field offices announcing that she will ask the Board to find mandatory meetings in which employees are forced to listen to employer speech concerning the exercise of their statutory labor rights, including captive audience meetings, a violation of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
General Counsel Abruzzo explains that the Board has long-recognized that the Act protects employees’ right to listen to—or refrain from listening to—employer speech concerning their rights to act collectively to improve their workplace. Forcing employees to attend captive audience meetings under threat of discipline discourages employees from exercising their right to refrain from listening to this speech and is therefore inconsistent with the NLRA.
The General Counsel is independent of the 5 member Board whose job is to adjudicate disputes regarding the enforcement of the national labor relations Act of 1935 as amended.
Abruzzo’s memo comes on the heel of Amazon’s decision to challenge the recent worker victory at Amazon’s fulfilment center claiming that the actions of NLRB tainted the results and that it is biased on the side of the union.
Reporting Courtesy of Frank Emspak for Labor Radio
Image Courtesy of wck on Flickr