The Texas Gulf Coast Area Labor Federation Weekly Report comes out (nearly) every Thursday with news and updates relevant to the Gulf Coast labor movement. To subscribe, click here.

Gulf Coast Unions Protest for PRO Act at East End Amazon Center

Union activists protesting on Thursday at an east end Amazon fulfillment center to highlight the need for the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act were greeted by honks of support from Amazon drivers at the facility.

Nearly 100 Houston-area union members and community allies gathered to support the PRO Act, legislation that will punish corporations like Amazon that engage in aggressive pressure tactics and threats to block worker unionizing efforts and empower workers to organize for fair wages, workplace safety, and dignity at work.

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On Workers Memorial Day, Houstonians Gather to Remember the Dead and Fight for the Living

Everyone deserves a safe workplace to make a living. On Wednesday, union members and community allies gathered at the Houston City Hall reflection pond to honor Houston area workers who died on the job last year.

Workers are always safer when they have a voice on the job, but far too few of us have that right now. It’s time to pass the PRO Act and give workers the power to keep themselves safe.

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Pipefitters Local 211 Applicant Apprentice Violeta Nunez Shares Story on Channel 13

Union apprenticeships provide a direct pathway to well-paid jobs that pay while you study. Violeta Nunez shared her apprentice story on Channel 13 this week, which she began earlier this year.

Violeta completed the Apprenticeship Readiness Program (ARP) Multi-Craft Core Curriculum (MC3) last March. Violeta’s interests led her to apply to the Pipefitter 211 apprenticeship program on March 23, 2021. She passed her aptitude test and was placed on the PF 211 applicant apprentice list. Violeta has stated that her goal is go through the Pipefitters 211 apprenticeship program and turn out as a Journeyperson and one day go into supervision in her career as a 211 Pipefitter.

Violeta will appeared on Channel 13 along with Pipefitters Local 211 Business Manager Bryan Edwards and Houston Gulf Coast Building and Construction Trades Council Executive Secretary Paul Puente on Friday.

We encourage you to watch.

USW Local 13–243 Braces for Lockout at Beaumont Refinery, Blending and Packaging

On Friday night at 10pm, ExxonMobil locked out more than 650 USW Local 13–243 workers from its Beaumont, Texas refinery.

The local’s bargaining committee has been negotiating with ExxonMobil over the terms for a new collective bargaining agreement since Jan. 11, 2021. Negotiations between the parties have been very contentious because the company seeks major changes in the existing contract that impact members’ safety, security and seniority.

The Texas Gulf Coast Area Labor Federation and our 92 local union affiliates stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters from local 13–243 in their fight for a fair contract.

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Union Advocacy Helps to Prevent Abbott and Texas GOP from Re-routing Federal School Aid

After weeks of work by Texas AFT and union advocates to #StopTheSwap, House leadership adopted an amendment by Rep. Eddie Rodriguez this week to ensure that $18 billion in federal funds will go directly to school districts as soon as possible, and not be used to replace existing funding.

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Biden to Pick Uber Critic as Department of Labor Wage Chief

David Weil, the Obama administration’s top wage regulator who has supported government crackdowns on the workforce models of Uber Technologies Inc. and other gig-economy companies, is in line to become the White House’s nominee for his former post at the U.S. Labor Department, according to multiple sources familiar with the process.

If Weil is nominated and confirmed by the Senate, he would assume a central role in one of the most legally complex and pressing employment questions facing the Biden administration: How to approach the gig economy’s booming workforce? Digital platform companies, including Instacart and DoorDash Inc. as well as Uber and Lyft Inc., consider their workers as independent contractors rather than employees. The classification means that as non-employees, the workers are exempt from wage, safety, and other workplace protection laws.

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Using Executive Authority to Incentivize Employer Neutrality

The White House announced that it was commissioning a task force to solicit and discuss recommendations to promote union organizing. The task force will be led by Vice President Kamala Harris and includes Biden’s top economic advisers as well as Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh. The unabashedly pro-union stance of the task force stands in stark contrast to the infamous Dunlop Commission of 1994, which treated unions as simply a means to an end of increased productivity, cooperative behavior, and national wealth. Workers’ rights were far from the focus.

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VA Secretary Vows to Empower Federal Workforce, Encourage Union Organizing

Last week the VA — for the first time — held a joint virtual conference with AFGE’s National Veterans Affairs Council (NVAC) on health and safety and provided resources for VA employees to attend. VA Secretary Denis McDonough himself gave opening remarks at the conference, raising the profile and importance of VA employee health and safety, which had never been the focus from the top — especially not in recent years.

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Republicans Target Voter Access in Texas Cities, but Not Rural Areas

In Houston, election officials found creative ways to help a struggling and diverse workforce vote in a pandemic. Record turnout resulted. Now the Texas GOP is targeting those very measures.

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Rental aid moves slowly, leaving many at risk

Four months after Congress approved tens of billions of dollars in emergency rental aid, only a small portion has reached landlords and tenants, and in many places it is impossible even to file an application.

The program requires hundreds of state and local governments to devise and carry out their own plans, and some have been slow to begin. But the pace is hindered mostly by the sheer complexity of the task: starting a huge pop-up program that reaches millions of tenants, verifies their debts and wins over landlords whose interests are not always the same as their renters’.

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Up to 390,000 federal contractors will see a raise under the Biden-Harris executive order

The Biden-Harris administration issued an executive order requiring federal contractors to pay a minimum wage of $15 per hour. An estimated 390,000 low-wage federal contractors will see a raise under this policy. The average year round worker will receive up to $3,100 more. Roughly half of workers who would see a raise will be women and roughly half will be Black or Hispanic workers.

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Labor board: Union evidence in Bessemer Amazon vote ‘could be grounds for overturning election’

The RWDSU raised 23 objections to the election, arguing, among other things, that Amazon terminated a union supporter for passing out authorization cards in non-working areas, and disciplined a union supporter for speaking out during mandatory anti-union meetings. They also allege the company emailed employees telling them that they would have to lay off 75 percent of the center’s workforce, threatened them with losing health benefits, and closing the warehouse if the union was voted in.

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UAW Local 3057 members continue strike, begin negotiations

Members of United Auto Workers Local 3057 have been on strike at the Prysmian Group plant in Scottsville for about a month, with negotiations with the company kicking off last week.

The union reached out to Prysmian Group about negotiating once again the weekend of April 16, making plans to discuss the issue more at length Tuesday, April 20.

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Maine Medical Center nurses vote to unionize

After a months-long campaign, nurses at Maine’s largest hospital voted to unionize. Registered nurses voted to join the Maine State Nurses Association, an affiliate of the National Nursing Organizing Committee/National Nurses United. The decision affects roughly 2,000 nurses at Maine Medical Center, the Scarborough Surgery Center and the Maine Med campus in Portland.

“It’s a new day for nurses and patients across Maine,” MSNA and NNOC president Cokie Giles said.

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Unionized workers are ‘less unhappy’ than non-union workers — how fear plays a big role

At a time when organized labor is coping with a high-profile vote against unionization at an Amazon fulfillment center, union leaders in search of selling points about joining their ranks received one. Unionized workers tend to say they are more satisfied with their job compared to their non-unionized counterparts, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Wisconsin College of Business, Dartmouth College and University College London.

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Get Vaccinated!

Everyone age 16 and older, regardless of occupation or health status, is now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in Texas, according to state authorities. You can find the full list of Texas vaccine providers here. You do not need to be a resident of a county or city to register.

This week, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced that sites in Harris County no longer required advance registration. Most other regional counties are doing the same. if you’ve been waiting, it’s time to get your shot!

To find more information about vaccination sites, click on the links below (this is not a complete list of all vaccine providers)

The PRO Act will give working people a fair shot to bargain together for better lives. Send a letter to John Cornyn and Ted Cruz and tell them to vote to allow the Senate to debate the PRO Act and send it to President Biden for his signature.

Send a letter

Official account of the Texas Gulf Coast Area Labor Federation.