Boeing grounded for third week
Production remains totally shut down at Boeing facilities across the U.S. as a strike of 18,000 aerospace workers enters its third week, according to Machinist Union spokesperson Connie Kelliher. Strikers are busy picketing in shifts at 68 gates 24 hours a day, Kelliher told the World. “Almost every local in this region has donated to the strike fund,” she said. “Everyone sees it as a fight that extends far beyond the gates of Boeing,” she explained, noting that the company is seeking concessions and to shift health care costs even though its profits have recently tripled. Anna Burger, president of the Change to Win Coalition, joined a picket line in front of Boeing’s former corporate headquarters in Seattle and announced that affiliated unions, including many locals in the area, had donated $125,000 to the Machinists’ strike fund.

AFSCME, SEIU sign pact
Two service sector unions announced the signing of a national, two-year agreement that neither union will attempt to raid the other.

The unions are setting up a new “California United Homecare Workers Union, AFSCME/SEIU” to represent the 25,000 home care providers who are not currently protected by either union. The caregivers provide in-home services to seniors and people with disabilities. The unions said their goal is to win fair contracts that include a livable wage and health care. The 120,000 home care and nursing home workers who are already SEIU and AFSCME members will work in partnership while their locals maintain their autonomy.

AFSCME and SEIU will also form new statewide unions in both California and Pennsylvania to unite home-based family childcare providers and to improve benefits and stability in the childcare profession. The new union will be affiliated with both AFSCME and SEIU. The two unions established a legally binding dispute resolution procedure.

Toast the Farmworkers
The United Farm Workers urged its supporters to buy a bottle of Gallo of Sonoma wine to toast the end of its three-month boycott and the signing of its new contract with the winemaker covering 310 vineyard workers.

Steelworkers vote ‘no’ 140-0
Hurricane relief workers won’t be getting their shovels from a West Virginia factory which locked out its workforce after they voted unanimously to reject the company’s demand to cut their pay from $17 to $6.22 an hour and to raise their health insurance family deductible to $10,000. Of the 162 workers at Ames True Temper, Inc., 141 had over 30 years of service, said United Steelworkers spokesperson Karen Shipley.

The factory, in Parkersburg, W.Va., manufactures shovels which sell at stores like Home Depot, Lowe’s and Wal-Mart for $8 to $12 each. The company took in $114 million in profits last year. It told the union it wanted to reduce the labor costs per shovel from $1.28 to 68 cents, Shipley told the World. Ames True Temper’s parent company is ATT Holding.

International support for NYU union
Presidents of three countries canceled their scheduled appearances at New York University in a show of support for graduate students there struggling for union recognition. Luis Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil, Luis Rodriguez Zapatero of Spain, and Nestor Kirchner of Argentina were scheduled to discuss “Latin American and Europe: Challenges and Realities” on Sept. 15 when the AFL-CIO asked them not to appear at any NYU events until the university agrees to negotiate with GSOC/UAWE Local 2110, the union representing graduate teaching and research assistants.

Unite Here leaves AFL-CIO
The executive board of Unite Here, with 450,000 members in the hotel, gaming laundry, apparel and textile industries, voted Sept. 13 to disaffiliate from the AFL-CIO. It announced it would be participating in the upcoming founding convention of the Change to Win Coalition Sept. 27 in St. Louis. “Unite Here remains committed to working with any union and community organization at local, state and national, and international levels,” the executive board’s statement said.

Labor update is compiled by Roberta Wood (rwood @