Stewards bargain Costco contract

Shop stewards participated directly in negotiations with retail giant Costco, leading to a tentative agreement which made significant gains in retirement, wages and seniority while maintaining current pension and health care levels, said a statement from the Teamsters union which represents 13,000 Costco workers at 40 California locations.

The shop stewards made sure the company realized “what was important to the membership and that they meant business,” said Rome Aloise, chairman of the Costco Teamsters Negotiations Committee.

PFOA contaminates water

Drinking water at Carleton Elementary School in Penns Grove, N.J., contains the controversial Teflon chemical perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which is likely linked to a nearby Dupont plant, United Steelworkers union charges.

The USW, whose members work at the plant, sampled the school’s water after earlier testing found the chemical in the blood of DuPont employees and local drinking water.

PFOA has been labeled a likely carcinogen. Check out

Cutting gov’t funds for union-busters!

In Minnesota, where one in six state legislators carries a union card, the state AFL-CIO is making legislation banning the use of state funds for union-busting a top priority. The law would requiring employer neutrality during organizing drives by employers who get state money or subsidies, the St. Paul Union Advocate reports.

N.Y. hires bilingual investigators

Palm cards, posters and a toll-free number in Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Russian, Creole and English will be available to alert workers in New York state about their rights under the state’s increased minimum wage ordinance. The state’s minimum wage increased from $6.75 to $7.15 on Jan. 1.

Acting Labor Commissioner M. Patricia Smith announced that the department will add 10 additional bilingual investigators to ensure that all workers in New York state, especially those within immigrant and non-English speaking communities, receive the wages they are due, said Smith. For complaints or questions in English or Spanish, New Yorkers can call (800) 447-3992, in Chinese, (212) 621-0475 and in Korean, (212) 621-0483.

PWA hits Michigan ruling

A ruling by the Michigan Court of Appeals that bans public universities and local governments from offering health insurance to the partners of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees negates domestic partner benefits which have existed in union contracts for decades, said Pride at Work in a statement denouncing the decision. “The ruling will have a direct, negative impact on far too many Michigan LGBT working families,” said Joseph Darby, Pride At Work national co-vice president. Darby vowed that the organization would work to ensure this injustice is corrected.

This Week in Labor is compiled by Roberta Wood (