Workers ‘very happy’ on their jobs!

We were hoping for some good news and that’s just what we got this week from a research outfit that works for some of the nation’s biggest nonunion companies.

Just in time for Labor Day, a new survey on American workers finds that most are “very happy” on their jobs, so if you’re not whistling while you work, you better start worrying about what’s wrong with you.

The Labor Happiness Survey, commissioned by the nation’s largest online source of hourly jobs and conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs, a global market research firm, found that 61 percent of American workers are very happy in their current positions.

“At a time when the economy is giving us mixed signals, this worker happiness survey is an unambiguously positive indicator,” the survey report reads.

Latinos out West can barely contain their joy, if you believe the survey. The happiest workers, by demographic sector, are Latinos (67 percent vs. 61 percent for whites and 51 percent for others) and workers in the West (67 percent vs. 64 percent in the Midwest, 59 percent in the South and 52 percent in the Northeast).

A number of large corporate employers, concerned about the importance of getting out the word on worker happiness before Labor Day, are on the Ipsos client list. They include Wendy’s, Home Depot, Target, Boston Market, Jiffy Lube, Chick-fil-A, Michaels, T-Mobile and Bed Bath & Beyond.

The payback can be sweet

The labor movement was a key part of the electoral success of numerous Democratic governors over the past two years, including Eliot Spitzer in New York, Ted Kulongoski in Oregon, Ted Strickland in Ohio, Kathleen Sebelius in Kansas and Ed Rendell in Pennsylvania.

Since June each of these governors has signed executive orders giving a collective total of 80,000 home health care, foster care and child care workers the right to organize unions and bargain for a better life.

Grocery workers win back wages

A dozen workers at Concord Produce in northern California learned last week that they have won a $126,000 settlement in the claim they filed with the state Division of Labor Standards Enforcement because the company failed to pay them according to labor regulations, the United Food and Commercial Workers said.

Last December the workers asked UFCW Local 5 for help in improving their working conditions. They said they were not being paid the minimum wage or overtime and were not getting their meal and rest breaks. In February they won a government-supervised union election.

The owners reportedly spent more than $100,000 in legal fees as they tried to defeat the workers’ claims. Gerardo Dominguez, the local union’s organizing director, called the settlement “a great victory for mercado immigrant workers who not only received lost wages but also regained their dignity at the workplace.”

The union is working hard to organize small and medium sized Latino grocery stores known as mercados, where workers are often not paid minimum wages (or in some cases, not paid at all) and other problems include sexual harassment and abuse of women workers.

Indianapolis school workers win their union

Despite a strong campaign by the company intended to persuade people to vote “no representation,” the school bus drivers, monitors and mechanics who work for FirstStudent in Indianapolis voted overwhelmingly for AFSCME Council 62 representation in an election conducted by the NLRB on Aug. 21. The vote was 274-23 in favor of the union.

The workers, who are responsible for transporting about half the students in Indianapolis public schools, will now begin bargaining for a contract.

Union leader arrested for talking

It’s no wonder that the battle for the Employee Free Choice Act, which would make harassment of union organizers illegal, continues to go strong.

On Aug. 14, Carmen Mayorga, president of American Federation of Teachers Local 6345 in the Aldine Independent School District in Houston, Texas, was arrested and led away in handcuffs after she tried to hand out union literature to teachers at the school. Her car was impounded and she was held 14 hours in jail before being released. Her court date is pending.

“I’ll go to jail any time to be able to talk to teachers,” Mayorga said as soon as she was released.

This Week in Labor is compiled by John Wojcik (jwojcik