17,000 California Workers Join the UAW


New organizing wins also happened in Alaska, Colorado and Michigan

by Brian Young on Dec 14, 2021



While a lot of attention over the past few months has rightly been on workers striking for better wages and benefits, less attention has been paid to workers organizing. As UCOMM previously reported, for the first time workers at a Starbucks in the United States were recently organized, but they are not the only new workers to join the union movement.

In California, 17,000 graduate students within the University of California (UC) system joined Student Researchers United (SRU), which will be affiliated with the UAW. Instead of going through a traditional union election, the students threatened to strike if the University administration didn’t recognize their union. Instead of facing a strike right before finals, the UC administration agreed to formally recognize SRU as the bargaining unit of the researchers. “The UAW is proud to welcome UC Student Researchers into our union family,” Cindy Estrada, UAW vice president and head of the UAW Stellantis, Women’s, and Higher Education Organizing Departments, said in a news release. “They have shown what is possible when workers stand together and refuse to be divided. We look forward to supporting them as they bargain a strong first contract.”


The organizing of 17,000 people is by far the largest organizing victory in the United States in 2021. While the University said that they supported the union effort, they did fight with SRU to try and exclude fellows and trainees, roughly one-third of the unit, but the Public Employees Relations Board ruled in the union's favor.

While not quite as many members, workers at Arctic Slope Telephone Association Cooperative (ASTAC) in Prudhoe Bay Alaska were deciding on whether to join the Teamsters. Six of them ended up voting to join while one was opposed. They will join Teamsters Local 959, based in Anchorage, and the unit will be made up of all full-time and regular part-time Network Facilities Technicians.

In Michigan, employees of the Michigan Education Special Services Association (MESSA), organized and wanted to form the MESSA Services Staff Association (MESSA SSA). While there were 202 eligible voters, only 135 took part in the vote with all of them voting in favor of joining the union. The bargaining unit will now include a whole host of job titles including all full time Data Initiator, Facilities Services Technician, Secretary I, Switchboard Receptionist, Switchboard Receptionist/Secretary I, Group Services Rating Clerk, Secretary II, Benefit Analyst, COB & Provider Research Specialist, Communications Assistant, Computer Support Technician, Group Services Benefit Administration Processor, Group Services Benefit & Enrollment Processor, Group Services Support Specialist, Health Promotion Assistant, Legal & Compliance Assistant, Secretary III, Secretary III – Communications & Government Relations, Communications Information Coordinator, Disability Claims Specialist, Field Services Assistant, Field Services Data Analyst, Graphic Design & Digital Media Specialist, Group Services Information Coordinator, Health Care Analyst, Member Services Information Coordinator, Member Services Specialist, Member Services Trainer, Network Support Specialist, Building Engineer, Data Center Analyst, Electrician, Field Services Coordinator, Group Services Trainer, Paralegal Specialist, Quality Assurance Team Leader (Medical), Telecommunications Specialist, Underwriting Analyst, Data Analyst, Group Services Coordinator, Group Services Systems Specialist, Quality Assurance Team Leader (Disability), Nurse Coordinator, Group Services Benefit Administration Specialist, RN Quality Analyst/Trainer, Web Content & Design Coordinator, Group Services Business Analyst, ITSS Business Analyst, PMO Business Analyst, Programmer Analyst, Systems Solution Engineer who work at the company’s East Lansing office.

In Boulder Colorado, workers at Spruce Confections and the Coffee Clinic filed on October 22nd for a union election. The votes were counted on December 6th with 31 people voting yes and 9 voting no. The employees will now join the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union,(BCTGM) Local 26. The bargaining unit will be made up of 77 people who work as full-time and regular part-time drivers, and production and maintenance employees, including baristas, lead baristas, bakers, and quality control employees who work at the Boulder Colorado facility. They will now be the first food service workers in the Boulder area to join a union.



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