Postdoctoral Researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York reached a tentative agreement with the administration on Monday, December 18.

“We are very proud to have won many substantive and important improvements in every major area we set as a priority,” the Sinai Postdoctoral Organizing Committee (SPOC-UAW) Bargaining Commitee wrote on the unit’s website after the agreement was reached. “These gains are the direct result of tireless organizing, nearly 16 months of bargaining, and our powerful historic strike. Together, we fought, and we won.”

The Bargaining Committee will conduct a straw poll to gain feedback from members before deciding whether workers should continue or pause the strike while voting on the tentative agreement takes place.

Workers at the institution walked out on an unfair labor practice strike on December 6, after attempts to reach a deal with Mount Sinai administrators were unsuccessful.

“We love our research, but Sinai is leaving us no choice,” said Andrea Joseph, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, when the strike began. “Our priority has always been ensuring that science at Mount Sinai is sustainable and inclusive, and that means fair pay and housing and parental benefits that allow all of us to take care of our families and stay in the careers we love in New York City.”

In June of 2022, nearly 90% of workers voted to choose Sinai Postdoctoral Organizing Committee-United Auto Workers (SPOC-UAW) as their union and bargaining representative.

Postdocs perform a wide range of critical research, from developing new therapies to fight disease to advancing new technologies that will shape the future of research, and much more.

The COP28 climate summit recognized we are at “the beginning of the end” of the fossil fuel era and need to speed up transition to renewable energy. But union-busting by renewables companies, including the top solar provider on Long Island, threatens to slow it down.

Renewables are big business in the US, stoked by many tens of billions in federal funding. But insiders know that renewables companies are often chaotic, with underpaid, demoralized workers, unsustainably high turnover, and difficult, dangerous working conditions. Solar installers’ median income is just under $45,00040% less than fossil fuel workers. Getting off fossil fuel will require fixing the renewables industry’s labor problems, which requires unions.

Historically, organized labor grew up with fossil fuel industries. At their peak, unions represented 60% of autoworkers. Today it’s about 16%, and 17% across the fossil fuel sector. But only 4% US solar workers and 6% of wind power workers are in unions, reflecting how fiercely renewables companies oppose them.

Big federal subsidies and tax credits compound the problem. Renewables companies are exempt from prevailing wage and other labor requirements under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) if they stay below utility scale (25 megawatts a year). So, the more they cut costs and squeeze workers, the more of the IRA money they can pocket, and the easier it is to spend money on union-busting. That is a perverse incentive effectively diverting public resources to private gain while hurting workers and limiting how fast renewables grow.

EmPower Solar, a Bethpage, NY-based solar company serving Long Island, is a case in point. Rather than pay its workers fairly, it pays lawyers and lobbyists to prevent them from organizing. It hired the Cincinnatti-based lobbying firm National Labor Relations Advocates, which advertises a 90% success rate at helping clients “avoid any threat of a union coming into your business,” and charges hefty fees for the service.

EmPower faces unionization because of its labor practices. It pays installers low base wages plus an untransparent per-panel bonus. Typical monthly take-home pay might be around $2500 plus a $1200 bonus, but the bonus is unreliable. It falls in slower seasons and can be heavily docked for such things as breaking a lamp. There are cases where the bonus suddenly tanked, and installers had to rely on friends and family for rent and food. Some skipped meals and lost weight. Many installers are in debt because the job does not pay enough to live on.

EmPower foremen are paid little better than installers, and often take second jobs like driving for Uber. While they worry about their crews’ safety on rooftops around high voltage equipment, they also worry about making their car payment. When accidents happen, foremen are scapegoated and penalized with demotion and pay cuts, as if it is their supervision at fault rather than unsafe company practices.

Quick to cut pay, EmPower is slow to raise it. It lacks a clear, accountable compensation structure, delays performance reviews, and has high turnover, so workers who keep their jobs often stay stuck at or near entry-level pay. It is also slow to reimburse their outlays for driving to jobsites.

EmPower hires workers for the peak summer season, then fires them, often after a month, and in some cases as little as two weeks. Workers are so stressed and insecure about getting laid off that they are afraid to take lunchbreaks or refuse dangerous jobs they should not accept. When they brought their concerns to management, they got canned talk-points from its union-busting lawyers instead of action.

Finally, after watching Shawn Fain and the UAW stand up and get results for auto workers, EmPower workers reached out to the UAW Local 259, which agreed to represent them. It filed a notice of election with the National Labor Relations Board last month. EmPower workers vote on unionizing this Friday.

Since the filing, the company changed tactics. It said it cared about worker concerns, the layoffs stopped, the compensation problems improved a little. But this only happened once the workers got organized. It seems tactical, designed to peel off support to swing the vote against a union.

Another tactic is EmPower’s false claim the UAW is a “bad fit” because its workers do not build cars. But the truth is, the company would fight any union. The UAW had famous successes at Big Three car companies, but it is a fallacy to pigeonhole unions in the old manufacturing, fossil-fuel based economy. They are more relevant and needed than ever for the high-tech economy and renewables ramp-up. Today’s UAW represents technicians, National Institutes of Health scientists, defense workers, office workers, environmental workers, and more. It can and should do for renewables workers what it did for autoworkers.

Working in renewables could be a great job, but the industry needs a healthier balance of power between management and labor to make growth sustainable. These are the jobs of the future. They ought to pay a living wage, be safe, and be unionized.

In solidarity,

Daniel Lozano, Installer, EmPower Solar

Michael DiGiuseppe, Vice President, Local 259

In a historic outcome, early-career researchers at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD, have voted by nearly 98% to form a union, NIH Fellows United-UAW. 1,601 workers voted in favor of unionizing, with only thirty-six voting against.

This is the first union within the U.S. federal government for research fellows, which includes postbaccalaureate, predoctoral, and postdoctoral researchers.

“We won our union!” NIH Fellows United-UAW announced on the social media platform X after the voting process was completed. “We are the largest union of federal employees to form in more than a decade, and the first union of Fellows ever at a federal research facility. We’ve made history together.”

In June of this year, workers filed with the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) to form their union. In July, the NIH questioned the legal standing of fellows unionizing, submitting paperwork to the FLRA stating many of the potential union members weren’t employees and thus, didn’t have the right to form a union. The following month, NIH dropped opposition, paving the way for the vote.

Improved pay and working conditions and enhanced protections against harassment and excessive workloads are the primary issues workers would like to see addressed in a first contract between their union and the NIH.

“I’d like to welcome the NIH unit to the UAW,” Region 8 Director Tim Smith said. “I am looking forward to meeting and shaking the hands of each and every one of these new members. We will stand hand-in-hand to achieve a contract that helps them build a better life. They may be the first union in Region 8 for government researchers, but working together, it won’t be the last.”

Chattanooga, Tenn. — At noon on Monday, December 18th, UAW President Shawn Fain will accompany a delegation of Volkswagen workers and community and faith leaders to deliver a letter to Volkswagen management demanding the company end its union-busting and intimidation, as workers organize to join the UAW. 

“These workers at your plant are our neighbors, congregants, family, and friends, and we applaud them for having the courage to demand better for themselves and our community,” reads the letter from CALEB (Chattanoogans in Action for Love, Equality and Benevolence), a community and faith coalition advocating for economic justice in Chattanooga. “However, we are deeply concerned by the stories Chattanooga workers have shared with us regarding Volkswagen’s efforts to stop them—in some cases illegally—from exercising their rights.” 
On Monday, December 11, Volkswagen workers filed federal unfair labor practice charges against Volkswagen for illegally intimidating, interfering with, and spying on pro-union workers. 

Today, VW workers are filing another federal labor charge against the company for unlawful company policies concerning social media, dress code, and flyering that have a chilling effect on workers’ rights to stand up and speak out publicly about their working conditions and the need to unionize. 

Volkswagen’s illegal actions come on the heels of the UAW announcing that well over 1,000 workers, making up over 30 percent of the Chattanooga plant, have signed union cards as part of a national movement of non-union autoworkers organizing to join the UAW in the wake of the union’s record contract victories at Ford, GM, and Stellantis. 

UAW Local 3033 and Cleveland Cliffs Butler Facility in Pennsylvania is the only United States manufacturer of Grain-Oriented Electrical Steel (GOES), the metal found in electrical distribution transformers.

The Department of Energy (DOE) is in the process of a proposed rulemaking concerning efficiency standards. Part of that standard will be the use of GOES vs. amorphous metal (AM). GOES is the most efficient steel in high-volume distribution.

AM cores are imported by foreign countries. With no domestic supplier of AM cores, our electrical grids will be reliant on an imported supply chain, potentially causing shipping issues that will limit our country’s ability to respond when unforeseen circumstances impact our electrical grid.

We urge you to sign this petition asking the DOE to proceed with a standard that ensures the continued use of the GOES in distribution transformers.

Over 80% of Graduate Student Workers at the University of Southern California (USC) have voted to ratify a first-ever contract.

The Graduate Student Workers Organizing Committee, GSWOC-UAW, announced the results on their website and the social media platform X on December 7, after three days of voting had concluded.

The agreement includes significant wage increases, lump sum bonuses for every graduate worker and arbitrable protections from harassment and discrimination. The deal also ends the university’s ability to implement wage freezes.

“I am incredibly proud of this contract and all the work that went into it,” said Maile McCann, a PhD Candidate in the Civil Engineering department and bargaining team member. “Together, thousands of GSWs built a credible strike threat that forced USC admin to reach a deal that sets a new standard for compensation and workplace protections, both at USC and across the country.”

“I would say that we are all really excited about this contract because in the private sector we have an industry leading contract that sets us up for bargaining in years to come,” Jackie Johnson, a fifth-year doctoral candidate studying cinema and media studies, told the Daily Trojan. “I think that sends a real message about the strength of the graduate student workers at USC, as we see a wave of unionization across higher education.”

“Graduate Student Workers at USC power the research and instruction that makes the university run, but for far too long, they have not had sufficient input into their working conditions,” said Region 6 Director Mike Miller. “Through the power of their collective action and strike threat, Graduate Student Workers moved the USC Administration to meet their demands for a strong first contract that will make the university more inclusive and equitable. This campaign is part of a growing surge of militant organizing in higher ed and will be an inspiration to many more to follow.”

The bargaining team and the university first reached a tentative agreement on November 26, just one day before workers were set to strike and after nearly eight months of negotiations.

GSWOC-UAW represents 3,400 workers at USC. Workers voted by 93% to form their union in February of this year.

In a new video, Gavin Strassel, UAW Archivist at the Walter P. Reuther Library at Wayne State University, shares historical items that belonged to UAW President, Leonard Woodcock.

Woodcock served as president from 1970 to 1977. He was elected by the International Executive Board after the untimely death of Walter Reuther in a plane crash on May 9, 1970. Only a few months after he assumed office, Woodcock led 400,000 autoworkers on a 67-day strike against General Motors. It was the first time the union had taken on GM in a quarter century. By the end of the strike, the UAW had won significant wage increases, better healthcare, an end to caps on cost-of-living allowances and the ability for workers to retire with a full pension after thirty years of service, regardless of their age.

After retiring from the UAW in 1977, Woodcock was appointed head of the United States Liaison Office in Bejing by US President Jimmy Carter.

“Leonard Woodcock was such a skilled negotiator as UAW president, U.S. President Carter made him the top diplomat for the United States and China,” Strassel says. “He was able to use his skills and work with Deng Xiaoping (China’s deputy prime minister) to bring the two countries together and normalize relations, in what was known as one of the biggest diplomatic feats of the 1970s.”

In the video, Strassel showcases a porcelain seal that hung above the front entrance of the US Liaison’s office in Bejing during Woodcock’s time there, as well as a US flag that flew outside the office until it closed.

“These items are important reminders of the global impact of the UAW,” Strassel says.

UAW President Shawn Fain addressed non-union autoworkers via Facebook Live on Monday, December 11. The livestream can be viewed on the UAW’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.

During the broadcast, Fain gave updates on the union’s historic organizing drive, detailing how thousands of workers at non-union automakers have been reaching out to the UAW and organizing with their coworkers.

“Right now, thousands of workers at thirteen auto companies are fighting for a better life with the UAW,” Fain said during the livestream. “Workers at Toyota, Honda, Subaru, Nissan, Hyundai, Mazda, BMW, Mercedes, Volkswagen, Volvo, Tesla, Rivian, and Lucid are ready to Stand Up. From California to South Carolina. From Illinois to Alabama. These workers are making history, and I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Fain highlighted the organizing drive at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where a thousand workers had already signed union authorization cards in less than a week, with hundreds more signing up over the last few days. “Volkswagen workers are on fire and are inspiring workers all across the country,” Fain said. Workers at the Volkswagen facility were the first to go public with their efforts to join the union.

President Fain also announced that the UAW had filed three unfair labor practice charges this morning against Honda, Hyundai and Volkswagen for engaging in union-busting activity.

“Like corporations everywhere, no matter what they tell you, these companies are more than willing to break the law if it means protecting their bottom line from you,” Fain said. “They’ll lie, cheat, and steal. Intimidate, surveil, and coerce. And then out of the other side of their mouth, they’ll tell you we’re family.”

Fain ended the livestream with a clear message: the UAW will do everything in its power to support non-union autoworkers’ efforts to unionize, but ultimately, the workers will be the ones who will need to make it happen. “These workers won’t win because a lawyer filed paperwork,” he said. “They won’t win just because someone handed them a union card. They won’t win because of the UAW leadership or Shawn Fain. The workers at Honda, Hyundai, Volkswagen, Mercedes, and Toyota and all these non-union auto companies will win because they’re ready to Stand Up and fight for what they deserve.

“We’re asking you to reach out to anyone you know who may work at a non-union auto plant or might know someone who does. And we’re asking you to step up and organize your own workplace. Nothing else can fix our broken economy like a bigger, better, and bolder union movement. And no one’s going to do it but you.”

In the face of aggressive anti-union campaigns, workers organizing with the UAW at Honda in Indiana, Hyundai in Alabama, and Volkswagen in Tennessee, have filed charges against management for illegally union-busting as workers organize to join the UAW.

“We are filing an unfair labor practice charge against Honda because of management illegally telling us to remove union stickers from our hats, and for basically threatening us with write-ups,” says Honda worker Josh Cupit in a new video released by More Perfect Union. “It’s essentially to show Honda that we know what our rights are and that they’re not gonna bully us and we’re not gonna back down from ’em. And we know that they are in the wrong.”

“These companies are breaking the law in an attempt to get autoworkers to sit down and shut up instead of fighting for their fair share,” said UAW President Shawn Fain. “But these workers are showing management that they won’t be intimidated out of their right to speak up and organize for a better life. From Honda to Hyundai to Volkswagen and beyond, we’ve got their back. The auto industry’s record profits should mean record contracts for these workers, too.”

Fain will meet with thousands of non-union autoworkers on Facebook Live tonight at 5 p.m. ET. The media is invited to access the livestream at the UAW’s Facebook page and YouTube channel

Honda workers report being targeted and surveilled by management for pro-union activity at the company’s Indiana Auto Plant in Greensburg, Indiana. Hundreds of workers at the facility have signed union cards and are organizing to join the UAW.

At Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, Tenn., plant, well over 1,000 workers signed union cards in less than a week, and hundreds more continue to sign up. Management has harassed and threatened workers for talking about the union; confiscated and destroyed pro-union materials in the break room; attempted to intimidate and illegally silence pro-union workers; and has attempted to illegally prohibit workers from distributing union literature and discussing union issues in non-work areas on non-work time. Volkswagen has made public claims of “official neutrality” in past union efforts while aggressively pushing an anti-union message in forced meetings and internal literature.

On Thursday, Dec. 7, at an early morning shift change, security guards stopped a group of Volkswagen union supporters from distributing flyers to their coworkers at Gate 3.

“We’ve done hand billing at that gate before and the company has never done anything like this,” said Dave Gleeson, a production team member in finish and repair. “We were just getting ready to hand out flyers and security came up and told us we couldn’t. I asked if this was his decision, and he said no, this is coming from way over my head. Our campaign caught the company completely flat-footed, and they overreacted. We’re not going to be intimidated. We know our rights and we’re going to keep standing up and keep speaking out.”

At Hyundai’s Montgomery, Alabama plant, management has unlawfully confiscated, destroyed, and prohibited pro-union materials in non-work areas during non-work times. Hundreds of workers continue to sign up to win their union despite this illegal interference and intimidation.

Beverly McCall, a team member in engine assembly at the Hyundai plant, was in the parking lot passing out union leaflets on non-work time when a manager told her to stop. “The manager came up and told me you can’t be out here doing that,” said McCall. “I just kept right on doing what I was doing. We have every right to get the word out and they can’t stop us.”

Tim Cripple, a team member in engine assembly at Hyundai, was in a break room and had a few union leaflets on the table in front of him. “A group leader came in and called team relations on the phone,” said Cripple. “They said you can’t have them in here and the group leader threw them in the trash. At the same time, they have someone from the company sitting in the cafeteria handing out anti-union t-shirts and flyers. That’s just wrong, and we are not going to be silenced.”

The board charges are a defiant response to low-road behavior that is typical of the worst actors in anti-union coercion campaigns. Organizing a union free from management interference or threats is a federally protected right that is indispensable to a democratic, free society.

Thousands of non-union autoworkers across the country have launched campaigns to organize more than a dozen automakers across the country, building off the historic success of the UAW’s Stand Up Strike at the Big Three. To learn more, and to join the campaign, workers can go to