Billboards urging customers to shun Walgreens drug stores are up around Madison, WI, as part of a continuing battle between local union electrical workers and the pharmacy firm. The battle began when Walgreens hired a non-union electrical contractor as part of an expansion of a distribution center. But although the job is nearly complete, bitterness remains and could spill over into other states. The union is upset because a portion of the $50 million project went to a non-union contractor. The move so angered International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 159 that it set up a picket line for 132 days calling it off only after Walgreens hired a union electrical contractor to do inside wiring as part of the renovation. [Madison Capital Times 06/09/98]
SEIU Organizing Blitz Descends on L.A.
For 2 weeks starting Jun. 14, some 70 organizers from Service Employees International Union locals around the country will make 16,000 door-to-door visits to home health care workers in L.A. County in a bid to sign up enough workers to file for union certification later this year. If successful, the effort, which targets an estimated 80,000 home care workers in the county, would represent the largest union certification election in the nation in the last 50 years. [BNA Daily Labor Report 06/16/98]
“Janitors for Justice” Rears Ugly Head
400 janitors and supporters shook mops and brooms, rattled cans and chanted slogans Jun. 17 in front of one of the few downtown buildings that still contracts with one of the largest nonunion cleaning companies in L.A. The protest was held to commemorate the 8th annual “Justice for Janitors Day,” a nationwide effort organized each year by SEIU. In 1990, marchers tried to convince a Century City company to sign a union contract. But their march was interrupted by a confrontation with members of the L.A. Police Department, which led to dozens of arrests andinjuries. No one was injured this year. [L.A. Times 06/18/98]
SEIU Disobedience in D.C.
Ending more than 10 years of an often contentious organizing campaign, the Washington, D.C. local of SEIU reached agreement on Jun. 20 on a contract with janitorial services companies. The tenor of the contract talks between the union and cleaning companies apparently improved after the union last year called off a decade-long campaign aimed at pressuring the cleaning companies and the building owners that hired them into reaching a settlement. The union acknowledged that the campaign — which often included noisy demonstrations, traffic tie-ups and civil disobedience — had antagonized the cleaning companies and building owners and polarized the two sides in talks. [BNA Daily Labor Report 06/25/98]