MGM Springfield Workers Join NEJB!

On Monday October 8th over 900 gaming workers at MGM in Springfield, Massachusetts became members of the New England Joint Board through a card check neutrality agreement. With the certification the MGM workers become the first union resort and casino workers in Massachusetts since the Expanded Gaming Act was signed into law in 2011. MGM Springfield opened its doors on August 24th launching the careers of hundreds of new gaming workers and marking a new era in the history of the City of Springfield. The opening also marked the culmination of almost a decade’s worth of work by our union to ensure that good, union gaming jobs could come to Massachusetts.

The NEJB in coalition with Teamsters Local 404 began organizing months before the grand opening and signed up a vast majority of the nearly 1,000 gaming workers on the property. The organizing drive was characterized by the excitement and energy of hundreds of workers beginning their first careers in the union hospitality industry. With the opening, MGM Springfield becomes the first major hospitality industry employer in the City of Springfield and the Western Massachusetts region. The NEJB looks forward to ensuring that these new jobs become family sustaining careers that will be the basis for forming strong and prosperous working class communities throughout the region. With a strong and diverse negotiating committee, the NEJB is moving forward and preparing to negotiate a strong first contract.

The NEJB would like to thank UNITE HERE International Union and Locals 54 and 25 for their assistance and support throughout the organizing effort.

NEJB Announces Endorsements in 2018 Primary

The New England Joint Board UNITE HERE is a progressive union of immigrant workers fighting for dignity and respect for workers everywhere. We believe that good jobs and the values of equality, justice, and fairness provide the foundation for strong communities; that every worker has the right to a family-sustaining job; and that having a voice in the workplace is a fundamental democratic right. We support candidates who share our mission and values.

We are proud to announce the endorsement of the following candidates for elected office in the New England Region:

 

NEJB Endorses Barbara L’Italien for Congress

STATEMENT FROM NEJB MANAGER WARREN PEPICELLI ON ENDORSEMENT OF BARBARA L’ITALIEN FOR CONGRESS

“We’re proud to endorse Senator L’Italien in her campaign for Congress. Senator L’Italien has been a close friend of the NEJB for years. She lent her voice to our members at Polartec in Lawrence when they were thrown out of their jobs through no fault of their own. She was a leader in the state delegation supporting our campaign to win justice for Polartec workers. She has also built a strong progressive track record in her time in the state legislature advocating for a range of progressive issues from advancing pro-worker legislation to protecting the elderly and people with disabilities. Barbara has built a reputation as a fearless advocate who is willing to choose to do the right thing rather than the politically expedient thing. 

The Third Congressional District needs people like Senator L’Italien in Washington willing to take bold and sometimes politically risky positions on critical issues that actually matter for working people. Workers in the district can no longer afford to be the support network to elected officials masquerading as progressives. The political moment we find ourselves in is having very real consequences for many of our members. What they need now is a leader in Washington who isn’t afraid to act on their progressive ideals not only to protect people threatened in the current environment but to begin moving us forward again. Senator L’Italien has proven that she is capable of taking bold stances and delivering for working people. She’ll take this experience to Washington, with a foot firmly planted in her district, as she always has, and fight for working families. Our members, whether they’re sewing a garment or serving a meal, know they can count on Barbara.”

Massachusetts’ 3rd Congressional District includes the cities of Lowell, Lawrence, and Haverhill. The NEJB represents over 1,200 members in the needletrades, manufacturing, food service, laundry, and distribution industries in in the 3rd CD. The NEJB is a progressive union of immigrant workers at the forefront of the labor movement.

370 Workers Join the NEJB in Just Two Weeks!

In just a two week period over 370 workers joined the New England Joint Board UNITE HERE. Beginning on April 13th 70 Case Managers at WellLife Network in New York City joined through a card check agreement after over a year of organizing. The workers at WellLife join over 800 workers at the non-profit agency who are already represented by the NEJB. Case Managers provide critical services to people with developmental disabilities and their families in the New York City area.

Exactly a week later, 300 workers in the Environmental Services Department at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut voted to join the NEJB in an election conducted by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation. The ESD workers organized for well over a year and withstood a vicious anti-union campaign waged by the company complete with captive audience meetings and misleading anti-union propaganda. Workers took their concerns to the Connecticut State House in March and testified in support of a bill that would outlaw coercive captive audience meetings. The workers, responsible for cleaning and maintaining the resort and casino, held strong throughout the campaign and become the fifth unionized department in the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Reservation.

“I voted yes for the union because I’m concerned about job security. We all have families to support and we can’t do that comfortably if we’re constantly worrying that our jobs could disappear without us having any say,” says Leon Morrison, a 24 year ESD worker and resident of Norwich. “By voting yes for the union we now have a seat at the table.”

“This is proof of a rising tide in America. Workers have had enough and they’re joining together, arm in arm, to demand a voice at work and fight for their futures.” says Warren Pepicelli, Manager of the New England Joint Board. “We can’t expect politicians, the media, or companies to help us. We need to do it ourselves, as workers. There is no substitution for worker solidarity. For too long workers have been used and abused in this country and our society is allowing companies to get away with it. That is why workers and their unions are taking it upon themselves to stand up and demand that their hard work be honored and respected. We did this at Foxwoods and we’re ready to do it again wherever there are workers ready to make their voices heard.”

The New England Joint Board represents 10,000 workers across New England and New York in the textile, garment, manufacturing, distribution, laundry, human services, and hospitality industries. NEJB members come from nearly every corner of the globe and a majority are women and people of color. The NEJB is proud to be a progressive organizing union.

300 Foxwoods Workers Join the New England Joint Board!

MASHANTUCKET, CT – Hundreds of employees of Foxwoods Resort and Casino now have a voice in their workplace. An overwhelming majority of employees voted to be represented by the New England Joint Board of UNITE HERE, a union representing hospitality, gaming, and manufacturing workers in New England.

The vote took place throughout the day on Friday and was conducted through the authority of the Mashantucket Employment Rights Office (MERO). The workers join over 100,000 gaming workers across the US represented by UNITE HERE, making it the largest gaming workers union in the country.

Noticing the positive impact other unions have made for workers at Foxwoods, ESD workers began their organizing with the New England Joint Board over a year ago. ESD workers have many concerns about their working conditions and say that a union will give them the voice needed to win a better return on their hard work. The predominantly immigrant workforce cites the threat of outsourcing as a prime motivating factor for forming a union.

“I voted yes for the union because I’m concerned about job security. We all have families to support and we can’t do that comfortably if we’re constantly worrying that our jobs could disappear without us having any say,” says Leon Morrison, a 24 year ESD worker and resident of Norwich. “By voting yes for the union we now have a seat at the table.”

“ESD workers sent a strong message of unity by voting yes today. We’re hopeful that Foxwoods will respect the workers’ decision and schedule negotiations as soon as possible. We look forward to negotiating in good faith with Foxwoods to address the many concerns that workers have,” says Warren Pepicelli, Manager of the New England Joint Board.

The ESD department becomes the fifth union represented department at Foxwoods Resort Casino.

 

 

Foxwoods Workers to Unionize Amid Company Anti-Union Campaign

MASHANTUCKET, CT – Hundreds of employees of Foxwoods Resort and Casino are one step closer to having a voice in their workplace to speak up for fair wages and working conditions. An overwhelming majority of ESD employees signed cards authorizing union representation by the New England Joint Board of UNITE HERE, a union representing hospitality and gaming workers in New England. Now, the nearly 300 employees of the Environmental Services Department responsible for cleaning and maintaining the casino facilities will be eligible to vote in an election.

Noticing the positive impact other unions have made for workers at Foxwoods, ESD workers began their organizing with UNITE HERE over a year ago. ESD workers have many concerns about their working conditions and say that a union will give them the voice needed to win a better return on their hard work.

“Many of our Foxwoods coworkers have a union and we’ve seen what it’s been like for them to have a voice in the workplace,” says Pierre Tassi, a 10 year ESD worker. “As low wage workers having a say in our benefits and working conditions is critical. If other Foxwoods workers are allowed that voice, why shouldn’t we?”

The predominantly immigrant workforce cites the threat of outsourcing as a prime motivating factor for forming a union. After a department performing kitchen work for the casino was outsourced to a third party vendor last year resulting in drastic benefit changes, ESD workers became fearful they could suffer the same fate.

“We don’t make enough as it is. If our work is outsourced and our benefits get cut like we’ve seen happen to other departments it will be devastating,” said Monica Batty, a Groton resident and 6 year ESD worker. “We have to protect ourselves, and we know the best way to do that is by joining together in a union.”

ESD workers have endured months of anti-union campaigning from management. Last month ESD workers testified to management’s actions before a legislative hearing before the Connecticut General Assembly. The workers’ testimony supported proposed legislation which would outlaw the use of “captive audience meetings” by management in unionization drives. Workers testified to being compelled to attend frequent meetings in which they were lined up against a wall and forced to listen to anti-union talking points without the ability to refuse to attend. More recently, Foxwoods has orchestrated one-on-one meetings between supervisors and workers in which workers are called in to the office and subjected to interrogation about their union support without the opportunity to leave, conduct typically barred in NLRB elections. To add to the anti-union atmosphere, three pro-union workers have been suspended by the company in the last month.

Workers will make their choice to be represented by UNITE HERE in an election conducted under the auspices of the Mashantucket Employment Rights Office. The election date is set for Friday April 20th.

 

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Retired NEJB Staff Member Cynthia Rodrigues to be Honored by Labor Guild

On Friday December 1, 2017 the Labor Guild of the Archdiocese of Boston will be honoring retired business agent and former member Cynthia Rodrigues with the annual Cushing Gavin Award. The annual awards honor exceptional service to the labor relations community in Eastern Massachusetts with awards going to a labor professional, management professional, a yearly alternating labor/management attorney, and a labor relations professional. The New England Joint Board is exceedingly proud that one of our own, Sister Rodrigues, will be receiving this year’s prestigious labor award.

The Labor Guild of the Archdiocese of Boston began in the rich tradition of Catholic Labor Priests and Catholic Labor schools which rose to prominence during the industrial unionization drives of the 1940s and 1950s. The Archdiocese of Boston created the Labor Guild in the early 1950s as a way for workers to learns about their rights on the job and better understand the intricacies of labor relations. Since its creation the Labor Guild has provided many services to the labor/management community including full semesters of labor education courses, neutral meeting spaces, supervising union elections and certifications, as well as networking and leadership opportunities.

Sister Cindy Rodrigues began her career at an early age working in the garment factories of Fall River. She quickly rose through the ranks of the Amalgamated Clothing and Textiles Workers Union (ACWTU), one of the NEJB’s predecessor unions, first as a shop steward and later as a Business Agent. Cindy was one of the first female Business Agents for the New England Regional Joint Board of ACTWU. Sister Rodrigues served as a Business Agent for 22 years organizing and servicing thousands of immigrant members in the Joint Board’s clothing, textile, and manufacturing shops. During her service to the union Sister Rodrigues experienced the mergers of the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union (ACTWU) with the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) to form the Union of Needletrades Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE) in 1995 and the merger of UNITE with the Hotel and Restaurant Employees to form UNITE HERE in 2004. Cindy lived through the decline of the needletrades and textile industry and the merger of many Joint Boards and locals in the New England area to form what is today the New England Joint Board UNITE HERE. Cindy has also served in many capacities as an official of the Central Labor Councils of New Bedford/Cape Cod and Fall River which merged to form the Greater Southeastern Massachusetts Labor Council. Through her years she has also represented the New England Joint Board and the Central Labor Council on the board of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO. Cindy is known as a fighter for labor in her community, a progressive voice for women and immigrant workers, and a caring and devoted friend, daughter, aunt, and wife.

Sister Rodrigues is a stalwart labor leader with the wisdom, tenacity, and resolve so typical of needletrades unionists. We are proud to call her our own and congratulate her on this very special award.

NEJB Announces 2017 Municipal and Special Election Endorsements

The New England Joint Board is proud to announce its endorsement of a group of candidates for elected public office who are committed to the values of our union. Once elected, these candidates will prioritize the issues important to working people and will stand strong against the attacks on the working class from wealthy corporate interests. Many of our endorsed candidates are themselves union members and two of them are NEJB members. Our endorsed candidates will lead their municipalities and districts towards a more progressive future.

Massachusetts:

  • Ed Charest (Chief Steward NEJB Local 431), Peabody City Council, Ward 4
  • Lydia Edwards (UAW Local 2320), Boston City Council, District 1
  • Michelle Wu, Boston City Council, At Large
  • Martin Walsh (LIUNA Local 223), City of Boston, Mayor
  • Daniel Rivera, City of Lawrence, Mayor
  • Tom McGee, City of Lynn, Mayor
  • Paul Feeney (IBEW Local 2222), State Senate, Bristol and Norfolk

Maine:

  • Roger Gay (NEJB Local 406), Saco City Council, Ward 2

 

UNITE HERE Statement on DACA Termination

New York, NY – Donald Trump’s announcement today that Deferred Childhood Arrivals Act (DACA) will be terminated in six months barring congressional intervention is an astounding act of political cowardice, and a missed opportunity to make a significant step towards comprehensive immigration reform. Donald Trump has passed the buck to Congress on what even he has acknowledged is a humanitarian crisis, because of his lack of political courage. Donald Trump, by failing to perform as a leader, has placed the fates of the 800,000 law abiding, tax-paying immigrant workers with DACA status in the hands of a dysfunctional Congress.