AlterNet By Kimberly Freeman Brown - December 24, 2010
It’s been quite a year for America’s working families. And as we gear up for the fights ahead, it’s important to reflect on 2010—both the highs and the lows.
1. Rail and Airline Union Elections Lead to a Win for Democracy
Imagine a presidential election in which all non-voters were tallied as a vote for the incumbent. That’s how union representation elections used to be for workers in the rail and airline industries, where non-voters were counted as a vote against the union. But last May, the National Mediation Board (NMB) adopted a new rule that ensures a more democratic process for these workers by only counting votes from voting employees.
2. Students and Workers Earn Sweat-free Victory
Ten years ago, workers at BJ&B factory in the Dominican Republic kicked off their effort to form a union for better pay and a voice in their workplace. Despite a strong partnership with student labor group United Students Against Sweatshops, big-name brands stopped sourcing from the factory once the workers had a contract, and it closed in 2007. But this summer, Knights Apparel reopened the factory and rehired the unionized workers. In college bookstores across the country, consumers can now buy apparel produced at the plant under the brand name Alta Gracia.