Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

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  1. Do Unions Improve Workplace Safety?

    Do unions make a discernible difference in preventing workplace injuries?

    A majority of Americans believe so. According to a poll by the Employment Law Alliance, 63% of respondents listed workplace safety as a major factor driving support for unionization. 

    Real-world data tells a different story. 

    In 2018, the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine released a study that analyzed seven years of data. It showed that unionized workers were actually more likely to suffer workplace injuries. 

    And for those wondering if unionized workers’ injuries were less severe, the study also noted that there was “no significant difference in distribution of injury severity by union status.”

    Unfortunately, this result is no outlier. 

    Studies conducted in 1983, 2002, and 2012 also showed that unionized workers were at higher risk of workplace related injury or illness. Union workers themselves back this up: A 2015 Gallup survey found that unionized workers were less satisfied with their safety and workplace flexibility, compared to non-union workers. 

    As a case study, consider a union whose members have good reason to be concerned about job safety: The United Steelworkers (USW).

    A look at the United Steelworkers X (formerly Twitter) account shows plenty of tweets that attempt to sell people on the idea that they will be far safer in a union – specifically the USW. 

    But a review of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) violations at United Steelworkers facilities in New York also revealed there is no shortage of issues at union facilities.

    In 2019, reporting indicated that a Buffalo plant represented by the United Steelworkers was fined by OSHA for a string of violations that included endangering workers with unsafe conditions, steam explosions, and amputation hazards. 

    Unfortunately for the United Steelworkers, problems are also occurring in a facility it represents in Eastern New York.

    United Steelworkers members at the facility were exposed to death and serious injury, obstructed exit routes, and improper fire detection systems. The union even repeatedly failed to have the facility report illnesses and injuries that occurred in the workplace.

    Actions speak louder than words. When it comes to claims about worker safety, it seems some unions aren’t living up to their promises.  


    Categories: Center for Union FactsUnited Steelworkers
  2. Worst Employer In America? Video Spot Calls Out SEIU Union Busting

    The Center for Union Facts released a bombshell report and TV spot exposing the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) for years of controversial employment practices.

    The report reveals that the SEIU’s own employees accuse the union of union busting activities, sexual harassment, and promoting a toxic workplace that provides little work-life balance. The report includes Glassdoor reviews from SEIU employees who feel that they are “treated like trash.” The video spot highlights the union’s poor reviews from its own employees.

    You can learn more at

    Categories: SEIU
  3. The SEIU’s Terrible Tactics: Hospital Strikes

    The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has made hospital strikes a key part of its negotiating strategy, regularly holding hospitals hostage – and putting countless lives at risk – until the union’s demands are met.

    In just one example, SEIU members in the union’s Minnesota and Iowa Healthcare local authorized a strike against a group of hospitals in May of this year, with 98% of the union’s members voting yes. 

    The hospital group released a statement in response, detailing its concerns:

    “We are seeing unions become increasingly comfortable withholding care through strikes to achieve their agenda, despite the significant risk to the community. This trend is concerning, especially when the stakes for care to our patients are extremely high. Strikes don’t benefit anyone and divert our limited charitable resources away from our mission to serve our community.”

    Not willing to risk the lives of patients, the hospital group eventually conceded to the union’s demands, averting the strike. 

    SEIU activists don’t seem to have many qualms when it comes to exploiting the health and wellness of community members to get their way. At a 2021 strike at McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center, one SEIU member gave a revealing statement that indicates how the union sees hospital patients.  

    “Everyone provides their portion of care for these patients. In order to obtain the proper quality care, you will need us members back inside the building.”

    In other words, union leaders were aware of how their actions risked the health and safety of patients and they went on strike anyway, putting the “proper quality care” of patients at risk. 

    Categories: SEIU
  4. Failing Members at the Bargaining Table and on the Picket Line

    We’ve heard about the miserable experiences of employees at the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), but does the union treat its membership any better?

    The SEIU’s track record reveals a union that repeatedly fails to support its members at the bargaining table and on the picket line. 

    In 2023, the State Employees Association of North Carolina (SEANC) – a group of 50,000 North Carolina state government workers – announced it was disaffiliating from the SEIU. The group cited the SEIU’s bargaining tactics as being ineffective for its workers. The union explained:

    “Our membership felt that for a long time now, the way we approach labor, the labor movement in North Carolina, the way we approach our work in the legislature to try to get raises and benefits for state employees has been different than the way most of SEIU’s locals go about that.”

    “For example, walk outs, strikes, and other collective bargaining efforts employed by some unions are not something that SEANC feels get results.” 

    Perhaps SEANC saw how SEIU Local 1000 failed workers in California in 2020. In that deal, the SEIU managed to negotiate an almost 10 percent pay reduction for government workers across the state. The same deal also delayed a general salary increase.

    The SEIU also failed to ensure government workers at an office in California had adequate working conditions. SEIU Local 1021 workers complained the office was infested with rats, but it appears no reports or statements about the issue were made by the SEIU. Workers at the office were forced to contact ABC 7 News to report on the matter. 

    The SEIU’s neglect for workers doesn’t just end at the bargaining table, the union is also failing workers on the picket line. 

    Striking workers can expect to make little in the way of pay while they are on strike with the SEIU. According to a document from the SEIU-UHW in 2019, the SEIU-UHW was paying its striking members just $200 a week and that was only after being paid nothing for the first week of striking. The SEIU Local 503 only performs slightly better, paying its striking members $400 after the first week of striking. 

    These payments amount to just $5 and $10 an hour for a forty-hour work week – shocking coming from a union that consistently advocates for a $15 minimum wage. 

    The SEIU national headquarters seems to be more concerned with political spending than protecting workers. In 2022, it contributed just over $55,000 to its national strike benefit fund while spending over $60 million on political activities and lobbying. 

    Categories: SEIU
  5. SEIU Staff Continue to Protest Outside Union Headquarters

    Back in May, staff at the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) national headquarters made headlines after authorizing a strike against their employer over failed contract negotiations. The media coverage on the subject may have died out, but striking employees – and members of the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 2 – continue to speak out on Twitter, telling the SEIU to “practice what they preach” and to end the union’s hypocritical union busting.  

    Things have apparently gotten so bad for employees at the SEIU headquarters that SEIU affiliate union Workers United even spoke out about the poor treatment. 

    On Aug. 9, 2023, the unionized staffers released some numbers on the SEIU’s union busting, The stats speak for themselves: 

    • Local 2 wages at SEIU account for just 2% of SEIU’s yearly budget.
    • There are five managers for every one local 2 staffer at SEIU.
    • SEIU management has cut local 2’s size by two-thirds in the past 20 years. 
    • In 2022, SEIU’s top officers made more than the entire union staff of SEIU benefit funds combined.
    • A Local 2 staffer earning an average salary at SEIU Benefit Funds could receive a 280% raise and still earn less than Mary Kay Henry.
    • In 2022, SEIU spent 7 times more on managers and non-bargaining unit staff than on Local 2. 
    • SEIU spent $35,000,000 on consultants in 2021. 5 times more than on its own Local 2 staff.

    These workers have even been joined by staff members of the AFGE, CWA, and AFSCME. 

    At this point, SEIU staff members have been working under an expired contract for nearly a year.

    If one thing is clear, it’s that the SEIU needs to start treating its employees fairly and put an end to the union’s hypocrisy that is currently on full display. 

    Categories: SEIU
  6. Is Amalgamated Bank Guilty of Greenwashing?

    Is Amalgamated Bank’s rhetoric on green energy and sustainability just an attempt at greenwashing its oil investments?

    Just a few weeks ago, Labor Pains touched on the irresponsible financial decisions that threaten Amalgamated Bank’s existence and now it seems the Bank has gone back to some of its favorite investments for comfort – fossil fuels.

    Amidst a volatile stock price and a Wall Street Journal piece that noted the Bank is not on firm financial footing, the Bank appears to have significantly increased its holdings in two of the largest fossil fuel companies in the first quarter of 2023.

    America’s only “socially responsible bank” increased its holdings in Exxon Mobil and Chevron Co. by 11.6% and 12.6%, respectively. Investing in clean energy still seems to be the last concern for Amalgamated Bank, which now has nearly 2% of its total investment portfolio held in two of the biggest fossil fuel producers in the world.

    This couldn’t contrast more with the statements the Bank has been making on its Twitter account:

    “Did you know that sustainable banks prioritize investing in #RenewablEnergy projects and environmentally friendly initiatives.”

    “Sustainable baking plays a crucial role in combatting climate change and building a greener future.”

    Although the Bank claims to fervently support investing in sustainable energy, it appears that with its financial future on the line they have decided the only “sustainable” investment it can count on is its ever-increasing holdings in some of the largest fossil fuel companies.

    This certainly appears to be an attempt at greenwashing – a marketing attempt to promote a sense of environmental impact that simply does not exist.

    View our previous post on all the hypocritical investments made by Amalgamated Bank.

    Categories: Workers United
  7. The UAW’s Hypocritical History on Electric Vehicles

    The UAW often proudly notes its support for electric vehicles (EVs) and concern over climate change. So why is it blasting the Biden administration for investing in EV plants? 

    Add this two-faced approach to the union’s long history of mixed messaging on vehicle emissions. 

    In the 1990s, the UAW aggressively lobbied against automobile emission standards. The union put pressure on the Clinton-Gore campaign in 1992, convincing the ticket to reduce its support for federal emission standards. They lobbied to kill an emissions regulation in 2002, and gave testimony before Congress against the concept in 2007

    Despite a clear track record of opposing lower vehicle emissions, the union has maintained that it supports initiatives like the “promotion of alternative fuels,” or the production of alternative vehicles, instead of implementing emission restrictions. 

    Well it’s now 2023 and the UAW got its wish. The debate on climate change and the auto industry is now focused on EVs rather than emission restrictions, and the White House is in the process of pumping billions into EV production. 

    But the UAW still isn’t happy. Now that EVs are viable, the union is pushing against them. In 2018, the UAW circulated a report detailing its new stance on EV production. 

    According to the report:

    “Electrification presents an opportunity to create innovative products, but the nature of EV production could also threaten employment levels in the automotive industry”

    “The shift to EV powertrains also presents a challenge to the employment of workers currently making ICE engines, transmissions, exhaust systems, and fuel systems. Tens of thousands of UAW members have high quality union jobs producing such components. If an increasing number of vehicles do not require these components, it could have a negative impact on employment levels at plants making these components.”

    Nor was this change of heart limited to 2018. This year, the union called on the Biden administration to lower its 2032 goals for EV production, calling the standards “premature” and claiming that they could “disrupt the market,” and has blasted the president for investing federal money into EV plants. The UAW has even gone so far as to withhold an endorsement of President Biden’s reelection campaign over their gripes with his EV policy. 

    Throughout all this, the UAW hypocritically claims that it supports EV production, even going so far as to work to unionize EV plants. Yes, the same EV plants that the union claims could kill UAW jobs – first at Tesla and now at Detroit’s Big Three automakers. 

    To recap the union’s position on EVs: The UAW supports EVs as an alternative to emission standards, then it tells you how much damage they could cause, and uses political pressure to undermine them.

    Seems clear as mud.

    Categories: UAW
  8. Amalgamated Bank Nearing a Financial Crisis?

    Is America’s “socially responsible bank” also one of the country’s most fiscally irresponsible banks?

     Just over ten years ago Amalgamated Bank was in dire financial condition and barely managed to escape closure after being warned by both the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and New York State Banking Department that it was dangerously undercapitalized.

     Could history be repeating itself?

     Just this week the Wall Street Journal detailed how Amalgamated Bank could suffer the same fate as Silicon Valley and First Republic Bank if customers make a run for their money and the Bank’s unrealized losses become real.

     Since March 31, Amalgamated Bank’s market value for its bonds have tanked by $129 million and the market value of its loans decreased by $387 million. The total unrealized losses – $517 million – nearly equal the Bank’s total equity total of $519 million.

     Worse yet, a majority – 62% – of the Bank’s deposits were uninsured at the end of the first quarter of this year, a figure the Wall Street Journal noted was abnormally high for the banking industry.

     This wouldn’t be the first time the Bank made irresponsible investments that jeopardized its solvency and customers.

     In 2011, Amalgamated suffered $150 million in losses after it purchased over $200 million in high-risk mortgage loans. The substantial losses on risky loans was not the Bank’s only misfire, they also lost nearly $60 million betting on the disastrous AOL Time Warner merger.

     The banking misfires by Amalgamated led to its union owner – SEIU affiliate Workers United – selling off 40% of its ownership to two private equity investors to save the Bank.

     Given the current situation at the Bank, Workers United and Bank leadership will remain on edge given the state of the U.S. economy and any possible rate increases by the Federal Reserve.

     If one thing is certain, Amalgamated Bank’s financial position will be something to watch as the Federal Reserve remains aggressive on raising interest rates while it attempts to push inflation back down to 2%.

    Categories: SEIUWorkers United