In April 2022, Amazon workers in Staten Island voted to form a union. But a year after that historic victory, union members at the JFK8 warehouse still don’t have a contract, thanks largely to Amazon spending $14 million on union avoidance consultants. That may be shocking but it’s not unusual. When workers vote to form a union, it takes an average of 465 additional days to sign a contract with their employer. Meanwhile this spring in Buffalo, where the first Starbucks Workers United election was won in 2021, a new decertification petition attempted to extinguish the spark that inspired hundreds of other locations to follow suit. As these hotly contested victories show, winning a union election is only the first step, and bosses fight tooth and nail to avoid the bargaining table, whether through efforts to decertify new unions or other legal objections.
In her fourth book on union organizing and building the power of the labor movement, Jane McAlevey, veteran organizer and Senior Policy Fellow of the UC Berkeley Labor Center, continues to provide working people with the tools needed to build and strengthen workplace democracy, this time with a focus on winning successful contracts. Rules to Win By: Power and Participation in Union Negotiations, co-authored with researcher Abby Lawlor, presents six recent compelling case studies, including Boston hotel workers, New Jersey teachers and Philadelphia nurses. McAlevey, who trained two of the workplaces in organizing, power structure analysis and negotiations, recounts how and why the unions involved succeeded.