“The battle outside ragin’/ Will soon shake your windows/ And rattle your walls/ For the times they are a-changin’.” Bob Dylan’s 1964 classic opines on the one guarantee in life: change. In the last month, change abounds as workers organize across the United States as people take charge of their fates, rates, and working conditions. Workers at companies like Amazon, Apple, Medieval Times, Starbucks and REI all have either launched campaigns to organize, or successfully held elections, or organized into unions in the past few months. We have followed this story, in previous blogs which you may read under our Small Businesses page. Here follow the most recent details.
The SAG-AFTRA national board approved a tentative agreement for its Network Television Code, which they negotiated with major television broadcast networks and producers. SAG-AFTRA members who stand to benefit include those working on nearly all non-primetime and all non-dramatic primetime television and digital media. Covered programs include morning news shows, talk shows, soaps, variety shows, reality programs, game shows, sports & promotional announcements. SAG-AFTRA members must next vote to ratify. A specific list of benefits & improvements is listed here.
While Starbucks workers continue efforts to organize across the country, another dining establishment with a much smaller footprint, the Medieval Times, has been inspired to follow suit. The 40 people who stand to benefit at the New Jersey location making headlines, are small in number when compared to the thousands of Starbucks baristas, but it does not matter whether you are 40 or 4,000: if the workers are eligible, they have the right to seek an election. Many performers at the Medieval Times are already members of other unions, such as SAG-AFTRA or IATSE, and include actors, who play roles as animal handlers or sometimes, as crowd diffusers (the restaurant is famous for its large servings of food and alcohol). Despite their differences, Starbucks and Medieval Times workers have similar issues: concern for their physical safety and access to appropriate wages.
Time will tell whether these workers succeed. Success will depend on those eligible to vote informing themselves about union elections, and having a successful election. We will continue to monitor this story as it develops.