What do fruit farmers have in common with movie stars, video game makers, and delivery workers? They’re all getting on board the union train. Also, traffic regulators take on vehicle emissions and (hopefully) save us all gas money, lawmakers target jet-setting fatcats, and the ocean floor gets international reprieve.
Farmworkers Make A Comeback
The union co-founded by civil rights activists Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, and Philip Vera Cruz just had its biggest organizing boost in years and its first-ever win in the northeast, thanks to roughly 500 workers at five New York farms voting to join the union.
The nation’s most powerful farmworkers union, United Farm Workers (UFW), has seen a decline in membership since its heyday, falling from 80,000 members in the 1970s to around 6,000 in recent years. But the union scored a new opportunity in 2019, when New York State passed the Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act, cementing farmworkers’ right to organize and prohibiting retaliation from employers against labor activities. UFW leaders say this law made the latest unionization effort possible.
The unionized farms include four orchards and one vegetable farm, and will raise UFW’s total membership by eight percent. Two other unions in New York, meanwhile, have organized 125 workers at other farms. And elsewhere around the country, UFW is ramping up the fight for farmworker rights in the face of increasingly dangerous heat waves.
Farmworkers were deliberately excluded from the 1935 National Labor Relations Act so that southern lawmakers could deny Black agricultural laborers union protections. Meanwhile, farmworkers often face grueling working conditions (made even worse by this summer’s crazy heat), lack of insurance, and threats of deportation. Legislation strengthening their rights to organize is a big win, and will hopefully lead to additional union growth across the country.
Plus, icon Dolores Huerta is 93 years old and still fighting the good fight. We love to see it!
Gas Cuts For Gas Guzzlers
It’s time for gas guzzlers to go on a diet. A new proposal from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a division of the Department of Transportation, calls for stricter limits on emissions for passenger vehicles and light-duty trucks. The proposal follows potential new EPA standards to regulate transport, which could halve the emissions and pollutants produced by U.S. automobile manufacturers, and experts say the two efforts combined would transform the industry.