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New Flyer Workers in Anniston Successfully Unionize and Secure First Contract

Union

Anniston, AL – On May 16, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) announced that workers at the New Flyer electric bus plant in Anniston have successfully unionized and ratified their first union contract. Approximately 600 New Flyer workers have joined the International Union of Electronic, Electrical, Salaried, Machine, and Furniture Workers, the industrial division of the CWA.

The new contract, approved by over 99 percent of union members, includes substantial raises between 15 and 38 percent by 2026, cost-of-living adjustments, and enhanced retirement benefits.

Red Bird Camp

This milestone follows New Flyer’s signing of a community benefits agreement with Jobs to Move America in May 2022, as part of a lawsuit settlement. The agreement mandates the company to enhance Spanish language communications, establish a discrimination complaint system, and ensure that at least 45% of new hires come from historically disadvantaged groups.

Janice Harper, executive vice president of people and culture for New Flyer’s parent company NFI, stated that the company has “worked hard with local community organizations and union partners to focus our collective energies on providing opportunities for our people and the communities in which we operate, to thrive and succeed.” Community benefits agreements are binding contracts between employers and community groups that require employers to give back to the community in specific ways.

Adam Keller, a former Jobs to Move America organizing fellow and Alabama Arise’s organizer for northeast Alabama, highlighted the significance of these agreements. “Typically in the South, the model is we give away as much as we can to the company with little to no strings attached, and entice them with further promises of lower wages, hostility to unions, and just a generally more precarious workforce,” he stated. Keller emphasized that community benefit agreements are “a huge tool that we can use to ensure big economic development projects actually benefit the people.”

In addition to the community benefits agreement, New Flyer committed to neutrality during the unionization campaign. This neutrality, along with the adoption of card check recognition, allowed for a smoother path to unionization. The company voluntarily recognized the union once a majority of workers at the Anniston plant signed authorization cards.

A recent development could impact future union efforts. A bill signed by Governor Kay Ivey on May 13 will bar companies that voluntarily recognize unions from receiving economic benefits from the state or local governments. This legislation has faced strong criticism from representatives of Alabama labor unions, who argue it undermines workers’ rights and fair labor practices.

The successful unionization at New Flyer is seen as a significant victory for labor advocates in Alabama, highlighting the potential for community benefit agreements and cooperative employer relationships to foster better working conditions and fairer economic development.

 

Union

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