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This summer as you hurry into the airport know that it's a workplace war-zone and labor is winning

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This story first appeared in The Chief

After years of decline in the American union movement, there is evidence of a revival within the transportation sector, particularly at the airlines.

The turnabout is notable because it’s widely believed that it was President Ronald Reagan’s mass firing of striking Air Traffic Controllers in 1981 that helped accelerate labor’s diminishing influence.

In the early 1950s, at the height of its power the union movement represented 34.8 percent of the nation’s workforce. According to the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, this year it represents 10.5 percent.

Nowhere was that retrenchment felt more strongly than in the transportation sector, which in the past, along with the utilities and telecommunications industries, were the most-unionized in the private sector.

According to the BLS, in 2000 1.8 million of the transportation sector’s 8.1 million workers, were unionized. By 2017, the total workforce had grown to 8.8 million, but those represented by unions had dropped to 1.3 million.

Last year, the Transport Workers Union of America prevailed in a National Mediation Board election and won the right to represent 5,000 flight attendants with JetBlue. The parent union of TWU Local 100 had already represented 14,000 airline mechanics across the country.

A Long, Hard Slog

The organizing drive took nine years.

Across the country, 11,000 workers who provide the catering for millions of air travelers annually have organized under the UNITE HERE banner in dozens of cities in a drive to raise their meager compensation and improve their health-care coverage.

This workforce, like the JetBlue flight attendants, is covered under the National Railway Labor Act and union contracts are amendable, with the terms of the last contract carrying over until a new deal is reached. Strikes or lockouts are prohibited unless the parties are released from negotiations by the National Mediation Board.

In a vote at Newark’s United Airlines kitchen, almost three-quarters of the workers voted to join the union, which now has national traction.

In a late June Port Authority of New York and New Jersey public meeting, dozens of UNITE HERE........

© Salon