B&H workers have unionized after passing a 200-to-88 vote yesterday to join the United Steelworkers (USW) union. Last month, nearly 200 workers launched a protest and unionization campaign, accusing the photo retail giant of subjecting employees to long hours, unsafe work environments, inadequate training, and discrimination.
By the time the vote rolled around yesterday, over 1,000 people in the photography and creative industries signed an open letter in support of the B&H workers.
“We stand with the workers of the #BHexposed campaign, and call on B&H Photo Video to allow the workers to form a union, free from intimidation and retaliation, and quickly negotiate a fair contract,” the letter reads. “Many of us can no longer in good conscience patronize B&H, and we stand together closely watching the company, ready to act and support the workers.”
Among the industry groups and individuals who signed the letter was Robert McNeely, the official White House photographer of the Clinton Administration.
“I have bought equipment from B&H for decades and even have spoken at B&H-sponsored events in the past, but I am appalled by the conduct of B&H’s management described by workers as they have tried to organize a union and get a fair contract,” McNeely told the petition organizers. “I stand with B&H warehouse workers and encourage everyone to support them as well.”
This is what a union looks like. #UnionSi #BHexposed
Posted by Laundry Workers Center on Sunday, November 1, 2015
Hyperallergic reports that the open letter was published after B&H began working to prevent the unionization, allegedly threatening mass terminations and offering workers as much as $15,000 to “switch sides.”
By voting to join United Steelworks, B&H employees are now represented by the largest industrial labor union in North America that boasts over 860,000 members.
“It was obvious that employees at B&H needed collective bargaining representation in order to address dangerous working conditions and discrimination in their workplace,” says USW director John Shinn in a press release. “It was something that the company was otherwise unwilling to do.”
“We welcome the workers at B&H to the USW and look forward to addressing their concerns with the company at the bargaining table.”