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A New Dawn: Union Victory at New Flyer in Anniston, Alabama

New Contract Includes Pay Raises Up to 38% By 2026
Man and woman at restaurant with child in background.
Curtis Session, New Flyer Worker

For six years, Curtis Session followed the same routine, clocking in at New Flyer day after day. But today felt different. As he made his way to work, there was an air of anticipation. Today, Curtis wasn't just a worker; he was now a union member with IUE-CWA, about to vote to ratify a first contract. It was a stark contrast to his previous stance against unions—a journey from skepticism to optimism. With each step, Curtis felt a mix of nerves and excitement, knowing that this decision would impact not only his future but also the lives of his coworkers. It wasn't just about a contract; it was about reclaiming a sense of control over his time, about being there for his family and being able to support their needs.

"To be honest, I am not what you would call a 'union guy.' In the beginning, I didn't want the union at New Flyer because I didn't want what I perceived to be just another layer of management," Curtis explains. "Once it became evident that the union was here, I signed up because I wanted to have a say in how things proceeded. I know that the contract that was bargained for will benefit myself and my family as well as all the other employees here at New Flyer."

Curtis's sentiment echoes a growing trend in the South, where unions are making strides in traditionally anti-union territory. Recent victories by unions such as United Auto Workers, United Steelworkers, Communication Workers of America, and others have shown that workers in the South are overcoming right-to-work legislation and corporate favoritism.

At New Flyer in Anniston, Alabama, this shift was palpable. The workers, represented by IUE-CWA, the industrial division of CWA, successfully formed their union on January 31, 2024. This was a significant milestone for the region, given New Flyer's status as North America’ largest transit bus manufacturer.

Last month, workers reached an impressive tentative agreement with New Flyer, marking a watershed moment in labor relations in the South. The contract negotiations yielded substantial gains for the workers, both economically and non-economically.

Among the economic wins were immediate pay raises, guaranteed cost of living adjustments, and increased retirement benefits. Non-economic wins included more vacation and PTO, enhanced parental leave, expanded bereavement leave, and improved union rights and representation.

Woman in green cap with dog.
Cynthia Crosson, New Flyer Worker

Cynthia Crosson, a worker at New Flyer, shared her story: "Back in 2021, I got sick with stage 4 Lyme disease. The doctor appointments and treatments became an overwhelming financial burden for my partner and me, causing a lot of anxiety about our future. The newly bargained agreement guarantees wage increases and freezes health insurance costs. This provides us with the financial stability we need to rest easy and focus on my recovery.”

Family in front of fireplace.
Beatriz Lopez, New Flyer Worker

Beatriz Lopez, with just two months at New Flyer, emphasized the importance of family time: "Being in a union helps me prioritize family. That's all I think about. I'm thinking about our kids, our family, being able to be there in case of sickness or school events."

After an astounding 99.39% of union members emphatically voted to ratify the tentative agreement on May 15th, the atmosphere at New Flyer is electric with excitement and optimism. This victory represents more than just better wages and benefits; it's a profound moment of reclaiming dignity and respect in the workplace for the workers. With the contract now officially ratified, the path ahead is one of empowerment and solidarity, marking a significant milestone in the ongoing journey towards fair and equitable treatment for all workers at New Flyer.

In the words of Curtis Session, "While the pay increases are great, it was the benefits that won me over. More vacation and PTO time, vacation rollover, increased 401k contributions, and guaranteed cost-of-living increases. I now have an extra cushion if I get sick or my daughter gets sick or if I just need a day off. I will have another week to spend with my family and the extra income to spend on them."

The union victory at New Flyer in Anniston, Alabama, is a testament to the power of collective action and solidarity. It's a reminder that when workers come together, they can achieve remarkable change.

Group of five people in red shirts with raised fists underneath a banner reading New Flyer Workers United
New Flyer Anniston Bargaining Team