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Walmart NLRB Decision Doesn’t Change Intermittent Strike Rules

Wed, 2019-08-21 12:07

A recent decision by the Trump National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) addresses intermittent or “hit-and-run” strikes. Employers are jubilant and unions are distressed. Both reactions are largely off the mark.

The case grew out of a multi-year campaign by the Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) to organize Walmart, the largest U.S. employer (1.5 million workers in 4,000 locations). The effort began in 2010 under the name “OUR Walmart.”

Categories: Labor Notes

Steward's Corner: How to Respond If a Member’s Work Authorization Is Challenged

Thu, 2019-08-15 10:42
Steward's Corner: How to Respond If a Member’s Work Authorization Is Challenged August 15, 2019 / Guillermo Perez<? if(isset($entity->premium) and $entity->premium == 1) { echo "Print Only"; } ?>

Every major union in the United States has immigrant members, documented and undocumented.

Union activists and staff who represent these members need to be familiar with the ways these workers may be terminated—or worse still, detained—as a result of challenges to their authorization to work in the U.S.

In 2017 the AFL-CIO came out with an invaluable toolkit of materials to assist unions in responding to these challenges. More on the toolkit later, but first a quick review of how challenges to work authorization typically happen.

Categories: Labor Notes

Teachers Fighting for Public Schools Were Key to the Uprising in Puerto Rico

Thu, 2019-08-15 10:39
Teachers Fighting for Public Schools Were Key to the Uprising in Puerto Rico August 15, 2019 / Mercedes Martinez and Monique Dols<? if(isset($entity->premium) and $entity->premium == 1) { echo "Print Only"; } ?>

In the two months leading up to the uprising which ousted Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Roselló, educators celebrated hard-fought victories against the privatization of their education system. Struggles by teachers and families against school closures and charter schools helped pave the way for July’s unprecedented outpouring of protest (see box).

By the end of the school year in June, it became clear that the struggle to stop charterization had largely won. There is only one actively functional charter school on the island.

Categories: Labor Notes

NewsGuild to Rerun Presidential Election

Wed, 2019-08-14 16:36

This fall the NewsGuild will rerun its hotly contested presidential election.

In May incumbent Bernie Lunzer narrowly beat challenger Jon Schleuss of the L.A. Times local, 1,282 to 1,081. The NewsGuild, an affiliate of the Communications Workers (CWA), has about 20,000 members in the U.S. and Canada.

Categories: Labor Notes

A Brief History of Harlan County, USA

Wed, 2019-08-14 11:40

Miners in Harlan County, Kentucky, have drawn national attention with their direct action—occupying a railroad track to halt a coal train until the miners get paid the wages they are owed for digging it up. Although these miners today have no union, the mines of Harlan County have a storied history of grassroots labor militancy. Cal Winslow takes a look back. –Editor

Categories: Labor Notes

Bangladesh Accord Gets a Lifeline While Workers Organize Wildcat Strikes

Tue, 2019-08-06 10:49
Bangladesh Accord Gets a Lifeline While Workers Organize Wildcat Strikes August 06, 2019 / Saurav Sarkar<? if(isset($entity->premium) and $entity->premium == 1) { echo "Print Only"; } ?>

On April 23, 2013, a local television crew shot footage of cracks in the Rana Plaza factory complex in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The building was evacuated, but the owner of the building declared it safe and told workers to come back the next day. One Walmart supplier housed in the building, Ether Tex, threatened to withhold a month’s wages from any workers who didn’t return.

The building collapsed on April 24, and when the rubble was finally cleared, 1,134 people were found dead, with another 2,500 injured. It was the worst industrial disaster in the history of the garment industry.

Categories: Labor Notes

Why We Throw Stones

Mon, 2019-08-05 12:21

Everyone loves a good story about an Amazon walkout. But when Labor Notes wades into more controversial waters—the pros and cons of a contract, for instance, or a race for union office—we can expect some angry letters.

“Let’s not criticize each other,” is a common refrain. “We get enough attacks from the boss! Airing disagreements gives ammo to union-busters.”

Categories: Labor Notes

TV Review: The Simpsons Strike—‘They Have the Plant but We Have the Power’

Fri, 2019-08-02 14:00

This is the latest installment in an occasional series where we evaluate the “union episode” of a television show.

The Simpsons debuted in 1989 and is the longest-running scripted primetime television series in the U.S. This animated show features the daily life of a working-class family—parents Homer and Marge, and their children Bart, Lisa, and Maggie—along with dozens of oddball residents of the town of Springfield.

Categories: Labor Notes

‘We Believe in Ferries’: Alaskan Ferry Workers Walk Off the Job

Thu, 2019-08-01 13:18
‘We Believe in Ferries’: Alaskan Ferry Workers Walk Off the Job August 01, 2019 / Joe DeManuelle-Hall<? if(isset($entity->premium) and $entity->premium == 1) { echo "Print Only"; } ?>

UPDATE, August 6—The ferry strike is over. The IBU reached a tentative agreement on the ninth day of the strike, and members voted 248-19 to ratify it on the 10th day. All told, the ferry system was shut down for 11 days. An IBU official told Alaska Public Media that the new contract included the cost-of-living increases that the union had demanded, but also included health care concessions, though not as severe as the state's "final" offer.

Categories: Labor Notes

Kentucky Miners Are Camped Out on Railroad Tracks, Blocking a Coal Train, Demanding Their Stolen Wages

Wed, 2019-07-31 15:30
Kentucky Miners Are Camped Out on Railroad Tracks, Blocking a Coal Train, Demanding Their Stolen Wages July 31, 2019 / Alexandra Bradbury<? if(isset($entity->premium) and $entity->premium == 1) { echo "Print Only"; } ?>

Harlan County, Kentucky, is probably best known for the hard-fought strikes in its coal mines in the 1930s and 1970s. Today the remaining mines are nonunion. But evidently the local spirit of militancy and solidarity is still kicking.

For three days now, miners and their families have occupied a railroad track, blocking a train that’s loaded up with coal that these workers dug out of the earth and never got paid for.

Categories: Labor Notes

Bus Drivers Stand Up to Retaliation and Win First Contract

Tue, 2019-07-30 11:21
Bus Drivers Stand Up to Retaliation and Win First Contract July 30, 2019 / John Ertl<? if(isset($entity->premium) and $entity->premium == 1) { echo "Print Only"; } ?>

This is part two of the story of how bus drivers in Alexandria, Virginia, finally unionized after 35 years of trying. In part one, the workers withstood a barrage of antiunion pressure and won their election 97-13. But they still had to bargain a first contract with the hostile company. Here’s how they did it. –Ed.

Categories: Labor Notes

Letters: Volkswagen and the United Auto Workers

Mon, 2019-07-29 10:54
A Win Can Take Years
Categories: Labor Notes

From the Archives: Immigration Raids Make Latino Workers the Enemy

Fri, 2019-07-26 10:25
From the Archives: Immigration Raids Make Latino Workers the Enemy July 26, 2019 / Dan La Botz<? if(isset($entity->premium) and $entity->premium == 1) { echo "Print Only"; } ?>

This article is presented as part of our ongoing series of stories from our archives. It originally appeared in Labor Notes # 40 published on May 26, 1982. -Editors.

James Gonzalez ran in panic from the agents of La Migra who raided the Boulder Valley Poultry Farm in Boulder, Colorado. He ran from the farm into the main road and was run down by a gravel truck and killed. Gonzalez’s real name turned out to be Jose Morales, an undocumented worker.

Categories: Labor Notes

Baltimore Teacher Reformers' Win Upheld by National Union

Thu, 2019-07-25 10:46
Baltimore Teacher Reformers' Win Upheld by National Union July 25, 2019 / Samantha Winslow<? if(isset($entity->premium) and $entity->premium == 1) { echo "Print Only"; } ?>

The reform slate in the Baltimore Teachers (BTU) overcame its first hurdle after being elected in May: an attempt by the incumbents to force a rerun was rejected by the national Teachers (AFT) leadership.

The incumbents, who had held office for 20 years, had challenged the results after being defeated by the “Union We Deserve” slate.

That slate was supported by two rank-and-file caucuses, the Baltimore Movement of Rank-and-File Educators (BMORE) and the Caucus of Educators for Democracy and Equity (CEDE).

Categories: Labor Notes

Volkswagen Declares Mission Accomplished

Tue, 2019-07-23 09:50

In the carrot and stick approach to union-busting, Frank Fischer was the carrot.

Fischer, a former plant executive whom many workers remembered fondly, parachuted in as interim CEO of the Chattanooga, Tennessee, Volkswagen plant at the end of May to help sway the plant’s 1,700 hourly workers to vote against unionization.

He replaced unpopular CEO Antonio Pinto. The point was to show workers that the company was listening to their concerns and making changes.

Categories: Labor Notes

Taiwanese Flight Attendant Strike Cancels 2,250 Flights

Mon, 2019-07-22 15:37
Taiwanese Flight Attendant Strike Cancels 2,250 Flights July 22, 2019 / Brian Hioe<? if(isset($entity->premium) and $entity->premium == 1) { echo "Print Only"; } ?>

Flight attendants at EVA Air have concluded the largest and longest strike in the history of Taiwan’s airline industry, from June 20 through July 10.

Strikers notched a partial victory against a notoriously anti-union company. Now they will have to consolidate their gains and fend off repression.

The strikers were all women—EVA does not hire male flight attendants, though it announced in the middle of the strike that it plans to. According to the Taoyuan Flight Attendants Union (TFAU), 2,949 of the airline’s 4,600 cabin crew members participated.

Categories: Labor Notes

Viewpoint: As Big Three Negotiations Open, Which Way Forward for the Auto Workers?

Fri, 2019-07-19 14:32
Viewpoint: As Big Three Negotiations Open, Which Way Forward for the Auto Workers? July 19, 2019 / Dianne Feeley<? if(isset($entity->premium) and $entity->premium == 1) { echo "Print Only"; } ?>

Why does the once-powerful United Auto Workers keep losing?

That question is on many lips after the union’s sad organizing defeat at Volkswagen in Tennessee; its unfolding corruption scandal; and its toothless response to the news that General Motors will close five plants.

The symbolism was clear last January when, instead of joining a spirited coalition demonstration at the International Auto Show, the UAW held a candlelight vigil nearby.

Categories: Labor Notes

Prime Day for Amazon Protests

Wed, 2019-07-17 13:38
Prime Day for Amazon Protests July 17, 2019 / Joe DeManuelle-Hall<? if(isset($entity->premium) and $entity->premium == 1) { echo "Print Only"; } ?>

Amazon’s biggest shopping days of 2019 so far—”Prime Days,” July 15-16—saw walkouts and protests by workers in the U.S. and Germany. The protests were semi-coordinated, targeting Amazon when its warehouses are running at full clip and the company is in the media spotlight.

In Germany, Amazon workers organizing with the Ver.di union struck over the course of two days in an ongoing struggle over pay. The union claimed that 2,000 workers participated across seven facilities.

Categories: Labor Notes

Amazon Warehouse Worker: Why I’m Taking Action

Tue, 2019-07-16 12:49
Amazon Warehouse Worker: Why I’m Taking Action July 16, 2019 / Terry Miller<? if(isset($entity->premium) and $entity->premium == 1) { echo "Print Only"; } ?>

Amazon warehouse and tech workers around the country took action, including a strike in Minnesota, during the company’s much-hyped annual “Prime Day” discount frenzy July 15-16. Read more about those actions here. Here one warehouse worker from Chicago describes conditions on the job. Thirty night shift workers in his warehouse marched on their boss early this morning to demand air conditioning, health insurance, and Prime Week pay increases. –Editors

Categories: Labor Notes

Bus Drivers Strike Reveals Inequality on Martha’s Vineyard

Mon, 2019-07-15 14:12

Twenty-five Martha’s Vineyard bus drivers are striking for a first contract, exposing the inequality that exists for working people on an island known as the summer home of the rich and famous.

The Florida-based company Transit Connection Inc. (TCI) receives public funds to operate the bus system relied on by vacationers and year-round residents alike. So during the strike, taxpayers are literally paying scab wages—contrary to the progressive values often associated with Martha’s Vineyard.

Categories: Labor Notes