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Updated: 15 hours 49 min ago

West Virginia Teachers Run for Top Union Offices

Tue, 2020-05-05 10:08

By January 2020 I was feeling disenchanted with my union. As proud as I was of my colleagues and fellow members, I believed that we had a top-down organization.

I knew we could do better but I didn’t know how to begin.

Then I received a phone call from Jay O’Neal, asking me to consider joining the WV United Caucus. The Caucus believed that we could reorganize our unions to reflect democracy and to organize workers to fight.

Categories: Labor Notes

Interview: Vermont State College Workers and Students Rebuff Shock Doctrine

Mon, 2020-05-04 14:28

Unionized faculty and staff at the Vermont state colleges are in a fight to defend their jobs and schools, which teach working class students mainly from rural parts of the state. Last month Chancellor Jeb Spaulding announced the immediate, permanent closure of three of the six state colleges.

But a large movement rose up extremely quickly, stopped the closures, forced Spaulding to resign, and is now demanding increased funding to keep affordable public education available in the state.

Categories: Labor Notes

The Worker Mini-Revolts of the 21st Century

Mon, 2020-05-04 11:20

This is an excerpt from the forthcoming revised and expanded 50th anniversary edition of Strike! by Jeremy Brecher, PM Press, June 2020. The publisher is raising funds on Kickstarter to bring the book to new audiences; give here. Also, today at 4 p.m.

Categories: Labor Notes

The Hammer and the Dance: Why Reopening Now Will Kill

Fri, 2020-05-01 13:34
The Hammer and the Dance: Why Reopening Now Will Kill May 01, 2020 / Chris Brooks

This is a time of deep uncertainty. The coronavirus has been the leading cause of death in the United States since April 7, but scientist and doctors are only just beginning to understand it. It turns out that COVID-19 is much more than just a respiratory disease; it also attacks the brain, kidneys, heart, and blood vessels. Science, one of the world’s top academic journals, said that “the virus acts like no pathogen humanity has ever seen.”

Categories: Labor Notes

Viewpoint: Publicly Fund News Media, Because Journalists Fight for Us All

Fri, 2020-05-01 10:48

In a cataclysmic health crisis, it’s plain to see how essential the work of journalists has become. The public is turning to news media sources in record numbers, particularly online, to answer burning questions:

“Which hospitals are at capacity?”
“How many cases are in my state?”
“Is the curve peaking or flattening out?”
“What are the latest rules?”
“Are we re-opening the country for business too quickly?”
“Too slowly?”
“How do I stay safe?”

Categories: Labor Notes

Lessons from the First Union Climate Strike in the U.S.

Thu, 2020-04-30 13:03
Lessons from the First Union Climate Strike in the U.S. April 30, 2020 / Iris Altamirano, Greg Nammacher, and Priya Dalal-Whelan

On a pitch-dark night on February 28, striking janitors led a huge march along the frozen streets of downtown Minneapolis. Any other night, the janitors would be warm inside, cleaning the buildings of the Fortune 500. Instead they were leading what some have called the first union-sanctioned “climate strike” in U.S. history.

Categories: Labor Notes

Los Angeles Teachers Use Contract Action Teams to Win COVID-19 Victory

Wed, 2020-04-29 17:20

In United Teachers Los Angeles, our 34,000-member union, we used Contract Action Teams (CAT) in every school to build up to our winning strike in January 2019. We used the CAT again in our school when our principal tried to push teachers to do the work of the administration while we are working from home.

A CAT is a school’s organizing team, made up of rank-and-file members who, with the chapter chair, strategize, disseminate information, and support staff with contractual issues.

Categories: Labor Notes

Viewpoint: During the Crisis, Teachers Need the Freedom to Focus on Student Needs, Not Online Metrics

Wed, 2020-04-29 15:40

My first teaching assignment was in a special education classroom in an elementary school basement; above the door in red were the words “Shelter Inside.”

I read those words every morning on my way in. The relationships inside the classroom were our shelter, and the community we built together made learning possible.

Now school districts across the globe have been closed due to the COVID-19 crisis. Some school districts have taken the position that by giving a student a Chromebook they have flipped a switch: remote learning is now in place.

Categories: Labor Notes

Organizing COVID-19 Action Teams in New York Hospitals

Tue, 2020-04-28 16:14

For most nurses and other health care workers it's been the most traumatic month of our careers. We knew we were going into this world-historic challenge with a crippled, fractured, understaffed, and under-capacity health care system. What we didn't quite realize was that there would be no real plan to protect us.

Categories: Labor Notes

Chicago Grad Workers First to Win COVID-19 Demands

Tue, 2020-04-28 14:46

UPDATE: On May 1 graduate employees won free summer 2020 housing in the dorms for all international students who need it. The union continued to pressure the university administration after winning its MOU earlier.

Workers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have bargained what we believe are the first set of wins for a graduate union negotiating the effects of COVID-19. It was our winning strike last year that made our employer realize it should come to the table and give us what we demanded.

Categories: Labor Notes

Plexiglas and Union Power

Mon, 2020-04-27 14:37

Unions at the three hospitals on the University of Washington campus asked management for protective Plexiglas barriers similar to what we are seeing at grocery stores. When management said no, we built them ourselves.

On April 14 our unions in AFSCME Council 28 asked Labor Relations for the barriers. We asked for barriers on main campus and at the UW and Harborview Medical Centers, in all public-facing areas, including registration in the emergency departments and cashiers at all points of sale.

Categories: Labor Notes

How New Orleans Library Workers Shut It Down

Mon, 2020-04-27 11:57

Libraries are one of the last social services to normally be open to all. Our labor affects the community health in many ways. But New Orleans library workers understood that our workplaces’ social role also made libraries a potentially massive infection site for the at-risk populations we overwhelmingly serve.

Categories: Labor Notes

VIDEO: Nurses Rally at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center to Demand #PPEoverProfit

Fri, 2020-04-24 16:35

More than 50 health care workers and supporters held a socially distanced rally in front of Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center on April 15 as part of a national day of action for healthcare workers.

Nurses and other workers held signs about their growing number of co-workers who have died and the still-urgent lack of PPE. Signs read “I can’t help anyone if I become a patient,” “Essential workers’ lives aren’t disposable,” and “My patient deserves a nurse with proper PPE.”

Categories: Labor Notes

Safety: Bosses Want to Fix the Worker, Unions Want to Fix the Job

Fri, 2020-04-24 14:52
Safety: Bosses Want to Fix the Worker, Unions Want to Fix the Job April 24, 2020 / Jay Herzmark

Unions and bosses have different outlooks on safety. Employers say illnesses and injuries are caused by worker carelessness: he didn’t wash his hands enough; she touched her face. That’s the way the boss wants you to think, too.

But the union realizes that it’s the hazards themselves that cause injuries, and that it’s the boss who sets up the workplace, either designing in hazards or failing to design them out. The boss has everyone work in the same tiny space. The boss won’t install a cough guard between you and customers. Emphasize these different outlooks with workers.

Categories: Labor Notes

Postal Workers Plan Workers’ Memorial Day Vigils

Fri, 2020-04-24 13:15

Workers injured or killed by their jobs are honored every year on April 28, Workers’ Memorial Day. (It’s the anniversary of the date the Occupational Safety and Health Act went into effect in 1971.) This year the somber occasion is especially urgent, in the midst of the biggest workplace safety disaster this country has seen in decades.

Categories: Labor Notes

Nurses and Community Save Emergency Room on Chicago's South Side

Thu, 2020-04-23 16:25

In the midst of a pandemic wreaking havoc on Chicago, a victory was won by nurses and the community served by Provident Hospital. Located on the overwhelmingly black South Side near Washington Park, this institution has a rich history. It was the first hospital in the United States owned and operated by African-Americans, and where the first open heart surgery was performed in 1893 by founder Dr. Daniel Hale Williams.

Categories: Labor Notes

Class Struggle or Class Snuggle?

Wed, 2020-04-22 14:14

At this moment of unprecedented crisis, how can we ensure the physical safety and economic health of U.S. workers? According to a recent USA Today op-ed by four national union leaders—“Coronavirus is a stress test for capitalism, and we see encouraging signs”—the answer is partnering with “well-managed companies” who can “lead the recovery by pulling together and finding new ways to protect, pay and retain employees.”

Categories: Labor Notes

Reopening the Economy Will Send Us to Hell

Wed, 2020-04-22 13:26
Reopening the Economy Will Send Us to Hell April 22, 2020 / Mike Davis

As we head into the fifth month of the outbreak millions of working families feel like they have been kidnapped and sent to hell.

As unemployment (officially reported) soars toward 30 percent or more, an estimated 20 million more people will fall helplessly below the poverty line. In a recent Pew poll, 60 percent of Latinos reported losing jobs or wages, as did more than half of all workers below the age of 30. In addition to their jobs, millions will lose everything they had spent their lives working for: homes, pensions, medical coverage, and savings accounts.

Categories: Labor Notes

Viewpoint: How to Save Transit Workers’ Lives

Tue, 2020-04-21 12:40

Transit workers have always known they were essential to the functioning of New York City. Wider public recognition of this fact has come at a high cost.

As of April 20, almost 70 have died. Thousands have been exposed to the virus as they keep the buses and subways running so that health care, emergency, grocery, and delivery workers can get to their jobs. More are likely to die in the weeks to come.

Management of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) likely pushed the number of fatalities up by the steps it took—or failed to take—in February and early March.

Categories: Labor Notes

Building Power in a Pandemic: Virtual Labor Notes Conference Draws Thousands

Mon, 2020-04-20 16:25
Building Power in a Pandemic: Virtual Labor Notes Conference Draws Thousands April 20, 2020 / Labor Notes staff

Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Stacy Davis Gates led off the first-ever Labor Notes Virtual Conference April 18, calling on workplace activists to “pivot from mourning into action.

“This is a moment that we won’t get back, and if we’re not careful this moment will dovetail into more austerity,” she said. “I don’t want to go back to 2008....I do not want to go back to what anyone has deemed normal, because normal was insufficient for everyone.”

Categories: Labor Notes