Steward's Corner

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Oakland Teacher Strike Builds Steam In California School Funding Fight

Thu, 2019-03-21 12:24
Oakland Teacher Strike Builds Steam In California School Funding Fight March 21, 2019 / Samantha Winslow<? if(isset($entity->premium) and $entity->premium == 1) { echo "Print Only"; } ?>

On the heels of Los Angeles teachers’ winning strike in January, teachers in Oakland 340 miles north joined the strike wave. Three thousand teachers, alongside parents and students, led picket lines February 21-March 1 at the city’s 86 schools.

These strikes, plus rumblings from other California teacher unions, are ramping up the pressure on school boards and legislators to invest in public schools and stop privatization statewide.

Categories: Labor Notes

'It's Different Here' Is No Excuse

Tue, 2019-03-19 13:02

I talk with labor activists all across the country. Plenty are inspired by strikes that happen elsewhere. But over and over I hear the same excuse for why they can’t make big demands or go on strike themselves: “It’s different here.”

How is it different? Pick your poison: It’s the South. It’s the public sector. It’s illegal. Our union leaders would never support us. Everyone is too scared. Too apathetic.

This year, the teacher union movement is supplying the best reply to “It’s different here.” Here’s what we’ve seen in 2019 so far:

Categories: Labor Notes

Erie Locomotive Plant Workers Strike against Two-Tier

Fri, 2019-03-15 18:15
Erie Locomotive Plant Workers Strike against Two-Tier March 15, 2019 / Saurav Sarkar, Dan DiMaggio<? if(isset($entity->premium) and $entity->premium == 1) { echo "Print Only"; } ?>

This article has been updated since the original version, first published March 1.

At a sprawling locomotive manufacturing complex a mile long and a mile wide in Erie, Pennsylvania, 1,700 workers struck for nine days and fended off their new employer’s efforts to impose a raft of concessions, including two-tier wages.

Temperatures were below freezing. Strikers stood on a dozen picket lines ringing the plant, feeding wood into burn barrels and making life difficult for any non-union employees who tried to drive through the gates.

Categories: Labor Notes

TV Review: That Time the A-Team Helped Organize Farmworkers

Fri, 2019-03-15 09:48

The A-Team was a hit show among my friends when it first aired in 1983. Growing up in a union family, one episode that stood out for me was “Labor Pains,” when the A-Team helped farmworkers organize a union. I recently watched it again to see how well it presents unions and the organizing process.

Categories: Labor Notes

How to Use Grievances to Organize

Fri, 2019-03-08 12:02
How to Use Grievances to Organize March 08, 2019 / Mike Parker and Martha Gruelle<? if(isset($entity->premium) and $entity->premium == 1) { echo "Print Only"; } ?>

The difference between a truly democratic union and one that follows a servicing model is stark when it comes to grievance handling. In a strong democratic union there may not even be many grievances; members organize to convince supervisors to stop violating the contract without having to use the formal procedure.

Categories: Labor Notes

The Better Burn Barrel from the Boeing Strike Lives On

Thu, 2019-03-07 15:13

It’s just what you would expect from airplane engineers on strike—they reengineered the picket line burn barrel to be more efficient.

The strikers were Boeing engineers, members of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA), who walked the lines for 40 days in 2000 during a rainy Seattle winter.

Categories: Labor Notes

It's Our World to Make

Thu, 2019-03-07 12:07

The guy at the car rental counter found my T-shirt puzzling.

It was early on a Tuesday morning, and I had just flown back into L.A. Why, he wanted to know, was someone from Massachusetts wearing a shirt that said “United Teachers Los Angeles”?

I explained that I had been out the week before to support the teachers strike. I was back for a second round because this strike was important to educators across the country.

“The whole country? Why?”

Categories: Labor Notes

Strike Wave Wins Raises for Mexican Factory Workers

Wed, 2019-02-27 15:38
Strike Wave Wins Raises for Mexican Factory Workers February 27, 2019 / Paolo Marinaro and Dan DiMaggio<? if(isset($entity->premium) and $entity->premium == 1) { echo "Print Only"; } ?>

Mexican maquiladora workers in 70 factories have won big wage increases and bonuses in a strike wave that began in January.

The strikes in the industrial city of Matamoros, Tamaulipas, on the border with Brownsville, Texas, have primarily hit auto parts factories, where tens of thousands of workers make goods for General Motors and other car manufacturers.

The first of the strikes began on January 12 at eight factories. Workers were demanding a 20 percent wage increase and an annual bonus of 32,000 pesos ($1,600)—a demand now popularized as “20/32.”

Categories: Labor Notes

VIDEO: Chinese Students and Labor Activists on Battling the Crackdown at Jasic

Fri, 2019-02-22 14:12

In the past six months, over 50 workers, students, and labor activists in China have been arrested or disappeared by the government. Their crime? Supporting workers at the Jasic welding equipment factory in their legal efforts to form a union.

Categories: Labor Notes

Cartoon: Government Shutdown

Fri, 2019-02-22 12:53



Categories: Labor Notes

A Personal Request to Support West Virginia Strikers

Thu, 2019-02-21 16:50

Though I've lived in Detroit for 44 years, my heart is still in West Virginia, where I was born and raised. When West Virginia teachers and school workers went on a winning wildcat a year ago, and touched off a wave of teacher strikes across the country, I bragged about them all over, as if it had anything to do with me.

Categories: Labor Notes

Interview: Chilean Dockworkers Organize Month-Long Strike and Face Down Police in Rooftop Standoff

Thu, 2019-02-21 12:31

Casual dockworkers in the Port of Valparaíso, one of the largest ports in Chile, in December ended a 36-day strike.

The majority of Chile’s fruit exports pass through this port. The strike came at the beginning of summer in the southern hemisphere—the height of the season for fruit, one of the biggest export industries in the country.

Categories: Labor Notes

West Virginia Strikes Again, Defeating Privatization Bill in a Single Day

Wed, 2019-02-20 12:00
West Virginia Strikes Again, Defeating Privatization Bill in a Single Day February 20, 2019 / Barbara Madeloni<? if(isset($entity->premium) and $entity->premium == 1) { echo "Print Only"; } ?>

“Don’t start those buses tomorrow,” said Joe White, executive director of the West Virginia School Service Personnel Association.

He was announcing the second statewide education strike in West Virginia in a year, alongside the leaders of the state’s two teacher unions.

The next morning, February 19, buses throughout the state sat idle in garages.

And by the middle of the day, strikers declared victory with the defeat of an anti-union, pro-privatization education bill in the state House.

Categories: Labor Notes

‘People Are Starting to See That Winning Is Possible’: Denver Teachers Win, Oakland Next

Tue, 2019-02-19 17:39
‘People Are Starting to See That Winning Is Possible’: Denver Teachers Win, Oakland Next February 19, 2019 / Samantha Winslow<? if(isset($entity->premium) and $entity->premium == 1) { echo "Print Only"; } ?>

The teacher strike wave keeps gathering steam. After three days out, February 11-13, Denver teachers won a settlement that achieved their main goal—to dramatically reduce the effects of the district’s chaotic merit pay system.

Oakland teachers, meanwhile, have announced they will strike February 21.

The new contract in Denver will put more money into base pay and into steps and lanes, which reward teachers for their years of experience and level of higher education.

Categories: Labor Notes

A Green New Deal for American Labor?

Fri, 2019-02-15 18:34
A Green New Deal for American Labor? February 15, 2019 / Saurav Sarkar<? if(isset($entity->premium) and $entity->premium == 1) { echo "Print Only"; } ?>

The simple yellow protest signs were stenciled “Green Jobs for All.” Speaker after speaker stepped into the middle of the office floor, marked with a U.S. House of Representatives seal. Representative-Elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, fresh off her election win, gave the protesters high fives.

That was the scene in November when the youth climate justice organization Sunrise Movement held a sit-in at the office of Rep. Nancy Pelosi, who was soon to be the Speaker of the House.

Most Americans had never heard of the “Green New Deal” at the time.

Categories: Labor Notes

Janus for the Rails and Air?

Fri, 2019-02-15 12:23

They did it to public workers. Next they want to do it to railroad and airline workers.

A right-wing policy think tank filed a Janus-style lawsuit against the Machinists on January 8, claiming that non-members shouldn’t be required to pay fees for union representation.

The plaintiffs are customer service agents at United Airlines. They’re covered by the Railway Labor Act, which governs unionization and collective bargaining for hundreds of thousands of union members who work for railways or airlines—from flight attendants to freight train engineers.

Categories: Labor Notes

New York Nurses Prepare to Strike over Patient Ratios

Thu, 2019-02-07 18:30

Thirteen thousand nurses may be on strike in March at three of the largest employers in New York City.

For several months, hospitals in the Montefiore, Mount Sinai, and New York Presbyterian systems have been bargaining jointly with the New York State Nurses Association.

Categories: Labor Notes

Seattle General Strike: Labor’s Most Spectacular Revolt

Wed, 2019-02-06 08:13
Seattle General Strike: Labor’s Most Spectacular Revolt February 06, 2019 / Cal Winslow<? if(isset($entity->premium) and $entity->premium == 1) { echo "Print Only"; } ?>

On February 6, 1919, Seattle’s workers struck—all of them. In doing so they took control of the city.

The strike was in support of 35,000 shipyard workers, then in conflict with the city’s shipyard owners and the federal government’s U.S. Shipping Board, which was still enforcing wartime wage agreements.

Categories: Labor Notes

Steward’s Corner: Where Do Good Organizers Come From?

Mon, 2019-02-04 15:15
Steward’s Corner: Where Do Good Organizers Come From? February 04, 2019 / Ellen David Friedman<? if(isset($entity->premium) and $entity->premium == 1) { echo "Print Only"; } ?>

We know good organizers when we meet them.

They’re accessible. They listen and show respect. They react calmly to all kinds of people, take their time to size up a situation, and engage people on their own terms.

They brim with suggestions for action, but they’re open to new ideas. They’re not bossy. They always take workers’ side against employers—but among workers, they treat divisions with care and diligence.

They don’t act from fear, and they know how to help others lose their fear.

Categories: Labor Notes

A Bad Day for Hoffa: Chicago Teamster Leader Joins Opposition Slate

Sat, 2019-02-02 10:38
A Bad Day for Hoffa: Chicago Teamster Leader Joins Opposition Slate February 02, 2019 / Alexandra Bradbury<? if(isset($entity->premium) and $entity->premium == 1) { echo "Print Only"; } ?>

“The straw that broke the camel’s back for me,” said Chicago Teamsters leader Juan Campos, “was seeing the international shoving the UPS contract down the members’ throats.”

That’s why he has joined an opposition slate to challenge the union’s top officers in 2021.

Campos announced January 31 that he will run for an at-large vice president seat, on the ticket with Sean O’Brien of Boston for president and Fred Zuckerman of Louisville for secretary-treasurer.

Categories: Labor Notes