Steward's Corner

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Why and How SEIU Members Are Calling on Our Union to Expel Cops

Fri, 2020-07-10 12:12

As calls to defund the police rise across the country, many of us are taking stock of our own association with police through our common membership in unions. We’re coming to see the police as a direct threat to us as union members, and we're also frustrated with the ways that too many police exploit the strengths of collective bargaining to avoid punishment for racist actions.

Categories: Labor Notes

In the Face of Mass Unemployment, We Need a 21st Century WPA

Thu, 2020-07-09 10:06
In the Face of Mass Unemployment, We Need a 21st Century WPA July 09, 2020 / Max Page

How can we help the unemployed get good-paying work, advance toward a green world, and get more workers into unions? And at the same time rebuild what has been shattered by two generations of neoliberal attacks—a belief that government's role is to build a more just society?

A 21st century WPA.

Categories: Labor Notes

Chicago Unions Demand to Defund Police and Fund Health Care for All

Tue, 2020-07-07 13:35

A coalition of Chicago unions and community organizations has come together around the call “Black Lives Matter, Health Care Justice Now.” The group is demanding that resources that currently go toward racist policing be redirected toward human services that improve health.

Categories: Labor Notes

They're Back: Concessions Are Coming

Thu, 2020-07-02 12:05
They're Back: Concessions Are Coming July 02, 2020 / Tom Juravich

Although COVID-19 is far from under control and reopening of the economy is stumbling, the airwaves are filled with people telling us how we should be thinking about economic recovery.

Far from a recovery, though, we are facing the worst economic crisis of a generation. The voice of workers and their unions has never been more important, because without us, we have a pretty good idea what’s going happen.

Categories: Labor Notes

Black Workers at Ohio Ford Plant Denounce Racist Taunts

Tue, 2020-06-30 14:09

After this article was published on June 30, some of those quoted in it became concerned about retaliation. Some names have been removed.

Workers organized two protests at Ford Motor Co.'s engine plant in Lima, Ohio, on June 19. One was a picket at shift change made up primarily of Black workers, objecting both to blatant racial insults and to a hierarchy that they allege keeps Black employees from moving up.

Categories: Labor Notes

Can Auto Workers Win the Right to Vote? Here's How Teamsters Did It

Mon, 2020-06-29 11:43
Can Auto Workers Win the Right to Vote? Here's How Teamsters Did It June 29, 2020 / Justin Mayhugh

After former Auto Workers President Gary Jones pleaded guilty in June to charges of embezzling more than $1 million in union funds, the years-long federal investigation into corruption by senior UAW officials is set to move to a new phase.

The government has named the UAW itself as a co-conspirator. That creates a probability that the Department of Justice will bring a case against the union under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act—a maneuver that could result in a government takeover of the union.

Categories: Labor Notes

Postal Day of Action: "We Need the Postal Service!"

Fri, 2020-06-26 17:25

Despite the pandemic, postal workers in at least 18 cities and towns rallied on foot, by car, and even by bicycle June 23 to demand federal funding to save the U.S. Postal Service.

While the House has passed a $25 billion rescue package, the Senate is not expected to take it up until after July 4.

Categories: Labor Notes

How Phoenix Educators Used the ‘Red for Ed’ Momentum to Rebuild Our Local Union

Thu, 2020-06-25 15:31

Two years ago, the Red for Ed movement swept across Arizona. Seventy thousand educators flooded the capitol demanding higher wages and lower class sizes and a stake at the bargaining table.

For many locals in Arizona, the six-day walkout reinvigorated work that had been underway for years. But in the Phoenix Elementary Classroom Teachers Association (PECTA), we used the walkout to totally restart our local.

Categories: Labor Notes

After Labor Board Ruling, Unions Must Shut Door on Management Rights

Wed, 2020-06-24 13:33
After Labor Board Ruling, Unions Must Shut Door on Management Rights June 24, 2020 / Robert M. Schwartz

Since 2017, Republican appointees have firmly controlled the National Labor Relations Board. Not surprisingly, the agency has released a slew of decisions markedly reducing or eliminating union rights.

Categories: Labor Notes

Unions Take Up the Black Lives Banner

Fri, 2020-06-19 10:27

The Black Lives Matter uprising has prompted strong statements about racism and police accountability from top union officials, but the participation of the labor movement has been limited. Several internationals have, to their credit, encouraged their members.

More of the initiative to take action has come from below, with local unions and rank and filers organizing or participating in local demonstrations, pushing local governments and schools to shift resources from policing to community needs, and confronting racism in their own workplaces and industries.

Categories: Labor Notes

Philly Sanitation Workers Rally, Join Demand for PPE, Right to Refuse Dangerous Work

Tue, 2020-06-16 15:52

It hasn’t taken long for workers to figure out that employers see an economic and public health crisis as an opportunity. But Philadelphia sanitation workers are not prepared to give up their safety without a fight.

City budgets everywhere have been devastated by COVID-19. Municipal governments are gearing up for another round of brutal austerity, and public workers will be on the chopping block—making it even more difficult to ensure safe workplaces during a pandemic.

Categories: Labor Notes

It's Time to Make Black Lives Matter in Our Unions

Mon, 2020-06-15 16:42
It's Time to Make Black Lives Matter in Our Unions June 15, 2020 / Bianca Cunningham

The Movement for Black Lives is encouraging union members to plan "Labor for Black Lives" actions in their communities on Friday, June 19—Juneteenth. Actions will be part of M4BL's call to Defend Black Lives all across the world. Find an action in your town and join it, or organize your own and add it to the map.

Categories: Labor Notes

Our LGBTQ Community Became Stronger When We Organized

Mon, 2020-06-15 15:05

The Crush Bar Workers Collective in Portland, Oregon made news in March when laid-off workers staged a sit-in, making demands around the COVID-19 closing and reopening.

Crush Bar is a well-known LGBTQ bar in Portland, Oregon. The collective began organizing there and at the neighboring business, Woody’s Coffee Tavern, last October and joined the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) in February.

Categories: Labor Notes

Striking McDonald’s Workers Block Entrance, Shut Store

Mon, 2020-06-15 12:02

A strike by 33 workers at a McDonald’s in North Oakland has shut down the store since May 26. Twelve workers there have tested positive for COVID-19, and so have eight of their family members, including a 10-month-old baby. This is one of the longest recorded strikes ever by McDonald's workers.

Strikers are demanding a two-week paid quarantine period, company-paid medical costs, a deep cleaning of the store, and proper personal protective equipment.

Categories: Labor Notes

Why a Local Labor Council Just Expelled the Seattle Police Guild

Fri, 2020-06-12 16:56
Why a Local Labor Council Just Expelled the Seattle Police Guild June 12, 2020 / Alexandra Bradbury

Update, June 18: Last night in a roll call vote, the Martin Luther King County Labor Council expelled the Seattle Police Officers Guild. Delegates' votes are weighted by the number of members for whom their unions pay per capita fees to the labor council; the vote was 45,435 yes, 36,760 no. Hundreds of supporters of the expulsion rallied last night awaiting the results of the virtual meeting.

Categories: Labor Notes

Teachers Must Set the Terms for How and When Schools Reopen

Fri, 2020-06-12 13:43
Teachers Must Set the Terms for How and When Schools Reopen June 12, 2020 / Barbara Madeloni

In a matter of days in mid-March, educators were expected to move classes online, work from home, and manage their own fear and uncertainty—all while worried for students whom they suddenly couldn’t see, talk to, or reassure.

Even veteran organizers were at a loss for what steps to take, except to focus on the immediate problems. How do we move classes online? Will students who depend on school for meals have enough to eat? What about the students with no internet?

Categories: Labor Notes

Corporations Now Love 'Black Lives'—But What About Their Own Black Workers?

Fri, 2020-06-12 12:01
Corporations Now Love 'Black Lives'—But What About Their Own Black Workers? June 12, 2020 / Toni Gilpin

Never underestimate the American business community's capacity for hypocrisy.

That’s one of the lessons to be drawn from the explosive reaction to George Floyd’s murder. As demonstrators began flooding streets, corporate PR departments flew into rapid response mode, issuing a flurry of agonized, apologetic pledges to do more to combat racism and inequality.

Categories: Labor Notes

West Coast Dockers Stop Work to Honor George Floyd

Thu, 2020-06-11 16:13

At 9 a.m. on Tuesday, ports across the U.S. West Coast ground to a halt as longshore workers stopped work to mourn the death of George Floyd. For nine minutes—the amount of time police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck—members of the Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) performed no work, from Southern California to northern Washington state.

The day before, presidents of locals up and down the West Coast had voted unanimously to endorse the action, a proposal from the San Francisco and Oakland locals.

Categories: Labor Notes

Interview: “We Are Fighting for Our Lives Against People with Money and Power”

Thu, 2020-06-11 12:32

Since the video was released of Officer Derek Chauvin pressing his knee on the neck of George Floyd for almost nine minutes as Floyd said his last words, “I can’t breathe,” protests have exploded in eighteen countries and all fifty states. The cry of Black Lives Matter can be heard in small towns and big cities throughout the United States.

Categories: Labor Notes

Sending Love: A Letter to Black Workers, Organizers, and Labor Leaders

Thu, 2020-06-11 10:18

As the world and the United States navigate the coronavirus pandemic, there’s a common refrain that we’re living in unprecedented times, with mass unemployment, unsafe working conditions for those still working, lack of access to health care, and food scarcity.

For some Americans these experiences are unimaginable, but for many Black people they are too familiar.

Categories: Labor Notes