Steward's Corner

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Updated: 15 hours 14 min ago

Shop Steward in a Pandemic

Mon, 2020-04-20 10:41

I’ve had the honor and privilege to serve my fellow Baltimore postal workers as a shop steward for the last decade. Twelve years of challenges and triumphs at the Postal Service have helped define who I am—but no training could have prepared me to represent 1,500 postal workers during a global pandemic.

In these times, members are ready to mobilize and they are looking for guidance from their leaders—which often means their shop steward. In typical times I would turn to more senior stewards and officers for advice. Now we’re all learning together in real time.

Categories: Labor Notes

Corona Capitalism in Honduras

Fri, 2020-04-17 13:14
Corona Capitalism in Honduras April 17, 2020 / Karen Spring and Judy Ancel

On April 10 residents of Choloma, an industrial town in northern Honduras, blocked the main highway connecting the city of San Pedro Sula to the Port of Cortes. Choloma and nearby towns are the center of sweatshop production for U.S. brands in factories called maquilas. They are also the epicenter of COVID-19 in Honduras.

Categories: Labor Notes

'All Union Members Are Hereby Fired'

Fri, 2020-04-17 11:16
'All Union Members Are Hereby Fired' April 17, 2020 / Andrew Tillett-Saks

While workers around the world scramble for physical and economic safety in the pandemic, some factory owners in Southeast Asia see an opportunity to attack unions to increase their profits.

On March 28 the Myan Mode garment factory in Yangon, Myanmar, permanently fired all 520 union members working in the factory and withheld March wages, citing a decrease in orders due to COVID-19. But the Korea-based owners kept all 700 workers who are not members of the union, and the factory continues to operate.

Categories: Labor Notes

Nurses Across the U.S. Protest Dangerous Conditions and For-Profit Health Care

Thu, 2020-04-16 15:45
Nurses Across the U.S. Protest Dangerous Conditions and For-Profit Health Care April 16, 2020 / Labor Notes staff

Nurse union activists organized actions at hospitals across the country yesterday, a national day of action to draw attention to how the U.S.’s profit-driven health care system is failing workers and patients alike.

The actions were coordinated through a series of calls organized by Labor Notes—which has been helping grow a network of rank-and-file nurse activists for more than a year—and were inspired by the protests organized at New York City hospitals in previous weeks.

Categories: Labor Notes

Over 100 Hospitals Cut Staff as Pandemic Spreads

Wed, 2020-04-15 20:46

More than 100 hospitals in the U.S. have laid off workers since the pandemic began. Tens of thousands of medical workers are furloughed at the exact moment hospitals should be staffing up and training everyone in intensive care.

Categories: Labor Notes

Workers' Just-in-Time Moment

Wed, 2020-04-15 14:09

From the Black Plague of the Middle Ages to the flu pandemic of 1918 to COVID-19, disease and pestilence have always followed two of humanity’s most well-trod paths: those of war and trade.

When the plague ravaged Europe in the 14th century it took years to cross the Silk Road from Asia to Europe and then to cover that continent through the footsteps of traders and the mobile armies of the Hundred Years War. The influenza of 1918 followed the trenches and troop movements of World War I in months.

Categories: Labor Notes

How Medicare for All Would Fix Both Public Health and the Economy

Wed, 2020-04-15 11:37

Big problems demand bold solutions. The Labor Campaign for Single Payer is calling on Congress to expand Medicare coverage to everyone in America for the duration of the crisis.

All Medicare deductibles and Part B premiums should be waived for the duration and Medicare should be empowered to negotiate all drug and medical equipment prices, to put a lid on profiteering.

Categories: Labor Notes

What Are My Rights to Paid Leave and Unemployment During the Pandemic?

Tue, 2020-04-14 13:33

On March 18 Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), in part to discourage layoffs and in part to guarantee paid leave to workers who need to stay home due to the COVID-19 emergency. On March 27 Congress enacted the CARES Act to expand unemployment insurance eligibility and benefits. Both laws expire on December 31, 2020, unless extended.

Categories: Labor Notes

Threats and Opportunities: What’s the Post-Crisis Forecast for Workers?

Tue, 2020-04-14 10:34
Threats and Opportunities: What’s the Post-Crisis Forecast for Workers? April 14, 2020 / Alexandra Bradbury

This pandemic creates openings for privatizers and budget-choppers to make their plays. But it also creates some new openings for workers to build power.

At the same time that we’re all sprinting to meet the urgent challenges of the present, workers and unions should take time to analyze the new threats and opportunities that our workplace movements will be facing in the coming months.

Categories: Labor Notes

GE Workers Protest, Demand to Make Ventilators

Mon, 2020-04-13 16:33

Last Wednesday union members at General Electric plants across the country protested to pressure the $88 billion company to shift production to ventilators and ensure safe working conditions during COVID-19.

Actions at plants in Massachusetts, Virginia, Texas, and New York were coordinated by the Industrial Division of the Communications Workers (IUE-CWA)—the latest in an escalating pressure campaign.

Categories: Labor Notes

Interview: Noam Chomsky on How Bosses Are Making Coronavirus ‘Worse, for Their Benefit’

Mon, 2020-04-13 09:21
Interview: Noam Chomsky on How Bosses Are Making Coronavirus ‘Worse, for Their Benefit’ April 13, 2020 / Chris Brooks

For decades Noam Chomsky has been a leading intellectual troublemaker. His books and speeches have helped to explain how a world run by corporations and billionaires has led to endless war and catastrophic climate change. Now he is helping to explain how corporations and billionaires are actually making the coronavirus pandemic worse by pursuing savage policies that benefit themselves at the expense of everyone else.

Categories: Labor Notes

Why Are They Shutting Down a Chicago Emergency Room During a Pandemic?

Fri, 2020-04-10 16:46

The emergency room of a public hospital in the heart of Chicago’s mostly Black South Side is being closed down for a month by Cook County officials, just as the coronavirus pandemic is surging in Chicago. The nonsensical justification is that the ER needs to be refitted to handle… a surging coronavirus pandemic.

Nurses and staff at Provident Hospital first learned by email last Friday afternoon that the ER would be closed as of Monday morning, April 6. As for notifying the community, county officials left that to a press release.

Categories: Labor Notes

Saving Workers’ Health and Lives in the COVID-19 Pandemic: Tools for the Fight

Fri, 2020-04-10 15:33
Saving Workers’ Health and Lives in the COVID-19 Pandemic: Tools for the Fight April 10, 2020 / Nancy Lessin

In this time of emergency, organizing that might have taken months in the past now needs to happen in a matter of days.

Workers’ lives are increasingly in our own hands. We cannot rely on employers to protect us, nor can we count on OSHA or the National Labor Relations Board to enforce any of our rights. The only winning formula is collective action that forces an immediate response.

Categories: Labor Notes

Auto Union Official Fired for Warning about COVID-19

Fri, 2020-04-10 09:33

Travis Watkins, chair of an Auto Workers (UAW) bargaining unit in Wyoming, Michigan was fired March 18. The charge was violating Shop Rule #2: “Assaulting, fighting, threatening, intimidating, coercing, or interfering with employees or supervision.”

Turns out the “interfering” was hindering management's desire not to tell workers about coworkers sent home for possibly coming down with the coronavirus.

Categories: Labor Notes

Please Join: National Health Care Day of Action April 15

Thu, 2020-04-09 14:37
Please Join: National Health Care Day of Action April 15 April 09, 2020 / Chris Brooks

A national network of rank-and-file activists from New York State Nurses Association, Michigan Nurses Association, Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals (PASNAP), Service Employees 1021, National Nurses United Chicago, and other nurse unions is organizing a National Day of Action on Tax Day, April 15.

Health care workers are encouraged to participate by taking on the actions below—or come up with your own ideas. Be creative! Other unions should contact local nurses unions to see how you can help.

Categories: Labor Notes

South and Southeast Asian Workers Grapple with Management, Government, Coronavirus

Thu, 2020-04-09 11:27

Workers in South and Southeast Asia are facing challenges from the coronavirus and their governments’ responses to the crisis like job loss, being robbed of wages, and lack of control over when and how they work in a time of social distancing. Here's a round-up.

Categories: Labor Notes

A Simple Shop Floor Organizing Plan Any Essential Worker Can Use

Thu, 2020-04-09 11:22

This shop floor plan where workers organize each other to protect themselves could be adopted in any workplace where workers are still on the job. It was developed by postal workers; click here to read more about how they are self-organizing.—Editors

1) You must talk to EVERYONE about The Plan

a. Find an “organizer” in each department (work station, aisle, shift)

b. Ideally, about one organizer per 10 co-workers

Categories: Labor Notes

How Postal Workers Are Organizing Ourselves During the Crisis

Thu, 2020-04-09 10:22

Postal Service management has failed tremendously in handling the coronavirus pandemic. For weeks after it was clearly a public emergency, there was essentially no response at all from management. Some safety talks about personal precautions were distributed to supervisors, though from what I can tell, they were never read in most places.

Categories: Labor Notes

How They're Doing It in Denmark

Wed, 2020-04-08 17:16

The Danish government has struck a historic deal with unions and employers’ associations to stop mass layoffs during the pandemic.

Over the next three months, the national government will cover 75 percent of the wages of workers who would otherwise be laid off, up to $3,300 per month. Companies will cover the remaining 25 percent of wages, while workers will give up five days of future paid vacation time.

Categories: Labor Notes

The Coronavirus Crisis Exposes How Fragile Capitalism Already Was

Wed, 2020-04-08 15:25
The Coronavirus Crisis Exposes How Fragile Capitalism Already Was April 08, 2020 / Stephanie Luce

When this is all over, will we be able to patch up the economy and get things back to normal? Trump certainly claims so. But he’s wrong.

Weak attempts to patch up the problems of capitalism—as much as the coronavirus itself—are what got us into the current economic meltdown in the first place.

Let’s define some terms. When we talk about the health of the economy, there are two parts: the “real economy,” which includes all the goods and services that we produce, and the “financial economy”: money, stock markets, banks, and credit.

Categories: Labor Notes