Steward's Corner

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Updated: 3 hours 40 min ago

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

In Mexican Border Town, Prominent Independent Labor Lawyer Arrested

Wed, 2020-06-10 13:23

Labor lawyer Susana Prieto Terrazas was arrested on Monday in the Mexican border city of Matamoros, Tamaulipas, where she was attempting to aid factory workers to recover wages owed to them during a two-month coronavirus shutdown. Prieto came to prominence early last year for her central role in the wave of strikes that swept the export-oriented maquila factories in Matamoros demanding “20/32”: a 20 percent raise and an annual bonus of 32,000 pesos ($1,600).

Categories: Labor Notes

'You Can Rebuild a Post Office, But Not a Life': Minneapolis Postal Workers March from Burned Post Office in Solidarity with Protests

Wed, 2020-06-10 13:18

On Sunday postal workers in Minneapolis organized a display of solidarity with the Black freedom movement that is emerging after the brutal police murder of George Floyd.

A few co-workers and I planned a rally at the burned-out Lake Street post office and a march from there to the memorial site for Floyd. We thought it was important to show the world where we stood, because city hall and Governor Tim Walz have used the destruction of buildings—including two post offices—as a justification to mobilize the National Guard to suppress the protests.

Categories: Labor Notes

Review: The Grapes of Wrath

Mon, 2020-06-08 15:04

With unemployment now reaching levels not seen since the 1930s, should you really want to spend a few hours immersed in the hardships endured by working people during the first Great Depression? Yes.

If you’ve never seen the classic 1940 film The Grapes of Wrath—or last did decades ago—turn off the news for a bit and join the Joad family on their American odyssey. You might just find yourself more energized to confront our current crisis, especially once you discover some of the history the movie omits.

Categories: Labor Notes

How E-ZPass Workers on Staten Island Are Building Power During the Pandemic

Fri, 2020-06-05 13:13

Trauma would be the best way to describe the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the working class. Suddenly workers found ourselves in a situation beyond our control. But it’s also a moment of opportunity to actually take more control over our work lives and push for a more democratic society. Workers and unions have to hit the streets and organize.

Categories: Labor Notes

With a Little Help from My Friends: How Taco Bell Workers and Many More Are Self-Organizing in the Pandemic

Fri, 2020-06-05 10:53

At a Taco Bell in Washington Township, Michigan, the action began when Jonathon Foster, a shift leader, approached the district manager about paid sick leave during the pandemic. She flat-out refused, despite pledges from Taco Bell’s CEO.

Categories: Labor Notes

It’s (Way Past) Time to Redistribute Obscene Police Budgets to Schools, Hospitals, and Buses

Thu, 2020-06-04 15:59
It’s (Way Past) Time to Redistribute Obscene Police Budgets to Schools, Hospitals, and Buses June 04, 2020 / Samantha Winslow, Alexandra Bradbury

The marches are sweeping every state. Hundreds of thousands of people have braved the pandemic to protest the murder of an unarmed Black man, George Floyd, by Minneapolis police.

Like the teacher strike waves of 2018 and 2019, today’s protests against police violence have the support of a majority of Americans. A Monmouth poll showed 78 percent think protesters’ anger about the killing of George Floyd is wholly or partially justified.

Categories: Labor Notes

Labor Fights for George Floyd in Twin Cities

Wed, 2020-06-03 15:16
Labor Fights for George Floyd in Twin Cities June 03, 2020 / Cherrene Horazuk

I watched with horror the video of George Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis Police, so bravely captured by a 17-year-old African American woman. Seared in my brain is Officer Derek Chauvin’s smirk as he knelt on Mr. Floyd’s neck, ignoring his pleas for help, his calls for his mother, and his repeatedly saying, “I can’t breathe.” Three other officers stood by, protecting Chauvin from any intervention that might save Mr. Floyd’s life. As I watched and wept, I looked more closely at the background and realized that Mr. Floyd was killed just blocks from my house.

Categories: Labor Notes

Review: Seattle’s General Strike 100 Years Ago Shows Us Hope for Today

Tue, 2020-06-02 12:02

For five days in 1919, union members took control of the city of Seattle. They arguably ran it better, and certainly more justly, than it had ever been run before.

The strike began when waitresses, laundry workers, streetcar workers, and more—65,000 union workers in all—walked off the job on February 6, 1919, to support striking shipyard workers.

Categories: Labor Notes

Apple Shed Strikes Win Recognition, But the Fight Goes On

Tue, 2020-06-02 09:24
Apple Shed Strikes Win Recognition, But the Fight Goes On June 02, 2020 / David Bacon

This article was updated to include information about COVID-19 statistics in Yakima County. -Editors

Categories: Labor Notes

Racial Disparities in COVID-19 Point to Need for Medicare for All

Mon, 2020-06-01 12:18
Racial Disparities in COVID-19 Point to Need for Medicare for All June 01, 2020 / Dean E. Robinson

The racial disparities of COVID-19 have received much attention. Blacks are dying at a higher rate that is typically more than double the rate of whites. But we need to move beyond naming the problem to fighting for solutions. Medicare for All would go a long way to beginning to address racial disparities in health care in general and for COVID-19 in particular.

Categories: Labor Notes

This Saturday: Watch Three Free Plays about Workplace Organizing

Mon, 2020-06-01 09:49


In a free, online event June 6 at 8 p.m. Eastern time, the nonprofit theatre company Actors Circle Ensemble will present via Zoom three short plays that explore the contemporary American labor movement.

Categories: Labor Notes

Twin Cities Labor Mobilizes Against George Floyd Murder

Fri, 2020-05-29 15:42

The organized labor movement has begun swinging into action to support protests against the racist police murder of Minneapolis resident George Floyd.

Floyd was filmed being suffocated to death under the knee of police officer Derek Chauvin on Monday in a video that reverberated around the country and has sent the Twin Cities into turmoil.

Protesters lit shops and even a police precinct on fire on Thursday as public rage boiled over in Minneapolis’s third precinct over the ever-continuing string of police murders of Black people in the United States.

Categories: Labor Notes