Steward's Corner

Syndicate content
Updated: 29 min 10 sec ago

It’s a New Day in the United Auto Workers

Fri, 2023-03-17 00:00

The machine will churn no more. Nearly 80 years of top-down one-party rule in the United Auto Workers are coming to an end. Reformer Shawn Fain is set to be the winner in the runoff for the UAW presidency.

As of Thursday night, Fain had a 505-vote edge, 69,386 to 68,881, over incumbent Ray Curry of the Administration Caucus. Curry was appointed by the union’s executive board in 2021. There are around 600 unresolved challenged ballots. (This story will be updated with the final vote tally when we have it.)

Categories: Labor Notes

Underpaid and Insulted, Maximus Call Center Workers Organize

Wed, 2023-03-15 18:04

Lakeisha Preston speaks in acronyms. Working the phones at federal contractor Maximus in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, she drops them as if they were name brands—MSP (Medicare Secondary Payee), ESRD (End Stage Renal Disease) coverage, and CMN (Certificate of Medical Necessity).

As she patiently explains these terms to callers who want to sign up for Medicare or enroll in the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance exchange, Preston keeps an eye on the clock to move to the next caller in the queue.

Categories: Labor Notes

How We’re Fighting for a Union at Amazon’s Biggest Air Hub

Tue, 2023-03-14 19:14

I work as a tug driver at Amazon’s global air hub in Northern Kentucky (KCVG). My co-workers and I are taking on one of the largest corporations in the world to get what we deserve.

Our main demands are for a $30-an-hour starting wage, 180 hours a year of paid time off, and union representation at disciplinary meetings to end favoritism and retaliation.

This $1.5 billion facility is a flagship for Amazon—it’s the company’s biggest air hub. Jeff Bezos personally broke ground on it in 2019.

Categories: Labor Notes

New York City Retirees Fight Their Own Unions to Stop Catastrophic Health Care Cuts

Fri, 2023-03-10 12:00

[This article has been updated.] Defying two years of protests and lawsuits by union retirees, New York City’s Municipal Labor Committee voted March 9 to scrap some of the best retiree health care coverage in the country. The change would put 250,000 city retirees into a for-profit Medicare Advantage plan run by Aetna.

Twenty-six unions in the MLC voted no, while others abstained. But their votes were swamped by the votes of the largest unions on the committee, AFSCME District Council 37 and the New York United Federation of Teachers.

Categories: Labor Notes

Chicago Grocery Teamsters Face Firing and Retaliation for Exercising Their Rights

Thu, 2023-03-09 11:52

Workers couldn’t wear a sticker or button, because what if it fell into the fruits and vegetables they packaged for the Anthony Marano Company, a major distributor of produce in Chicago and the greater Midwest for restaurants and grocery chains including Aldi’s, Sysco, and Pete’s Fresh Market?

They couldn’t do a red T-shirt day; the temperatures are frigid in the warehouse, and workers must cover themselves in layers to keep warm. But they are allowed to wear hats over their hairnets.

Categories: Labor Notes

Interview: Auto Workers Region 9 Winner on Rebuilding a Fighting Union

Tue, 2023-03-07 19:59

Reform challenger Shawn Fain appears poised to win the presidency of the United Auto Workers, defeating incumbent Ray Curry for the union’s top leadership spot. With more than 137,000 votes counted, Fain has a lead of 645 votes; the counting of the remaining challenged ballots will resume March 16.

If Fain wins, challengers to the ruling caucus will hold not only the presidency but also a majority on the union’s international executive board. UAW Members United ran on a platform of no corruption, no tiers, and no concessions.

Categories: Labor Notes

Auto Workers Presidential Election a Nail-Biter, Reformers Sweep Regional Races

Fri, 2023-03-03 18:36

In the first-ever rank-and-file direct election, as opposed to a vote of convention delegates, for the national leadership of the United Auto Workers, the presidential runoff is extremely close, with ballots still being counted. Challenges are expected no matter the outcome.

Categories: Labor Notes

No-Strike Clauses: Tips for First-Contract Bargainers

Mon, 2023-02-27 11:45

One thing you can be sure of when bargaining your first contract: management will demand a contract clause barring strikes while the agreement is in effect.

No-strike clauses took hold in the 1940s. During World War II, the American Federation of Labor, the Congress of Industrial Organizations, and defense industry executives issued no-strike/no-lockout pledges to guarantee production. When the war ended, many union leaders, apparently seduced by the experience of “labor peace,” agreed to similar pledges in their collective bargaining agreements.

Categories: Labor Notes

Restaurant Workers at Rockefeller Center’s Lodi Confront Union-Buster Ahead of Vote

Fri, 2023-02-24 16:30

Lodi, an Italian-style fine dining cafe in Rockefeller Center, has what the New York Times calls “a captive audience” given its central location in a Manhattan tourist magnet. Workers at the restaurant say they’re a captive audience of another kind—for the anti-union diatribes of a highly paid consultant.

Categories: Labor Notes

NLRB Punches Holes in No-Recording Policies

Thu, 2023-02-23 11:52

A February 13 ruling by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) clarifies whether employees can be disciplined for recording conversations with management officials.

Categories: Labor Notes

Beware the Time Thieves

Tue, 2023-02-21 12:57

French workers have shut the country down with general strikes three times in the last month to defend their time.

They’re protesting a proposal to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64.

It’s enough to make you cry. Here, the Social Security retirement age was ratcheted up to 67 by bipartisan agreement during the Reagan administration. But because the oldest people affected were in their 40s at the time, few people noticed that everyone would soon be losing two years of paid time off.

Categories: Labor Notes

Baseball Players Defeated Non-Competes to Build Union

Mon, 2023-02-20 15:38

Banning non-compete clauses is a complement to, not a substitute for, union power. Just ask trailblazing baseball star Curt Flood.

The Federal Trade Commission has proposed to ban the non-compete clause—a type of coercive labor contract that prevents workers from leaving their employer to work for a competitor.

Categories: Labor Notes

How to Get Un-Fired

Thu, 2023-02-16 16:00

In a few days Austin Locke will walk back into the Queens, New York, Starbucks store he was fired from seven months ago. He’ll also get a wad of back pay, and money from civil penalties.

Categories: Labor Notes

Labor Notes Editorial Team Grows

Thu, 2023-02-16 13:51

The editing team at Labor Notes has recently doubled in size. Joining longtime Editor Alexandra Bradbury and Assistant Editor Dan DiMaggio are two more assistant editors: Jenny Brown (right) and Luis Feliz Leon.

If these faces look familiar, though, there’s a reason for that. Luis has been on the Labor Notes staff since 2021, and is already one of our most prolific writers, especially on Amazon organizing, immigrant workers in various sectors, and the growing independent union movement in Mexico.

Categories: Labor Notes

Labor Power and Strategy Helps Organizers Think Seriously About Chokepoints

Wed, 2023-02-15 12:38

John Womack is well-known in the United States as one of the foremost historians of the Mexican revolution, as the author of the seminal Zapata and the Mexican Revolution. However, his writings on strategic sectors and strategic workers have not received the same attention.

Categories: Labor Notes

Review: Labor Power and Strategy: Learning from the Garment Workers

Wed, 2023-02-15 12:31

John Womack Jr.’s new book, Labor Power and Strategy (PM Press, 2023), edited by Peter Olney and Glenn Perusek and with responses from 10 organizers, labor activists, and educators, is a timely consideration of some basic strategic principles.

Womack maintains that the primary power that workers have is structural power—that is, power based on their position in the production process. Associational power—developed via collective organizations like unions—derives from this structural power.

Categories: Labor Notes

Viewpoint: To Change the World, Our Unions Must Change

Fri, 2023-02-10 11:38

Unionism has seen a resurgence in popularity the past few years. The problem is, it’s very difficult to get our members organizing in their communities when they hate the way our leadership (I use that word loosely) is operating.

Our unions shouldn’t be, and I’d argue weren’t meant to be, transactional—yet by and large that is what they have grown to be. By transactional I mean: I pay dues, you provide a service, and my duty ends with my dues.

Categories: Labor Notes

A Request for Support from the Independent Union at VU Manufacturing in Mexico

Thu, 2023-02-09 14:40

The below is an appeal for support from auto parts workers at VU Manufacturing in the border city of Piedras Negras, Coahuila. Workers there voted to form an independent union last year, and are now fighting for a first contract. They have set a strike date of February 20.

Individual donations to their solidarity fund can be made at: Contact dan[at]labornotes[dot]org with any questions.

Categories: Labor Notes

Steward’s Corner: Secrets of a Successful Flyer

Thu, 2023-02-09 13:40

It was a snowy morning in 2002, I was a brand-new shop steward in CWA Local 3372 in Lexington, Kentucky, and I had volunteered to hand out the flyers for our contract campaign.

I handed out 200 copies, then headed in to my shift at a Verizon 411 call center. When I passed the garbage can, I saw most of my flyers—wadded up and thrown away.

In the two decades since, many unions have turned to email, texting, and social media to reach members. That’s a serious mistake.

Categories: Labor Notes

Mexican Auto Glass Workers Withstand Threats to Form Independent Union

Tue, 2023-02-07 13:31

Workers who produce glass for automakers including Ford, Volkswagen, and Tesla at a big auto glass plant in Mexico are pushing for a new contract, after forming an independent union despite threats of violence from a powerful, employer-friendly union.

The factory, owned by the French multinational Saint Gobain, employs 1,900 workers. It’s located in Cuautla, Morelos—the city in south-central Mexico where the revolutionary Emiliano Zapata is buried.

Categories: Labor Notes