Working In These Times

Thursday, Jan 16, 2020, 2:33 pm  ·  By Ari Paul

The Multinational Trying To Bankrupt the Dock Workers Union Has a Sordid Past

This photo taken on April 18, 2011, shows a security personnel walking past shipping containers at the International Container Terminal Services Incorporated (ICTSI) at a port in Manila. (Photo: NOEL CELIS/AFP via Getty Images)  

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) is facing an existential crisis.

Founded by the militant labor icon Harry Bridges, the ILWU has made a name for itself as the take-no-crap West Coast dockers union, one that has engaged in work stoppages and other tactics both to protect their jobs and benefits, but also to oppose war and racism.


Wednesday, Jan 15, 2020, 10:04 am  ·  By Mindy Isser

Joe Biden Thinks Coal Miners Should Learn to Code. A Real Just Transition Demands Far More.

Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a campaign Town Hall on December 30, 2019 in Derry, New Hampshire. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)  

As of 2016, there were only 50,000 coal miners in the United States, and yet they occupy so much of our political imagination and conversation around jobs, unions and climate change. During the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump ran on bringing coal jobs back to the United States, and Joe Biden said on December 30 that miners should learn to code, as those are the “jobs of the future.” His comments, made to a crowd in Derry, New Hampshire, were reportedly met with silence. 

While coal miners aren’t the only workers in our society, coal miners’ voices do matter, and we can’t leave anyone behind. And it’s clear that they are hurting, a point illustrated by the coal miners currently blocking a train carrying coal in eastern Kentucky, demanding back pay from Quest Energy.


Friday, Jan 10, 2020, 3:05 pm  ·  By Jeff Schuhrke

To Build a Left-Wing Unionism, We Must Reckon With the AFL-CIO’s Imperialist Past

The AFL-CIO signage on the building in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)  

First published at Jacobin.

Two days after Bolivia’s socialist president Evo Morales was forced from office in a right-wing military coup last November, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka condemned the coup on Twitter and praised Morales for reducing poverty and championing indigenous rights. In doing so, Trumka joined Bernie Sanders, Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and other prominent figures of the Left in countering the US political and media establishments’ dominant narrative that Morales’s violent ouster was a win for democracy.

While it’s fitting for the president of the nation’s largest union federation to denounce a right-wing coup against a leftist foreign leader — which was endorsed by the State Department and CIA — it also represents an important break from precedent for the AFL-CIO. Though rarely discussed, the federation has a long record of supporting the US government in disrupting leftist movements around the world, including through coups d’état in Latin America.


Friday, Jan 10, 2020, 11:05 am  ·  By Mindy Isser

Climate Activists Can’t Afford to Ignore Labor. A Shuttered Refinery in Philly Shows Why.

Photo taken on June 21, 2019 shows the Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery after the fire in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the United States. (Xinhua/Liu Jie via Getty Images)  

In the early morning hours of June 21, 2019, a catastrophic explosion tore through the Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES) oil refinery in the southwest section of Philadelphia. The training and quick thinking of refinery workers, members of United Steelworkers Local 10-1, averted certain disaster and saved millions of lives. One month later, on July 21, PES declared bankruptcy—their second in as many years—and began to close down the refinery in the following months, laying off almost 2,000 people with no meaningful severance. According to workers who spoke with In These Times, the refinery stopped running crude oil in early August, although there are fewer than 100 workers who were kept on as caretakers for the waste water and steam generating units.


Wednesday, Dec 18, 2019, 11:46 am  ·  By Audrey Winn

“The Algorithm Made Us Do It”: How Bosses at Instacart “Mathwash” Labor Exploitation

Instacart shopper Vanessa Bain shops for a customer at the Safeway in Menlo Park, California. Bain began a campaign that would lead to a Facebook group of 14,000 Instacart shoppers, about 10% of the nationwide total when the company started using default design tricks to decrease the amount shoppers can earn in tips. (Photo by Nick Otto for the Washington Post)  

Instacart is messing with workers’ tips, again. The company’s workers are so fed up hundreds of them are out on strike this week.


Monday, Dec 16, 2019, 12:28 pm  ·  By Rachel M. Cohen

Trump’s North America Trade Deal Is Poised to Worsen Climate Change—But Dems Don’t Seem To Mind

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, Democrat of Massachusetts, speaks about the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, known as the USMCA, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., December 10, 2019. (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)  

While Congressional Democrats made clear that they would not bring the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) to a vote until it had the backing of the AFL-CIO, support they finally secured last week, Democrats appear comfortable voting on the replacement trade deal that has virtually no support from leading environmental groups.


Friday, Dec 13, 2019, 9:09 am  ·  By Julianne Tveten

Uber Is Offering Scab Rides to Help Break France’s General Strike

People gather in front of the Saint Charles university ahead of a demonstration to protest against the pension overhauls, in Marseille, southern France, on December 5, 2019 as part of a national general strike. -(Photo by Clement MAHOUDEAU / AFP)  

For more than a week, hundreds of thousands of people have been taking to the streets of France in a general strike protesting the potential degradation of the country’s pension system. One of France’s largest public-sector strikes in recent history, the action has united a wide array of workers, including air-traffic controllers, teachers and hospital staffers.


Thursday, Dec 12, 2019, 6:14 pm  ·  By Michelle Chen

Bosses Are Charged with Breaking the Law in Over 40% of Union Campaigns

There is a shocking level of illegal interference in U.S. union drives. (Photo by Erik McGregor/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)  

Labor unions are more popular than they’ve been in over 15 years. Yet a record-low number of workers belong to them. The gap between the public perception of unions and their actual membership illustrates just how difficult it’s become for workers to organize.


Wednesday, Dec 11, 2019, 4:09 pm  ·  By Michael Arria

Why Did Democrats Give Trump a Win on NAFTA 2.0?

Will NAFTA 2.0 boost U.S. jobs as Trump claims? Not really. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)  

On Tuesday morning, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that Democrats had reached a deal with the Trump administration to advance the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA), also referred to as “NAFTA 2.0.” In explaining the deal, she said: "There is no question of course that this trade agreement is much better than NAFTA."


Tuesday, Dec 3, 2019, 3:59 pm  ·  By Heidi Shierholz and David Cooper

Trump’s Labor Dept. Has Declared War on Tipped Workers

A new rule under Trump’s Dept. of Labor could cost tipped workers more than $700 million. (Shutterstock)  

In October, the Trump administration published a proposed rule regarding tips which, if finalized, will cost workers more than $700 million annually. It is yet another example of the Trump administration using the fine print of a proposal to attempt to push through a change that will transfer large amounts of money from workers to their employers. We also find that as employers ask tipped workers to do more nontipped work as a result of this rule, employment in nontipped food service occupations will decline by 5.3% and employment in tipped occupations will increase by 12.2%, resulting in 243,000 jobs shifting from being nontipped to being tipped. Given that back-of-the-house, nontipped jobs in restaurants are more likely to be held by people of color while tipped occupations are more likely to be held by white workers, this could reduce job opportunities for people of color.