Working In These Times

Friday, Jun 19, 2020, 9:55 am  ·  By Hamilton Nolan

SEIU President: Expelling Police Unions From the Labor Movement “Has to Be Considered”

Mary Kay Henry, president of the SEIU, speaks during a panel discussion on labor at the House Democrats' 2019 Issues Conference at the Lansdowne Resort and Spa in Leesburg, Va. on Thursday, April 11, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)  

The 2 million-member SEIU—arguably America’s most politically powerful progressive union—passed a resolution last week vowing to align the union with the goals of the Movement for Black Lives. It included a call to divest from the police, notable in part because SEIU itself has both police and correctional officers as members.


Friday, Jun 19, 2020, 7:10 am  ·  By Michelle Fawcett and Arun Gupta

Undocumented Farmworkers Are Refusing Covid Tests for Fear of Losing Their Jobs

Migrant farmworkers in Greenfield, Calif., where Fresh Harvest has been implementing safety precautions to protect against Covid-19 infections. (Brent Stirton/Getty Images)  

As states reopen for business, the coronavirus is exploding among America's 2.5 million farmworkers, imperiling efforts to contain the spread of the disease and keep food on the shelves just as peak harvest gets underway.

The figures are stark. The number of Covid-19 cases tripled in Lanier County, Ga., after one day of testing farmworkers. All 200 workers on a single farm in Evensville, Tenn., tested positive. Yakima County, Wash., the site of recent farmworker strikes at apple-packing facilities, now boasts the highest per capita infection rate on the West Coast. Among migrant workers in Immokalee, Fla.—who just finished picking tomatoes and are on their way north to harvest other crops—1,000 people are infected.


Wednesday, Jun 17, 2020, 1:23 pm  ·  By Indigo Olivier

Chicago Teachers Join the Nationwide Movement to Kick Cops Out of Schools

Demonstrators protest over the death of George Floyd in Chicago, the United States, on May 30, 2020. (Xinhua/ via Getty Images)  

The uprisings following the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old unarmed Black man, have articulated a clear demand: defund the police. Under pressure from students, communities and teachers’ unions, schools have been at the forefront of changes, by ending millions of dollars worth of contracts between public schools and police departments.

In this struggle, teachers unions have been organizing critical support for the movement, which is largely led by Black and Brown youth. Among them is the Chicago Teachers Union, which has been organizing rallies, mobilizing members, releasing statements of solidarity and contributing to a vision for what police-free Chicago schools could look like. In many cases, teachers are following the lead of their students, taking to the streets because youth are demanding profound change. Fresh off of a 2019 strike in which the union placed social justice demands front and center, CTU is showcasing how to mobilize for the common good during a time of social upheaval.


Wednesday, Jun 17, 2020, 10:01 am  ·  By Hamilton Nolan

Workers United Branch Calls on AFL-CIO to Expel Police Unions

A woman walks past a large 'Black Lives Matter' banner on the side of the AFL-CIO building near the White House in Washington, DC on June 12, 2020. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)  

Workers United in Upstate New York, a union representing 9,500 workers in New York state, is joining the growing call to kick police unions out of the labor movement.


Tuesday, Jun 16, 2020, 11:56 am  ·  By Peter Cole

The Most Radical Union in the U.S. Is Shutting Down the Ports on Juneteenth

Protesters confront police outside the 3rd Police Precinct on May 27, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)  

Outrage over the police murder of George Floyd launched Black Lives Matter protests across the country and world. Most actions are being organized by young black people. While many are working-class and at least some are anti-capitalist, few protests are formally part of the labor movement.


Tuesday, Jun 16, 2020, 9:50 am  ·  By Hamilton Nolan

Assisted Living Facility Staffer Says He Was Fired for Organizing His Coworkers During the Pandemic

(The Washington Post via Getty Images)  

In March of this year, Schuyler Stallcup was working as an “activities assistant” at an assisted living facility in Lincoln Park, Chicago, owned by Sunrise Senior Living. For the past year and a half, he had spent his days planning and leading recreational activities for the elderly residents, working to keep them entertained and engaged. When the coronavirus crisis hit, he decided that it was time to start organizing his coworkers. That’s when the trouble began.


Monday, Jun 15, 2020, 11:23 am  ·  By In These Times Union

Why Our Union Is Asking the AFL-CIO to Get Rid of Police Unions

A demonstrator holds her hands up while she kneels in front of the Police at the Anaheim City Hall on June 1, 2020 in Anaheim, California, during a protest over the police killing of George Floyd. (Photo by APU GOMES/AFP via Getty Images)  

The entire bargaining unit of the In These Times union is calling on the Washington-Baltimore News Guild to urge the News Guild, as well as the CWA, to pass a resolution calling on the AFL-CIO to disaffiliate from the International Union of Police Associations and other police unions. We believe that the mission of the AFL-CIO is to build a strong labor movement that fights for justice and equality for all working people. It is not possible to carry out that mission while also representing the interests of police, who oppress, beat, and imprison working people, particularly Black people. It is time for the AFL-CIO to recognize that it cannot fight for both sides in America's battle for justice.


Friday, Jun 12, 2020, 3:27 pm  ·  By Bill Fletcher, Jr.

The Central Issue Is Police Repression, Not Police Unions

Memphis police officer Michael Patrick beats a Black teenager during the sanitation workers' strike led by Martin Luther King, Jr., on March 28, 1968. Officer Leslie Dean Jones then shot and killed 16-year-old Larry Payne, right, in white shirt, with a sawed-off shotgun to the stomach. Witnesses said Payne had his hands up. A grand jury declined to prosecute. (Photo: Memphis Press-Scimitar file photo)  

Before rushing to expel police unions, labor needs a larger reckoning with law enforcement’s role in a capitalist-colonialist state.

The rebellions over the police murder of George Floyd have renewed a longtime controversy regarding police unions. Several unions, such as the Writers Guild of America, East, are now calling for the AFL-CIO to expel the International Union of Police Associations, arguing that police unions have no place in the labor federation.

I am going to suggest that the discussion has gone down a rabbithole and we need to rethink the entire way that the problem has been formulated.


Friday, Jun 12, 2020, 7:00 am  ·  By Jeff Schuhrke

Field Museum Workers Say It’s Time for the CEO to Start Making Sacrifices, Too

Backed by DSA and UE, Field Museum workers are demanding justice amid Covid-19 cuts. (Photo by Joel Lerner/Xinhua via Getty Images)  

Facing devasting pay cuts and layoffs amid the Covid-19 crisis, workers at Chicago’s Field Museum are organizing to demand greater transparency and equitable sacrifice from upper management.


Thursday, Jun 11, 2020, 5:04 pm  ·  By Sarah Lazare

Union President Says Minneapolis Is Trying to Punish Transit Workers Who Wouldn’t Help the Police

A man raises his arm inside a bus in support of protests in upper Manhattan on June 7, 2020 in New York, NY. (Photo by Pablo Monsalve/VIEWpress via Getty Images)  

In late May, as Minneapolis and St. Paul erupted in protests against the police killing of 46-year-old Black man George Floyd, members of the Twin Cities’ Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1005 publicly refused to transport protesters to jail. "As a transit worker and union member, I refuse to transport my class and radical youth," Minneapolis bus driver Adam Burch told the labor publication Payday Report, which first reported the refusals on May 28. "An injury to one is an injury to all,” said Burch.