Tuesday, Sep 5, 2017, 6:06 pm · By Carlos Ballesteros
KANSAS CITY, MO.—Bill Thompson, 46, grew up believing in the American Dream. When he graduated from college in 1995 with an engineering degree, he assumed he would have no trouble covering his bills along with the middle-class niceties his father, a postal clerk and member of the American Postal Workers Union, was able to provide to his family growing up.
Thompson was hired by a local engineering firm out of college, but his training was soon rendered obsolete by new technologies and he lost his job. With $46,000 in student debt and two young children to support, he was in need of a job—any job. So, he turned to fast food.
Thompson made $8.50 an hour at his first job in the industry, working at a now defunct chain of buffets. That was 1997. Today, he makes $9.10 as a cook at a Burger King just outside the city limits.
“$9.10 an hour isn’t enough to pay my bills,” he says. “The last time I saw a doctor was when I was 15 years old. My teeth are rotting. I can’t see much anymore. I can’t afford the medical attention I need.”
When asked why he decided to join the movement to raise the minimum wage in Kansas City two years ago, Thompson kept it short. “I’m fighting for my life,” he said.
Yesterday, Thompson and thousands of his fellow low-wage workers in more than 400 cities nationwide went on a one-day strike. Their key demands remain straightforward: a raise and a union.
Tuesday, Sep 5, 2017, 3:07 pm · By Daniel Costa
This article first appeared on the Working Economics Blog of the Economic Policy Institute.
This morning Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Trump administration will “wind down,” and in six months, end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a Department of Homeland Security initiative put in place in 2012 that temporarily deferred the deportation of approximately 800,000 young immigrants who were brought to the United States as children. DACA has been an unqualified success and has benefited not only the DACA recipients themselves, but also the country and the economy.
Friday, Sep 1, 2017, 11:31 am · By Bruce Vail
A Target store in rural Virginia was hit with a wildcat strike last week, and the non-union workers may have already won their key demand—the removal of a manager charged with abusive treatment of workers.
A small fraction of the workers at the Christianburg, Va., store walked out on August 23. But according to Target worker and strike organizer Adam Ryan, the low numbers belied the strong support among employees for the action against the manager. Workers feared retaliation or outright dismissal for taking any overt action, Ryan told In These Times, but many also back up the charges of sexual harassment and racial discrimination directed primarily against the Latino employees.
Thursday, Aug 31, 2017, 6:27 pm · By Seth Kershner
This week, in an address to the biennial conference of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that President Donald Trump had issued an executive order allowing local law enforcement to, once again, receive bayonets, tracked armored vehicles and grenade launchers from the Pentagon. For free.
Federal transfers of certain types of military hardware, but certainly not all, had previously been banned as part of former President Barack Obama’s efforts to reform a controversial Department of Defense (DOD) program known as 1033.
Thursday, Aug 31, 2017, 11:39 am · By Julianne Tveten
Following a wave of white supremacist rage from Silicon Valley to Virginia, the relationship between the technology industry and racism has suddenly come under a rare level of scrutiny.
In early August, Google developer James Damore released a manifesto reproaching workplace diversity initiatives, titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber.” The incendiary document garnered extensive press coverage, with some liberal circles even looking into organizing demonstrations to condemn ideologies like Damore’s. In response to public indignation, Google CEO Sundar Pichai condemned the manifesto.
Tuesday, Aug 29, 2017, 11:19 am · By Peter Cole
What role should the labor movement play in beating back the resurgence of fascism? Resistance, while a powerful concept, is far too vague. Local 10, the San Francisco Bay Area branch of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU)—and perhaps the most radical union in the United States—demonstrates what can be done.
This past week, the San Francisco Bay Area—long a center of unionism, social justice movements and radicalism—took center stage. Patriot Prayer is a right-wing organization with a demonstrated history of inciting racist violence, most obviously in Portland, Ore., while ironically asserting peaceful intentions. The far-right group declared it would rally in San Francisco on Saturday.
Friday, Aug 25, 2017, 6:03 pm · By Thor Benson
On Thursday, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta announced that former President Ronald Reagan will be entering the Labor Department's Hall of Honor, joining the ranks of luminaries ranging from Mother Jones to Eugene Debs.
In his announcement, Acosta cited Reagan's tenure as the president of the Screen Actors Guild, along with a series of personal anecdotes, to explain that the Gipper was a friend of the working class. However, one does not have to be a history scholar to understand that Reagan was in fact an enemy of organized labor throughout his presidency.
Thursday, Aug 24, 2017, 3:41 pm · By Bruce Vail
BALTIMORE – Elected officials are still taking heat for their recent decision to award nearly $1 billion in public benefits for a luxury real estate project on the old industrial waterfront. Lawmakers were further embarrassed in July when it emerged that one of the immediate results of the award is to kill roughly 100 of the few remaining unionized manufacturing jobs in a city still reeling from the 2015 uprisings against police killings.
Workers at the Locke Insulators plant were “stunned” July 10 to learn that corporate managers intended to close the factory and eliminate their jobs, says Dennis Orton, a representative of the United Electrical (UE) union. Without consulting workers, union representatives or community leaders, the company filed a legally required notice that it would shutter the plant permanently in just 60 days, Orton reports.
Thursday, Aug 24, 2017, 8:00 am · By Will Greenberg
The cost of car repairs might make your heart sink, but Chicago-area mechanics say they don’t get a fair deal from dealerships, either. On August 1, the nearly 2,000 members of Auto Mechanics Union Local 701 voted overwhelmingly to strike after rejecting a contract at the end of July. If the strike doesn’t produce the contract the union wants, many young mechanics could be facing tough decisions about their future.
Rafael Rosas, 23, has been working at the Nissan dealership in Evanston, Ill, for three years. He was promoted from lube-technician to apprentice last year and now makes a little under $20 an hour. Before he can become a journeyman, or full-fledged mechanic, his employer must agree to promote him—a process that can take up to 8 years. Rosas says he can’t wait that long; if the union fails at the negotiation table, he’s going to leave the industry for plumbing or another more lucrative trade in order to keep up with rent, bills and student loan payments.
“I wanted to become a mechanic, and we’ll see if everything works out,” says Rosas. “If not, I’m gonna have to change careers.”
Tuesday, Aug 22, 2017, 12:29 pm · By Robert E. Scott
The first round of the Trump administration’s NAFTA renegotiations began in Washington wrapped up on Saturday. The negotiators will meet again in September in Mexico City and then again in October in Canada. The United States has not yet proposed any specific measures on important issues such as labor rights, currency manipulation, or rules of origin. By all accounts, these negotiations are more likely to hurt than help most working Americans, who would be better served by efforts to target countries with large, global trade surpluses such as China, the European Union (EU) and Japan. Rather than tinkering around the edges of NAFTA, the United States should begin a campaign to realign the U.S. dollar and rebalance global trade.