Working In These Times

Thursday, May 16, 2019, 10:35 am  ·  By Hannah Steinkopf-Frank

Scabby the Rat Is Under Attack—And Needs Our Help

On September 17, 2010, "Scabby" was employed by the Local 639 Teamsters union as they try to negotiate their contract in Upper Marlboro, MD. (Photo by Juana Arias/For the Washington Post)  

The Trump era presents unions with a range of new threats to their survival, including the 2018 Janus Supreme Court decision revoking the right of public sector unions to collect dues from nonmembers. This erosion of union protections is being met with large-scale protests and grassroots organizing, from picketing school teachers to striking ride-share drivers. But as battles over union rights transpire at the local and federal levels, an unexpected figure has come into focus: a giant inflatable rodent.


Wednesday, May 15, 2019, 2:14 pm  ·  By Joe Burns

The Teacher Strikes Could Set Off a Private Sector Strike Wave—If We Dare

We should celebrate the teacher strike wave, but also apply its lessons to the private sector. (Photo by Ronen Tivony/NurPhoto via Getty Images)  

In the spring of 2018, teachers across West Virginia improbably shut down schools statewide, creating a political crisis that forced Republican Gov. Jim Justice and the GOP-led legislature to back down. Drawing inspiration from the West Virginia strikers, teachers in the red states of Arizona and Oklahoma soon followed suit by carrying out statewide strikes of their own.


Thursday, May 9, 2019, 3:40 pm  ·  By Chris Brooks

How Volkswagen Has Gotten Away With Union-Busting

The company logo of German car maker Volkswagen is pictured at the company's headquarters in Wolfsburg, northern Germany on March 12, 2019. (TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP/Getty Images)  

Labor law is not workers’ law. That’s the lesson learned by pro-union workers at Volkswagen’s sole U.S. factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee.


Thursday, May 9, 2019, 3:31 pm  ·  By Larry Cohen

Larry Hanley Was a Transformational Labor Leader. He Will Be Missed.

Rest in power, Larry Hanley. (ATU)  

On May 7, while recovering from an illness, Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) International President Larry Hanley died suddenly.  In a brief statement, his family, quoting Mary G. Harris “Mother” Jones, urged us to: "Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living."


Thursday, May 9, 2019, 1:47 pm  ·  By Rachel M. Cohen

What People in Kentucky Coal Country Really Think About a Green New Deal

Abandoned coal cars stand idle on a weed-choked rail yard near Whitesburg in eastern Kentucky on June 10, 2015. (Photo by Joby Warrick)  

In late March, Republican Rep. Andy Barr of Kentucky—a member of the Congressional Coal Caucus—invited Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York to come to his state to talk with coal miners about what her proposed Green New Deal  “would mean for their families, their paychecks.” The invitation came after Ocasio-Cortez spoke passionately in Congress against the idea that aggressively tackling climate change is something that matters only to rich, coastal elites.


Wednesday, May 8, 2019, 6:29 pm  ·  By Rebecca Burns

Please Let’s Never Call Uber “The Future of Work” Ever Again

Uber and Lydt drivers across the country went on strike Wednesday, May 8. (JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images)  

It was back in 2015 that Obama administration alum David Plouffe, freshly decamped to Silicon Valley, first suggested that the gig economy was “the future of work.”


Tuesday, May 7, 2019, 6:00 pm  ·  By Josh Wolf

How the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Won Higher Wages By Playing For Free

Over the course of their 7-week strike, the CSO played free concerts across Chicago. (Photo by Hiroyuki Ito/Getty Images)  

While waving signs and walking a picket-line is standard practice for striking workers, performing world-class music isn’t. But for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra—one of the most renowned orchestras in the world—it was only natural to host free concerts during their longest strike ever.  


Thursday, May 2, 2019, 6:38 pm  ·  By Rebecca Burns

Chicago’s Charter School Strike Wave Keeps On Winning

Chicago charter school teachers were the first of their kind to go on strike in U.S. history. (Rebecca Burns)  

Chicago charter teachers are racking up firsts. In December 2018, Chicago saw the first-ever walkout at a charter network in the United States. And on Thursday, teachers employed by two other private operators launched the nation’s first multi-employer charter school strike.   


Thursday, May 2, 2019, 12:16 pm  ·  By Jeremy Gantz

Stop & Shop Workers Vote to Ratify Contract—Although Benefits Will Shrink for New Part-Timers

Stop & Shop workers on strike April 11 in Dorcester, Mass. (Photo by Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)  

On Wednesday, May Day, the last of five United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) locals ratified a new three-year contract with Stop & Shop, following a 10-day strike—one of the largest the U.S. private sector has seen in years. Workers at Local 1459 in Springfield, Mass., voted overwhelmingly in favor of the new contract—in line with near-unanimous approvals by four other locals since the strike ended April 21.

The strike began in the week leading up to Easter, when 31,000 UFCW union members across New England walked off the job after Stop & Shop said it needed to “adapt to market conditions” to compete with behemoths like Walmart and Whole Foods/Amazon. Noting it is the only fully unionized grocery chain in New England, one with a pension plan and above-industry wages, the company proposed raising healthcare premiums, freezing overtime rates for part-time workers (who make up 75% of its workforce) and reducing pension benefits for non-vested employees.

UFCW members viewed these proposals as steps toward a two-tiered workforce, with full-time Stop & Shop employees at one level and part-time workers at another.


Wednesday, May 1, 2019, 10:59 am  ·  By Raechel Anne Jolie

Why May Day Continues to Capture the Hearts and Imaginations of Workers

People gather to mark the May Day, International Workers' Day in Chicago, Illinois, United States on May 1, 2018. (Photo by Bilgin S. Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)  

May 1 has an energy that is palpable across the globe. On this day, every year for more than a century, workers across the world gather for International Workers Day, also known as May Day. These marches have inspired everyone from retired mechanics to immigrant fast food workers to high school students to take the streets in honor of labor—and in a show of respect for the power of a strike. Amid the Trump administration's egregious assaults on the lives of workers and immigrants, showing up for a day that asserts the dignity of workers from all backgrounds is more important than ever.