Working In These Times

Friday, Jun 9, 2017, 11:03 am  ·  By Bruce Vail

Behind the Big AT&T Strike: Years of Shipping Jobs Overseas

The outsourcing is hitting vulnerable communities in the United States hard. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)  

A recent three-day strike against telecommunications operator AT&T attracted nationwide attention, even though the modern incarnation of the company is a far cry from the gigantic “Ma Bell” monopoly of old. The strike took nearly 40,000 workers off the job. The Communications Workers of America (CWA) union was sending a message to management: Stop stalling, start negotiating.

The immediate cause of the strike was the slowness of the company to reach new contracts with the union for improved wages and benefits for some workers, including those in AT&T’s wireless communications network. But underlying the dispute is a long-term strategy by the company to degrade the quality of its U.S. jobs as it shifts much of its business to lower-paid workers overseas, the union says.


Thursday, Jun 8, 2017, 11:51 am  ·  By Jeff Schuhrke

Will Chicago Become the Epicenter of Charter School Unionization?

Supporters of the Chicago Teachers Union rally on September 11, 2012. (Shutter Stutter/flickr)  

In a move sure to worry neoliberal education reformers, unionized charter school teachers in Chicago are voting this week on whether to formally join forces with the most militant teachers’ union in the country.

The proposed merger—which would be a potential first in the country—would see the more than 1,000 member Chicago Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff (ChiACTS), Local 4343 of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), amalgamate into a single union local with the nearly 30,000-member Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), AFT Local 1.

ChiACTS president Chris Baehrend said the potential merger “helps all Chicago teachers fight together on the same issues.”


Thursday, Jun 8, 2017, 10:59 am  ·  By Michael Fox

Brazilian Workers Are Rising Up Against a Bill That Threatens Basic Labor Rights

A Brazilian protester holds a sign reading, "When injustice becomes routine, revolution should become a duty." (Photo by Michael Fox)  

On May 24, tens of thousands of people descended on Brazil's capital, Brasília, to protest the government of President Michel Temer and its proposed reforms that could gut workers’ rights and pensions.

Hundreds of buses arrived from around the country, filled with members of unions and social movements, such as the grassroots Landless Workers' Movement, or MST, and the Popular Brasil Front.

Police and even the military — after Temer issued a controversial decree calling out the Armed Forces to protect the city — responded with brutal force, firing tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades, while Senators debated inside.


Tuesday, Jun 6, 2017, 7:55 pm  ·  By Shaun Richman

Trump Wants To Privatize Air Traffic Control. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Private sector corporations’ first priority is to turn a profit—not to serve the public. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)  

Promising “cheaper, faster and safer travel,” the Trump administration announced a plan this week to privatize the nation’s air traffic control system.

The announcement Monday marked the first day of the administration’s “infrastructure week,” a series of publicity events around one of the only areas of the president’s agenda that has intrigued some union leaders and Democratic legislators.

What they had hoped for was an increase in public spending to create good jobs and repair our nation’s transportation systems. What Trump wants is to give public assets away to corporate interests, while reducing pay and benefit standards for workers.


Tuesday, Jun 6, 2017, 11:12 am  ·  By Sarah Jaffe

Interviews for Resistance: Disrupting the System by Demanding Healthcare as a Human Right

Mother Jones Leadership Program participants and mentors, pictured in 2017. (Nijmie Dzurinko)  

Since election night 2016, the streets of the United States have rung with resistance. People all over the country have woken up with the conviction that they must do something to fight inequality in all its forms. But many are wondering what it is they can do. In this series, we'll be talking with experienced organizers, troublemakers, and thinkers who have been doing the hard work of fighting for a long time. They'll be sharing their insights on what works, what doesn't, and what has changed, and what is still the same.

Nijmie Dzurinko: My name is Nijmie Dzurinko, a lifelong Pennsylvanian and a black and indigenous woman who grew up in Monessen in Westmoreland County. I have lived in Philadelphia for over twenty years. 


Monday, Jun 5, 2017, 6:14 pm  ·  By Josh Bivens and Hunter Blair

Trump Talks a Big Infrastructure Game But His Budget Tells a Different Story

The Trump administration’s rhetoric on infrastructure is loud and real. The administration’s plans are thin and fake. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)  

This article was first posted by the Economic Policy Institute.

It has been declared “infrastructure week” by the Trump administration. On the face of it, that should be excellent news. The U.S. economy would benefit enormously from an ambitious increase in public investment, including infrastructure investment. Such investment would create jobs and finally lock-in genuine full employment in the near-term, and would provide a needed boost to productivity growth (or how much income and output each hour of work generates in the economy) in the medium-term. Further, infrastructure investments would ensure that we do not leave future generations a deficit of underinvestment and deferred maintenance of public assets.

This clear need is why we at EPI have been such enthusiastic backers of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) plan to boost infrastructure investment. The CPC investment plan is up to the scale of the problem, and it confronts the need to make these investments head-on, without accounting gimmicks or magical thinking about where the money for these investments will come from.

Despite being long-standing and loud proponents of the need for more infrastructure investment, however, we cannot say we expect much from the Trump administration’s infrastructure week. Why not? Because the most common theme in the Trump administration’s approach to infrastructure is pure obfuscation about how it will be paid for. If you’re not willing to say forthrightly how you’re going to pay for infrastructure investments, you really cannot be serious about it. As the old adage goes, “show me your budget and I’ll tell you what you value”.


Friday, Jun 2, 2017, 11:59 am  ·  By Jonathan Timm

Veteran Organizer Gives Inside Look at the First $15 Minimum Wage Campaign

As the labor movement finds itself in a state of crisis, Jonathan Rosenblum's new book is both a timely history of a bold campaign’s unlikely victory and an inspiring call for a flexible, progressive and power-building vision of labor organizing. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)  

Back in 2011, as the Occupy Wall Street movement was still spreading through the country, a smaller standoff was unfolding at Sea-Tac, the international airport in the small, eponymous town between Seattle and Tacoma that serves both cities. Along with some of her coworkers, Zainab Aweis, a Somali Muslim shuttle driver for Hertz car rental, was on her way to take a break for prayer, when her manager stepped in front of the doorway.

“If you guys pray, you go home,” the manager said.

As devout Muslims, Aweis and her fellow staff were dedicated to praying five times a day. Because it only takes a few minutes, their employer had previously treated the prayers like smoke breaks—nothing to worry about. Suddenly, the workers were forced to choose between their faith and their jobs.


Thursday, Jun 1, 2017, 11:44 am  ·  By Sarah Jaffe

Interviews for Resistance: New Progressive Coalition Calls for “Millions of Jobs”

A coalition of unions and other progressive organizations is pushing lawmakers on a jobs and infrastructure bill that would put millions of people to work. (Photo courtesy of Bishop Dwayne Royster)  

Welcome to Interviews for Resistance. Since election night 2016, the streets of the United States have rung with resistance. People all over the country have woken up with the conviction that they must do something to fight inequality in all its forms. But many are wondering what it is they can do. In this series, we'll be talking with experienced organizers, troublemakers and thinkers who have been doing the hard work of fighting for a long time. They'll be sharing their insights on what works, what doesn't, what’s changed and what is still the same.

Bishop Dwayne Royster: Hi, I am Bishop Dwayne Royster. I am the political director of the PICO National Network and PICO Action Fund. I also serve as the first national vice chair of the Working Families Party.

Sarah Jaffe: You are part of quite a large coalition that launched a Millions of Jobs campaign last. Tell us about that.

Dwayne: We are working with a coalition of organizations that have pressed the Congressional Progressive Caucus to come up with a plan for a jobs and infrastructure bill that will put millions of people back to work. In particular, those folks that have been really locked out of the job market, locked out of infrastructure opportunities and jobs; also making sure that we are looking towards the future and not looking towards the past by building out green jobs, by working in urban areas, making sure people of color are prioritized in the work around the infrastructure builds that need to happen, that we are building our education infrastructure across the country, building schools. We want to make sure we get parents and other people in the communities where those schools are getting built and those jobs by creating job opportunities for them.

We are really excited because we think the legislation that is going forward is going to be really progressive legislation that is going to be transformative for communities. It is not about privatization. It is actually about making sure that public dollars are put towards the public trust and that the public ultimately benefits both from the resources that are being built, but from the job opportunities that are being created at the same time. 


Tuesday, May 30, 2017, 12:49 pm  ·  By Paul Feldman, Fair Warning

OSHA Under Trump Is Tight-Lipped—Democratic Senators Demand To Know Why

Under previous Democratic and Republican administration, OSHA has used announcements of major enforcement actions, and the threat of bad publicity, to combat health and safety hazards. (Photo by Michael Nigro/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)  

This article was first posted by FairWarning.

In the four months since President Trump took office, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued four news releases announcing penalties for job safety violations.

By the end of May last year, it had issued 199.

The recent reticence has spurred six U.S. senators, all Democrats, to ask what’s up at OSHA. In a letter to OSHA’s parent agency, the Department of Labor, the six lawmakers are demanding a review of the agency’s “decision to cease public notification of major findings.”


Monday, May 29, 2017, 2:02 pm  ·  By David Moberg

Nursing Home Workers Win Big After Threatening to Strike: “We Have the Power Now”

Equally important to most workers as pay, the new contract gives them more protection of rights on the job. (SEIU Healthcare Illinois & Indiana/ Facebook)  

CHICAGO—For more than two years, around 10,000 Illinois nursing home workers worked without a new union contract—waiting and agitating for a long overdue pay raise and better protection of their rights on the job. Those rights, they argued, would also improve the care of the ill and elderly in their charge.

Fed up with the owners’ intransigence, 5,000 of those workers announced that they were prepared to walk out. By raising the credible threat of the biggest strike in the history of the U.S. nursing home industry, the union convinced the leading employer alliance in the state—the Illinois Association of Health Care Facilities—to throw in the towel at the last minute.

Early this month, the owners agreed to most of the union’s key demands, and the union called off the strike. Later, workers voted, and 97 percent approved the contract.