Thursday, Aug 25, 2016, 12:33 pm · By Margaret Gray
This article was first posted at Jacobin.
We live in the shadows,” explained Javier, a Hudson Valley farmworker, while describing his life to me. “We are treated like unknown people . . . We are not paid well and cannot ask for more.” A worker on another farm said, “They treat us like nothing; they only want the work . . . Whether we like it or not, we have to like it.”
Some of today’s liveliest political conversations concern agricultural production and distribution. But these discussions are also among the most confused.
Wednesday, Aug 24, 2016, 3:08 pm · By David Moberg
In a strongly-worded opinion released Tuesday, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that teaching and research assistants at Columbia University and at other private institutions of higher education have the right to organize unions and collectively bargain with the universities that both employ and teach them.
The three Democratic NLRB members wrote that even if students are enrolled in the university to educate themselves, they also meet the definition of an employee—working for pay to do what someone else wants them to do. Thus, they should have the same labor rights as any other employee, the members wrote. (The lone Republican member dissented; one seat is vacant.)
Tuesday, Aug 23, 2016, 12:04 pm · By Shaun Richman
Something is happening. Socialism is no longer a dirty word (the “S-word”), but something a sizeable portion of Americans tell pollsters is their preferred vision for society. It’s no longer an anachronism to speak of “the Left.” A brave and quickly organized movement for black lives has not only sparked a new civil rights movement but has gotten many of us to see the criminal justice system for what it is: the evolution of Jim Crow. Oh, and a hell of a lot more workers are striking than before.
There have been attempts to describe this emerging movement for social justice in book form before. The latest, Necessary Trouble: Americans in Revolt by Sarah Jaffe, is the best so far. The Nation Books publication was released Tuesday.
Monday, Aug 22, 2016, 12:55 pm · By Barbara Bowen
Earlier this month, the largest number of members in our union’s history participated in a contract ratification vote at the City University of New York (CUNY). Nearly three-quarters of eligible voters participated, and the result was a resounding 94 percent “yes.” Contract ratification votes don’t make the news as often as they should, but this one was preceded by six years of struggle for an agreement and a public debate about its merits—including opinion pieces in these pages and others.
The debate about the CUNY contract, fueled by a vocal “vote no” campaign, might have led readers to conclude that the outcome of the vote would be close, certainly much closer than 94 percent. Why was the contract so hard fought?
Why did it generate such heat? And why did it ultimately receive overwhelming support?
Thursday, Aug 18, 2016, 3:52 pm · By Chris Brooks
This article was first posted at Labor Notes.
If you’ve attended a Fight for $15 rally or a Black Lives Matter protest in Chicago recently, chances are you’ve seen members of Future Fighters.
Their T-shirts proudly proclaim that they are “a movement of young leaders actively fighting against income inequality, racial profiling, police brutality, and homelessness; while engaging and educating other young workers who are taking direct action to unite and rebuild our communities.”
It’s a promising example of how union members can organize to support the growing movement for police accountability. The Future Fighters—young members of Service Employees Healthcare Illinois-Indiana (SEIU HCII)—are building a bridge between their union’s struggle for economic justice and their community’s struggle for racial justice.
Wednesday, Aug 17, 2016, 11:17 am · By Bruce Vail
The Baltimore City Council derailed a proposed increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour Monday, highlighting the ambivalence among many Democratic Party leaders over whether to support the national Fight for $15 movement.
Pro-business members on the all-Democrat 15-member council were able to hold together an alliance against the higher minimum wage and voted 8-6 to return the proposed legislation to committee for revision. The maneuver appears to have effectively killed the bill, at least for this year.
“We live to fight another day,” said Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, chief sponsor of the legislation.
Tuesday, Aug 16, 2016, 5:20 pm · By Parker Asmann
Domestic workers in Illinois are celebrating a new bill of rights.
Gov. Bruce Rauner signed the bill into law last week, capping a 5-year campaign and making Illinois the 7th state to adopt such a protection.
Monday, Aug 15, 2016, 4:51 pm · By Alexandra Bradbury
This article was first posted at Labor Notes.
They didn’t end three-tier in a single blow. But in a new contract covering 200,000 members, the American Postal Workers Union made serious headway and fended off most concessionary demands, including the Postal Service’s effort to create yet another tier.
Sunday, Aug 14, 2016, 6:37 pm · By David Moberg
This story has been updated with a response from SEIU.
The start to this weekend’s Fight for $15 convention didn’t go as planned.
As roughly 10,000 conference goers gathered in Richmond, Va., to talk about unions and low-wage work, organizers behind the nationwide campaign demanded a union of their own.
On Friday, Jodi Lynn Fennell, a child care worker organizer from Las Vegas, attempted to deliver a letter from a Fight for $15 organizers asking the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) to acknowledge it was their employer and to give them the right to organize.
A small group of supporters accompanied Fennell as she approached the stage where SEIU President Mary Kay Henry was scheduled to deliver the keynote address. But security guards stopped them from delivering the letter and escorted them away from the stage. Later, according to the Union of Union Representatives (UUR), a supervisor told Fennell and four other organizers they had to fly back to Las Vegas early Saturday morning, at their own expense.
Friday, Aug 12, 2016, 2:34 pm · By Jen Johnson
As a public high school history teacher for 10 years, I organized lesson plans and materials and the arrangement of my classroom. I facilitated thousands of discussions about history with classes of teenagers. I designed projects and guided the students to achieve our goals and get excited about learning and putting in the work.
Yet, somehow, if you asked me if I was an “organizer,” I probably would have said that I wasn’t. "Organizers are the professionals. I’m not a professional organizer!”
Thankfully, my union, the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU), has tried to change that wrong-headed perception. The CTU works hard to train our members to understand that organizing is grassroots rank-and-file work. There are leaders everywhere if you’re looking for them. Improving our workplaces and the lives of our communities are collective tasks. We can all be organizers, but there is an art and science to learning to practice good labor organizing skills.