Working In These Times

Monday, Oct 5, 2015, 6:19 pm  ·  By Bruce Vail

Adjuncts Win Union Contract at Maryland Institute College of Art


The national movement to unionize part-time faculty at U.S. colleges and universities has secured an initial beachhead in the Baltimore area with ratification of a first contract between Service Employees International Union Local 500 and the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). Voting on the ratification concluded in mid-September and a formal signing ceremony for the pact is set for October 8, labor representatives report.

It’s the first union contract for any bargaining unit of part-time faculty, or adjuncts, in the city’s greater metropolitan area, where thousands of such workers are employed at about a dozen similar private and public educational institutions. The overwhelming ratification vote of 91-7 came following a protracted contract negotiation initiated when a union organizing drive won collective bargaining rights for about 300 MICA adjuncts in April of last year.


Monday, Oct 5, 2015, 5:52 pm  ·  By David Moberg

Central States Pension Fund Prepares To Slash Hundreds of Thousands of Workers’ Pensions

(Jagz Mario / Flickr)  

For several months, many current and retired truck drivers have feared receiving a letter in the mail that could be “devastating,” in the words of Teamsters union vice-president John Murphy. Finally, last Friday, the Central States Pension Fund sent those dreaded letters to 407,000 workers and retirees, mainly Teamsters employed by hundreds of trucking-related companies with roots in the Midwest, South and East.

Each individualized letter told them in detail whether the fund will now cut their promised pension payments—and, if so, by how much. 


Monday, Oct 5, 2015, 4:56 pm  ·  By Branko Marcetic

Carly Fiorina Didn’t Pay Several Workers From Her Previous Campaign

She also refused to pay $30,000 in back wages to the widow of someone who literally died while poring over polling data. (Gage Skidmore / Flickr)  

Carly Fiorina’s presidential campaign is running largely on the back of her highly dubious business record as CEO of HP. While Fiorina claims to have single-handedly turned the company around, others say she was a stubborn and irresponsible leader who couldn’t handle criticism and fired tens of thousands of people.

Turns out, however, that Fiorina might have even more in common with your least favorite boss—she also didn’t pay her employees.


Thursday, Oct 1, 2015, 6:01 pm  ·  By Michael Arria

T-Mobile Workers Say the Company Has Repeatedly Engaged in Union-busting

The company has admitted it developed a system to monitor any potential union activity and a response team to stamp out any spark of potential unionization. (Mike Mozart / Flickr)  

Last month, 20 Democratic lawmakers wrote a letter to T-Mobile’s parent company in Germany expressing their concern over the treatment of T-Mobile workers in the United States. The sharply-worded letter explained that this was not their first attempt to get answers from the company: “Your July 14th response to the letter that we sent you on June 29th seemed to indicate that you are not taking this issue seriously, so we were seeking additional information about your familiarity with the American legal issues at stake with your politics and practices regarding labor complaints.”

It’s a safe bet that T-Mobile’s parent company, Deutsche Telekom, won’t have much to say in response to the second letter either. But if politicians are beginning to pay attention to T-Mobile employees, it’s because workers have been organizing towards improved working conditions for years.


Thursday, Oct 1, 2015, 3:04 pm  ·  By Branko Marcetic

Video Game Voice Actors Push for Strike Over Performance Bonuses and Stressful Recordings

Jennifer Hale, who voices the protagonist of the popular Mass Effect series, is one of the actors voting to strike.   (Ryan Somma / Flickr)

After several failed negotiations with producers, frustrated video game actors may vote to strike for royalties and fairer work conditions that match those of other industries, threatening potentially massive upheaval in the $91.5 billion industry.

Voice actors are demanding they receive residual income based on sales, with a performance bonus for every 2 million online subscribers or copies sold. This set-up is designed to ensure smaller games are unaffected, as this is the threshold at which a game can be considered a "blockbuster," according to creen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), the union representing the actors.


Wednesday, Sep 30, 2015, 2:05 pm  ·  By Crystal Stella Becerril

Netflix’s Offer of Paid Family Leave Only to Salaried Workers Reflects Larger Divide in Tech


Last month, Netflix announced it would begin offering unlimited paid maternity and paternity leave to its employees during the first year of their new child's life. Within days of the announcement, the California-based tech company had become trumpeted as the new face of progressive employee benefits among private sector companies. The following day Microsoft announced its own maternity/paternity leave upgrade. (The company says the timing was pure coincidence and not at all related to Netflix's.) 

But the web streaming giant failed to mention that this new and improved benefit only applies to salaried employees in its web-division and will not be enjoyed by the 450 waged employees who work in their mail order or customer service division, 261 of whom are part time or seasonal.


Wednesday, Sep 30, 2015, 1:41 pm  ·  By David Moberg

The Fight For 15 Just Landed at America’s Busiest Airport

A McDonald's worker speaks on a bullhorn outside O'Hare Airport yesterday. (Airport Workers United / Facebook)  

Encouraged by an energetic rally of more than 100 janitors and other members of Service Employees (SEIU) Local 1, a group of low-wage security, cleaning and passenger service workers at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport on Tuesday launched a campaign to organize 5,000 airport workers to win higher wages and the right to form a union without intimidation.

The O’Hare organizing drive hopes, first, to bring the non-union workers at the airport into the Fight for $15 movement, initiated three years ago among fast food workers and, according to SEIU, already responsible for raising wages of 11 million workers. Then SEIU organizers hope to use the energy of that campaign for higher pay—and whatever success they have—to help create a union that can continue to defend and bargain for better working conditions.


Wednesday, Sep 30, 2015, 11:26 am  ·  By Fred Klonsky

Will the NEA Endorse Hillary Clinton Over Bernie Sanders Without Asking for Anything in Return?

The country's largest union doesn't have a strong track record of extracting concessions from Democrats before endorsing them. (Phil Roeder / Flickr)  

With just a few days before the a meeting of the National Education Association’s (NEA) board of directors in Washington DC, what seemed like a sure thing several weeks ago now seems a little less certain.

The plan was for the leaders of the largest teachers union in the country to vote for an early endorsement of Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party nomination. With the backing of NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia, the endorsement should have been a breeze.


Monday, Sep 28, 2015, 4:34 pm  ·  By Alexandra Bradbury

So Far, Chrysler Workers Are Roundly Rejecting UAW’s Two-Tier Contract Deal

“This job that built the middle class, now it’s going to build the poor working class,” said one Michigan autoworker. (Fiat Chrysler / Flickr)  

In local after local, auto workers are voting down their union’s national deal with Chrysler, aiming to force their bargainers back to the table to do better.

The four-year pact announced September 15 would include raises and bonuses but maintain the two-tier system, trap people in Tier 2 who had expected to move up, and create even more tiers.

“I feel like the people who hire in at the lower wage deserve the chance to get to where I’m at, to be able to live in a comfortable manner,” said Nancy Collins, a team leader at Kokomo Transmission in Indiana.


Friday, Sep 25, 2015, 5:10 pm  ·  By Bruce Vail

Even the Wall Street Journal Smells a Rat in A&P Supermarkets Bankruptcy

A&P Supermarket  

Workers at the bankrupt A&P grocery chain have been complaining for weeks that corporate executives have been looting the failing company, but nobody seemed to be paying much attention until Wall Street’s favorite newspaper came out with a story backing up the workers’ charges.

Wall Street Journal reporter Peg Brickley uncovered part of the truth September 18, with a dispatch that revealed A&P “paid out $9.4 million in bonuses and other extra payments to insiders in the 12 months before its July bankruptcy. Brickley’s story, based on documents filed in federal bankruptcy court, detailed that these payments were made to just eight A&P business executives, and that the company had taken the unusual step of concealing the names of the insiders who took the money.

Brickley’s report came just as the first wave of A&P store closures hit areas of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, with about 2,500 grocery workers losing their jobs. The news had special impact for those union workers who had their contractual severance benefits cut by about half by order of Judge Robert Drain of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York. Judge Drain ordered the cuts at the request of senior A&P managers, who had complained that the worker severance would be too costly for the company.