Working In These Times
This Week in Labor: New Rules for Unionbusters, Canadian Postal Worker Lockout Comes to Angry End
At the end of each week, Working In These Times rounds up labor news we've missed during the past week, with a focus on new and ongoing campaigns and protests. For all our other headlines from this week, go here.
—The Office of Labor Management Standards, a division of the Labor Department, instituted tough new reporting requirements for companies that hire unionbusting consultants to oppose unionization drives. Under the old rules, employers only had to disclose if the anti-union consultants made direct contact with employees. The new rules expand the range of reportable expenditures so that employees and the general public can better understand how much companies are spending to keep unions out.
—The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed suit Thursday against Michael's International, a Houston strip club accused of discriminating against African-American waitresses. The servers say they were told to leave work or hide in the back room while Michael's VP Bert Stair visited the club in September 2007. Is Micheal's, as Lauri Apple of Gawker put it, "the perfect hang-out spot not only for discriminating gentlemen, but also for gentlemen who discriminate"? The club refused to settle, so a court will have to decide.
—In recent weeks, trade unionists and young factory workers in China have been clamoring for change in an unusual series of protests. The Southern city of Xianting saw four days of violent protests in June. Xianting is known for churning out dirt cheap denim for disposable fashion chains like H&M and TopShop, but those days may be numbered as workers balk at low wages and long hours.
Protests are forbidden in the People's Republic, but human rights groups say that protests are becoming more common. Factory workers toil up to 16 hours a day. Many migrated to the city in search of a better life, but their meager wages are not even keeping pace with the rising cost of living. "Even if we're paid overtime, we're still poor. Prices are soaring. We have no quality of life," worker Nang Kai told Independent Television News.
—Canada Post workers went back to work on Monday under federal back-to-work legislation. The legislation ordered Canada Post to end the lockout of 48,000 postal workers. The law also forces workers to accept wages lower than Canada Post's last offer. Thousands of postal workers rallied in cities across Canada to express their outrage at the abrogation of their collective bargaining rights.