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.
Thursday, Aug 11, 2016, 7:40 pm · By Elizabeth Grossman
Drinking water supplies for at least six million Americans contain toxic industrial chemicals at levels that exceed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recommended safety limit. This number is likely an underestimate since the information available through the EPA does not include data for about one-third of Americans—those 100 million or more people who rely on private wells or the vast majority of public water systems that serve communities with populations of 10,000 or less. These are the conclusions of a new study whose authors include scientists at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the University of California at Berkeley and the California Department of Toxic Substances Control.
The study “is just showing us the tip of the iceberg,” says author Philippe Grandjean, Harvard T.H. Chan adjunct professor of environmental health and University of Southern Denmark professor of environmental medicine. What also remains largely undocumented is the extent of exposure to workers on the frontline of this chemical use.
Thursday, Aug 11, 2016, 5:17 pm · By Adolph Reed Jr.
This article was first posted at Common Dreams.
In Atlantic City right now workers at the Trump Taj Mahal casino hotel, members of UNITE HERE Local 54, are waging a struggle that should make it one of those crystallizing flashpoints that garner national attention and mobilize support from the entire labor movement, progressives, and working people at large.
Such flashpoints arise only occasionally in workers’ struggles for justice. In living memory, for example, Eastern Airlines, PATCO, Pittston, the Decatur wars, UPS, and most recently Verizon are among those that have attained that status. Those flashpoints of national concern and mobilization occur when what particular groups of workers are fighting for and against connects with broader tendencies and concerns in workplaces and the society in general. Downsizing, speedup, outsourcing, privatization, capital flight, unsafe working conditions, profitable employers’ demands for concessions that imperil workers’ standard of living are all among conditions that have triggered those moments. The striking Trump Taj Mahal workers are involved in precisely such a fundamental struggle now, one that should resonate far and wide among American workers and their unions.