Working In These Times

Tuesday, Jan 24, 2017, 6:00 pm  ·  By Elizabeth Grossman

Trump Touts “Pro-Worker” Agenda at Meeting with Union Leaders; Some Waiting for Proof

Trump’s meeting with union leaders involved representatives from the construction industry. (Photo by Ron Sachs-Pool/Getty Images)  

On his first full working day in the White House, President Donald Trump hosted what was announced as two “listening” sessions: one with business leaders, the other with union leaders and “American workers.”

Press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters, “The president has been honored to receive tremendous support from union working men and women on Election Day and he’s dedicated to growing and deepening their support. And he made it a priority to meet with these union workers.” At the meeting, said Spicer, the president would “discuss his pro-worker agenda.”

But a look at who was in the room and who was not—for both the business and union meetings—offers clues as to where the new administration might be headed. In his remarks, the president focused on eliminating regulations. To the business leaders, Trump said that he would provide them with “great service,” but offered no specifics as to how his promised cuts in regulation would ensure worker health and safety and help protect the environment. And there were hints of a coming dispute between the administration and labor over the prevailing wages now required on most federal construction projects.

MORE

Tuesday, Jan 24, 2017, 11:29 am  ·  By Sarah Jaffe

Interviews for Resistance: Strike Targets Donald Trump and Home Depot

On Friday, January 20, as Donald Trump was being sworn in as president, workers in Minnesota went on strike. (CTUL)  

Welcome to Interviews for Resistance. In this series, we talk with organizers, troublemakers, and thinkers who are working both to challenge the Trump administration and the circumstances that created it. It can be easy to despair, to feel like trends toward inequality are impossible to stop, to give in to fear over increased racist, sexist and xenophobic violence. But around the country, people are doing the hard work of fighting back and coming together to plan for what comes next. This series will introduce you to some of them.

On Friday, January 20, as Donald Trump was being sworn in as president, workers in Minnesota went on strike. They are staff at Kimco, a company that cleans Home Depot stores, and their strike targeted not only the subcontractor but Home Depot and Trump, too. Striker Luciano Balbuena, a member of Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha (CTUL), and CTUL director Veronica Mendez Moore spoke about the strike and the potential for challenging corporate power under Trump. Their interviews have been edited for length and clarity.

MORE

Monday, Jan 23, 2017, 6:39 pm  ·  By Deirdre Fulton

People Power, Not Trump, Beat the TPP

Progressive groups campaigned hard against the 12-nation trade agreement that they said threatened public health, environmental protections, and human rights while handing a big win to corporate interests. (Photo by Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post via Getty Images)  

This article was first posted by Common Dreams.

President Donald Trump on Monday signed an executive order withdrawing the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), marking a new phase for the broad movement that sought to kill the corporate-friendly trade deal.

Progressive groups campaigned hard against the 12-nation trade agreement that they said threatened public health, environmental protections, and human rights while handing a big win to corporate interests.

Indeed, digital rights group Fight for the Future was quick to credit that movement with Monday's victory. "The victory against the TPP belongs to the people, not to Donald Trump or any other politician," said Fight for the Future campaign director Evan Greer.

MORE

Monday, Jan 23, 2017, 5:38 pm  ·  By Peter Cole

Want to Stop Trump? Take a Page From These Dockworkers, and Stop Work

To resist Trump’s agenda, Oakland longshore workers shut down their workplace and reminded us of the potential of organized labor. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)  

On the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration, many Americans wrung their hands. Some took to social media to express their discontent while others protested. But, perhaps, the most dramatic and important action was taken by dockworkers in Oakland, California: They stopped working. Their strike demonstrated the potential power ordinary people have on the job, when organized.

Longshore workers, who load and unload cargo ships, chose not to report to their hiring hall. As a result, “Oakland International Container Terminal, the largest container facility at the Northern California port, was shut down Friday,” according to the Journal of Commerce. It also reported that all other Oakland container terminals were essentially shut down, too.

Crucially, these workers did not first come together to protest Trump. They belong to the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), one of the strongest and most militant unions left in the United States.

MORE

Friday, Jan 20, 2017, 7:29 pm  ·  By Hubert Adjei-Kontoh

Workers Strike to Protest Trump: “There Is Power in Our Unity”

“We are striking today for our families, communities and the country,” said Angela Bello, a food service worker with nine years on the job at Northeastern University. “There is power in our unity and we are here to stay.” (UNITE HERE Local 26/ Facebook)  

Workers across the country walked off their jobs and staged actions Friday to protest the inauguration of one of the most anti-worker presidents in modern history, Donald Trump.

As he was being sworn in around midday, dining hall workers at Northeastern University walked out. The 1-day strike was planned with support from students, some of whom walked with workers in a sign of solidarity. The group marched for two miles along the Boston Common.

“Having the support of the students allowed the workers to feel protected and supported. We showed that we are committed to making sure that immigrant families can stay together,” said Tiffany Ten Eyck, an organizer for UNITE HERE Local 26, which represents workers at Northeastern.

MORE

Friday, Jan 20, 2017, 2:27 pm  ·  By Dean Baker

What the New York Times Gets Wrong About the Davos Man

Davos Man has no particular interest in a free market or unregulated economic system. (Robert Scoble/ Flickr)  

This article was originally posted by Portside. 

The New York Times had an article on the annual meeting of the world's super-rich at Davos, Switzerland. It refers to Davos Man as "an economic elite who built unheard-of fortunes on the seemingly high-minded notions of free trade, low taxes and low regulation that they championed." While Davos Man may like to be described this way, it is not an accurate description.

Davos Man is actually totally supportive of protectionism that redistributes income upward. In particular, Davos Man supports stronger and longer patent and copyright protection. These forms of protection raise the price of protected items by factors of tens or hundreds, making them equivalent to tariffs of several thousand percent or even tens of thousands of percent. In the case of prescription drugs, these protections force us to spend more than $430 billion a year (2.3 percent of GDP) on drugs that would likely cost one tenth of this amount if they were sold in a free market. (Yes, we need alternative mechanisms to finance the development of new drugs. These are discussed in my free book Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer.)

MORE

Thursday, Jan 19, 2017, 12:24 pm  ·  By Jay Youngdahl

In the Fantasy Land of Labor Theorists: Andy Stern’s Latest Contribution

Stern has been talking about the future of the labor movement for years, with a dazzling variety of solutions and approaches. (Photo by Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)  

Prescriptions to address what’s ailing workers and their unions continue to come fast and furious—and they are getting weird. Fantasy advice is coming from tenured academics, foundation-supported labor activists and corporate shills leveraging their former union positions.

The latest entry in this peculiar sweepstakes comes from an old acquaintance, the mercurial Andy Stern. Stern, the former president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), now works for gig economy “platform” companies and is lobbying for a New York law to refuse employee protections for workers at Handy and other such companies. He recently penned an article in National Affairs, along with right-wing think tanker Eli Lehrer of the R Street Institute.

Stern has been talking about the future of the labor movement for years, with a dazzling variety of solutions and approaches. Remember his claim, and $14 million of SEIU money, that call centers were essential to “high-quality member representation?” Now Stern and Lehrer argue that unions can survive financially by selling representation to non-union workers. A thorough reading of their piece, however, reminds us that Stern’s inconsistency remains consistent.

MORE

Wednesday, Jan 18, 2017, 12:29 pm  ·  By Bruce Vail

How the American Postal Workers Union Scored One of its Biggest Wins Ever

APWU President President Mark Dimondstein credits the success of the campaign to the thousands of hours of unpaid volunteer work by union members, and also to impressive demonstrations of solidarity by other unions, particularly teachers unions. (American Postal Workers Union)  

Members of one of the largest labor unions for post office workers are celebrating the success of a three-year campaign to roll back a commercial alliance between the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) and office supplies retailer Staples that threatened a major advance in the privatization of the national mail system. Coming just before the accession of Donald Trump to the White House, the victory marks one of the most successful corporate campaigns by any labor union during the Obama era.

The success also marks the rejuvenation of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) under the leadership of Mark Dimondstein. First elected as president in 2013, Dimondstein promised union members a more aggressive attack on USPS privatization initiatives and a more progressive union overall. He delivered on those promises with the Staples campaign, and stood out in 2016 as one of the few union leaders to back insurgent Bernie Sanders’ campaign for the White House.

MORE

Wednesday, Jan 18, 2017, 11:25 am  ·  By Sara Ryan

Oregon Unions Are Fielding Their Own Candidates for Public Office

Rep. Rob Nosse, an Oregon Nurses representative who won a House seat in 2014, is a graduate of the Oregon Labor Candidate School. (Benjamin Kerensa/ Flickr)  

This article was first posted by Labor Notes.

Election night 2016 was bittersweet for me. I spent most of the day with Oregon legislative candidate Teresa Alonso Leon, a Service Employees (SEIU) member.

Alonso Leon worked for the state as a high school equivalency and GED administrator, helping students find their paths to careers, college, and job skills training programs. I had helped to recruit and train her through the Oregon Labor Candidate School, which offers union members the training and support to run for public office.

She was running for legislature to fight for a better public education system, one that supports teachers and classified employees. She herself did not complete high school, but went on to get her GED and master's in public administration—so she knows firsthand how strong schools and great educators can help immigrants like her.

And she won, just about at the same time that Secretary Hillary Clinton conceded to Donald Trump. There were tears of joy and pain, all mixed together.

MORE

Tuesday, Jan 17, 2017, 11:09 am  ·  By Sarah Jaffe

Interviews for Resistance: Don’t Just March this Weekend—Strike!

As the inauguration of Donald Trump and the Women's March on Washington fast approach, one women's group has called for an action beyond simply marching. Erin Mahoney of National Women's Liberation explains. (Erin Mahoney)  

Welcome to Interviews for Resistance. In this series, we talk with organizers, troublemakers, and thinkers who are working both to challenge the Donald Trump administration and the circumstances that created it. It can be easy to despair, to feel like trends toward inequality are impossible to stop, to give in to fear over increased racist, sexist and xenophobic violence. But around the country, people are doing the hard work of fighting back and coming together to plan for what comes next. This series will introduce you to some of them.

As the inauguration of Trump and the Women's March on Washington (and its sister marches around the country) fast approach, one women's group has called for an action beyond simply marching. Erin Mahoney of National Women's Liberation explains.

MORE

Next