Working In These Times

Wednesday, Oct 8, 2014, 2:04 pm  ·  By Kevin Solari

Philadelphia Teachers Outraged After Union Contract Canceled by Unelected Reformers

If a negotiated union contract can be canceled at will, why should workers—or anyone else—put any faith in agreements negotiated with a city like Philadelphia? Public education cuts protest, 2012.   (Kara Newhouse / Flickr)

Public school teachers around the country have long insisted their profession is under attack, but rarely has that attack included a total scrapping of a teachers’ union contract. But that’s exactly what the Philadelphia School Reform Commission (SRC) did on Monday morning, canceling its contract with Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT).


Wednesday, Oct 8, 2014, 10:30 am  ·  By Amien Essif

After Defeating Democrats, Will Ohio Unionists Form a New Labor Party?

Three independent city council members backed by unions won city council seats in Lorain, Ohio. What's next? (  

The relationship between the American labor movement and the Democratic Party has long been fairly predictable. For the better part of a century, labor has depended on the Democrats for favorable policy, and the Democrats have depended on labor for votes. Few from either side of the bargain anticipate an immediate future where that arrangement will be upset.

So when rumblings started coming out of Ohio late last year about breaking with the Democrats, many in the labor movement were startled. Last November, in the small county of Lorain, Ohio, local labor leaders who were intimately wedded to the Democratic establishment broke rank and supported three independent pro-labor candidates in county elections, all of whom won.


Tuesday, Oct 7, 2014, 4:42 pm  ·  By Bruce Vail

Teamsters Warehouse Workers Face a Bankruptcy Court Designed to Protect Bosses, Not Workers

C&S Wholesalers have eliminated thousands of union jobs in the past. Are more on the chopping block on the East Coast? (lyza / Flickr)  

Leaders of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters are mobilizing their forces in the wake of an unexpected attack by a notoriously anti-union warehousing company looking to undermine workers with back-room tactics in federal bankruptcy court.

The Keene, New Hampshire-based C&S Wholesale Grocers’s actions could prove to be an immediate threat to the livelihoods of about 1,100 Teamster members in the Mid-Atlantic region, the latest in a series of damaging anti-union maneuvers by the company. The action also highlights the growing market power of C&S, a low-profile company that has quietly grown into the nation’s largest warehousing corporation.


Tuesday, Oct 7, 2014, 3:50 pm  ·  By Kevin Solari

Illinois Teachers Join Wave of Suburban Strikes

Teachers in Waukegan are part of a larger trend set in motion in 2012 by Karen Lewis and the Chicago Teachers Union. (Fred Klonsky /  

After a breakdown in negotiations with district administrators last week, District 60 teachers in Waukegan, Illinois, are on strike. 

The issues under negotiation include professional development, length of school year and, perhaps principally, salary increases and healthcare benefits.

District 60 serves 17,000 students in the city near Chicago. On the district's website, the school board says teacher requests for increases in salary and healthcare benefits would threaten the solvency of the district, which has had financial troubles for much of the last decade.


Tuesday, Oct 7, 2014, 6:45 am  ·  By Sarah Lahm

Why Are Teach for America and a California Billionaire Investing in a Minnesota School Board Race?

Students at Patrick Henry High School, a public school in Minneapolis. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images for Free The Children)  

In the aftermath of a failed 2013 bid for mayor, former Minneapolis city council member Don Samuels is running for a spot on the school board. If he wins, he will undoubtedly be able to thank the extensive financing and canvassing support he’s received from several well-heeled national organizations, such as the Washington, D.C.-based 50CAN, an offshoot of Education Reform Now called Students for Education Reform (SFER), and various people associated with Teach for America, which has been called a “political powerhouse” for its growing influence in policy and politics beyond the classroom.


Tuesday, Oct 7, 2014, 1:28 am  ·  By Leo Gerard, United Steelworkers President

Precarious Academic Workers Are Pushing Back Against the Tenuous Track

World Day for Decent Work believes that decent work is needed for economic growth, and activities take place around the globe. (  

When Mary Grace Gainer anxiously told her master’s and doctoral advisors that she’d noticed want ads for college professors diminishing, they assured her, “Good people get good jobs.”

So she focused on being very, very good. She earned straight A’s. She presented papers at academic conferences, including at Princeton. She sweated over her instructional duties, earning rave reviews from her students. She served as an officer for academic organizations and helped plan educational events.


Thursday, Oct 2, 2014, 1:40 pm  ·  By Kevin Solari

Portland Church Fights a Worker Center Activist’s Deportation—And a Broken Immigration System

Immigrant rights activists demand an end to deportations at a 2007 rally in Minnesota. (pigstyave / Flickr)  

President Obama has punted fixing our immigration system until after the midterm elections, but families continue suffering under it. On September 30, Augustana Evangelical Lutheran Church of Portland, Oregon, hosted a service to show support for labor activist Francisco Aguirre. Aguirre has been residing in the church since September 19 after Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials showed up at his door.


Tuesday, Sep 30, 2014, 3:44 pm  ·  By Kevin Solari

New Orleans Union Membership Set to Double After Hotel and Casino Workers Win

The Big Easy just saw a big bump in union membership. (vxla / Flickr)  

The number of union members in New Orleans’s tourism industry is set to double. The hospitality and gaming union Unite Here and Teamsters Local 270 are in contract negotiations with Harrah’s Hotel and Casino after winning a card check election among 900 hotel and food workers.


Monday, Sep 29, 2014, 6:17 pm  ·  By Micah Uetricht

Lena Dunham Decides People Should Be Paid for Their Work

You can't eat exposure. Luckily, Lena Dunham is now paying more than that. (Fortune / Flickr)  

Lena Dunham is the creator of GIRLS, and her character on the show, Hannah, considers herself the voice of a generation—a generation which, its spokesperson surely already knows, is underemployed, overeducated, crushed with debt, and generally in need of some work. Work that pays, in particular.

So it was a bit strange that a recent New York Times piece revealed that Dunham was about to hire several performers to work for her, and she wasn't going to pay them. 


Friday, Sep 26, 2014, 10:58 am  ·  By Avi Asher-Schapiro

Is Uber’s Business Model Screwing Its Workers?

There’s nothing innovative or new about this business model. Uber is just capitalism, in its most naked form. (Flickr / Joakim Formo)  

First published at Jacobin.

Kazi drives a Toyota Prius for Uber in Los Angeles. He hates it.

He barely makes minimum wage, and his back hurts after long shifts. But every time a passenger asks what it’s like working for Uber, he lies: “It’s like owning my own business; I love it.”

Kazi lies because his job depends on it. After passengers finish a ride, Uber asks them to rate their driver on a scale from one to five stars. Drivers with an average below 4.7 can be deactivated — tech-speak for fired.