Working In These Times

Monday, Aug 29, 2016, 9:08 pm  ·  By Kate Aronoff

Why The TPP and TTIP Trade Deals May Now Be Dead In The Water

While the TPP has become a lightning rod for labor and other progressive organizations in the United States, the TTIP has slipped mostly under the radar stateside. (Cool Revolution/ Flickr)  

The Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is dead, at least according to Angela Merkel’s second-in-command. And the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) may not be far behind.

German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said Sunday that “negotiations with the United States have de facto failed, even though nobody is really admitting it.” According to Gabriel, who also serves as his country’s economy minister, negotiators from the European Union and United States have failed—despite 14 rounds of talks—to align on any item out of 27 chapters being discussed. Gabriel and his ministry are not directly involved in the negotiations.

MORE

Friday, Aug 26, 2016, 4:09 pm  ·  By Sady Doyle

Fox News Has a Sexual Harassment Problem and It’s Way Bigger Than Roger Ailes

Harassment isn’t an individual problem; it’s a problem inflicted by communities, either because the members participate in the violence or because they’ve learned to stay quiet as a means of self-defense. (Johnny Silvercloud/ Flickr)  

The Roger Ailes harassment scandal was never just about Roger Ailes. We knew that from the beginning: Gretchen Carlson, the woman whose sexual harassment lawsuit helped topple the Fox News chief (and unleashed a flood of similar harassment and assault allegations) stated that she’d only come into Ailes’ line of sight because she was pursuing remedy for a different instance of workplace discrimination.

The circumstances of Carlson’s suit are indicative of a wider problem. In her suit, Carlson alleges that her Fox & Friends co-host, Steve Doocy, made her life hell by “mocking her during commercial breaks, shunning her off air, refusing to engage with her on air, belittling her contributions to the show, and generally attempting to put her in her place by refusing to accept and treat her as an intelligent and insightful female journalist.” When she reported his behavior, Ailes allegedly called Carlson a “man hater” and told her to “get along with the boys,” eventually demanding sex in return for his intervention.

With all that in mind, can it really be surprising that yet another woman has now come forward to allege sexual harassment—or that the woman in question, Andrea Tantaros, describes Fox News itself as “a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency, and misogyny?”

MORE

Thursday, Aug 25, 2016, 12:33 pm  ·  By Margaret Gray

Buying Local Doesn’t Mean You’re Paying for Workers’ Rights

In their praise of small farms, food writers use terms like local, alternative, sustainable, and fair to distinguish local food production from the hated factory farm. But they often conflate these terms. (Andrew Reding/ Flickr)  

This article was first posted at Jacobin.

We live in the shadows,” explained Javier, a Hudson Valley farmworker, while describing his life to me. “We are treated like unknown people . . . We are not paid well and cannot ask for more.” A worker on another farm said, “They treat us like nothing; they only want the work . . . Whether we like it or not, we have to like it.”

Some of today’s liveliest political conversations concern agricultural production and distribution. But these discussions are also among the most confused.

MORE

Wednesday, Aug 24, 2016, 3:08 pm  ·  By David Moberg

This is Huge: NLRB Rules Graduate Student Workers Can Unionize

The NLRB has shifted back and forth over the past several decades on issues regarding who, among all the people on a university campus, is a worker and thus has the right to organize a union. (SEIU Faculty Forward/ Facebook)  

In a strongly-worded opinion released Tuesday, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that teaching and research assistants at Columbia University and at other private institutions of higher education have the right to organize unions and collectively bargain with the universities that both employ and teach them.

The three Democratic NLRB members wrote that even if students are enrolled in the university to educate themselves, they also meet the definition of an employee—working for pay to do what someone else wants them to do. Thus, they should have the same labor rights as any other employee, the members wrote. (The lone Republican member dissented; one seat is vacant.)

MORE

Tuesday, Aug 23, 2016, 12:04 pm  ·  By Shaun Richman

We Are Witnessing a New Age of Social Justice Movements—And That Includes Labor

Now our movement has a slew of journalists who dig deep and follow campaigns and movements over the long haul. The result is not just that good campaigns get press attention, but that movements grow and expand as people read about them and get inspired to join or do something similar. (Michael Kappel/ Flickr)  

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.

MORE

Monday, Aug 22, 2016, 12:55 pm  ·  By Barbara Bowen

How We Won a Contract Against Austerity at CUNY

Thousands of CUNY faculty and staff have now had the experience of seeing that collective action works. That’s a hard thing to forget. (Dave Sanders/ PSC)  

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?

MORE

Thursday, Aug 18, 2016, 3:52 pm  ·  By Chris Brooks

SEIU’s “Future Fighters”: “We need a plan for racial justice in every union”

The group now offers workshops every two to three months, on such topics as the rights of protesters, racist and classist stereotyping, and the role of unions in the civil rights movement. (Future Fighters of Chicago/ Facebook)  

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.

MORE

Wednesday, Aug 17, 2016, 11:17 am  ·  By Bruce Vail

Baltimore’s Democratic City Council Kills $15 Minimum Wage Bill, For Now

Union groups and other supporters of Fight for $15 rallied earlier this month in front of Baltimore's City Hall ahead of a key vote on a new minimum wage law. (1199SEIU/ Handout)  

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.

MORE

Tuesday, Aug 16, 2016, 5:20 pm  ·  By Parker Asmann

Domestic Workers in Ill. Win Bill of Rights: “Years of Organizing Have Finally Paid Off”

In 2010, New York became the first state to sign such a bill into law. Illinois is now the seventh, joining Massachusetts, California, Oregon, Hawaii and Connecticut. (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.

MORE

Monday, Aug 15, 2016, 4:51 pm  ·  By Alexandra Bradbury

Postal Workers Fend Off Attacks in New Contract

Postal workers can’t legally strike. If the union and management don’t reach a deal, an arbitrator writes the contract—which is what finally happened. (APWU/ Facebook)  

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.

MORE

Next