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Labor Movement

A Just Transition Guaranteed By International Law Is Within Reach

In 2021, we argued that the core elements of any conceptualisation of a just transition is already well-rooted in international human rights law. We contended that a just transition should not be considered merely as an abstract public policy concept but rather as a human right. Since that time, there have been major legal and policy developments forging momentum towards a standalone human right to a just transition. On 31 December 2021, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights issued Resolution No. 3/2021 Climate Emergency: Scope of Inter-American Human Rights Obligations.

Union Jobs, At Your Fingertips

Union workers make more than non-union workers, on average by more than 10%. For women, that differences is more than 20%. That’s a crucial pay bump for many working people, not to mention the job security, workplace protections, and earned respect that come with a union contract. These differences can be life changing. Wanting a union job is one thing — but finding a union job is another. Enter the Virtual Union Hiring Hall, a collaborative project between the Presidents’ Organizing Initiative (POI) housed at the Martin Luther King Jr. County Labor Council (MLK Labor) and Partner in Employment (PIE).

Illinois Amazon Drivers Strike, Demand Union Contract

Amazon drivers at the DIL7 delivery station in Skokie, Illinois, struck June 26 over the company’s violations of federal labor laws. A hundred drivers have organized with Teamsters Local 705 and are demanding that Amazon recognize and bargain with their union, after presenting cards signed by a majority of the workforce. They’re nominally employed by a contractor, Four Star Express Delivery. But “every Amazon driver knows who our true employer is,” said driver Luke Cianciotto in a union statement. “We wear their uniforms and drive their trucks.” Four Star Express is one of 2,500 “delivery service partners” that carry out package deliveries while Amazon retains full control.

If The AFL-CIO Gets Away With A Vermont Purge, It Won’t Stop Here

Vermonters have a special relationship with direct participatory democracy. The first Tuesday of every March, in towns big and small, citizens gather in person to do the business of their community the old-fashioned way—face to face, one person, one vote. Everyone can have the floor to speak their opinion, from an elected officer to the worker who hauls the garbage. Everyone has the same rights. This type of governance is something that we in the Green Mountain State take seriously and hold dear to our hearts. And it is one of the founding principles of the United! slate of the Vermont State Labor Council.

The Biggest Organizing Wave You Never Heard Of

Nobody would pick the U.S. state of Virginia to be a trade union organizing hotspot. But that’s what increasingly is happening, despite the fact that many of the unions and certainly the national AFL-CIO are oblivious to it.  Richmond the state capital was once the capital of the Confederacy, and Virginia is in many ways the ideological and historical home of U.S. segregationist and anti-union bigotry. Virginia is seeing a significant and remarkable expansion of its small but wily labor movement. In a labor movement urgently in need of new union organizing experimentation it would certainly be of value to consider the situation in Virginia as one guide to expanded organizing work across the South.

What Is The State Of Organized Labor?

Last year was a good year for organized labor. At least that’s the popular perception. And that perception has some real basis. Major strikes, including ones that led to substantial victories for workers, marked a positive surge of the labor movement in 2023—and perhaps on into 2024. (See sidebar, “Some Major Strikes of 2023.”) The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 2023 saw an increase of 139,000 in labor union membership following an increase of 273,000 the year before. What’s more, according to Gallup polling, public approval of unions was higher in 2022 (71%) and 2023 (67%) than it has been since the mid-1960s.

Amazon Workers Affiliate With The Teamsters, Next Up Electing Officers

Amazon Labor Union members voted June 17 to affiliate with the Teamsters. Workers cast 878 ballots at JFK8 Amazon fulfillment center on Staten Island, N.Y. The tally broke down to 829 votes in favor of the affiliation and 14 against it; 10 ballots were spoiled. Total turnout was 11 percent out of 8,000 workers. However, workers estimate the workforce has dipped to between 5,000 and 6,000 workers during the off-peak season. A Teamsters statement said the union will now “represent the roughly 5,500 Amazon warehouse workers.” Turnout works out to 16 percent based on that number. “On behalf of the Amazon Labor Union, I’m proud of our members choosing a path to victory. We're now stronger than ever before," said ALU President Chris Smalls in a statement.

A Judge Paused The University Of California Strike

Thousands of graduate and postdoctoral student workers at six University of California campuses were back on the job this week after a judge ordered a temporary stop to their weekslong strike. They’re represented by the United Auto Workers union and initiated the rolling strike to protest the university’s handling of pro-Palestine protests. They also called for related charges and disciplinary actions against their members to be dropped. This temporary order allows for classes to wrap up but leaves some big questions unresolved. The University has charged that the strike was illegal because it violated the union’s current contract, according to Melissa Matella, associate vice president for labor relations at the UC.

‘Power Lines—Building A Labor-Climate Justice Movement’

A familiar scene played out in the city council chambers of Richmond, California on May 22, 2024. For the last 20 years, since members of the anti-Chevron Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA) first got elected to the council, any measure before that body affecting the city’s largest employer and business tax payer has been hotly debated. Local environmental justice organizations, like Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) and the Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN) mobilize their working-class members to attend and sign up to speak during the time allotted for “public comment.” To rebut the resulting complaints about pollution and arguments for stronger health and safety protection, the $290-billion company that operates Richmond’s massive 122-year-old refinery deploys its own defenders.

Teamsters And Amazon Labor Union Announce Affiliation

The Amazon Labor Union and the Teamsters have signed an affiliation agreement. “Today is an historical day for labor in America as we now combine forces with one of the most powerful unions to take on Amazon together,” wrote ALU President Chris Smalls on Twitter, now called X. “We’re putting Amazon on notice that we are coming!” Smalls and Teamsters President Sean O’Brien signed the agreement on June 3, according to a copy obtained by Labor Notes. The affiliation agreement charters a new local known as Amazon Labor Union No. 1, International Brotherhood of Teamsters (ALU-IBT Local 1) for the five boroughs of New York City.

Vermont Delegates Must Keep Voting Until Results Please AFL Headquarters?

In some unions, the traditional way of winning approval for a proposed contract with management, that’s not popular with the members, is to hold a series of votes on essentially the same “tentative agreement.”  Rank-and-file militants urging a “No” vote get worn down and demoralized by the prolonged ratification process. By a narrow margin, their less engaged co-workers end up accepting a deal with few noticeable improvements. In the past, “making them vote until they get it right” often replaced rank-and-file mobilization, strike preparation, and collective action in too many unions. That’s why union reformers today try to build organizational capacity in all those areas.

Southern Worker School Charts Course For Power

Southern politicians have gone out of their way in word and action to make clear they stand on the side of big business and racism as they’ve recently lamented that the “Alabama [ie – Southern] model for success is under attack” and vowing to “fight unions to the gates of hell.” Nearly two hundred rank and filers who are developing a movement of workers in the South that can build power to make these politicians’ fears a reality gathered in Charlotte, NC on May 17 – 19 for the 2024 Southern Worker School. These convenings are the annual organizing conference of the Southern Workers Assembly network, which includes local workers assemblies, worker organizations, and other workers from various sectors and states throughout the region.

Starbucks Resumes Bargaining Amid Fresh Wave Of Unionized Stores

Starbucks has resumed bargaining with union leaders amid a fresh wave of organized stores after the world’s largest coffee chain agreed to open talks over labor agreements. After a long, embittered campaign, the Seattle-based coffee giant jointly announced a new framework with Workers United in February to reach contracts with unionized stores. Bargaining got under way on Wednesday, and is due to continue on Thursday. Since baristas in Buffalo successfully formed the first unionized US Starbucks store in December 2021, an organizing drive by Starbucks Workers United has spread nationwide, to more than 425 Starbucks stores in 43 states, representing over 10,500 workers.

How Tens Of Thousands Of Graduate Workers Are Organizing

It’s the biggest organizing wave the U.S. labor movement has seen in decades. Graduate workers are unionizing in huge numbers, winning drive after drive with 90 percent support or more. What’s more, the workers are in the driver’s seat of these campaigns, with little help from union staff. Most union organizing these days relies on a staff-heavy approach that’s tough to scale up. But the grad worker upsurge offers a sketch of a worker-led model that could help reverse labor’s decline. The United Electrical Workers (UE) alone has organized close to 30,000 graduate workers over the past year and a half. We’ve won elections at eight major universities, including MIT and the University of Minnesota.

University Of California Workers On Strike For Right To Protest For Gaza

On May 28, 12,000 student workers organized under United Auto Workers Local 4811, working at the University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA) and UC Davis joined 2,000 union members already on strike at UC Santa Cruz. Workers representing United Auto Workers Local 4811 received a standing ovation at the People’s Conference for Palestine this past weekend, in honor of the union local taking the bold step in leading the first ever strike in US history in relation to Palestine solidarity. At the panel entitled “The Role of Labor Unions in the Palestinian Struggle,” workers received a standing ovation and chants of “UC, UC hear our call! 4811 will strike you all!”
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