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Labor Unions

Strikes And A Boycott Win A Better Deal From Macy’s

Fans of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade may have noticed one glaring omission in its cast of charismatic balloons and floats: Scabby the Rat, who for some reason, has never been invited. But what employer wouldn’t want a reminder from Scabby—“an imposing 12-foot inflatable rat, replete with red eyes, fangs, and claws,” as the National Labor Relations Board puts it—to stay on its best behavior? Macy’s workers in northwest Washington rectified this last year by prominently featuring Scabby when they launched a strike and boycott campaign against the retailer over low wages and safety issues. Scabby was also the star of their own mock Thanksgiving Parade.

Tens Of Thousands Of Florida Workers Just Lost Their Labor Unions

In St. Johns County, on the Atlantic shore of Northeast Florida, more than 55% of public school teachers paid their union dues this last year. Despite that, nearly 3,500 teachers are facing the threat of having their union representation revoked. At the same time, in Southwest Florida, only 16% of law enforcement officers of the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office paid union dues last year. Their union is under absolutely no threat of being decertified. A year after Governor DeSantis signed into law a sweeping anti-union bill requiring most public sector unions to boost the rate of members paying dues or be disbanded, the full effects of the new union rules are coming into clear view — double standards and all.

Breakthrough At Venetian; Organized Labor’s Tenacity On The Las Vegas Strip

For some longtime gaming industry observers, it was a jaw-dropping moment that signaled the end of an era and the beginning of a new chapter on the Las Vegas Strip. For the throngs still caught up in the frenzy of the Vegas Golden Knights’ Stanley Cup victory, especially the many thousands who converged to celebrate at the T-Mobile Arena, the news was easy to miss. With little fanfare, and less context in some parts of the local press, Culinary Local 226 and three other labor organizations this week announced an agreement with operators of The Venetian and Palazzo to organize workers at The Venetian and Palazzo.

For Open Bargaining, Start Early And Build

In many unions, ratification of a collective bargaining agreement can leave members alienated and angry. Sometimes members will be learning about the major features of a tentative deal for the first time. Little time is given to discussion—members are expected to approve what leadership recommends, and officers may get defensive at questions or complaints. In some unions, members know their opinion doesn’t matter and may not even bother to vote. But there’s another way to go, to build a powerful, participatory, energized union through the bargaining process: open bargaining.

A New Idea For New Union Organizing

Why is it that unions, the only things that exist to do new union organizing, do not organize enough new union members? Unions will tell you that there are many reasons — hostile labor laws, corporate union-busting, difficult political climates. There is some truth to all of these explanations, but they are also a bit like stopping and sitting down while a wild dog is chasing you, because running is tiring. Sure it is, but that’s not much consolation when you’re dead. There always have been, and always will be, political and corporate forces hostile to unions. That does not change the fact that unions must find a way to organize, or else die.

Moranda Smith, Food And Tobacco Workers Fight To Expand Democracy

June is Pride Month, which celebrates and commemorates the struggles of LGBTQ+ people for freedom. It is held in June to commemorate the Stonewall Riots, several days of protests that began on June 28, 1969, and launched the modern movement for LGBTQ+ rights. This June also marks the 80th anniversary of a remarkable strike at the giant R.J. Reynolds tobacco plant in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, which established Local 22 of the Food, Tobacco, Agricultural, and Allied Workers (FTA). One of those strikers, a sharecropper’s daughter named Moranda Smith, would be elected to the national union’s executive committee three and a half years later, making her the first Black woman in the national leadership of a U.S. union.

A Public Power Victory In New York State

On May 2, New York became the first US state to pass a major Green New Deal policy following four years of organizing by the Public Power NY coalition and allies. The Build Public Renewables Act (BPRA), now New York State law, empowers and directs the state’s public power provider – the New York Power Authority (NYPA) – to plan, build, and operate renewable energy projects across New York State. Organizers are now focusing on growing the movement for Public Power from coast to coast. Public Power NY was launched in 2019 by the Ecosocialist Working Group of the NY City’s Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).

University Of Washington Postdocs And Research Scientists Go On Strike

Seattle, WA - On June 7, postdoctorates and research scientists and engineers (RSEs) at the University of Washington Seattle, members of the UAW 4121 went on strike. Over 700 workers, students and community members turned out to picket lines in support. While postdoctorates and RSEs have separate bargaining committees, they are united in their fight for a strong contract. In December 2021, RSEs submitted a union certification petition, and they are still fighting to achieve a strong agreement. The certification process faced a significant delay of over six months when the University of Washington administration contested the inclusion of more than 300 individuals in the bargaining unit.

The Unions And Workers Supporting Cop City Protestors

Vincent Quiles, a 28-year-old father and union organizer in Philadelphia, is part of a fledgling labor effort to support the months-long protests against construction of the notorious Atlanta Public Safety Training Center, popularly known as “Cop City.” For Quiles, this also means speaking out against his former employer: Home Depot. When he was fired from a Home Depot store in northeastern Philadelphia in February, Quiles was already struggling to support his toddler son on his salary, which he says never felt like enough, given the meager benefits. He says he was forced to lean on his “very strong support system.”

Knights On Strike In California

Shocking video of Medieval Times strikers in Buena Park, California, run down by a car and then physically assaulted while picketing in a crosswalk had hundreds of thousands of views on social media in April. “We began to get run over by cars,” said Jake Bowman, a Medieval Times knight-turned-union organizer. “People would get out of their cars and throw picketers to the ground. Some people cared more about getting into their two-hour, completely optional entertainment venue than workers’ lives. Sometimes you may have to yell louder to convince people to care.” The assaults brought into public view the challenges that members of Medieval Times Performers United (MTU)—representing actors, stunt performers, and stable hands organizing with the American Guild of Variety Artists (AGVA)—have faced since their strike began February 11.

Over 11,000 TV And Film Writers Go On Strike

At midnight on Tuesday, May 2, over 11,000 writers organized with the Writers Guild of America (WGA) went on strike for the first time in 15 years. This strike has the potential to be incredibly disruptive to the entire entertainment industry, effectively grinding much of TV and film production to a halt. The key issues of this strike surround pay — specifically attached to the growth of streaming content — and concerns over how the bosses of the entertainment industry may use AI to “automate” parts or all of the writing process.  This strike dawns at a key moment for both the entertainment industry and the labor movement as a whole.

Temple University Strike Offers Lessons For Academic Labor Organizers

On Jan. 31 of this year, the Temple University Graduate Students’ Association (TUGSA) launched the first strike in their 25-year history. The decision to strike came as a result of years of organizing that largely began in 2020, after Temple’s decision to force in-person classes in the fall of 2020 led to a completely preventable COVID-19 outbreak. Striking for 42 days, graduate student-workers faced cuts to their health insurance, threats to lose tuition remissions, and more. Nevertheless, TUGSA persevered, winning a new contract that raised wages and eliminated Temple’s wage-tier system for graduate student-workers in different departments.

Writers Guild Of America Calls Strike, Effective Tuesday, May 2

Los Angeles – Following the unanimous recommendation of the WGA Negotiating Committee, the Board of Directors of the Writers Guild of America West (WGAW) and the Council of the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE), acting upon the authority granted to them by their memberships, have voted unanimously to call a strike, effective 12:01 AM, Tuesday, May 2. The decision was made following six weeks of negotiations with Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Disney, Discovery-Warner, NBC Universal, Paramount and Sony under the umbrella of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). The WGA Negotiating Committee began this process intent on making a fair deal, but the studios’ responses have been wholly insufficient given the existential crisis writers are facing.

Canada’s Largest-Ever Strike Against A Sole Employer Is Underway

Canada is in the midst of the largest strike against a single employer in the country’s history. On April 19, 155,000 public sector workers — who have been without a contract for more than two years — walked off the job, setting up 250 picket lines across Canada. Thus far, the government’s approach to negotiations with the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) has been, at best, ham-fisted. The bulk of the workers — 120,000 employees of various government departments who answer to the Treasury Board — are asking for an annual 4.5 percent wage increase retroactive to June 2021, when negotiations with the government began.

Grocery Boss Crumbles Under Easter-Weekend Strike Threat

For the first time in their history, 3,000 grocery workers in the local chain Cub Foods across the Twin Cities metro area were set to strike. They were going to shut down 33 stores during the busy Easter weekend. Hours before the strike was to begin, the company offered a settlement that gave the workers much of what they wanted, and none of the concessions it had been demanding. Workers will get raises between $2.50 and $3.50 an hour, and hundreds will receive even more raises as they get reclassified into higher-paying job titles. A company-wide safety committee will be established.
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