What The Attack On Organized Labor Means For African Americans

Georgia Ports Authority union member

By D. Amari Jackson for Atlanta Black Star. In an April 2016 document sent from Tracie Sharp to her powerful States Policy Network (SPN) — a right-wing alliance of 66 think tanks across the country and a sister organization to the notorious American Legislative and Exchange Council (ALEC) — the SPN president plotted a “mortal blow” to progressive causes and institutions in America through a well-funded effort to “defund and defang one of our freedom movement’s most powerful opponents, the government unions.” The ten-page letter, first exposed to the public last month, In an April 2016 document sent from Tracie Sharp to her powerful States Policy Network (SPN) — a right-wing alliance of 66 think tanks across the country and a sister organization to the notorious American Legislative and Exchange Council (ALEC) — the SPN president plotted a “mortal blow” to progressive causes and institutions in America through a well-funded effort to “defund and defang one of our freedom movement’s most powerful opponents, the government unions.” The ten-page letter, first exposed to the public last month, acknowledged the historical significance of government unions as a pivotal centerpiece of the American left and its associated politics. In it, Sharp highlighted how the automatic deduction of union dues from the paychecks of government employees buttresses “the left’s ability to control government at the state and national levels.” The goal, she explained, is to target legislation at “permanently depriving the left from access to millions of dollars in dues extracted from unwilling union members every election cycle.”The goal, she explained, is to target legislation at “permanently depriving the left from access to millions of dollars in dues extracted from unwilling union members every election cycle.”

Randi & Lily, For The Good Of Unions, Please Step Down


By Steven Singer in Gadfly On The Wall. Unions are facing hard times. We are under attack by the new fascist wing of the Republican party. So-called “right to work” laws are being drafted at the national level to strip us of our rights and transform us into the factory slaves of The Gilded Age. New court challenges at the state and federal level could make it next to impossible to collect dues without allowing countless free riders. And in the mass media criticism of teacher tenure is mounting despite widespread ignorance of what it even means. More than ever we need to be united in our efforts to fight the forces of regression and tyranny. We need each other to protect our public schools and our students from those who would do them harm. But the biggest obstacle to doing that isn’t Donald Trump. Nor is it Mike Pence, Steve Bannon or even Betsy DeVos. It is you. Both of you.

American Unions Form Alliance To Prevent Climate Disaster

From uslaboragainstwar.org

By Joe Uehlein and Jeremy Brecher for US Labor Against The War – Step by step the American labor movement is increasingly recognizing and responding to the threat of climate change. While the AFL-CIO never supported the Kyoto or Copenhagen climate agreements on the grounds that they were bad for jobs and the American economy, it “applauded” the Paris climate agreement as a “landmark achievement in international cooperation” and called on America to “make the promises real.”

Breaking: Supreme Court Deadlock Upholds Win For Unions

Union protest outside of Supreme Court 2015, smaller

By Associated Press. A tie vote from the Supreme Court on Tuesday handed a win to labor unions in a high-profile dispute over their ability to collect fees. The justices divided 4-4 in a case that considered whether public employees represented by a union can be required to pay “fair share” fees covering collective bargaining costs even if they are not members. The split vote leaves in place an appeals court ruling that upheld the practice. The one-sentence opinion does not set a national precedent and does not identify how each justice voted. It simply upholds a decision from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that applies to California and eight other Western states.

Labor Department Finally Closes Union-Busting Loophole


By Michael Hiltzik for the Los Angeles Times. Washington, DC – Explanations abound for the consistent decline of organized labor in the United States, especially in the private sector. But one important factor is the ability of employers to engage in union-busting almost without restriction. Limitations on employers’ activities exist, theoretically, but they’ve been enforced only spottily and are rife with loopholes. The Dept. of Labor finally has moved to close one loophole, created way back in 1959. This is the ability to hire anti-union consultants, familiarly known as “persuaders,” without reporting the arrangements. The Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959, otherwise known as the Landrum-Griffin Act, required these deals to be reported only if the consultants were speaking directly with employees, but not if their influence reached the workplace floor indirectly, via intermediaries.

The Door-To-Door Union Killers


By Steven Greenouse for The Guardian. Seattle, WA – For several months, Shawna Murphy, a home-based childcare provider in Seattle, had received a stream of emails, letters and robocalls – some two dozen of them – telling her she had the right to stop paying union dues. Then early one afternoon, while the six children in her charge were napping, a man with a briefcase knocked on her door. At first Murphy thought he was a lawyer, but then she realized he might be a state inspector of childcare providers. So she opened the door. “He said there’s this supreme court case that will impact me, and he pulled out this leaflet and told me that I don’t have to be part of the union and don’t have to pay union dues,” said Murphy, a member of the Service Employees International Union. “I told him, ‘I’m a proud supporter of the union, and you can leave now.’”

Black Women Are Driving The Rebirth Of The Labor Movement

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By Anna Merlan in Jezebel – While those numbers show in depressing relief how fast and far union membership in America has fallen, the good news is that unions are still surviving, becoming more diverse (black workers are now the most likely to be unionized, according to the BLS), and moving into new fields. Fight for $15 is making real gains in the fast food industry and new media organizations are unionizing one right after the other these days (ahem). Latino workers still have the lowest rates of union membership, a gap that labor organizations are trying hard to close. At NBC, Kimberly Freeman Brown points out the other labor organizations led by black women: the National Domestic Workers Alliance, North Carolina’s Forward Together Moral Movement, and Wisconsin Jobs Now, among others. They’re among the women profiled in Freeman Brown’s And Still I Rise, a report and “love letter” to black women in labor released this year.

Not Just For Better Pay: Seattle Teachers Strike For Social Justice

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Interview of Jesse Hagopian with Jaisal Noor – This means students will not be attending class on Wednesday, the first scheduled day of school, if a deal is not reached before then. Negotiations with the school district are ongoing. The key issues of contention between Seattle Public Schools and the union include teacher pay, recess time for students, extending the school day, and what the union is calling too much standardized testing. The district services over 45,000 students in 97 schools. Well, now joining us to discuss this from Seattle is Jesse Hagopian. Jesse is a Seattle public school teacher. He’s an editor of Rethinking Schools magazine, a founding member of Social Equality Educators. He’s the editor of the book More Than a Score, and he blogs at IAmanEducator.com. Thanks so much for joining us, Jesse.

First US Trade Union Endorses BDS Of Israel

A BDS demonstration in Melbourne, Australia, 2010.Mohammed Ouda/Wikimedia Commons read more: http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/jewish-world-news/1.673550

By Haaretz – One of the more prominent industrial unions in the U.S. voted to endorse the goals of the worldwide boycott, divestment and sanction (BDS) movement against Israel, citing “its long history of violating the human rights of the Palestinians,” thus purportedly becoming the first nationwide union to do so. The United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers’ national convention met in Baltimore last week and voted on a string of foreign and as well as domestic policy issues, including the call to boycott Israel and support the nuclear deal with Iran. According to a statement on the UE’s website, the union voted in favor of the “Justice and Peace for the Peoples of Palestine and Israel”, and cited Israel’s sordid human rights record: “starting with the ethnic cleansing of 750,000 Palestinians in 1947-48 that turned most of Palestine into the State of Israel.”

NLRB Hands Fight For $15 Major Victory

The NLRB says that McDonald's is a 'joint employer' with its franchisees, opening the door for viable unionization drives in the entire franchise sector.   Wikimedia Commons

By Dave Jamieson in The Huffington Post – McDonald’s, Burger King and every other company that relies on a franchise business model just suffered the legal setback they’ve been fearing for years. The National Labor Relations Board ruled on Thursday that Browning Ferris Industries, a waste management company, qualifies as a “joint employer” alongside one of its subcontractors. The decision effectively loosens the standards for who can be considered a worker’s boss under labor law, and its impact will be felt in any industry that relies on franchising or outsourcing work. McDonald’s, for instance, could now find itself forced to sit at the bargaining table with workers employed by a franchisee managing one of its restaurants.

Black Labor Organizers Urge AFL-CIO To Reexamine Ties To Police

(Image: Jared Rodriguez / Truthout)

By Sarah Jaffee in Truth Out – The rise of the Movement for Black Lives got Brandon Buchanan and some of his fellow graduate student employees in the University of California system thinking. Many of them had taken part in the protests rippling across the country, and the movement had also inspired them to think about what they could do within their own union, United Auto Workers Local 2865, to deal with questions of racism and anti-Blackness close to home. “To get our voices heard we realized that we needed to come together to form a committee that specifically addressed the needs of Black workers in the union,” Buchanan, a graduate student in sociology at UC Davis, told Truthout.

‘Teach For America’ Workers Are Employees, Can Join Teachers Union

In a good sign for teacher union drives around the country, a Labor Board hearing officer opted to include Teach for America teachers in the union vote at a Detroit charter school chain. Charter teachers in other cities sent messages of solidarity.   Photo: Michigan Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff (AFT).

By Patrick Sheehan for In These Times – A National Labor Relations Board hearing officer has ruled that Teach for America teachers should be included in the union at a Detroit charter school chain. (Full disclosure: The author of this piece was a Teach for America teacher at the chain and testified at the NLRB hearing.) Teachers at University Prep charter schools voted May 14 on whether to unionize. The charter chain, UPrep, relies on TFA teachers to fill about 10 percent of its classrooms, a figure that’s similar to urban charter schools in other cities. But when some TFA teachers emerged as leaders in the union drive, Detroit 90/90, the company that manages UPrep, challenged their right to vote. In a June hearing, the company argued that TFA teachers’ minimum two-year commitment to the school made us “temporary service workers” rather than “professional employees”—more like long-term substitutes than permanent teachers.

Cincinnati’s Experiment With An Economy That Works For Everyone

Cooperative in Cincinnati

By Geoff Gilbert for Waging Nonviolence – With the 2016 presidential campaigns underway, economic populism has taken center stage. Bernie Sanders, calling for a $1 trillion investment in a sustainable infrastructure jobs program along with publically funded health care and college education, has forced Hillary Clinton to offer vague support for similar measures, while even some Republican candidates, like Marco Rubio, have asserted the need to stop the “fall of the [American] worker.” Not content to wait for national politicians to follow through on non-binding proposals, 1worker1vote — a joint venture launched in 2009 by the United Steelworkers, or USW, and Mondragon USA — has been pursing a grassroots agenda to move populist discontent beyond protest and toward the building of new institutions.

Black Unionists Try To Save South Africa From Becoming Failed State

Members of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa march for a wage increase in July last year in Cape Town. Image by: GALLO IMAGES

By Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo in Black Agenda Report – As NUMSA takes an increasingly central role in the struggle for full economic sovereignty and for the complete economic freedom of workers and the rural poor, the importance of international solidarity cannot be underestimated. In this interview Jim and Vavi discuss: (1) NUMSA’s and Zwelinzima Vavi’s expulsion from COSATU, and the united stand by NUMSA’s and seven other COSATU affiliates to continue to fight for the rights of South Africa’s workers; (2) NUMSA’s formation of a United Front to galvanize other trade unions, as well as grassroots organizations, in the fight against inequality, poverty, and unemployment in South Africa; and (3) The formation of a worker’s party to contest elections and advance much-needed economic change in South Africa.

UC Unions Call On AFL-CIO To Terminate Police Union’s Membership

Citing a "long history of police intervention in labor politics and its complicity in racial violence," the UAW members say they want the cops' union out of the country's largest labor federation. (Ben Musseig / Flickr)

By Mario Vasquez for In These Times – United Auto Workers Local 2865, the union representing 13,000 teaching assistants and other student workers throughout the University of California, called on the AFL-CIO to end its affiliation with the International Union of Police Associations (IUPA) in a resolution passed by its governing body on July 25. The resolution came in the wake of a letter written by the UAW’s Black Interests Coordinating Committee (BICC). The group formed in December 2014 in response to the acquittals of police officers in the deaths of Mike Brown and Eric Garner and is largely inspired by recent actions in the Black Lives Matter movement.