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Labor Unions

‘I Get To Have A Life’: Pilots Speak Out On Contract Fights

Airline labor is at a breaking point. The country’s four largest airlines are facing pilot labor conflicts, all centering on a mismanaged pandemic recovery. The pilots, split among three unions, share grievances over grueling schedules. They say overwork has depleted their home lives while inflation eats into their paychecks. Delta pilots have voted by 99 percent to authorize a strike, with 96 percent turnout. United pilots voted by 94 percent to reject a tentative agreement, and the American pilots union leadership voted not to even send their deal out for a vote. Southwest pilots filed for mediation in September, signaling that contract negotiations are not going smoothly either. Any potential strikes are still a long way off.

Teamsters President Sean O’Brien Vows To ‘Pulverize’ UPS

Chicago — Spelling out union strategy for an all-important contract with UPS, Sean O’Brien worked his way up to a fiery pitch. ​“We gotta strategize, we gotta organize, and then we gotta pulverize UPS,” he declared. The room erupted into cheers, applause and fists clenched upward. The presentation by the short, muscular, bald-headed, fourth-generation Teamster from Boston, a union member since his teenage years, felt like a shop steward’s typical nitty-gritty warm-up speech.  Listening near the back of the conference, Dan Campbell, 69, a retired Teamster from Wisconsin, felt lifted by what he heard. He liked O’Brien’s ​“hard-nosed” tone and especially liked his call ​“for everyone to get on board and row with all hands.” O’Brien is president of the one-million-plus Teamsters Union.

UFCW Reformers Look To 2023

Next April, 1,200 delegates from the Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) will gather in Las Vegas for the union’s international convention. A new reform group, Essential Workers for a Democratic UFCW, is gearing up for a fight. The group describes itself as a coalition of rank and filers, local leaders, and not-yet-union workers. Drawing inspiration from the caucuses that have recently won landmark reforms in the Teamsters and Auto Workers, it is pushing for change in three areas: union democracy, new organizing, and coordinated bargaining. The reform group is encouraging rank-and-file supporters to run for convention delegate on its platform. The effort has its strongest public backing from the union’s largest local: Local 3000, formed this year by merging Locals 21 and 1439.

Threat Of Rail Work Stoppage Growing

The Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS) on Oct. 26 became the second of 12 rail unions to reject a tentative agreement amending wages, benefits and work rules on most Class I railroads and many smaller ones. More than 60% of signalmen voted to reject the agreement, mirroring the 57% rejection rate of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division of the Teamsters Union whose votes were announced Oct. 10. All 12 unions and the railroads previously agreed to maintain a status quo until “early December,” meaning no strike or management lockout until all 12 rail labor unions have completed the contract vote ratification process and made one last attempt to avert a strike or lockout. Unless carriers agree for a third time to offer deal sweeteners, a nationwide rail shutdown—the first since 1992—is looming, as a strike by even one union likely will cause picket lines to be honored by employees of all other unions.

Peak Season For Action At Amazon

Could this November see the biggest coordinated international day of action at Amazon yet? Although Thanksgiving is a unique U.S. holiday, the day after—known as “Black Friday”—is celebrated in many countries as the opening of the Christmas shopping season. In Italy, for example, merchants offer Black Friday discounts that fill their stores with the same bargain-hungry shoppers as in the U.S. That’s why three Italian trade union federations chose it as a strategic day in 2017 to strike Amazon’s million-square-foot distribution center in Castel San Giovanni, near Piacenza in Northern Italy. The San Giovanni facility opened in 2015. Two years later, half of the 1,650 permanent “Blue Badge” employees struck on Black Friday. While there had been some previous job actions at Amazon in Germany, this was one of the first Amazon strikes in Europe, or, in fact, anywhere.

Construction Workers Protest In Switzerland For Rights And Dignity

On October 17, Monday, construction workers marched in the Swiss town of Bellinzona, protesting the apathy of employers and the state towards the pressing needs of the workers in the sector. More than 2500 people participated in the march called by the trade union Unia Ticino. Protesters denounced the attack on the rights of workers. More protests are planned for November 1 and November 7-8 in other cities. Progressive political parties including the Swiss Party of Labor and the Communist Party have expressed support and solidarity to the protesting workers. According to reports, the workers in the construction sector are unhappy over overtime and working in precarious weather conditions. The existing national agreement (CN) of the main construction sector, which dictates the working conditions of more than 80,000 workers, will expire at the end of this year.

‘We Are Not Done Yet’: Railroad Track Workers Reject Deal

Members of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees, who build and maintain tracks and bridges, have voted down a national tentative agreement with the freight rail carriers. Just under 12,000 of the union’s 23,900 freight rail workers voted, the union announced October 10, with 56 percent voting against the deal. Leaders said they’re hoping to return to the bargaining table. The union is delaying any potential strike until November 19 at the earliest. In a statement, BMWE President Tony Cardwell attributed the rejection to members’ feeling that “management holds no regard for their quality of life, illustrated by their stubborn reluctance to provide a higher quantity of paid time off, especially for sickness.” Railroad workers currently get no paid sick days.

Labor Against Empire: Voices From The Honduran US Embassy Strike

For the last 3 months, more than 1,000 Honduran construction workers building the new United States embassy in Tegucigalpa have been striking against Alabama-based mega-prison contractor B.L. Harbert and their ultimate employer, the U.S. State Department, to demand safe working conditions, job security and fair compensation in compliance with Honduran labor law. Join the DSA International Committee and DSA Labor for a bilingual webinar to hear directly from the striking workers in Honduras, co-sponsored by US- and Honduras-based solidarity organizations. We seek to create opportunities for relationships to grow between the striking workers, Honduran civil society, and solidarity organizations around the Americas, and for workers in Honduras and the United States to hear directly from each other.

New ‘Striketober’ Looms As US Walkouts Increase

Thousands of workers around the US are going on strike or threatening to do so heading into October, amid a recent surge of labor action activity in America and just one month before crucial midterm elections. Support for labor unions in the US has grown over the past year, as a surge in organizing has resulted in workers winning union elections at major corporations including Starbucks, Amazon, Apple, Chipotle, Trader Joe’s, Google, REI and Verizon. Union election petitions increased 58% in the first three quarters of fiscal year 2022, compared with 2021. Public support for labor unions is at its highest point since 1965, according to the most recent Gallup poll, with a 71% approval of labor unions in the US. According to the labor action tracker at Cornell University, strikes in 2022 so far have significantly outpaced strike activity in 2021, with 180 strikes involving 78,000 workers in the first six months of 2022, compared with 102 strikes involving 26,500 workers in the first six months of 2021.

Strikes Across The UK As Regulator Lifts Energy Price Cap By 80%

A new wave of strikes are underway across the UK. From postal workers to barristers, organised labour is turning out on picket lines against the backdrop of looming energy cost hikes. Workers across the UK are fighting back by withdrawing labour, sharing their experiences and, on one occasion, surfing around ports at high speed! The strikes come as Don’t Pay, which is campaigning to encourage people to refuse to pay extortionate energy bills, reported an 80% hike had been nodded through by regulator Ofgem. Don’t Pay’s East London branch also announced a protest at Canary Wharf for Saturday 27 August. Postal workers are striking as part of the Communication Workers Union over pay. Royal Mail bosses have been paying themselves massive bonuses, even as the cost of living crisis has ramped up

US Labor Fights Back Against Amazon’s Expansion Into Healthcare

On July 21, Amazon announced that the corporation would buy One Medical, a national chain of healthcare clinics and services based in San Francisco, for $3.9 million. In response, unions and labor organizations marched in San Francisco’s Financial District against the deal on July 26. The march was attended by the newly-formed Amazon Labor Union (ALU), with ALU president Chris Smalls leading chants at the helm of the protest, as well as the California Labor Federation, San Francisco Labor Council, ALU, California Nurses Association, Teamsters Local 665, and Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW). “We think health care is high on the list of experiences that need reinvention,” said Neil Lindsay, SVP of Amazon Health Services, in a July 21 statement.

Yellowstone Tour Guides Are Building Momentum For Change

Recently, former President Obama launched a Netflix series celebrating national parks and their breathtaking views. One of the parks he zoomed in on was the 2.2 million acre Yellowstone National Park, describing it as a park that is “fundamental to our national identity.” But underneath the beauty of Yellowstone lies an ugly history of union-busting and intimidation by government contractors of National Park Service workers, the ones who labor to keep the park beautiful — a legacy that Obama failed to curb as president and one that Joe Biden has yet to address as the current occupant of the White House.

The Creative Methods Workers Are Using To Stop Bosses’ Abuse

In the past six months, workers at more than 150 Starbucks locations have successfully unionized, fighting back against unfair labor practices by their employer. And in April, Amazon warehouse workers won a victory against one of the most powerful corporations in the world when they became the first company facility to vote to unionize in the United States. Public opinion has shifted to a high point since 1965 of support for unions, with 68% of U.S. adults saying they approve of unions, according to a Gallup poll from September 2021. Most workers would vote for a union tomorrow, if they had the opportunity. Yet, private sector union density continues to hover around a low point of 6.2%. The unionization rate overall is a little over 10%, with public sector participation around one-third.

New Director-General Has Titanic Task To Reposition The Role Of The ILO

The Covid 19 pandemic is not yet over and we are already looming in the face of a new crisis spurred on by the war in Ukraine and a rampant inflation that is affecting many countries in the developed and developing world alike. The ILO Director-General’s report to the Conference warns that a food, energy and financial crisis is approaching. This scenario will also lead to a new refugees and migration emergency and a climate catastrophe that will affect all countries. In the reality, we do not need to wait for future events to happen as we are already in the middle of a global structural crisis of the neo-liberal economic model that is responsible for the obscene growth of inequality, injustice and poverty and for the irreparable damages to our planet.

Augusta Chipotle Workers Have Formed A Union

The workers at the Augusta Chipotle are forming a union. The workers at the restaurant in the state’s capital filed for recognition as an independent union, Chipotle United, on Wednesday, according to the Maine AFL-CIO. That comes just a week after the Chipotle workers staged a two-day walkout in protest of what they called unsafe working conditions. Chipotle workers told the Kennebec Journal last week that low staffing is a big concern for them. Two workers are often doing the food preparation work of six people, and the restaurant will be staffed with three to four people when at least seven are needed. In a letter to the chain’s national management, they called those demands “unreasonable” and said they jeopardize the safety of customers and themselves.
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