My grandmother and aunt were murdered at Treblinka, one of the deadliest Nazi concentration camps. Six months before liberation, my grandfather died in Nordhausen. My father, John, spent seven years between the ages of 11 and 17 in nine different concentration camps. Czech partisans rescued him and his brother, Harry, from a forced march, during which my father had become gravely ill. After the war ended in 1945, my dad landed in Windermere outside of London and was taught to socialize and eat with a knife and fork. He learned to be a tailor. He met my mother. They moved to the United States seeking a better life, and he started working and soon became a member of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America.
Critics of private equity often stress the business model’s impact on workers. Blackstone’s Packers Sanitation Services, Inc., was found to have illegally hired over 100 minors and placed them in dangerous jobs. Arby’s and Dunkin’ Donuts owner Roark Capital lobbied against a federal minimum wage. Fairmont and Sofitel owner Brookfield Asset Management has repeatedly threatened to retaliate against hotel workers attempting to unionize. And when the private equity purchase of Toys ‘R’ Us drove the toy retailer into bankruptcy, leading to a loss of over 30,000 jobs, its owners Bain Capital, KKR, and Vornado Realty Trust made off with about $200 million in management fees.
The recent uptick in labor organizing has prompted not only a rise in strikes, but also the return of an old labor weapon: the boycott. While boycott campaigns generally have a mixed record at best, this tactic was used successfully in the recent unionization and first contract victories at Burgerville in Oregon as well as Spot Coffee in upstate New York — a campaign that set the stage for the subsequent Starbucks upsurge. Raising the slogan, “No Contract, No Field Trips,” unionizing workers at Medieval Times in New Jersey and California are now linking up with K-12 teachers to boycott the company until it stops its alleged union-busting.
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.
Buffalo, New York - As part of the Starbucks Workers United (SBWU) Bus Tour, Starbucks workers and volunteers in Buffalo, New York, demonstrated the power of the Starbucks unionization campaign in the face of corporate resistance. To bolster their efforts, dozens of Starbucks workers traveled to Buffalo on July 26, to spread information concerning the company’s egregious union busting and breaking of labor laws. The Bus Tour displayed working-class power in a united front for fair compensation and protection from Starbucks’ actions. Informational pickets were dispersed around Buffalo. Customers and passersby were asked if they had previously heard of Starbucks’ union busting and were given information on Starbucks’ unofficial policy toward union workers.
eBay TCGPlayer Union members are filing an unfair labor practice charge and hold a petition delivery action on July 31 to bring awareness to the company's anti-union behavior and refusal to bargain in good faith. Despite winning their union vote on March 10 2023, TCGPlayer workers are still fighting for their first contract as eBay and TCG leadership continues to delay coming to the bargaining table. TCGPlayer has been represented in this matter by Littler Mendelson P.C., a law firm that proudly bills themselves as "the largest global employment and labor law practice in the world exclusively devoted to representing management."
Registered nurses in Texas and Kansas at three Ascension hospitals are moving forward with historic one-day strikes on Tuesday, June 27, to protest management’s resistance to bargain in good faith with RNs for union contracts that would help correct the endemic staffing crisis, announced National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United (NNOC/NNU). Driven by their concerns about patient safety, these will be the largest nurse strikes in Texas and Kansas history. Ascension management’s punitive three-day lockout of nurses who go on strike has failed to intimidate them.
For good reason, the fight to unionize Starbucks has drawn considerable public attention since workers at a Buffalo, New York store voted to unionize in December of 2021. Since that time, workers at more than 300 stores, representing more than 8000 workers, have so voted. The campaign has been met with strong company resistance, resulting in legal rulings that found Starbucks violating federal labor law by (among other things) illegally surveilling workers, firing workers involved in union organizing, and adding workers at specific workplaces to dilute union strength. In an eventful year-and-a-half, the company has failed to negotiate a single contract.
This week, state legislators in Minnesota passed a package of pro-labor measures that instantly makes the state the envy of workers everywhere. The new laws include paid sick days for everyone, banning noncompete agreements, a crackdown on wage theft, and a wage board to set pay in the nursing home industry. All a big deal. But let’s talk briefly about one in particular: a ban on captive audience meetings. As you know if you have ever hung around union people who are in the process of getting extremely mad, “captive audience meetings” are when the boss calls a mandatory meeting for employees, and then proceeds to lie to them about how bad unions are.
A company accused of lying about retirement benefits to stop workers from organizing can be sued in a class-action lawsuit, a federal judge ruled. The decision came on April 7 after the defendant, the California-based grocery retailer Save Mart Supermarkets, asked the judge to dismiss the case, which experts are calling a creative use of labor law against union-busting. The suit hinges on promises made by managers about retirement benefits to undercut the appeal of union membership to employees, a common tactic in campaigns against labor organizing. A ruling against Save Mart could haunt companies that have used similar tactics for decades.
In the heart of California’s wine country, the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa offers guests access to on-site geothermal mineral pools, an exclusive golf club and farm-to-table dining. “Like the Native Americans who revered the site as a sacred healing ground, you’ll live in harmony with nature through vast open spaces, beautifully landscaped grounds, majestic redwood trees and inspiring sunsets,” boasts the resort’s website. That purported serenity on stolen Native American land has not extended to the workers at the luxury resort where union avoidance consultants hired by and staying at the hotel for the past several months have been trying to suppress their union organizing drive.
As Amazon Labor Union’s groundbreaking labor movement gained momentum — and, in some ways, faltered — in 2022, Amazon was busy shelling out millions of dollars to anti-union consultants in order to ensure that the union movement would fail, new filings show. As first reported by HuffPost, new financial disclosures filed on Friday with the Department of Labor show that Amazon spent $14.2 million on anti-union consultants. These consultants are hired by companies seeking to bust union efforts, advising them on ways to skirt or violate federal laws in order to crush labor organizing.
At colleges and universities across the country, a heated battle is playing out right now over workers’ right to organize and have a say over how the institutions they keep afloat with their labor are run. From graduate student-worker unionization efforts and strikes at Temple University, the University of California, Columbia University, Johns Hopkins, Northwestern University, Northeastern University, the University of Chicago, and Indiana University, to faculty strikes (and near-strikes) at the University of Illinois at Chicago, The New School, Howard University, etc., to workers across the higher ed sector striking in the UK, the academic labor movement is one of the most explosive sites of labor struggle right now.
The latest round in the fight between Starbucks and its nascent barista network — Starbucks Workers United (SBWU) — came to a head on Wednesday with the appearance of former CEO and current board member Howard Schultz at the Senate Committee on Housing, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP). “It was honestly hard not to laugh out loud at some of the [bald-faced] lies he told,” said James Greene, a fired Starbucks shift supervisor in the Pittsburgh area. “He denied breaking the law repeatedly as senators were listing off multiple judges’ rulings against [Starbucks],” Greene added.
Starbucks projects the image of an employee-friendly company, but its workers have been exposing the contradiction between the company’s words and its actions. On March 29, they’ll get some help from the U.S. Senate’s HELP Committee, chaired by Bernie Sanders. The Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee has called Howard Schultz, who recently resigned as Starbucks CEO, to testify before Congress about the company’s union-busting. Schultz is likely to be asked to explain why the company has not negotiated a contract with its union, even though the first store unionized in Buffalo in December 2021. Nearly 300 stores have now unionized with Starbucks Workers United.