Yale Graduate Teachers Launch Hunger Strike Over Bid To Unionize

Yale University graduate teachers protest the administration’s refusal to negotiate with them over labor conditions. (Photo: : Local 33 – UNITE HERE/Facebook)

By Roqayah Chamseddine for Mint Press News – Graduate teachers at Yale University decided to unionize on February 23, after a vote by secret ballot administered by the National Labor Relations Board. They are now being stonewalled by an administration that refuses to negotiate with them. In light of the university’s rejection of first contract negotiations, graduate teachers launched an indefinite fast aimed at pressing the administration into negotiations. One of the teachers taking part in the fast is Emily Sessions, a graduate teacher at Yale from the History of Art Department. Sessions told Shadowproof that they began fasting on April 25 “because we have waited for years for the Yale administration to come to the negotiating table.” The Yale administration has kept them waiting. “So we decided to wait without eating,” Sessions said. All those taking part committed to fasting until the Yale administration agreed to negotiate, “unless a doctor said they are at risk of permanent damage to their health.” Some teachers, including Sessions, went as long as 14 days without eating or drinking anything but water. Sessions indicated on May 22 they celebrated the breaking of the fast with “thousands” of allies in “a Commencement Day demonstration.” The message of the demonstration was this is “just the beginning, Yale.”

On The Side Of BIW Workers

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By Bruce K. Gagnon for The Times Record – I am pro-union and my first job after the Air Force and college was working as an organizer for the United Farm Workers Union in Florida — organizing fruit pickers. A couple of years ago I was invited by a union member to march with BIW workers who were protesting against General Dynamics’ management efforts to slowly but surely break the union at the shipyard by outsourcing work to non-union shops. I eagerly joined the protest. Over the years I’ve heard directly from scores of BIW workers about their grievances against the company. Not only has GD come to the city of Bath with silver cup in hand (while its top CEO was pulling in multi-million dollar bonuses) asking for more tax breaks, but over the years the corporation has repeatedly gone to the state demanding tax cuts, always threatening to leave Maine. GD has done little to diversify away from all-military production at BIW, whether into commercial shipbuilding, or other major nonmilitary production. So when the military contracts slow down, workers get what amounts to permanent layoffs. GD frequently brings in nonunion middle managers and poorly trained supervisors who don’t know much about the ins and outs of shipbuilding in any given aspect of production, causing delays and inefficiencies for which the unions get blamed.

AT&T Workers Begin Three-Day Strike

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By David Bacon for In These Times. Around 40,000 members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) at AT&T walked off their jobs Friday, for a three-day strike, as pressure continues to mount on the corporation to settle fair contracts. In California and Nevada, around 17,000 AT&T workers who provide phone, landline and cable services have been working without a contract for more than a year. Last year, they voted to authorize a strike with more than 95 percent support. And in February, an estimated 21,000 AT&T Mobility workers in 36 states voted to strike as well, with 93 percent in favor. Workers had issued an ultimatum, giving company executives until 3 p.m. ET on Friday to present serious proposals. They didn’t; the workers walked. It isn’t the first strike at AT&T. Some 17,000 workers in California and Nevada walked off the job in late March to protest company changes in their working conditions in violation of federal law.

Imminent Strike By AT&T Workers

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By Communications Workers of America. CWA members at AT&T Mobility put the company on notice to come up with serious proposals at the bargaining table or face a strike starting sometime on Friday. If AT&T officials refuse to negotiate fairly, AT&T wireless workers in Districts 1, 2-13, 4, 7, and 9 will walk off the job in a three-day strike. In addition, wireline workers in California, Nevada, and Connecticut, and DIRECTV workers in California, may take job action as they continue to bargain. “The clock is ticking for AT&T to make good on its promise to preserve family-supporting jobs. We have made every effort to bargain in good faith with AT&T but have been met with delays and excuses. Our message is clear: fair contract or strike. It’s up to AT&T now,” said CWA District 1 Vice President Dennis Trainor.

Health Care Workers Bring Sanctuary Movement Into The Union

Union members may not agree on immigration policies, but we can all rally around the right to quality representation and due process. Porfirio Quintano made the case to co-workers that NUHW should push to guarantee a fair hearing to undocumented brothers and sisters in the union. Photo: Ryan Olds

By Porfirio Quintano for Labor Notes – I had no money and spoke no English when I illegally crossed the border into California 23 years ago, but I worked hard and fought for the right to stay here. Had I made that harrowing journey this year, I’m sure I’d be deported right back into the crosshairs of the Honduran government’s death squads that had targeted me and many other community organizers. Instead I quickly won a grant of political asylum—and later received full American citizenship. I know I’m one of the lucky ones. At the San Francisco hospital where I work, nine out of 10 members of my union are foreign-born. We never ask anyone about their immigration status, but I know several green card holders who are getting ready to apply for citizenship now that their place in America seems less secure. People might think the Bay Area is one big protective cocoon for immigrants, but that’s not the case. The suburb where I live is not a sanctuary city.

Sorry, Charter Boosters: Record Numbers Of Teachers At Chicago Charter Schools Are Organizing Unions

Teachers at the ASPIRA charter school network rally on March 9 during union contract negotiations with management. (Scott Olson / Getty Images)

By Micah Uetright for In These Times – It’s a delicious irony for teachers unions that Rauner College Prep—a Chicago charter school named after Bruce Rauner, Illinois’ virulently anti-union governor—may soon have a union. On March 3, the Chicago Association of Charter Teachers and Staff (ACTS) announced an organizing drive at the Noble Network of Charter Schools, which has 18 campuses across Chicago, including Rauner College Prep. If the campaign is successful, Noble will become the nation’s largest unionized charter network. The addition of Noble’s 800 teachers and staff to its ranks would also give ACTS, a local of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), an impressive density in Chicago’s charter market—the union says it would represent as many as 40 percent of charter teachers in Chicago. About 10 percent of charter teachers nationwide are unionized, according to the pro-charter Center for Education Reform. The Chicago Teachers Union, a sister local to ACTS, has been a bright spot in a bleak labor landscape. But traditional public school educators aren’t the only ones on the move.

Trump Wants To Privatize Air Traffic Control

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By David Shepardson for Reuters. WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump is proposing to shift oversight of the U.S. air traffic control from the federal government to an independent group, according to budget documents released on Thursday. Trump, who called the U.S. air traffic control system “obsolete” in a meeting with airline executives last month, is proposing $16.2 billion for the Department of Transportation’s discretionary budget for fiscal year 2018, a reduction of 13 percent. Some Transportation Department budget items are paid through the highway gas tax fund. Privatization advocates argue that spinning off air traffic control into a non-government entity would allow for a more efficient system and rapid, cost-effective improvements of technology, in part by avoiding the government procurement process. Opponents, including some airlines, say the U.S. system is so large that privatization would not save money, and would drive up ticket costs and could create a national security risk.

Workers, Civil Rights Leaders Join 'March on Mississippi' For Nissan Union

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By Sue Sturgis for Facing South. n what’s expected to be the largest protest in Mississippi in years, hundreds of workers, civil rights leaders, and social justice advocates plan to march to the Nissan factory in Canton this Saturday and call on the automaker to respect employees’ right to a union election free from fear and intimidation. The March on Mississippi is being organized by the Mississippi Alliance for Fairness at Nissan, a coalition of civil rights leaders, ministers and worker advocates. It will be led by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and actor Danny Glover, a longtime advocate for the Nissan workers, and will be joined by NAACP President Cornell William Brooks, Sierra Club President Aaron Mair and U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Mississippi). The march will also be streamed live on the Good Jobs Nation Facebook page.

Two Union Leaders Driving Trump's Rabid Immigration Enforcement Crackdown

Immigrant rights protesters take part in a May Day rally in Chicago. (Photo: Payton Chung/flickr/cc)

By Jefferson Morley for AlterNet – As the detention of law-abiding undocumented U.S. residents spreads across the country and throughout the nation’s airports, no small part of the blame (or credit) belongs to two union leaders who have backed Trump to the hilt. They are Chris Crane, the president of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Council, a union that represents some 5,800 ICE officers nationwide, and Brandon Judd, head of the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) Council, which represents 16,000 CBP agents. Both men were early Trump supporters who associate with nativist groups founded by a white supremacist. In his February 2016 endorsement of Donald Trump, Crane falsely charged that President Obama’s executive order on immigration required ICE officers to ignore “cartel members, gang members, weapons traffickers, murder suspects, drug dealers, suspects of violent assault.”

What Kind of Movement Moment Are We In?

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By Mike MIller for Counterpunch. We need to build it. That will require talking with people who now don’t think the way present movement activists do; it will mean listening to them, and gaining their trust; developing relationships with them; engaging them in not only protesting but in becoming co-creators of the movement and organizations required to turn around the ship of empire that the U.S. has become. To imagine what this might look like, add a “0” to the numbers of people participating in what are now considered “mass actions”. And imagine them being sustained over a long period of time. And imagine already existing civic organizations (unions, congregations and others) growing in membership because of their involvement in the cause. And imagine new organizations being formed by people who now don’t have a continuing voice in civic affairs. And stretch your mind a little further to imagine permanent organizations being built that unite all these forces. That’s what “big organizing” would look like.

The Unions Betraying The Left

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By Erik Loomis for New Republic – Days after the inauguration, the leaders of several building trade unions met with President Donald Trump at the White House, outraging those on the left who want organized labor to lead the resistance to the president’s anti-worker policies. The building trades cited Trump’s call for infrastructure investment and their warm personal relationship with him as reasons to be optimistic about his presidency. As reported in The New York Times, Sean McGarvey, president of North America’s Building Trade Unions, stated, “We have a common bond with the president. We come from the same industry. He understands the value of driving development, moving people to the middle class.”

Unions At Lowest Levels In Decades—To Gain Power We Must Stop Following Rules

Because activists tend to conflate our legal rights with our actual human rights, we doggedly pursue age-old strategies because “it is what it is.” We must stop this. (Photo by Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

By Shaun Richman for In This Time – If Donald Trump’s first week as president wasn’t depressing enough, Thursday brought a report that showed union membership fell in 2016. Union members are now just 10.7% of the overall workforce and only 6.7% of the private sector. Those are the lowest levels since the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) began tracking them in the early 1980s—and possibly the lowest since the 1920s. Bosses and union haters will crow that unions are dying institutions and even our friends may write eulogies. But this funeral is for the wrong corpse. What may be dying is the system of collective bargaining that developed in the years after World War II.

Black Workers Accuse Nissan of Civil Rights Abuses in Mississippi

Nissan workers protest in Atlanta

By Staff for Occupy.com. Community leaders, elected officials, faith leaders, labor unions, student groups and racial justice organizations came out firing last week again Nissan for its civil rights abuses against African-American workers, leading protests in Nashville and Atlanta ahead of further actions planned across the South. Specifically, the coalition, called Mississippi Alliance for Fairness at Nissan (MAFFAN), is launching region-wide efforts to educate consumers about Nissan’s treatment of workers at its manufacturing plant in Canton, Mississippi. Of the roughly 5,000 workers at the carmaker’s Canton plant, an estimated 80 percent are African-American. Now, calls are growing to let the workers form a union, something that hasn’t been allowed. “The right to organize and form a union is a basic right here in America. It’s how workers represent their interests and make sure that their workplace rights are respected,” said Georgia State Senator and Atlanta mayoral candidate Vincent Fort.

Take A Page From These Dockworkers: Stop Work

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By Peter Cole for In These Times. On the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration, many Americans wrung their hands. Some took to social media to express their discontent while others protested. But, perhaps, the most dramatic and important action was taken by dockworkers in Oakland, California: They stopped working. Their strike demonstrated the potential power ordinary people have on the job, when organized. Longshore workers, who load and unload cargo ships, chose not to report to their hiring hall. As a result, “Oakland International Container Terminal, the largest container facility at the Northern California port, was shut down Friday,” according to the Journal of Commerce. It also reported that all other Oakland container terminals were essentially shut down, too.

Breaking The Chains: Can Labor Unions Organize Retail Workers?

The drumbeat of anti-unionism typically begins as soon as new employees begin their training. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

By Seth Kershner for In These Times – Retail is the nation’s largest employer. Since 1980, the number of jobs in retail has reportedly grown nearly 50 percent, from 10.2 to 15.1 million. At the same time, real wages for retail workers have fallen by 11 percent while on-call scheduling, involuntary part-time work and “clopening”—where workers are required to lock up the store late at night and reopen the next morning—have wreaked havoc with workers’ lives. Not surprisingly, the retail sector also has one of the lowest rates of unionization in the economy—around the 5 percent mark under which unions have virtually no influence. It didn’t used to be this way. Retail had 15 percent union density in the 1970s, according to sociologist Peter Ikeler…