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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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…
By Joe Davidson for The Washington Post – But now, that program has been sentenced to death and it is postal labor leaders who are rejoicing. They cheer the demise of a program that had been the target of a vigorous campaign by postal unions that don’t want the post office privatized. USPS will discontinue retail services at Staples stores by the first week in March, according to the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), which led the fight. The union cast the decision as “a big win for the public as well as the 200,000 members of APWU and the union’s allies.”
By Staff of Teamsters – Union members aren’t the only ones hurt when labor’s slice of the workforce pie gets smaller, a report confirms. In fact, research by the Economic Policy Institute shows all workers today are making less than they would if union density was at its 1979 level. Between 1979 and 2013, the share of private-sector workers in a union fell from about 34 percent to 10 percent among men, and from 16 percent to 6 percent among women. For women, the result is $718 less in pay per year. But for men, lost pay balloons to nearly $2,725 a year. As EPI notes, “Unions keep wages high for nonunion workers for several reasons. Union agreements set wage standards that nonunion employers follow.
By Bethany Khan for Unite Here! – The Local Joint Executive Board Las Vegas, UNITE HERE Culinary Workers Union Local 226, Bartenders Union Local 165, and the Trump International Hotel Las Vegas are pleased to announce a new first time union contract covering the Trump International Hotel Las Vegas’ Food and Beverage and Housekeeping employees from January 1, 2017 through May 31, 2021. This four-year contract will provide the employees with annual wage increases, a pension, family health care, and job security. This agreement is the result of tremendous efforts of the parties’ leadership teams. Both the Culinary Union and the Trump International Hotel Las Vegas extend their congratulations to each other and each look forward to a mutually productive and peaceful labor-management partnership.
By Lauren McCauley for Common Dreams. President-elect Donald Trump, a supposedly populist candidate who rose to power on promises made to frustrated American workers, has now seemingly launched what Politicois describing as an outright “war on unions.” Labor leaders and advocates across the nation are rallying in support of United Steelworkers Local 1999 president Chuck Jones, after Trump publicly attacked the Indiana union leader for calling him out for lying about the number of Carrier jobs the incoming president claimed to have saved from being outsourced to Mexico. “An attack on [Jones] is an attack on all working people,” Richard Trumka, president of the nation’s largest union federation AFL-CIO, declared Thursday. The hashtag #ImWithChuck has drawn a groundswell of support for Jones, including from national labor groups and prominent progressive politicians.