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.
By Staff of Indutri Global Union – Global unions BWI, IndustriALL, IUF, PSI and UNI will rally then hand deliver a letter to the South Korean mission in Geneva supporting the general strike and condemning the persecution of trade unionists in the country. The strike is being organized by the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU). KCTU’s president, Han Sang-Gyun, is currently serving a five-year prison sentence for his role in organizing a people’s protest of 100,000 people in 2015.
By Staff of New Internationalist – Many of the same institutions that won the rights to weekends, minimum wages and pensions, are now actively hindering workers who have achieved direct democratic control of their workplaces. Liam Barrington-Bush writes from the Second Euromediterranean Workers’ Economy summit in Greece, about an unexpected rift in the global workers’ movement. ‘Of course you should become unemployed, like everyone else. What makes you think you’re so different?’
By Anna Susman for Fight for $15. The four-year-old Fight for $15 will not back down and that any efforts to block wage increases, gut workers’ rights or healthcare, deport immigrants, or support racism or racist policies, will be met with unrelenting opposition. To show their determination in the face of the seismic shifts in the political climate, workers in the Fight for $15 said Monday they will wage their most disruptive protests yet on Nov. 29, expanding their movement to nearly 20 airports serving 2 million passengers a day, and risking arrest via mass civil disobedience in front of McDonald’s restaurants from Detroit to Denver. Workers spanning the economy—including baggage handlers, fast-food cooks, home care workers, child care teachers and graduate assistants—will demand $15 and union rights, no deportations, an end to the police killings of black people, and politicians keep their hands off Americans’ health care coverage.
By Steven Greenhouse for The Guardian – Maricela Flores, a 43-year-old immigrant from Mexico, was so unhappy at her job as a janitor at a Target store just outside Minneapolis – unhappy about having to work seven days a week, about being paid $8 an hour, about not having health coverage or paid sick days – that she did something unusually risky. She went on strike even though she was not part of a labor union.
By David Cohen for Labor Notes – Has your union ever faced an employer that treated bargaining as a sham? Such employers have no interest in reaching a compromise; they’re intent on forcing concessions or breaking the union. Often they never move off their concessionary proposals. Finally they declare impasse and implement their “last, best, and final offer.” Winning against an employer like this requires a multi-pronged strategy. Members will need to gather public support and wage a fight that affects the employer’s production or services.