Open Letter To Union Leaders: Act On Climate

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By Staff of Labor Network for Sustainability – Working people, poor people, and frontline communities are most heavily impacted by the effects of climate change. We feel the force of this devastation first and worst—from more powerful hurricanes to wildfires, from rising sea levels to crop-destroying droughts and floods. Our families and communities receive the greatest blow and have the biggest stake in moving as rapidly as possible from a fossil fuel-based society to a sustainable energy society. Global warming represents an existential threat to the world’s people. We must act rapidly to avoid even more devastating climate change. But moving to 100% renewable energy will also impact jobs for many of us. So any transition, to be just, must protect workers and frontline communities impacted by the changes we must make from having to disproportionately bear rather than share the social cost. Organized labor with its allies is the strongest, best-organized force to turn this around. Who will speak for the global majority of working people and poor people if organized labor does not? The Earth is our only home. There is no Planet B. And there are no jobs on a dead planet.

Left And Right Have Nothing In Common On NAFTA

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By Stephanie Basile for Popular Resistance. Washington, DC – Today, the fourth round of renegotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) are taking place in Washington, DC. Protests are planned at multiple locations around DC, including a petition delivery of over 360,000 signatures to Congress demanding the elimination of the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS). United under the threat from continually expanding corporate power, the fight against NAFTA has brought together a cross-section of social movements, including unions, community groups, land reform movements, environmentalists, food safety groups, and internet rights organizations.

What The Attack On Organized Labor Means For African Americans

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By D. Amari Jackson for Atlanta Black Star. In an April 2016 document sent from Tracie Sharp to her powerful States Policy Network (SPN) — a right-wing alliance of 66 think tanks across the country and a sister organization to the notorious American Legislative and Exchange Council (ALEC) — the SPN president plotted a “mortal blow” to progressive causes and institutions in America through a well-funded effort to “defund and defang one of our freedom movement’s most powerful opponents, the government unions.” The ten-page letter, first exposed to the public last month, In an April 2016 document sent from Tracie Sharp to her powerful States Policy Network (SPN) — a right-wing alliance of 66 think tanks across the country and a sister organization to the notorious American Legislative and Exchange Council (ALEC) — the SPN president plotted a “mortal blow” to progressive causes and institutions in America through a well-funded effort to “defund and defang one of our freedom movement’s most powerful opponents, the government unions.” The ten-page letter, first exposed to the public last month, acknowledged the historical significance of government unions as a pivotal centerpiece of the American left and its associated politics. In it, Sharp highlighted how the automatic deduction of union dues from the paychecks of government employees buttresses “the left’s ability to control government at the state and national levels.” The goal, she explained, is to target legislation at “permanently depriving the left from access to millions of dollars in dues extracted from unwilling union members every election cycle.”The goal, she explained, is to target legislation at “permanently depriving the left from access to millions of dollars in dues extracted from unwilling union members every election cycle.”

SCOTUS Is On The Verge Of Decimating Public-Sector Unions

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By Shaun Richman for In These Times – On Thursday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear Janus vs. AFSCME, the case that will likely turn the entire public sector labor movement into a “right-to-work” zone. Like a lazy Hollywood remake, the case has all the big money behind it that last year’s Friedrichs v. CTA did, with none of the creativity. In Friedrichs, the plaintiffs argued that interactions between public sector unions and government employers are inherently political. Therefore, the argument went, mandatory agency fees to reimburse the union for the expenses of representation and bargaining were forced political speech, violating employees’ purported First Amendment right to not pay dues. The case ended in a 4-4 deadlock in March 2016, following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, who had appeared poised to vote against the unions’ interests. Much like Friedrichs, the Janus case has rocketed through the federal courts. The National Right to Work Foundation, which represents the plaintiffs, petitioned the Supreme Court to hear the case in early June. All briefs will likely be submitted by mid-January 2018, meaning SCOTUS could hold hearings almost exactly a year to the date that the Court last heard the same arguments. The defendants may argue for procedural delays, which could potentially kick the decision into the following court term in 2018-2019.

After Member Is Deported, New York Teamsters Declare Themselves Sanctuary Union

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By Sarah Jaffe for In These TImes – Welcome to Interviews for Resistance. We’re now several months into the Trump administration, and activists have scored some important victories in those months. Yet there is always more to be done, and for many people, the question of where to focus and how to help remains. In this series, we talk with organizers, agitators and educators about how to resist and build a better world. George Miranda: This is George Miranda. I am president of the 120,000-member Teamsters Joint Council 16. It’s an umbrella group made up of 27 different local unions in New York City. Sarah Jaffe: Let’s start at the beginning. One of your members was deported last week, right? George: Correct. Eber Garcia Vasquez was deported basically because his asylum case was rejected. He has been a Teamster for 26 years and has been working in this country and raising his family on that. He has been reporting in routinely, as he is required to. This time, he went in, and they kept him and scheduled him for deportation. He left behind his family, including three kids. He married a U.S. citizen, and his three kids are U.S. citizens. He was on his way to a green card. Now he is in Guatemala. That is the story. If it happens to him, it could happen to anybody.

Police Unions, Police Officers, And Police Abolition

More than 80 members of New York City law enforcement unions held a rally August 19 in support of Colin Kaepernick.
Credit – Theodore Parisienne/For New York Daily News

By Rosa Squillacote for Portside – Abolition of the carceral state is a fundamental political goal for the Left today: specifically, abolishing the carceral state’s logic and institution. Abolition is both a goal and a discourse: it informs the strategies we adopt, as well as the framework we use to critique the carceral state and describe alternatives. It is inherently forward-thinking: we are no closer to abolition than to the revolution. The question of how the Left should regard police unions is therefore a question of whether and how police unions fit into the goal of abolition. I argue that we must understand police officers as individuals, with different interests, experiences, and opinions about their work, in order to develop political strategies necessary in the long fight for abolition. Police unions can play a strategically useful role by reflecting this diversity of individuals and opening a conversation about the relationship between the conditions and consequences of law enforcement. Abolition is not around the corner: we have a long way to go in this battle. Reforms are therefore necessary, and happen as a result of strategic political action, not grandstanding. The carceral state is brutal, oppressive, and deadly, which is why we cannot afford to compromise our goal, and why we also can’t afford to reject political opportunities along the way – strategies, allies, tactics, etc.

The Cure Worse Than The Disease: Expelling Freeloaders In An Open-Shop State

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By Chris Brooks for New Labor Forum – The United States is likely to be an entirely open- shop country in the near future. Republicans dominate over two-thirds of state legislatures, over half of all governorships, both houses of Congress, the White House, and a majority of seats on the Supreme Court. As the GOP proliferates, so does anti-union legislation. Twenty-eight states have already passed open-shop—so-called “right-to-work”—laws, which allow workers to receive the benefits of unionization without being a union member or paying fees for union representation. Over the next couple of years, the Supreme Court is likely to make right-to-work the law of the land in the public sector and it is possible Congress will pass federal legislation to do the same in the private sector. Right-to-work laws create two interlocking problems for labor unions. First, unions are legally required to represent all workers in a bar- gaining unit that the union has been certified to represent. In open shops, the “duty of fair representation” requires unions to expend resources on nonmembers who are covered by the union contract. This is known as the free-rider problem. Union activists often refer to workers who opt out of paying for the benefits of unionization as “freeloaders.”

What Labor Day Means To My South Side And Black Union Family

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By Dorian Warren for Chicago Sun Times – My grandparents were janitors in Chicago, the children of sharecroppers who fled the racist violence and oppression of the South for new opportunities in the North. They began their working lives in the 1940s when jobs did not have benefits like pensions and health care. They lived in public housing because black people could not move wherever they wanted. But my grandparents made a fateful decision one day to join the union. That single decision influenced the opportunities for all the subsequent generations in my family. My family’s union story is that of black American families who joined the middle class with good-paying jobs, benefits and better working conditions. My janitor grandparents were members of the Janitors’ Union, SEIU Local 1. The union ensured they had jobs that helped them save money and eventually buy a home on the South Side. The union ensured my grandparents could send the first person in our family to college – my mother. In the 1950s, only two avenues were available to smart, young black women like my mom. She could be a nurse or a teacher. She chose teaching and taught in public school for more than 40 years.

Workers May Have Just Killed Missouri’s Right to Work Law

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By Jeff Schuhrke for In These Times. Missouri – In a badly needed victory for organized labor, a coalition of workers’ rights groups in Missouri is poised to halt a devastating new anti-union law from taking effect later this month. The deceptively named “right-to-work” (RTW) legislation—quickly passed and signed into law this February by Missouri’s new Republican governor, Eric Greitens—would prohibit unions in private sector workplaces from automatically collecting dues from the workers they are legally required to represent. Designed to decimate unions by cutting off their financial resources, RTW laws are currently in place in 27 other states. Though the law is set to take effect on August 28, the pro-union We Are Missouri coalition, led by the Missouri AFL-CIO, says it has collected enough signatures from voters to call for a state-wide referendum in November 2018 that could nullify the legislation.

Future Of Low-Wage Worker Movement May Depend On NYC Law

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By Max Zahn for Waging Nonviolence. New York City – Flavia Cabral doesn’t equivocate. She joined the fast food worker movement, she said, for a single reason: to put her daughter through college. Cabral, 53, of the Bronx, earned $7.25 per hour at McDonald’s when she stood alongside coworkers in her first single-day strike four years ago. Over 10 strikes later, she makes $12 per hour, thanks to a statewide minimum wage hike that will gradually elevate her pay to $15 by the end of 2018. Still, her goal remains out of reach. “I don’t have enough savings for my daughter to finish college,” she said. “I want her to graduate.” Cabral’s predicament is emblematic of one facing the Fight for $15: how to move beyond its titular demand to address other barriers that are keeping fast food workers from a middle class life. These obstacles include insufficient hours, non-union workplaces and crippling expenses like housing, health insurance and college education.

Korean Unions Call For A Just Energy Transition

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By Staff of System Change Not Climate Change – In a series of landmark statements following the May 2017 election of the pro-reform President Moon Jae-in, Korean energy, transport and public service workers have called for “a just energy transition” allowing the sector to “function as a public asset under public control.” Unions support the new government’s decision to close the country’s aging coal-fired and nuclear power stations, and its planned reconsideration of two new nuclear facilities, Kori 5 and Kori 6. In a statement issued in late July, the Korean Public Service and Transport Workers’ Union (KPTU) and the Korean Labour and Social Network on Energy (KLSNE), a coalition of unions and civil society organizations, said, “We actively support the policy of phasing out coal and nuclear and expanding clean renewable energy.” The statement urged the development of, “A roadmap for energy transition that ensures public accountability and strengthens democratic control of the energy industry.” KPTU andKLSNE also committed “to work together with the public and civil society to achieve a just transition.”

Why Did Nissan Workers Vote No?

Workers voted 2,244-1,307 against joining the United Auto Workers, after a 12-year campaign to organize the mile-long Nissan plant in Canton, Mississippi.

By Chris Brooks for Labor Notes – There’s no sugar-coating a loss this dramatic: 2,244-1,307 against the United Auto Workers, after a 12-year campaign to organize the mile-long Nissan plant in Canton, Mississippi. After four attempts, the UAW has yet to win a plant-wide vote at a foreign-owned auto plant in the South. The August 4 loss can be laid to three factors: Nissan’s fierce anti-union campaign, the union’s failure to build a strong organizing committee that acted like a union on the shop floor, and Nissan workers’ reluctance to rock the boat and risk losing a job that pays far higher than they could expect to make almost anywhere else. UAW strategists felt that the demographics were in their favor, since 80 percent of the Nissan workforce is Black. Data shows that Black workers are more likely to vote for a union than are their white counterparts. But they also had to contend with the fact that Nissan brought well-paid jobs to an area with very few. Even though Nissan workers make less than workers at the Big Three automakers, they still take home some of the highest blue-collar wages in the state. “People drive two hours to get to this plant because they’ve never had a job like this before,” said Robert Hathorn, a pro-union frame worker.

I Am Not A Hero Teacher

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By Staff for Gad Fly On The Wall Blog – I’ll tell you one thing I don’t need. I don’t need the state, federal or local government telling me how to do my job. When I plan my lessons, I need the freedom to teach children in the way that seems most effective to me – the professional in the room. I also don’t need some bureaucrat telling me how to assess my students. I don’t need some standardized test to tell me what kids have learned, if they can read or write. I’ve spent an average of 80 minutes a day with these children for five days a week. If I can’t tell, I don’t deserve to be in the classroom. And I don’t need my principal or superintendent setting my colleagues and me against each other. We’re not competing to see who can do a better job. We should be collaborating to make sure everyone succeeds. What do I need? My union, for one. I need my right to collective bargaining. I need the power to gather with my colleagues and co-workers so we can create the best possible work environment for myself and my students. I need due process, tenure, so I can’t be fired at the whim of the school board or administrators without having them prove my inequities.

How A Father's Tragedy Moved The Teamsters To Fight An Opioid Distributor

Travis Bornstein’s son, Tyler, died at age 23 after becoming hooked on opioids prescribed following a sports injury. Photograph: Travis Bornstein

By Chris McGreal for The Guardian – Teamsters union general secretary-treasurer Ken Hall has called drug firm’s role in the opioid epidemic ‘one of the most tragic failures of corporate integrity.’ The largest drug distributor in the US has been accused by the Teamsters union of a pivotal role in the country’s opioid epidemic. The union is urging shareholders to force a public reckoning this week, a move prompted by one member’s heartrending account of the death of his son. The Teamsters, which has 1.4 million members in the the US, is using its substantial fund holdings in McKesson, the fifth-largest corporation in the US, to press for leadership changes. This comes after the company paid the largest financial settlement of its kind amid lawsuits accusing it of “flooding” the country with prescription painkillers. The union is asking shareholders to impose an independent chair to run the board and come clean on the company’s role in the epidemic after McKesson paid $150m to settle justice department accusations that it failed to report suspicious deliveries of vast numbers of opioid pills at the heart of the epidemic. The crisis has claimed more than 300,000 lives over the past 15 years. The Teamsters also want shareholders of McKesson meeting in Dallas on Wednesday to vote against a huge bonus for the present chairman and CEO, John Hammergren, one of the highest paid executives in the country.

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.”