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.”

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.”