New York City, New York - Students and educators from hundreds of schools across New York City converged in Bryant Park on Thursday afternoon. This was part of a national day of mobilizations to “shut it down” in solidarity with the Palestinian people who are suffering a genocide at Israel’s hands; a genocide that is being backed by the United States. As this action and countless others over the past weeks have shown, the world is witnessing the emergence of a massive movement against Zionism and imperialism, with student activists at the forefront. 20 minutes before the official start of the rally at 3pm, hundreds had already crowded the stairs of the New York Public Library chanting “Free free free Palestine!” and “One two three four, we don’t want your bloody war!”
As a federal customer service representative, I help seniors access the healthcare they need through Medicare, often handling hundreds of calls per day to sign people up, answer their questions, help them navigate billing, and more. I am an expert on these programs, but the hard truth is that despite working for the largest federal call center contractor, Maximus, I don’t have access to affordable health coverage for myself and my three children and my pay is so low I’m struggling to stay afloat. This is why I’m going on strike today with hundreds of my co-workers who are experiencing similar struggles.
On Wednesday, students around the United States are organizing walkouts “to call for an end to the US-backed siege on Gaza and U.S. military funding and arms to Israel.” This national student day of action was called for by National Students for Justice in Palestine in collaboration with several other organizations. These walkouts are taking place within the context of the largest anti-imperialist movement the United States has seen since the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and international rallies in support of the Palestinian people, even in places like Berlin and Paris where such protests have been banned.
The 3,000 teachers and support staff of the Oakland Education Association walked out May 4, shutting down all 85 elementary, middle, and high schools. Community support was immediate and widespread—parents were already familiar with the cuts the district had inflicted or proposed. Many donated food and joined our picket lines to walk, dance, and chant in solidarity. Eighty-eight percent of teachers had voted to strike, after it became clear that our demands were not being taken seriously at the negotiating table. The Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) had stonewalled us—delaying meetings, failing to show up, and presenting vague proposals that demonstrated a limited understanding of what’s really needed day to day in schools.
Health workers in the UK are taking a stand against the policies of the Conservative (Tory) government which has refused to heed their demands for pay restoration and essential resources for National Health Service (NHS) staff. Nurses, support staff, ambulance drivers, and other workers of NHS England have strongly opposed the latest, below-inflation pay offer made by the authorities in March. In response, Unite the Union and the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) have called for strike actions before and after the upcoming International Workers’ Day on May 1. Fom April 11, around 60,000 junior doctors in England went on a four-day walkout demanding pay restoration to compensate for the 26% cut, since 2008, in their take-home wages.
The past year has seen a historic wave of trade union strikes in the UK, with transport workers, nurses, junior doctors, university lecturers, ambulance drivers, Amazon workers, and others walking out. The largest teachers’ union in the UK, the National Education Union (NEU), joined the strike wave on Jan. 16, announcing that its ballot of members had met the required threshold to commence strikes over pay and funding. Earlier this month, the NEU met for its annual national conference—a meeting that took place at a crucial juncture in this ongoing industrial action. The conference opened with the unveiling of NEU members’ verdict on the UK government’s recent pay offer: 98% of the nearly 200,000 NEU members who voted—a record turnout—had voted to reject it.
Chicago, Illinois - Recently unionized employees at Howard Brown Health, a nonprofit Chicago health clinic that caters particularly to LGBTQ people, went out on strike Tuesday. Management is also threatening to lay off 15 percent of their workforce, citing “financial concerns.” On December 30, the sixty employees — who had previously been told they would be laid off Tuesday — arrived at work to discover that they had been locked out of their emails and other work software, including at least one therapist who says that they lost access during a call with a patient. The workers were given no advance notice that this would happen, according to the union. A photo of the email from a manager informing the workers of their impending layoff circulated on social media and showed that he didn’t personalize the message, so each email addressed a given employee as “NAME.”
Amazon’s vast distribution network is staggering. There’s the invisible lacework of surveillance algorithms and artificial intelligence. There are the visible footprints: trucks, robots, hulking warehouses. And then there are the workers. It takes more than a million people, most of them low-paid and grindingly exploited, to pick, sort, unload, ship, and deliver packages to customers’ doors within days of an order. Last week workers took aim at disrupting this symphony of human capital with walkouts at four distinct warehouse types in the company’s logistics chain—a cross-dock near Chicago, a delivery station and a fulfillment center near Atlanta, and in Southern California, one of the company’s large air hubs. The walkouts weren’t centrally coordinated. But they were all timed to coincide with the company’s Prime Day promotional sales rush, which ran October 10 to 12.
Today, October 6, students from more than 50 schools spanning over 30 states are holding coordinated actions in support of the rights to safe, legal, and accessible abortion, gender affirming care, comprehensive sex education, and free contraception. These events range from resource fairs and “green out” color days, to panels and rallies, to full student walkouts. The students are organizing as the Graduate Student Action Network (GSAN), a nationwide coalition formed over the summer after Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization was decided and Roe v. Wade was overturned. At several schools, graduate worker unions are playing a key role in organizing October 6 Day of Action events, recognizing the deep connections between abortion rights and the issues traditionally taken up by the labor movement.
Since the Starbucks Workers United campaign launched last fall, workers have won union authorization elections at 220 stores, and struck at least 60. The company has retaliated harshly—closing some stores, firing dozens of union leaders, claiming interference by the National Labor Relations Board, and calling for a moratorium on mail-in elections. Starbucks also barred union stores from receiving long-awaited benefits to be implemented August 1, provoking several strikes. Jonah Furman from Labor Notes spoke with Tripathi about the joys of the picket line, Starbucks’ retaliation, and how a store manager got so rattled by a collective action that she accused the workers of kidnapping her.
Johnston, Iowa - In light of recent education bills at the Iowa Legislature, whether it’s promoting vouchers for private schools or restricting what teachers are allowed to mention in class, many Iowa students are getting fed up. And they’re standing up. Friday afternoon in Johnston, a group of close to 100 students walked out of class and stood on school grounds to talk about those bills, explain how they’re impacting Iowa students and teachers, and encourage their peers to register to vote and to elect different legislators. “I think the biggest thing now is putting people in positions of power that actually will do the work and will care and represent the student voices that are speaking out about this,” said Waverly Zhao, a junior at Johnston High School who helped lead the walkout.
Over 47,000 grocery store workers in Southern California have voted to Authorize Walkouts after contract negotiations have stalled. Despite reaping huge profits during the pandemic, the supermarket executives are refusing to meet workers’ demands for increased wages, higher minimum hours for part-time workers, and health and safety committees at stores. A strike would include workers at over 500 Krogers, Ralphs, Albertsons, Vons, and Pavilions supermarkets. These workers currently make between $17.02 and $22.50 an hour after five to seven years, less than the living wage for the area, which MIT researchers estimated at between $19 to $34 an hour. These workers have seen rising costs of living and inflation eat into their wages.
Amazon is the epoch-defining corporation of the moment in a way that Walmart was two decades ago,” said Howard W, an Amazon warehouse worker and organizer with Amazonians United, a grassroots movement of Amazon workers building shop-floor power. What can organizers at Amazon learn from the Walmart campaigns in the 2000s? And what can these two efforts teach us about organizing at scale? Unions haven’t successfully organized an employer with more than 10,000 workers in decades, so getting to scale is one of the most pressing challenges for the social justice movements. To explore these questions, Howard was joined by Wade Rathke, who, as chief organizer of ACORN in the U.S. from 1970 – 2008, anchored a collaboration among ACORN, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) that aimed to organize Walmart.
Fast-food workers say they are fed up with their working conditions, and on Tuesday morning, they're walking out. Thousands of employees in the fast-food industry are going on strike across California, walking out for better working conditions, wages and hours and calling on lawmakers to offer them a bigger say in their futures. A McDonald's location on Floral Drive in Monterey Park, where workers allege sewers recently flooded the kitchen, is the SoCal site of the rally employees planned for 9 a.m. Other rallies in the area are planned for 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. By and large, fast-food employees are not represented by a union. But they've found ways to band together, pushing for change within the industry with previous rallies.
Earlier this week in Savannah, Georgia, 54 of the 200 bus drivers in the Savannah-Chatham’s school district went on a wildcat “sick out” strike over pay and other issues. Workers said they were upset with their low pay and with the district who maintains that bus drivers must keep allowing students who don’t wear masks on buses — a rule that bus drivers contend with. The wildcat action wasn’t sanctioned officially by the bus drivers’ union, the Teamsters. So, the union then formally sanctioned its shop steward, Kendrick Banks for participating in the unsanctioned, possibly illegal, action and removed him from his position as the union’s shop steward. Several union members, including Banks, resigned from the union as a result of his removal, according to the Savannah Morning News.