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Worker Rights

Mountain Equipment Catastrophe

Dru Oja Jay is joined by Kevin Harding, one of the organizers of a spirited hail-mary attempt to save Mountain Equipment Co-op from being sold off to a US private equity firm. Kevin is a public policy professional who works with cooperatives and community enterprises. In this episode, he shares about how tens of thousands of members mobilized to stop MEC's sale, and came very close to being successful. Dru and Kevin also discuss the situation that led to the co-operative's demise, what could have prevented it, and what became of the effort to save MEC.

Harper Collins Debut Authors Won’t Work With Strikebreaking Editors

Workers at the HarperCollins Union have been on strike for over two months, braving the fierce New York City winter and picketing outside the company’s offices. Now, sources say their labor is being outsourced to temporary workers. While some authors are crossing the picket line and continuing to work with “scab”—or strikebreaking—editors, many are holding the line in support of the union and say they won’t work with any temporary workers while their editors strike for a livable salary. “I don’t want publishing to continue to be a place that’s only feasible for people who come from means,” said Kasey LeBlanc, who has a young adult novel publishing with HarperCollins in 2024. For over 80 years, HarperCollins has held a reputation as being one of the largest unionized publishing houses, with over 250 employees represented by Local 2110 of the UAW.

Inside The Supreme Court Case That Could Chill A Strike Wave

The Supreme Court is about to consider whether employers can sue unions for perishable goods lost during a strike by claiming they’re intentional property damage. On Jan. 10, the Court will hear oral arguments in Glacier Northwest v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 174, in which a Seattle concrete company is seeking to overturn a Washington Supreme Court decision dismissing its suit against Local 174 for the costs of several truckloads it had to throw out after drivers walked out in 2017. The state court held that Glacier had to wait until the National Labor Relations Board [NLRB] ruled on whether the damage was “incidental” to strike conduct protected under the federal National Labor Relations Act.

US Child Care Deficit Impacts Multiple Sectors of the Country

As Congress delivers nearly a trillion dollars for military spending through the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in fiscal year 2023, one of the country’s most vulnerable sectors is in the midst of financial turmoil, with lingering effects across the country’s workforce. Within the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package passed in March 2021, a mere $39 billion was allocated towards child care relief funding, an amount proven to not be enough with funds already drying up. The shortage of money sets up a house-of-cards style effect on child care and the workforce as a whole. With the onset of the funds, “teachers at the [child care] center have gotten a more than 40% pay bump over the past two years, from $14 an hour before the pandemic to $20 an hour now,” reports Bloomberg.

The First Big Strike Of 2023 May Happen Behind Prison Walls

All in all, 2022 was a banner year for organized labor. Thousands of workers in a wide variety of industries unionized; they pushed back against union-busting campaigns from oligarchs and corporate hit men; they went on strike and protested unfair treatment, from California to Alabama and everywhere in between. Public support for unions shot up to 71 percent, and the worryingly under-resourced National Labor Relations Board was inundated with more union election petitions than it could handle. Members of Gen Z, the youngest generation of workers, are even more pro-union than their millennial parents, and they aren’t shy about speaking up. All of that combined momentum isn’t slowing, either. The coming year is already poised to be another big moment for the working class.

2022 Saw Historic Strikes In The United Kingdom

Even as 2022 is drawing to a close, the strike wave that swept the UK this year, with hundreds of thousands of workers in the public and private sector downing tools to fight for better conditions, is showing no signs of slowing down. On Saturday, December 31, over 1,000 members of the National Union of Rail, Maritime, and Transport Workers (RMT) who are working on contract as cleaners in the railways are set to walkout in the first national strike of its kind. Workers at private companies including Atalian Servest, Churchill, and Mitie are fighting for a £15 ($18.04) per hour wage, company sick pay, good pensions, and “decent holidays.” They will join ISS cleaners on Docklands Light Railway (DLR), who will enter their second day on strike on Saturday over issues including over pay, working conditions, and imposed rosters.

ER Doctors Call Private Equity Staffing Practices Illegal, Seek To Ban Them

A group of emergency physicians and consumer advocates in multiple states are pushing for stiffer enforcement of decades-old statutes that prohibit the ownership of medical practices by corporations not owned by licensed doctors. Thirty-three states plus the District of Columbia have rules on their books against the so-called corporate practice of medicine. But over the years, critics say, companies have successfully sidestepped bans on owning medical practices by buying or establishing local staffing groups that are nominally owned by doctors and restricting the physicians’ authority so they have no direct control. These laws and regulations, which started appearing nearly a century ago, were meant to fight the commercialization of medicine, maintain the independence and authority of physicians, and prioritize the doctor-patient relationship over the interests of investors and shareholders.

The Pandemic Exacerbated A Long-Standing National Teacher Shortage

For more than a decade, academics and education policy experts have raised concerns about a widespread shortage of teachers in the United States.1 The first wave of warnings came in response to the drastic cuts in state and local spending on education following the Great Recession. But teacher shortages remained a significant challenge for the nation’s public education system long after the immediate effects of the Great Recession wore off. Most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic ignited a new round of concerns. In this report, we use data from a wide range of sources to document the size and scope of the teacher shortage. The data show that the teacher shortage is both widespread and acute across several dimensions, from subject matter specialties to school poverty status. We also review data that point to the two most important drivers of the shortage.

New York City: Sick Days Are A Human Right

A coalition of unions, activists and workers’ rights groups protested Dec. 7, outside and inside Grand Central Station in New York City, to demand full sick pay and labor rights for the 115,000 rail workers who transport essential goods. Their 11 unions were denied the constitutional right to strike by a bill passed by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden Dec. 2. Coalition organizers called out Biden for his assistance to Wall Street and the rail corporations, which loot billions in profits from rail workers’ labor, while endangering their health and safety. “If Biden wants to avoid disrupting the economy during the holidays,” said Larry Holmes, a leader with Workers Assembly Against Racism, one of the coalitions calling the action, “with the stroke of his pen, he can extend Obama’s legislation requiring paid sick leave for employees of companies with federal government contracts to rail workers.

Biggest Academic Strike In US History Continues

After over two weeks of the largest higher education strike in US history, postdoctoral employees and academic researchers at the University of California have reached a tentative agreement with the UC system. The agreement will lead to significant wage increases, one of the key demands of the striking workers. However, these university employees will continue the strike action in solidarity with the 36,000 graduate student employees whose demands are yet to be met.After over two weeks of the largest higher education strike in US history, postdoctoral employees and academic researchers at the University of California have reached a tentative agreement with the UC system. The agreement will lead to significant wage increases, one of the key demands of the striking workers. However, these university employees will continue the strike action in solidarity with the 36,000 graduate student employees whose demands are yet to be met.

Teamsters Picket MonoSol Plant Over Forced Overtime, 60-Hour Workweeks

LaPorte - Firewood was stacked high outside the MonoSol plant as bundled-up Teamsters huddled around burn barrels and open fires in the frigid chill. The plant that normally cranks out water-dissolvable film for Tide Pods and other single-use detergents and dishwasher soaps sat quietly behind a barbed wire fence, its windows dark and its parking lot empty. Workers picketed outside. They stood in circles in the bitter cold amid the acrid smell of wood smoke, a giant inflatable Scabby the Rat and a Teamsters semi-trailer truck. Passing trucks often blared their horns in solidarity in the industrial park. Their tents were stocked with bottled water and other provisions. They brought in porta-potties and Frisbee golf to pass the time. They're prepared to stick it out for the long haul.

Democrats, Then Republicans Smite Rail Labor

While Railroad Workers United (RWU) finds it despicable – but not surprising – that both political parties opted to side with Big Business over working people yesterday and vote against the interests of railroad workers - not once, but twice, within hours. We suffered a one-two punch at the hands of, first the Democratic Party; the second served up by the Republicans. First, responding to the wishes of President Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the House voted to legislate a contract that the majority of U.S. freight rail workers had previously voted to reject. The Senate would quickly follow suit. In effect, their actions simply overrode our voices and desires. Rail workers – like all workers – should have the right to bargain collectively and to freely engage in strike activity if and when the members see fit and when they democratically elect to do so.

Amazon Workers Protest Appearance By Amazon CEO At NYT DealBook Summit

New York – Members of the Amazon Labor Union, joined by local labor and community supporters, will protest outside the New York Times’ DealBook Summit, beginning at 10 a.m., November 30. Amazon CEO Andy Jassy is one of the event’s scheduled speakers. “If Jassy comes to New York he should come to bargain a contract with Amazon workers, not bluster or practice union-busting,”  said Amazon Labor Union President Chris Smalls. “It’s time that Amazon and the company’s CEO respect the rights of workers and join ALU in improving working conditions, rather than acting as an uncaring, B.S.-spouting, corporate law-breaker.” During Jassy’s tenure as Amazon’s CEO which began this year, the e-commerce giant has used highly-paid union busters to suppress the rights of its workers, harass organizers and delay bargaining as required by law. 

UC Faculty Announce Work Stoppage

Hundreds of faculty across the system have committed to solidarity with the UAW strike against Unfair Labor Practices by the University of California, recognized by the Public Employment Relations Board. We support the four striking units’ demands for wages adequate to their cost of living, workplace and community safety, disability justice, and other fundamental issues. We recognize that, while education should be the University’s main mission, its core product is accreditation, which means degrees, which means grades. 48,000 academic workers across the UC have been on strike since November 14th, 2022. This includes UAW 5810, UAW2865, and SRU-UAW, representing Postdocs, Academic Researchers, Graduate Student Researchers, Trainees, Fellows, Graduate Student Instructors, Readers, and Tutors.

Over 100,000 Education Workers Strike In The United Kingdom

Tens of thousands of university workers at 150 universities began three days of strikes on Thursday against low pay, intolerable workloads, insecure contacts and pensions cuts. A 48-hour strike by the University and College Union (UCU) members finished Friday, to be followed by a 24-hour strike and day of action on November 30. The strikes are the largest in history of higher education, with workers out at every UK institution. Also striking are support staff, members of the Unison and Unite unions, demanding better pay and conditions. Thursday’s strike was held the same day that up to 50,000 teachers in Scotland walked out in their first national strike since the 1980s against pay restraint by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and Scottish National Party devolved government. Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) members rejected—with inflation now running at 14.2 percent—an initial 5 percent pay offer and a revised offer of 6.85 percent for the lowest-paid teachers.
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