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Worker Rights and Jobs

United Kingdom: Half A Million Workers Launch ‘Megastrike’

Parliament passed the third reading of the Tories’ anti-strike bill on Monday 30 January, meaning that only the House of Lords can stop it now. But workers around the country are unfazed. A “megastrike” of half a million workers will take place on 1 February, which includes the National Education Union (NEU) strike. All the details are below, including an easy way of finding out where your nearest picket or protest is so you can support our trade unions. As LabourList reported, MPs passed the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill by 315 votes to 246, with no amendments – meaning the bill got through in its original form. As the Canary previously reported, the bill: will force trade unions in certain industries to make sure some people work during strikes – defeating the object of industrial action entirely… The law will force unions to give in to what the government and/or employers say minimum service levels should be – depending on the sector. Business secretary Grant Shapps will be deciding what a minimum service level looks like for emergency and transport services.

Santiago Declaration Envisions End Of Neoliberalism Death Spiral

An international coalition made up of more than 200 trade unions and progressive advocacy groups on Thursday published the Santiago Declaration, a manifesto for "a complete overhaul of our global economic system." The undeniably anti-neoliberal document proclaiming that "our future is public" is the product of a meeting held in Chile—the "laboratory of neoliberalism" where Milton Friedman and his University of Chicago acolytes' upwardly redistributive economic model was first imposed at gunpoint by Gen. Augusto Pinochet's military junta. From November 29 to December 2, more than 1,000 organizers from over 100 countries gathered in Santiago and virtually to germinate a left-wing movement against "the dominant paradigm of growth, privatization, and commodification." "We are at a critical juncture," the manifesto begins.

How Corporate America Is Hitting Back Against Unions

Workers at a Trader Joe’s store in Louisville, Kentucky, are now pushing to become the third store at the trendy US supermarket chain to unionize since 2022. Connor Hovey, a worker and organizer at the Louisville store, said unionizing efforts began as other high-profile union organizing efforts such as at Louisville’s Heine Brothers, a local coffee shop chain, were taking off. Like those workers, the Trader Joe’s organizers sought to address issues stemming from inadequate corporate policies and safety precautions, and how workers have been treated during the Covid-19 pandemic. But during the organizing drive Hovey claimed opposition from Trader Joe’s management has been intense, resulting in workers filing several unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

Union From The Start (You Don’t Have To Wait)

Win a union election, and it’s a long road to a signed contract. Lose a union election, and workers may think the fight is over. But win, lose, or not even close to an election, workers at all kinds of workplaces can fight for their unions and win demands here and now. It's a strategy called “pre-majority” unionism, and the Emergency Workplace Organizing Committee (EWOC) is here to help navigate it. Where an election or contract victory doesn’t seem possible for years to come, workers are often ignored by existing unions that don’t have the resources to support them. But their continued organizing is key, we believe, to helping the labor movement grow. While they may not be able to win official recognition or a contract right away, these workers can still build shop floor unions and fight for and win improvements.

Temple’s Undergrads Are Taking On The University Bosses

Coast to coast, the biggest labor struggles happening today are happening at universities. We’ve seen it with grad workers at the University of California and adjuncts at The New School in New York. That movement has spread to Temple University in Philadelphia, too, where I teach. Just a few weeks ago, graduate workers voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike. But it’s not just grad workers who are organizing. Last semester, Temple undergrads formed the Temple University Undergraduate Workers Organizing Committee, or TUUWOC. And TUUWOC is moving aggressively to unionize the thousands of undergrad workers. Temple relies on about 4,100 undergrad workers. They do the kinds of mostly menial tasks that keep the university running from the honors center and student center to the IT offices, residence halls, and beyond.

Why Louisville Trader Joe’s Employees Voted To Unionize

Louisville, Kentucky - Employees at the only Trader Joe's store in Louisville voted in favor of organizing Thursday evening, becoming the third location of the national grocery chain to form a union. The store's workers will now be a part of the Trader Joe's United, the guild for employees across the country. The employees who voted in favor of unionizing won their vote 48-36, a release said, after taking action to do so in September. "We are so excited to be the first Trader Joe’s location affiliated with Trader Joe’s United in the south. It’s a game changing decision that will contribute massively to the modern labor movement," Connor Hovey, an employee of the store and union organizer, told The Courier Journal. A request for comment sent to Trader Joe's corporate Thursday night was not immediately returned.

Union Organizing Southern Restaurant Workers Holds First Strike

How many Dollar General workers does it take to whip up a strike at Store #10635 on Broad River Road in Irmo, South Carolina? Two. Two, because Miranda Chavez and TyBrianna Shaw constitute the entirety of the location’s fulltime, non-managerial staff. Two, because when a store is so drastically understaffed that there’s only one worker in the building for an eight-hour shift, she doesn’t get a lunch break. Two, because when a worker is forced to close up alone at 11 p.m., she has to walk by herself to her car in a dark parking lot, where even the Dollar General sign no longer glows. Two, because it doesn’t matter how many people are on the payroll if workers aren’t provided with masks and gloves when unloading boxes dripping with corrosive chemicals. Those were among the complaints lodged against the Tennessee-based chain by Chavez and Shaw, who on January 17 became the first low-wage workers to strike under the auspices of the newly formed Union of Southern Service Workers.

What Nurses And Teachers Won By Withholding Their ‘Feminized Labor’

At the intensive care unit at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, nurse Kelley Anaas has cared for a lot of people who have gotten sick with Covid-19 during the pandemic. “I took care of plenty of people who got sick at their work,” said Anaas, who has been a nurse for 14 years and is a steward with the Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA). “I remember taking care of a woman five years older than me, who didn’t make it, who got her job working in a liquor store. Her family’s not gonna get a dime for the sacrifice she made and the choice she didn’t have. I saw the ramifications of that in a much more real way than, you know, lawmakers.” The surge of collective actions by workers in 2022 indicates momentum in the labor movement. Much of this resurgence has been led by workers on the front lines of the pandemic, who have been most at risk when it comes to health and safety.

Fighting Anti-Abortion Extremists And The Boss

New York - Sam Heyne, a young, newly hired HR worker, was stunned by the number of workers who were quitting and the frequent accounts she was hearing about toxic behavior from bosses. “It became abundantly clear that there needed to be a culture change, and the only way…was to start a union,” Heyne says. Before long, Heyne was caught up in the long-brewing organizing drive at the New York-based Guttmacher Institute, a prestigious research and advocacy arm for the reproductive rights movement. After months of strategizing, with Heyne working on the group’s internal communications, workers won an overwhelming victory in July 2022, 63-2, to join Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 153. The celebration didn’t last long; within two hours, Heyne was fired.

Burgerville Workers’ Lessons For Independent Unions

Self-organizing a union on a shoestring? Winning the supposedly unwinnable? Workers at a local burger chain out of Portland, Oregon, were doing it before it was cool. The Burgerville Workers Union, which went public in 2016 and won its first contract in 2021, has recently been influencing and supporting independent union efforts in the region—and it has a few lessons to offer independent unions around the country. While the union is affiliated with the Portland branch of the Industrial Workers of the World, it operates largely autonomously. “What workers want is to form a union, not necessarily join a union,” asserts founding member Luis Brennan. BVWU’s intensive member-organizer training and member-led organizing, use of direct action inside the shop, and creative community events in the streets have become more common with recent independent union drives—like those at Amazon, Home Depot, Trader Joe’s, Chipotle, and the high-end supermarket chain New Seasons.

Study Throws New Light On Unfair Practices By Global Fashion Brands

A study published this month found that popular international fashion brands with factories in Bangladesh were involved in multiple “unfair practices,” such as paying suppliers below the cost of production, which had an impact on workers and their livelihoods. The study conducted by Aberdeen University and advocacy group Transform Trade, titled ‘Impact of Global Clothing Retailers’ Unfair Practices on Bangladeshi Suppliers During COVID-19,’ was based on the survey of 1,000 Bangladeshi factories that manufacture garments for international fashion firms. It found that these factories were facing rising costs for raw materials, and nearly one in five struggled to pay the Bangladeshi minimum wage of £2.30 per day. Professor Pamela Abbott, co-investigator of the study and director of the Center for Global Development at the University of Aberdeen, claimed that fashion brands were extracting their wealth from some of the world’s poorest countries, a form of 21st century neo-colonialism.

Johns Hopkins: Grad Student-Workers Mobilize Ahead Of Union Election

Back in October, TRNN spoke to graduate student-workers at the prestigious Johns Hopkins University about the growing grassroots effort to unionize grad students under the banner of Teachers and Researchers United. Since then, the union drive has continued to build momentum: After a supermajority of grad student-workers signed union cards in October and November, an official date for the union election has now been set. Eligible bargaining unit members will cast their votes on whether or not to unionize and affiliate with the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers (UE) on Monday, Jan. 30, and Tuesday, Jan. 31. This election comes amid a wave of labor actions that are spreading throughout the world of higher education in the US, with recent and current strikes taking place at the University of California, The New School in New York, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and with other graduate student-worker unionization efforts happening at Northwestern University in Evanston, Northeastern University in Boston, and beyond.

Workers At Hooters-Style Restaurant Go On Strike

Brentwood, Tennessee - Latino immigrant kitchen workers and a group of racially diverse women servers walked out at the Twin Peaks restaurant in Brentwood, Tennessee, on Saturday, January 14. They say their employer is serving up of a toxic brew of racism and sexism. “We went on strike to fire a manager because he is mistreating my co-workers verbally and physically,” Juan Carlos Mendoza, a barback with six years at the restaurant, told the Spanish-language news channel Nashville Noticias. “The manager is a racist… and that’s why we raised our voices.” Eighteen workers walked out, accusing general manager Andrew “Hunter” Kirkpatrick of racist and abusive behavior, including throwing away their lunches, berating them for speaking Spanish, and threatening to call the police on them. The kitchen workers are indigenous people from Mexico and Guatemala.

South Korea: Intelligence Agency Raids Top Union Confederation

South Korea’s intelligence agency raided the offices of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, the country’s largest organization of independent unions, and an affiliate on January 18. The high-profile raid, over alleged ties between four former and current union officers and North Korean agents, has raised fears that the conservative government is reverting to dictatorship-era methods of attacking labor by conflating organizing with threats to national security. The moves come at the same time as the conservative government, led by president Yoon Suk-yeol, seeks to lift restrictions on long working hours and reduce pension payouts while increasing worker contributions. Yoon was elected last March on an openly anti-labor platform. During the raid, 30 agents of the National Intelligence Agency (NIS) executed a search warrant on the KCTU’s headquarters in Seoul.

How We Began To Bring The Mail Back

Across the country and here in Portland, Oregon, carriers are working 12-, 14-, and 16-hour days, into the dark as late as 9 p.m., 10 p.m., even midnight! At several stations we have begun to bring the mail back at 12 hours (or 10 hours) and stop work at 60 hours in a week. We are refusing orders to continue delivering. Filing form 1767 (hazardous conditions, “exhausted”) and form 1571 (undelivered mail). And we are getting away with it. We heard it through the grapevine. Several carriers in Seattle refused to carry past 12 hours and brought the mail back. Their discipline (for “insubordination”) was overturned because management had violated not only Article 8.5G (Hours of Work) but also Article 14 (Safety and Health). The leadership of Letter Carriers Branch 79 (Seattle) created a pamphlet, distributed to all carriers, titled “Stop Working More Than 12 Hours a Day!” with a section on “How to bring back the mail.”
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