By Carlos E. Rojas Rodriguez for Movimiento Cosecha. Movimiento Cosecha endorses, but did not organize the national “Day Without Immigrants” taking place today across the country. As far as we know, it was not coordinated by any organized group, but spread rapidly and organically through Whatsapp and social networks. It is important to understand the moment we are in, this is not the first time the immigrant community organizes itself organically around the idea of a Day Without Immigrants. Movimiento Cosecha has spent the past year training thousands of immigrant students and workers in a strategy that builds up to a Week Without Immigrants. This past weekend, 350 Immigrants from across the country came together for a National Assembly, and to formally inaugurate Movimiento Cosecha’s May Day campaign, launching decentralized preparations for a one-day national “Day Without Immigrants” strike on May 1st, 2017
By Elizabeth Grossman for In These Times – The U.S stock market may be at record highs and U.S. unemployment at its lowest level since the Great Recession, but income inequality remains stubbornly high. Contributing to this inequality is the fact that while more Americans are working than at any time since August 2007, more people are working part time, erratic and unpredictable schedules—without full-time, steady employment. Since 2007, the number of Americans involuntarily working part time has increased by nearly 45 percent. More Americans than before are part of what’s considered the contingent workforce, working on-call or on-demand, and as independent contractors or self-employed freelancers, often with earnings that vary dramatically month to month.
By Misty Dawn Spicer-Sitzes for Shareable. Workers in California are taking economic change into their own hands. The Arizmendi Association of Cooperatives is one of the shining examples of how shared ownership empowers workers and builds community. For the past 20 years, the association, comprised of six bakeries, has been innovating the way business is done. What’s its recipe for success? It turns out that it is more than just tasty treats: Each bakery is democratically-owned and governed by its workers. A worker-owned cooperative is a business in which each employee owns one equal part of the company. They share the profits in the good times, and they share the burdens in the hard times. Worker co-ops can have anywhere from three members to thousands, and they have varying pay scales and job structures.
By Sam Tabachnik for DCist – On the morning of his 34th birthday, Juan Reid woke up in a van parked outside a homeless shelter. He couldn’t stop sobbing. Reid had just finished 14 years in prison, and acclimating to life on the outside was taking its toll. He could feel himself being pulled back into his old habits, tempted by the routine that got him put away. Not wanting to burden his parents any longer, and filled with shame, he elected to sleep in a van on the street instead of ask them for help. Then his phone rang. It was his mom, calling to wish him a happy birthday and say she was proud of him.
By Joseph E. Stiglitz for Project Syndicate – NEW YORK – As US President-elect Donald Trump fills his cabinet, what have we learned about the likely direction and impact of his administration’s economic policy? To be sure, enormous uncertainties remain. As in many other areas, Trump’s promises and statements on economic policy have been inconsistent. While he routinely accuses others of lying, many of his economic assertions and promises – indeed, his entire view of governance – seem worthy of Nazi Germany’s “big lie” propagandists. Trump will take charge of an economy on a strongly upward trend, with third-quarter GDP growing at an impressive annual rate of 3.2% and unemployment at 4.6% in November.
By Dr. Andy Coates for All Unions Committee for Single Payer Health Care – HR 676. Albany, NY – Just north of where the Mohawk River joins the Hudson, in upstate New York, the highly skilled members of IUE/CWA Local 81359, have been on strike since the beginning of November. A chemical plant, once owned by General Electric, today Momentive Performance Materials, would like to drive workers back to a minimum wage with no benefits. The IUE/CWA local endured setbacks in two recent contracts and this time has said NO MORE. One important issue is the right to retire at age 60–with health benefits. The company wants to eliminate retiree health benefits altogether. This would make retirement unaffordable. The workers at the plant live with a high risk of illness due to occupational exposure to dangerous chemicals.
By Lauren McCauley for Common Dreams. President-elect Donald Trump, a supposedly populist candidate who rose to power on promises made to frustrated American workers, has now seemingly launched what Politicois describing as an outright “war on unions.” Labor leaders and advocates across the nation are rallying in support of United Steelworkers Local 1999 president Chuck Jones, after Trump publicly attacked the Indiana union leader for calling him out for lying about the number of Carrier jobs the incoming president claimed to have saved from being outsourced to Mexico. “An attack on [Jones] is an attack on all working people,” Richard Trumka, president of the nation’s largest union federation AFL-CIO, declared Thursday. The hashtag #ImWithChuck has drawn a groundswell of support for Jones, including from national labor groups and prominent progressive politicians.
By Moshe Z. Marvit for On Labor. Labor has the existential imperative to reform itself, harness the existing energy, and lead a movement. There is no doubt that Donald Trump—through the use of Executive Orders, executive and judicial appointments, and legislative priorities—will likely usher in an environment that is hostile to labor. However, unlike Ronald Reagan, Trump ran a campaign that provided the ground for labor to reform itself. First, he will be the first president in modern history that ran a campaign that was centered around worker issues. All presidential candidates talk about middle and working class issues, but successful campaigns are rarely centered on improving the lot of workers. Second, Trump’s calls for mass deportations, exclusion of Muslims, dismantling of the regulatory state, limits to access for abortion, and a litany of xenophobic actions and policies, have united large swaths of Americans in opposition. Under these conditions, labor can transform itself from what has increasingly become a membership-based services organization into a movement.
By Jim Naureckas for FAIR. When tens of millions of workers go out on strike in the second-largest country in the world—and the third-largest economy in the world—resulting in what may be the biggest labor action in world history (AlterNet, 9/7/16), you’d think that would merit some kind of news coverage, right? Not if you’re a decision-maker at a US corporate media outlet, apparently. Not a single US newspaper found in the Nexis database—which includes most of the major papers, like the New York Times, Washington Post and USA Today—reported an original story on the strike. (Associated Press had a brief, 289-word report, which ran on the New York Times‘ website and was doubtless picked up by other papers.) The Wall Street Journal, whose full text isn’t on Nexis, also skipped the Indian strike story.
By Michael Arria for AlterNet. Labor Day is regarded as “the unofficial end of summer” for many Americans, a time for one last cookout party and back-to-school discounts. Its history is all but forgotten but it remains crucial. The holiday was signed into law by President Grover Cleveland in 1894, days after members of the United States Army and the United States Marshall Service had killed 30 workers during the Pullman Strike. The legislation was something of an attempt to win hearts and minds: unions were justifiably skeptical of the government and the holiday was seen as a way to win some support. May 1st was floated out, but people already celebrated International Workers’ Day on that day, commemorating the workers killed during the Haymarket Affair. Cleveland thought celebrating Labor Day on May 1st would encourage more protests, strikes and riots. The first Monday of September was selected to avoid further unrest. This Labor Day is a particularly great opportunity to remember the holiday’s history as 2016 has featured some major victories for workers.
By Terrance Heath for Campaign for America’s Future – The law, which is the result of a five-year campaign by the Illinois Domestic Workers’ Coalition, guarantees nannies, housecleaners, homecare workers and other domestic workers a minimum wage, protection from discrimination and sexual harassment, and one day of rest for every seven days for workers employed by one employer for at least 20 hours a week. New York became the first state to pass such a bill in 2010.
By Laura Flanders for Truthout – By some estimates, as many as 53 million people living in the United States are now self-employed. Many work as independent contractors or freelancers, hired and fired at the click of an app. With flexibility comes a measure of freedom but also of insecurity; a measure of independence but also of isolation. Digital sector workers may not stand on a speeding production line or operate deadly machines, but they still can still face danger on the job. Subjective feedback or “ratings” systems are open to abuse.
By Vicki Needham for The Hill. It is remarkable to see the blatant misinformation put forth by President Obama as he sees the time clock ticking on his final term in office and the lack of Congressional support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Over the years, we’ve worked to expose the truth about the TPP when the Obama Administration lied about it. Even the Washington Post once gave the Obama Administration four “Pinocchio Noses” for his claim about the TPP creating jobs. But we have not seen so many lies in one speech. Despite the recent US International Trade Commission’s economic impact statement, which showed that the TPP would bring a tiny 0.2% increase to the GDP by 2032, increase the trade deficit by $22 billion and harm 16 out of 25 industrial sectors, the Obama Administration continues to claim that the TPP will benefit the economy.
By Joe Richard and Ruth Hurley for Socialist Worker – The biggest US strike in years has entered its third week, with 39,000 Verizon workers walking the picket lines and holding fiery protests across the Northeast US. Involving the Communication Workers of America (CWA) and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), the Verizon strike is the nation’s largest since the last walkout at Verizon almost five years ago. And the stakes couldn’t be higher — not only for Verizon employees, but all workers.