Posted on March 11, 2014 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Bruce Vail
Baltimore area bus drivers, shown here protesting wage theft last May, will collect $1.25 million from employer Durham School Services once their settlement is finalized in April. Photo via Teamsters Local 570
More than 350 Baltimore-area bus drivers are preparing to celebrate victory in a $1.25 million wage theft case against Durham School Services, an Illinois-based bus-contracting company with operations across much of the country.
The case, which covers the employees at Durham between March 2010 and September 2013, reflects a troubling national trend of companies cheating workers out of their earnings. “Wage theft is a huge problem, and it’s outrageous,” says Andrew Freeman, one of the attorneys at Brown Goldstein Levy, the Baltimore-based firm that filed the suit against Durham last year. In their suit, the plaintiffs accused the company of failing to pay employees for overtime work such as bus inspections, bus cleanings, fueling, and other related tasks.
The settlement of the U.S. District Court case should be finalized April 4, with distribution of the stolen wage money following immediately afterward, says Moe Jackson, a union organizer for International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 570. For almost two years, the local has been trying to organize the drivers and aides at Rosedale, Jackson says, where employees are also bristling over low pay, substandard benefits and overbearing management practices. The Teamsters initiated the wage theft case on behalf of the workers, officers say, as a step in the unionizing process. Continue reading
Filed under: Low wage workers, Organizing | Tagged: Baltimore, Durham School Services, school bus drivers, Teamsters, wage theft | Leave a comment »
Posted on March 6, 2014 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Gregory Heires
Wouldn’t it be just lovely to go nearly a quarter century without a raise?
Astonishingly, that’s what restaurant servers–whose wage floor is set by the federal government–face.
Despite opposition from Republicans and business groups, President Barack Obama is picking up his campaign for an increase of the minimum wage. Largely lost in the debate over Obama’s initiative, the need to raise the subminimum wage for tipped workers, a group that also includes bartenders and busboys, is finally getting some attention.
“Somehow the subminimum wage has fallen through the cracks,” said Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, noting that the U.S. Congress failed to boost the subminimum wage in the latest instances in which it hiked the minimum wage.
“Now at least the subminimum wage is receiving a little more attention,” he said. Continue reading
Filed under: Low wage workers | Tagged: ROC, Saru Jayaraman, subminimum wage | Leave a comment »
Posted on March 5, 2014 by paulgarver
Hong Kong, 28 February 2014
On the day of Apple’s annual general meeting, Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM) is urging Apple again to take immediate and constructive action to fulfil its corporate responsibility by improving the working conditions in its suppliers.
Despite respectable quarterly revenues of US$57.6 billion and a net quarterly profit of US$13.1 billion in the first quarter of its fiscal year of 2014, the company is unwilling to share its success with frontline workers – those who turn its ideas into real products. Apple’s newly published Corporate Supplier Responsibility (CSR) Progress Report projects an ideal workplace at Apple suppliers, yet we doubt workers are enjoying any benefit at all: Continue reading
Filed under: Fair Trade, Global organizing, Low wage workers, Organizing, Solidarity | Tagged: Apple, China workers, SACOM | Leave a comment »
Posted on March 5, 2014 by paulgarver
by Dave Jamieson
Reposted from the Huffington Post and Portside
March 3, 2014
[Editorial Note: This article by Dave Jamieson and accompanying image by Justin K. Aller ( Getty Images) have a special resonance for me. In 1970 when the US Steel Tower was still the headquarters of the giant steel corporation, I was arrested at a demonstration outside the Western Psychiatric Institute in support of a union organizing drive by Local 1199 of the Hospital Workers. Since then UPMC has engulfed and devoured most of the major hospitals in the Pittsburgh area, including Western Psychiatric, and planted its huge logo on top of the US Steel Tower. With 62,000 employees, the UPMC has eclipsed the steel industry as the largest employer. It is currently spending millions of its subscribers' dollars in a propaganda media war with a competing HMO to become even larger. Claiming to be a "charity" and not a business, UPMC even has denied it has any employees that could be represented by a union.
Local 1199 merged with the Service Employees International Union, and hospital worker organizing has returned to the Pittsburgh area after a long hiatus (I worked as an SEIU hospital organizer in the Pittsburgh area in the mid 1970s, where we had only modest success, mostly in the public and nursing home sectors). The stakes are even higher, now that the typical Pittsburgh worker labors in a medical or educational institution rather than a steel factory. And those workers need to have the voice of union representation as did the Mon Valley steelworkers two generations ago. - Paul Garver]
Hundreds of demonstrators poured into downtown Pittsburgh Monday to protest low wages at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, escalating a two-year showdown between labor groups and the area’s largest employer.
The Service Employees International Union has been trying to organize service workers at the hospital for at least two years. Joined by steel and mine workers on Monday, pro-union employees of UPMC marched to the hospital’s headquarters at the U.S. Steel Tower with some specific demands: a hospital minimum wage of $15, the elimination of employees’ health care debts to the hospital and recognition of a union. Continue reading
Filed under: Health Care, Low wage workers, Organizing, Uncategorized | Tagged: SEIU. UPMC. Pittsburgh, Service Employees International Union | Leave a comment »
Posted on February 26, 2014 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Randy Shaw
It may surprise some local progressives who believe corporate interests always call the shots in San Francisco, but the city has the most progressive worker benefits in the United States. It has a $10.74 local minimum wage, paid sick leave, a living wage law for those doing business with the city, a local health care law, domestic partner benefits and much more. Conservatives claim these benefits hurt rather than help workers. A new book edited by Michael Reich, Ken Jacobs and Miranda Dietz, When Mandates Work: Raising Labor Standards At the Local Level, conclusively refutes such arguments.
As local and state governments plan on moving forward to address rising inequality, San Francisco has long been the model for such action. But the combination of east coast media bias and the framing of San Francisco as “quirky” rather than substantive have left many unaware of the city’s path breaking leadership in raising labor standards. That’s why When Mandates Work should prove so helpful. Cities seeking to adopt similar measures need to know San Francisco’s experience, and that such laws have proved effective. Continue reading
Filed under: Book Reviews, Low wage workers, Organizing, Politics | Tagged: Ken Jacobs, Michael Reich, Miranda Dietz, When Mandates Work | Leave a comment »
Posted on February 22, 2014 by dsalaborblogmoderator
China Labour Bulletin
[Editorial Note: For many years the China Labour Bulletin (CLB) has been a reliable source for information on and analysis of the workers' movement in China. Alhough the CLB remains highly critical of the official trade union structures, its editors have documented and encouraged efforts by certain regional union officials to initiate badly needed reforms essential for meeting the workers' rising demands for a genuine voice in the workplace. However, as this excellent new report shows, the real impetus for positive change is coming from the rising consciousness of Chinese workers themselves.--Paul Garver]
China’s workers have emerged over the last few years as a strong, unified and increasingly active collective force. Workers have time and again demonstrated the will and the ability to stand up to abusive and arrogant managements and to demand better pay and working conditions.
However, workers are still hampered by the lack of an effective trade union that can maintain solidarity, bargain directly with managements and protect labour leaders from reprisals. As a result, workers are turning to labour rights groups that can advise and support their collective actions while, at the same time, demanding more of the official trade union and putting pressure on it to change.
In China labour Bulletin’s new research report on the workers’ movement, published today, we examine this evolving relationship between the workers, the trade union and civil society and look at how the government is struggling to respond to rapid social and economic change. Continue reading
Filed under: Global organizing, Low wage workers, Solidarity, Uncategorized, Worker Centers | Tagged: ACFTU, China, China Labor Bulletin, Chinese workers | Leave a comment »
Posted on February 20, 2014 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Sarah Jaffe
A Savannah port truck driver protests for employee status at a port worker strike in Los Angeles last year.
“Everyone that’s involved in container hauling is making money,” says Albert Dantes, a port truck driver at the Port of Savannah, Georgia. Everyone, that is, but Dantes and his colleagues, who spoke to me after an organizing meeting just off the highway on which they haul the goods that come in and out of the fourth-largest container port in the country.
The port brings in close to $16 billion per year, but the drivers only see a tiny bit of that money. This is in large part because they’re “misclassified” as independent contractors, driver Gerald Spaulding says—which lets the bosses at the various port trucking companies push off operating costs onto the drivers. These may include gas, repairs and the lease or payment for the truck itself. “All the expenses come out of your pocket,” says Dantes, noting that the gas cost alone per load is usually about half of what the driver is paid for the load. “If you lose a tire, you pay for it. [And] you just ran for free.”
A new report, The Big Rig Overhaul: Restoring Middle Class Jobs at America’s Ports Through Labor Law Enforcement, published by the National Employment Law Project, Change to Win Strategic Organizing Center and the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, backs up what the drivers are saying. It estimates that some 49,000 of the country’s 75,000 port truckers are wrongly classified as independent contractors, and it calculates that that misclassification costs state and federal governments more than $563 million in lost tax revenue, and costs drivers in the state of California alone between $787 to $998 million in stolen wages. Continue reading
Filed under: Low wage workers | Tagged: classification fraud, misclassification, Port Truck Drivers, port truckers, The Big Rig Overhaul | Leave a comment »
Posted on February 5, 2014 by dsalaborblogmoderator
Any review of the recent ups and downs of U.S. labor must start in Michigan, long a bastion of blue-collar unionism rooted in car manufacturing. Fifteen months ago, this Midwestern industrial state became another notch in the belt of the National Right to Work Committee, joining the not-very-desirable company of Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, and twenty other “open shop” states.
The emergence of sun-belt labor relations in the birthplace of the United Auto Workers (UAW) was shocking to some. But this political setback was preceded by high-profile defeats in neighboring states that began in 2005. First Indiana, followed by Wisconsin and Ohio, stripped public workers of their bargaining rights (although the Republican attack on government employees was later repelled by popular referendum in the Buckeye State). Then in early 2012, GOP legislators in Indiana passed a right-to-work law applicable to private industry. It banned any further negotiation of labor-management agreements that compelled workers to make a financial contribution to the cost of union representation, in established bargaining units or newly organized ones.1
In November 2012, organized labor tried to buck the emerging anti-union trend with two ballot questions designed to strengthen public-sector bargaining rights in Michigan. Despite the expenditure of many millions of dollars by affiliates of the AFL-CIO and Change To Win, both measures were defeated.2 In its lame-duck session just a few weeks later, GOP legislators in Lansing took retaliatory aim at union security in Michigan’s private sector. When the region’s latest “right to work” bill landed on his desk, Republican Governor Rick Snyder was most pleased to sign it into law. Continue reading
Filed under: Low wage workers, Organizing | Tagged: "Fight for 15", AFL-CIO, fastfood strikes, Our Walmart, UAW, Walmart strikes | Leave a comment »
Posted on February 5, 2014 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Bruce Vail
The Service Trades Council, an association of six union locals representing over 35,400 Disney employees, is negotiating a new contract with the resort. (Walt Disney World International Program/Creative Commons)
As workers prepare to negotiate new labor agreements at Walt Disney World, some union members are wondering whether the magic has disappeared from the “happiest place on earth.”
The resort’s largest labor contract, which covers some 35,400 workers, is due to expire at the end of March. Though formal negotiations toward a new agreement haven’t yet begun, says Ed Chambers, president of Lakeland, Fla.-based United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 1625, there are already signs of difficulties ahead.
Chambers leads a coalition of six different union locals known as the Service Trades Council, which will hammer out new contracts with Disney in the coming months. According to Chambers, the council saw its first clear signs of unrest in August 2013, when resort managers offered to extend the existing contract for another 16 months and raise wages 3.5 percent. Though the council ultimately declined the offer, he says, some union leaders are now unsure whether Disney can be convinced to improve on it. Continue reading
Filed under: Low wage workers, Organizing | Tagged: Service Trades Council, UFCW, UFCW Local 1625, United Food & Commercial Workers, Walt Disney World | Leave a comment »
Posted on January 31, 2014 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Bruce Vail
President Barack Obama announced Tuesday he would order an increase in the minimum wage for some workers indirectly employed by the federal government, drawing praise from labor union supporters and scorn from one top Republican Party opponent.
“In the coming weeks I will issue an executive order requiring federal contractors to pay their federally funded employees a fair wage of at least $10.10 an hour—because if you cook our troops’ meals or wash their dishes, you should not have to live in poverty,” Obama said during his State of the Union address. The promise was accompanied by an exhortation to Congress, state and local legislators, and private companies to take their own steps to raise minimum wages. Continue reading
Filed under: Low wage workers | Tagged: federal contractors, minimum wage, Obama | Leave a comment »