Posted on May 25, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
American Rights at Work/Jobs with Justice has released a white paper detailing Walmart’s extensive and systematic efforts to silence associates who speak out for better jobs. The paper features the stories of workers like Cindy Lee, a model employee and active OUR Walmart member who reports being fired for calling in sick after she was publicly involved with OUR Walmart last fall. The study also finds that Walmart has escalated efforts to silence associates and community supporters since the historic Black Friday strikes, in part with aggressive and meritless litigation intended to intimidate workers and their supporters from raising their concerns inside or near Walmart stores.
Read the white paper here.
“It’s no secret that many companies come down hard on workers who try to join together for fair pay or improved working conditions,” said Sarita Gupta, Executive Director of American Rights at Work/Jobs with Justice. “But Walmart goes above and beyond what we’ve seen from other employers. Not only does the company attempt to block workers’ collective activity by retaliating against those who speak out, now the company is challenging the First Amendment rights of workers and their supporters with ‘trespass’ lawsuits—pitting workers making poverty-level wages against a company with limitless resources.”
Filed under: Low wage workers, Organizing | Tagged: American Rights at Work, American Rights at Work/Jobs with Justice, Fighting for a Voice, OurWalmart, Walmart | Leave a Comment »
Posted on May 23, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
In our [AFL-CIO's] second online discussion on how to build a stronger movement for working people, Dr. Steven Pitts, labor policy specialist at the University of California, Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education, asked you: “Union density is higher among black workers than it is for any other racial or ethnic group of workers. How can the labor movement use this to build a stronger movement for social change?”
The question generated a thoughtful and lively discussion that will help us prepare for the 2013 AFL-CIO Convention that will focus on how the labor movement should change and what we can do together to improve the future of all working people.
Below are excerpts from some of your answers. Go to our discussion page to see the entire dialogue.
Filed under: 2013 AFL-CIO Convention, Organizing, Politics | Tagged: 2013 AFL-CIO Convention, African-American workers, Steven Pitts | Leave a Comment »
Posted on May 23, 2013 by dcampbell1
A coalition of faith organizations, investors and labor groups—including the AFL-CIO—is urging major U.S. retailers, including Walmart, Gap, Sears and others, to sign on to a binding workplace and fire safety plan to prevent tragedies such as the recent building collapse in Bangladesh that killed more than 1,100 garment workers and two 2012 fires that claimed the lives of more than 400 Bangladeshi clothing workers.
The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) wrote that those disasters are:
A grave indictment of the human rights record of Bangladesh and an illustration of the failure of the global companies that manufacture and source their products there to ensure humane working conditions. (more…)
Filed under: Fair Trade, Global organizing, Organizing, Solidarity | Tagged: AFL-CIO, Bangladesh, Bangladeshi, Fire Safety, Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, Occupational safety and health, Sears, Walmart | 2 Comments »
Posted on May 21, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
Letters signed by nearly 400 professors and 125 leaders nationwide argues for swift action on NLRB to ensure workplace rights
Washington, D.C. – In two official letters last week, a diverse, prominent chorus of voices called for senators to swiftly confirm the full package of nominees submitted by President Obama for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), a step necessary to free the agency from its current limbo status and allow it to function in its role protecting workers’ rights in the United States.
The first letter, signed by nearly 400 notable professors from colleges and universities across the country, states:
Filed under: Organizing, Politics | Tagged: National Labor Relations Board, NLRB | 1 Comment »
Posted on May 16, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
By Sarah Jaffe
The port of Savannah, Georgia generates some $14.9 million in income each year and brings in goods that are dispensed throughout the South—including to a massive Wal-Mart distribution center in the nearby city of Statesboro. Savannah is now the country’s fourth largest container port, and the fastest growing. Traffic at the port went up 11 percent between 2008 and 2012 even as the rest of the country suffered through recession.
The wealth generated at the port, though, hasn’t trickled down. While Wal-Mart and other retailers are doing just fine, the products they sell are transported by port truck drivers who still make low wages—a nationwide average of about $12 an hour. Since the industry was deregulated in the late 1970s, port truck drivers have been classified by their employers as “independent contractors,” meaning that they’re paid by the load, not by the hour, and the bosses don’t shell out for taxes or benefits.
“We need benefits, we need retirement just like everybody in the office does,” says port truck driver John Jackson, part of the Savannah Port Drivers Organizing Committee. “We’re doing all the work and they’re getting the gravy, in a sense. They’re getting a salary, they don’t have to pay out of their salary to try to keep equipment up.”
Filed under: Low wage workers, Organizing | Tagged: independent contractors, Savannah Port Drivers Organizing Committee., sharecropping on wheels, Stand Up for Savannah, Teamsters Local 728 | Leave a Comment »
Posted on May 15, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
The New Era Windows Cooperative opens its doors (and windows) for business
by Kari Lydersen
Reprinted with permission
from In These Times
(May 9, 2013) The workers know launching and running a company won’t be easy, but given their deep knowledge of the industry and their personal investment in the project, they are confident they can do it.
Today, in a revamped Campbell’s Soup building in an industrial and residential section of southwest Chicago, the New Era Windows Cooperative will celebrate the grand opening of its new factory.
Becoming a worker-owned cooperative is the latest chapter in the saga of the workers of Republic Windows and Doors, who gained the nation’s attention by occupying their factory—twice—and became a symbol of resistance in the face of corporate corruption and the economic crisis.
The journey to this moment has been a long and rocky one. Right before the December 2008 holidays, with the economy plunging into crisis, unemployment skyrocketing and a cold snowy winter setting in, 300-some workers at the Republic Windows and Doors factory on Goose Island in the Chicago River learned they were about to lose their jobs. Owner Richard Gillman announced that the factory would be closed, leaving workers without the unused vacation pay and severance pay legally due them. And their health insurance would be cut off promptly.
Filed under: Economy, Organizing, Solidarity | Tagged: Republic Windows, The Working World, UE, worker coops | 1 Comment »
Posted on May 14, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
Deadline to apply: May 17, 2013
This summer, the national movement to make change at Walmart will take a giant step forward. In the tradition of the 1964 Freedom Summer and the UFW’s grape boycott, a deeply committed group of labor, student and community supporters will spend the summer building local OUR Walmart and Making Change at Walmart (MCAW) support teams across the country that demonstrate the broad, growing movement calling on Walmart to change. The program will run from June 15th – Labor Day.
Filed under: Low wage workers, Organizing | Tagged: Making Change at Walmart (MCAW), OurWalmart, Walmart | 1 Comment »
Posted on May 10, 2013 by dcampbell1
Labor wrestles with its future
By Harold Meyerson,
Since the emergence of capitalism, workers seeking higher pay and safer workplaces have banded together in guilds and unions to pressure their employers for a better deal. That has been the approach of the American labor movement for the past 200 years.
That approach, however, has begun to change. It’s not because unions think collective bargaining is a bad idea but because workers can’t form unions any more — not in the private sector, not at this time. There are some exceptions: Organizing continues at airlines, for instance, which are governed by different organizing rules than most industries. But employer opposition to organizing has become pervasive in the larger economy, and the penalties for employers that violate workers’ rights as they attempt to unionize are so meager that such violations have become routine. For this and a multitude of other reasons, the share of unionized workers in the private sector dropped from roughly one-third in the mid-20th century to a scant 6.6 percent last year. In consequence, the share of the nation’s economy constituted by wages has sunk to its lowest level since World War II, and U.S. median household income continues to decline.
Unions face an existential problem: If they can’t represent more than a sliver of American workers on the job, what is their mission? Are there other ways they can advance workers’ interests even if those workers aren’t their members? (more…)
Filed under: Organizing, Politics, Union Reform | Tagged: AFL-CIO, Harold Meyerson, Knights of Labor, RichardTrumka, Service Employees International Union, United States, Working America | 5 Comments »
Posted on May 7, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Street Heat
While encouraging, the recent uptick in discussions regarding the future of the labor movement will be limited in its impact unless the strategic nature of the U.S. south is included in the exchange.
It is somewhat mystifying that while acknowledging the urgency of labor to address its shortcomings, the critical role that the U.S. south plays in stymieing labor’s ascendancy has received little to no attention. More concerning is the fact that the south’s centrality to labor’s resurgence and ultimate survival is not even acknowledged in this increasingly vigorous discussion.
The combination of anti-worker laws, repression against people of color and reactionary politics has allowed the enemies of labor to define an entire geographic area as a bulwark against movements for social justice. The south provides the critical majority of electeds who have held the line against pro-worker reforms (along with most other progressive legislation) and its laws have provided a template for laws passed in the “war on workers” in northern states like Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan and New Hampshire.
Filed under: Organizing, Politics | Tagged: #1ufuture, Nissan, Savanah port workers, Smithfield, South, Teamsters, UAW, UFCW, Working America | Leave a Comment »
Posted on May 7, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
Little Rock Probably surprising none of the organizers involved or anyone looking at the campaign, the vote count on the rerun decertification election between the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) produced the same result with a wider margin as Kaiser hospital workers in California overwhelming voted for SEIU by almost a 2 to 1 margin, 58.4% to 40.6%. In such a landslide both sides had to have known the outcome for many weeks, and the NUHW and its new partner, the powerful California Nurses’ Association (CNA), likely did not pull the petition simply as a talking point for the future as they engage other healthcare workers and try to put a spin on the defeat. SEIU won this round hands down, but their victory is pyrrhic, if it doesn’t now come with the grace that goes with leadership.
I wouldn’t bet on it, but it would be wonderful, if this closed one chapter for all the unions involved and opened another. This whole division among unions in California has been a disaster for all involved, undermining the stature and reputation of all of the organizations and their leadership, dividing workers from each other therefore only benefiting employers, costing millions, and reducing the strength of all progressive forces everywhere. It has to stop now for the sake of the labor movement and workers everywhere, especially in the healthcare industry.
Filed under: Organizing | Tagged: CNA, Mary Kay Henry, NUHW, Richard Trumka, SEIU | Leave a Comment »