Jewish and Labor Leaders Flock To Defend Teachers at Perelman Jewish Day School

by Bruce Vail

As a Jew who grew up in the Conservative movement and a union leader, I'm appalled at what has transpired at the Perelman Jewish Day School,' said Randi Weingarten, head of the American Federation of Teachers union. (Photo by Bill Burke/Page One)

(April 14) As a Jew who grew up in the Conservative movement and a union leader, I’m appalled at what has transpired at the Perelman Jewish Day School,’ said Randi Weingarten, head of the American Federation of Teachers union. (Photo by Bill Burke/Page One)

(April 14) On the eve of the Jewish high holy days of Passover, union leaders and Jewish labor activists in Philadelphia and beyond are ramping up efforts to defeat a plan by one of the area’s small private religious schools to bust its teachers union. Both groups are outraged at the school’s implicit claim that there’s a conflict between Judaism and workers’ rights.

The issue erupted late last month when the board of the Perelman Jewish Day School notified the school’s roughly 60 teachers that it would no longer negotiate with their long-established labor union. Instead, the board proclaimed, each teacher must make individual arrangements with the school administrators for the conditions of future employment. The union busting was justified, the Perelman teachers were told, as a measure to advance the religious objectives of the K-5 school, and was legally supported by court rulings reaching all the way to the Supreme Court. The school was likely referring to the high court’s 1979 ruling in NLRB v Catholic Bishop of Chicago that religious schools were exempt from some labor law.

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How 250 UPS Workers Fired for a Wildcat Strike Won Back Their Jobs

by Sarah Jaffe

 

After UPS fired 250 workers for a spontaneous protest, organizers harnessed the power of loyal customers who wanted their drivers back on the job.

After UPS fired 250 workers for a spontaneous protest, organizers harnessed the power of loyal customers who wanted their drivers back on the job.

Two hundred and fifty UPS drivers, clad in their brown uniforms, rallying in a Queens parking lot, must have been quite a sight. Not very many people got to see it, however. The 90-minute work stoppage outside the Maspeth, Queens, UPS facility on February 26 was a spontaneous protest against the firing, allegedly without due process, of one of their colleagues, Jairo Reyes.

On March 26, UPS retaliated by beginning to give all 250 notices that they’d be terminated—but the company did not fire the workers all at once. According to the Teamsters, UPS fired 20 drivers on March 31 and kept the rest waiting for the axe to fall while their replacements were trained.

Nearly two months later, all 250, including Reyes, will be headed back to work, their terminations reduced to ten-day suspensions. Driver Steven Curcio, who says he was one of the first to be fired, credits the support of the community, elected officials and particularly his own customers.

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Flight Attendants Reach Truce with United Airlines Over ‘Involuntary Furloughs’

by Bruce Vail

United Airlines attendants still face furloughs and a possible shift to the Continental side of the company, but on the union's terms.   Wikimedia Commons

United Airlines attendants still face furloughs and a possible shift to the Continental side of the company, but on the union’s terms. Wikimedia Commons

After United Airlines tried to impose “involuntary furloughs” on nearly 700 members of the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) in January, aggressive pushback from the labor union forced a compromise late last week, according to labor and management representatives.

Open conflict between AFA and United erupted January 15 with news that the airline company aimed to bypass the existing collective bargaining agreement and force as many as 685 attendants off the job—for good, unless they are recalled by the company. United, which is currently laboring to complete its 2010 merger with Continental Airlines, sought to soften the blow by offering the affected United attendants similar jobs at Continental, but AFA leaders were angered by what they saw as an end run around their contract. Continue reading

United Airlines Gets Tough on Flight Attendants Union

by  Bruce Vail

 As UnitedVail_United_Airlines_Flight_Attendant_Union_250_250 Airlines moves to aggressively cut the size of its workforce, labor relations between the company and the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) union are taking a turn for the worse.

On January 15, United managers announced their intention to put nearly 700 attendants on “involuntary furlough” starting April 1. It’s a move that circumvents the collective bargaining process and will harm AFA members, union spokesperson Christopher Clarke tells Working In These Times.

Currently, AFA has about 13,000 members at United, with those numbers continuing to fall. In 2010, the company merged with Continental Airlines, which led to a reduction in the total workforce of the combined airlines. But according to Clarke, United began cutting flight attendant numbers even before the merger. In fact, he says, the company has been steadily eliminating attendant jobs for the last five years. Continue reading

A District 751 Leader Looks at the Jan 3 Boeing Contract

by Jason Redrup

A group of Boeing workers  to vote down a surprise mid-contract concessionary agreement. Photo: Jim Levitt.

A group of Boeing workers to vote down a surprise mid-contract concessionary agreement. Photo: Jim Levitt.

Earlier this year, members at District 751 endured a devastating loss to our solidarity and the benefits we had fought decades to secure because of the actions of our International leadership. If what happened at 751 goes unchallenged, it will set a dangerous pattern for other contracts across the country. My goal is to ensure what happened in Seattle, doesn’t happen to another group of Machinists.

Even though we had a contract in place through 2016 and our District strongly objected, our International ordered a vote on a concessionary offer be held on Jan. 3rd knowing thousands of union members would be on vacation and unable to vote. This vote was ordered after many members had already begun their holidays, and the International refused to move the vote just one business day. With nearly 8,000 members not voting, we are now forced to live under a contract that eliminated pensions for all, more than doubles health care costs, slows wage growth by 75 percent and keeps us from returning to the bargaining table until 2024. This came not when Boeing was hurting, but enjoying record profits and backlogs. Continue reading

Staples Plucks Postal Jobs

Members of three postal unions and community supporters gathered outside a Bronx post office slated for closure. The laid-off workers may be replaced by Staples workers. Photo: Alexandra Bradbury.

Members of three postal unions and community supporters gathered outside a Bronx post office slated for closure. The laid-off workers may be replaced by Staples workers. Photo: Alexandra Bradbury.

Staples’ latest ad slogan is “What the L?” That sounds like what postal workers said when they found out the retail chain planned to steal their work.

The Long Island, New York, local of the American Postal Workers Union didn’t waste any time after the news broke in November. Members voted to boycott Staples and ask their friends and neighbors to do the same.

“The ball started rolling then,” said President Pete Furgiuele—and APWU soon launched a national campaign.

Across the country, local delegations visited Staples stores in January to threaten a boycott unless the retailer’s new “postal units” are staffed by actual postal employees. Continue reading

Kellogg’s Delivers Memphis a Slap in the Face

Union workers at Kellogg's Memphis plant say the company is disrespecting its majority-black workforce, locking them out to force lower pay. Photo: Steve Payne

Union workers at Kellogg’s Memphis plant say the company is disrespecting its majority-black workforce, locking them out to force lower pay. Photo: Steve Payne

“I went to the ‘Gold Palace,’ Kellogg headquarters, last year,” said Trence Jackson, an officer of BCTGM Local 252G. “They had a nice display in their lobby on what they do for African Americans. They also put African Americans, like Gabby [Douglas], on their cereal boxes each February.”

But this February Jackson and his co-workers at the Memphis Kellogg cereal plant face the prospect of spending Black History Month on the picket line. Three months into a lockout, the company has yet to return to the bargaining table.

During local contract negotiations in October 2013, Kellogg demanded the right to hire more part-time and casual employees, at lower pay rates. When workers voted the proposal down, Kellogg locked them out. Continue reading

Trouble in Paradise: Bitter Carmel hotel labor battle has roots in San Francisco

 by Marc Norton

 Carmel, celebrated as an artist colony nestled above a picturesque white-sand beach, is not where you would expect to find a picket line.  But there I was, with maybe 40 others, on a Friday evening the week before Christmas, in front of the La Playa Hotel, shaking noisemakers made from plastic bottles, chanting, “WHAT DO WE WANT? OUR JOBS!”

 Happy holidays, indeed.

 Two years ago, in November 2011, a new owner took over the La Playa Hotel, closed it down, and put a hundred workers on the street.  When the hotel reopened after a $3.5 million remodel, it was with a whole new staff.  The new owner “tossed us out with the old carpets” reads a workers’ leaflet.  Workers like Noe Hinojosa, who had been at the hotel 33 years, like Suong Edwards, who had worked there 31 years, like Sherrie Watkins, who had served guests for 28 years. Continue reading

Boeing Workers Take a Stand & Take the Heat

by Carl Finamore

Carl Finamore

Carl Finamore

Local IAM District 751 union leaders in the state of Washington are feeling the fallout of Boeing’s extremely well-orchestrated counteroffensive begun immediately after Nov. 13 when 67% of union members rejected the company’s concessionary contract extension through 2024 of an existing agreement that does not actually expire until 2016.

Everyone expected Boeing would turn up the heat by threatening economic catastrophe for the Puget Sound area and thousands of lost jobs but these unionists were blindsided from a most unexpected source.

The IAM international, overruling local leadership, abruptly announced a Jan. 3 vote of another extension agreement eerily similar to the one that had just been rejected.

District 751’s website reported “International President R. Thomas Buffenbarger ordered the vote over objections of 751’s elected officials… and announced the Jan. 3rd vote to the Seattle Times on Saturday, Dec. 21.” Continue reading

Walmart Organizing Dilemma: Publicity Strikes without Publicity

by Wade Rathke

boycott-wal-mart-shareNew Orleans     We are now several weeks past Black Friday, the annual shopping extravaganza that seems to defy logic, but one hardcore, working mother desperate for Christmas bargains defined it as her annual “Super Bowl of shopping.”   Walmart company representatives have described this year’s day after Thanksgiving shopping blowout as their best ever.

OUR Walmart, the UFCW’s Walmart workers organizing campaign, had declared that there would be more than a 1000 protests around the country with thousands of Walmart workers striking to protest abysmal wages and working conditions.  The company claims that there were no more strikers in 2013 than they had seen in 2012.  Yet, clearly giving the rollup it has to be unquestionable that there were more actions in 2013, whether rallies or demonstrations or witnessing or whatever, but were there more strikers and under any circumstances how do we prove the point and move forward?

And, that’s the organizing dilemma.  What happens when you issue the call for these kind of publicity strikes and people come, but no one knows?   Does it have any effect?  Is this a tree falling in the forest that is heard or ignored? Continue reading

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