Hospital Union Claims Victory in Johns Hopkins Contract Fight

by Bruce Vail

1199SEIU President George Gresham (right) protests low wages with fellow union members in a three-day picket line outside Johns Hopkins Hospital in April.   (Jim McNeill/1199SEIU)

1199SEIU President George Gresham (right) protests low wages with fellow union members in a three-day picket line outside Johns Hopkins Hospital in April. (Jim McNeill/1199SEIU)

(July 11) A bruising four-month fight between healthcare workers’ union 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East and Johns Hopkins Hospital is coming to an end: Members voted on Thursday and Friday to ratify a new agreement covering about 2,000 medical center employees.

The battle has been unusually intense compared with negotiations in the past, featuring a three-day strike in April and a voracious media campaign shaming the wealthy hospital for abandoning its lowest-paid workers. And though the new contract falls short of initial demands that would have more widely boosted wages among staff, local 1199SEIU leaders still view its ratification as a welcome victory after months of struggle.
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Long Island Rail Road workers reluctantly set strike start date

by Laura Clawson<

Workers on the Long Island Rail Road say they have been forced to set a strike date by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s refusal to bargain. Two Presidential Emergency Boards have sided with the workers, and the union asked the MTA to extend a cooling-off period so that a strike wouldn’t hit Long Island during its peak tourist season. However, the MTA is refusing that offer, saying it would hit schoolchildren instead of tourists.
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Port truck drivers’ strike continues

by Laura Clawson

Port truck drivers on strike in California.

More than 120 truck drivers continue their strike at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The drivers are targeting three companies that they say misclassify them as independent contractors when they are effectively employees, denying them minimum wage and overtime protections, Social Security and workers’ compensation, and other benefits. Additionally, workers say they’ve faced retaliation and intimidation over their activism. So far, the strike’s impact on the two massive ports remains small, though Tuesday:

In a brief escalation of the day-old strike, dockworkers walked off the job at the Evergreen, APL and Yusen terminals in Los Angeles around 9 a.m., and at the Long Beach Container Terminal an hour later, port officials said.But an arbitrator quickly ruled that the dockworkers’ contract didn’t allow them to leave the job in sympathy with the drivers strike. A similar ruling was issued during a 48-hour trucker strike in April.

Los Angeles port spokesman Phillip Sanfield said the port was operating “near normal” despite minor disruptions from the protests.

 

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10 July – UK public sector workers strike

PSI (Public Service International)

Striking UK workers demonstrate in London, 2011

On 10 July, up to two million public sector workers in the UK will hold a 24-hour strike. PSI affiliated unions GMB, FBU, PCS, Unison and Unite the Union, together with NIPSA and the teachers’ union NUT, will be striking against the government’s decision to offer a 1% salary increase and against government policy.

As a result of a government pay freeze and pension policy, real-term earnings have decreased by 20% since the government came into power in 2010.

PSI has sent a letter of solidarity and support to its affiliate unions whose members will be on strike.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “These workers care for our elderly, clean our streets, feed and educate our school children and keep our libraries running, but they receive no recognition in their pay packets.

“They are mainly low-paid women workers, stressed and demoralised, and they deserve better from their employers and from this government.

“This is the group that has borne the brunt of the government’s austerity agenda.”
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‘Rosie the Riveters’ Storm National Zoo

by Bruce Vail

newRosiePresident Barack Obama is facing a coordinated pressure campaign to take additional steps to improve labor protections and basic benefits for workers employed indirectly by the federal government. The campaign—backed by the Change to Win labor federation and the Congressional Progressive Caucus—is an extension of an earlier push that led up to Obama’s Feb. 12 executive order raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour for the employees of federal contractors.

A small group of Washington, D.C.-area workers punctuated the campaign this week with demonstrations at the National Zoo and several other sites. As in the previous demonstrations over the past year, the workers called attention to the low pay and meager benefits offered at the fast food outlets and cleaning services that operate at federal installations nationwide. The latest iteration of the campaign puts special emphasis on how female workers suffer disproportionately from such labor conditions, with some National Zoo strikers adopting “Rosie the Riveter” costumes in an effort to link contemporary employment issues with patriotic themes from the past.
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Philadelphia Community Teach-In to Explore Jewish Law & Workers’ Rights

RabbiJillJacobsThe Perelman Teacher-Alumni-Parent Partnership presents “Work & Workers in Jewish Law – A Community Teach-In” with Rabbi Jill Jacobs, Executive Director of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights and author of Conservative Judaism’s Teshuva “Work, Workers and the Jewish Owner.”

The program is Wednesday, June 18, at 7 p.m. at the Ludington Library, 5 South Bryn Mawr Ave., Bryn Mawr, PA. It is open to the public.

Rabbi Jacobs, Executive Director of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, will explore where Jewish Law (Halakha) stands on the issue of work, workers and union rights. Continue reading

New Legal Report: Right to Strike Backed by International Law

by ITUC OnLine

NY garment workers on strike 1913--(wikimedia)

NY garment workers on strike 1913–(wikimedia)

(Brussels, 3 June 2014 ): A new 122-page ITUC legal report, confirming that the right to strike is protected under international law, has been released today as employers try to overturn decades of jurisprudence at the International Labour Organisation.  Employer representatives at the ILO are continuing their efforts to strip back ILO Convention 87 on Freedom of Association, which guarantees workers the right to take strike action, as the UN agency holds its 103rd International Labour Conference in Geneva this month. Continue reading

Walmart Moms’ Walkout Starts Friday

by Sarah Jaffe

For years, Walmart workers have protested the company's low wages and unfair treatment of employees. This Friday, a week before the company's shareholders meet, hundreds of 'Walmart Moms' will begin walking off the job. (OUR Walmart)

For years, Walmart workers have protested the company’s low wages and unfair treatment of employees. This Friday, a week before the company’s shareholders meet, hundreds of ‘Walmart Moms’ will begin walking off the job. (OUR Walmart)

For years, Walmart workers have protested the company’s low wages and unfair treatment of employees. This Friday, a week before the company’s shareholders meet, hundreds of ‘Walmart Moms’ will begin walking off the job. (OUR Walmart)

In 2008, political commentators made a lot of fuss about “Walmart Moms,” a demographic that was supposedly key to the election. The Walmart Mom was an updated, service-economy version of the blue-collar worker: Someone without a college degree, working and raising a family, usually white, possibly religious. She was courted heavily by both parties and perceived, at least in recent decades, to be swinging right.

Six years later, the real-life Walmart Moms are going on strike. According to a Thursday conference call hosted by the Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart), hundreds of mothers who work at Walmart stores throughout the country will begin walking off the job on Friday, a week before the company’s shareholders meet in Bentonville, Arkansas. The action will culminate in a nationwide strike on Wednesday, June 4.

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After the wildcat Adidas factory strike, what next for China?

by Jennifer Cheung

The strike at the Adidas shoe factory, the sheer scale of it and workers’ increasing skills of organising strikes without bona fide union representation have created a renewed round of debate on how the Chinese authorities will handle the increasingly tense industrial relations in China.

Police and workers inside the Yue Yuen complex today. Photo by CLB.

The nearly two week long strike at the Taiwan owned and Hong Kong listed factory Yue Yuen, dubbed as the largest one in China since the 1970s, motivated 40,000 workers to join, and was organised on workers’ QQ groups, a Chinese online instant chatting tool. Both the government and the official union have later acknowledged the Taiwan owned factory’s mal practice of paying less of workers’ social insurance package, an illegal practice adopted by factory bosses rampantly to save labour costs, who usually do so with impunity. Therefore, it is difficult to estimate whether the outburst of workers’ collective discontent at Yue Yuen is the climax of industrial action in recent years, or is just the beginning.

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Empty Scrubs Need to Be Filled, Say San Francisco Nurses

by Carl Finamore

San Francisco General Hospital Nurses assembled inside City Hall on May 20 after being locked out of the mayor’s office. The “empty scrubs,” represent the nursing jobs that need to be filled at their hospital. The missing staff means danger for patients. Photo: SEIU 1021 - See more at: http://labornotes.org/2014/05/empty-scrubs-need-be-filled-say-san-francisco-nurses#sthash.85dwIodz.dpuf

San Francisco General Hospital Nurses assembled inside City Hall on May 20 after being locked out of the mayor’s office. The “empty scrubs,” represent the nursing jobs that need to be filled at their hospital. The missing staff means danger for patients. Photo: SEIU 1021

“It’s locked!” Norlissa Cooper exclaimed incredulously to a contingent of several dozen other nurses from San Francisco General Hospital. The nurses were attempting to open Mayor Ed Lee’s office door May 20 to discuss with him the critically high staffing shortages at their hospital.

The premier public hospital has the city’s busiest emergency room and its only Level 1 Trauma Center, which is supposed to provide the highest level of care. Overall, it serves some 100,000 patients each year, providing 20 percent of the city’s inpatient care.

And yet it’s “severely understaffed and our patients severely underserved,” says Lorraine Thiebaud, a nurse for 40 years and RN chapter president in Service Employees Local 1021.

The union will vote in early June whether to strike over the staffing violations. Their contract expires June 30<

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