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 February 12, 2013 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Bruce Vail
“Instead of spending the money on setting up these [replacement worker] hiring centers, why don’t they spend the money on their existing employees?” asks Taunette Greene, a 39-year Stop & Shop employee on the union’s negotiating team.
A leading supermarket chain in New England began recruiting scabs on a large scale this week as the union representing some 40,000 of its workers girds for a potential strike later this month.Stop & Shop, with more than 250 grocery stores in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Hampshire, opened 14 recruitment sites across the region with the goal of hiring “replacement workers,” confirms company spokeswoman Suzi Robinson. The recruits would replace members of five local units of the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) union in the event of a strike or lockout on February 24, when current collective bargaining agreements expire. The hitch in negotiations has been over the implementation of the federal Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.“We must prepare for the worst,” regional union leaders told rank-and-file members in an online contract negotiations update
on February 1. Talks are continuing, but the core disagreement of healthcare costs remains unresolved.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tagged: Scabs, Stop and Shop, UFCW | 6 Comments »
Posted on December 4, 2012 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Street Heat
I participated in the Black Friday action. No workers struck at my location but dozens of supporters held a spirited and effective action that a) received really good media attention that highlighted the demands of the Wal-Mart associates and b) successfully rattled the cage of store management. All in all a fun day. Nationally the picture was much more varied from strikes with dozens of strikers and hundreds of supporters to a single supporter or striker (yes one striker) picketing a store by themselves. I wanted to share some thoughts on the implications of the Black Friday strike and protests.
- The strike was a successful escalation. The number of workers participating increased. A new layer of leaders seems to have stepped up since the earlier strikes. A broad spectrum of allies showed up to support the workers. Wal-Mart desperately tried to dismiss the actions as tiny and irrelevant. The key was to for OURWalmart to successfully show thatWalmarts intimidation campaign had not pushed the Associates back, in fact that new additional leaders stepped forward to carry out this series of strikes showed the capacity or OURWalmart to grow despite management’s campaign.
- The strike was a watershed moment for labor. Not because any Wal-Marts were shut down or not, but because WalMart’s image as a benevolent employer has been effectively challenged in American public discourse. Illustrated by John Stewart on the November 27 Daily Show
[To watch the John Stewart segment, click here.]
The degree to which the strikers and the supporters were portrayed as leading a just fight by many media outlets was a critical blow to anti-worker PR in general.
- The notion that changing Wal-Mart was key to change America and creating a new economy is now firmly established among American progressives. Before there was tepid support among many liberals who perceived the Wal-Mart struggle as just another union “pet issue”. It is now common wisdom among the progressive blogosphere and academia that Wal-Mart’s role in the supply chain is a key roadblock to economic justice for ALL workers.
- This is where I piss people off. I was disappointed when I noticed that a broad swath of the labor movement sat out the Black Friday action. I was mortified to find out that some large UFCW locals opted to not build or participate in actions. The more this campaign is seen as simply a project of the UFCW International by local UFCW unions, the more difficult it is going to be to build the grassroots infrastructure needed to expand the campaign. The active support and participation UFCW local unions and the full support of labor councils and other labor organizations are key to generating community support and protection for the OURWalmart activists that will give them the much needed “breathing space” to continue to organize and grow. Bureacratic abstention, Grudges and petty divisions blocking particpation in these HISTORIC actions are the equivalent of high treason in the moment of both peril and opportunity for our entire movement.
There I said it. Let me have it.
Street Heat is a a union activist in the south, He blogs at It’s About Power Stupid! Thinking Strategically About Labor’s Survival,
Filed under: Strikes and work action | Tagged: Our Walmart, UFCW, Walmart strikes, Walmrart | Leave a Comment »
Posted on November 28, 2012 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Bob Simpson
As I was writing this blog post on Sunday morning, news came from the Associated Press about the real human cost of our Black Fridays:
“DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — At least 112 people were killed in a fire that raced through a multi-story garment factory just outside of Bangladesh’s capital, an official said Sunday. Bangladesh has some 4,000 garment factories, many without proper safety measures. The country annually earns about $20 billion from exports of garment products, mainly to the United States and Europe. Bangladesh’s garment factories make clothes for brands including Wal-Mart, JC Penney, H&M, Marks & Spencer, Carrefour and Tesco.”
Walmart stocks up on products manufactured under deadly sweatshop conditions. It organizes Black Friday sales knowing they can touch off riots in their stores. Then Walmart sends security guards and police after peaceful demonstrators who only seek justice in the global workplace. Who said irony is dead?
I didn’t hear of any Black Friday shopper nastiness in Chicagoland, but there were a number of peaceful demonstrations against Walmart and other retailers who exploit and abuse their own employees and supply chain workers around the world.
My Black Friday began at around 4:30 am with a drive from my home in Oak Park to Bedford Park, a suburb south of Midway Airport. The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) had rented a hotel meeting room there as a staging area for Walmart protestors, plus buses to carry them to several Chicagoland Walmart stores and eventually to downtown to support food and retail workers there.
It was dark and deserted within the complex of hotels, but when I found the yellow school buses, I knew I was in the right place. Once in the lobby, a UFCW staffer saw me and guided me to their meeting room where staff people were already giving away lime-green Our Walmart tee shirts, buttons and signs. About 30 people were there drinking coffee and munching on donuts.
Filed under: Low wage workers, Strikes and work action | Tagged: Chicago, OurWalmart, retail workers, UFCW, Walmart strikes | Leave a Comment »
Posted on November 23, 2012 by dsalaborblogmoderator
by Amy Dean
United Food and Commercial Workers’ Pat O’Neill talks about the difficulty of organizing retail and the new tactics that have been developed, shoppers’ support and Walmart workers’ extraordinary courage in the rolling actions leading up to Black Friday.
This fall has witnessed a wave of rolling strikes and other employee actions at America’s largest private-sector employer: Walmart. The actions, spread across more than a dozen cities, have been the first in the retailer’s 50-year history. This week, things are set to get bigger: Walmart associates across the country are now promising pickets, leafleting, and creative flash mobs on and around Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year.
One of the main groups involved in planning the actions has been OUR Walmart, a labor-community organization for Walmart employees, backed by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW). Rather than going through the arduous process of forming a traditional union by signing up majorities in each store, they have developed a more flexible process for employees to get involved early on. Smaller groups can use OUR Walmart to take collective action to advocate for rights and for better conditions. Such advocacy harkens back to the early days of the US labor movement, before the labor laws of the New Deal institutionalized processes for collective bargaining. It may also be a bellwether for future employee action, reflecting an age in which labor law has again failed to catch up with the reality of the American economy.
To get inside insight on the new activism taking place at Walmart, I talked with UFCW Organizing Director Pat O’Neill. We discussed the rolling strikes, the revived use of “minority unions,” and why OUR Walmart is not calling for a boycott.
Filed under: Low wage workers, Organizing, Strikes and work action | Tagged: minority unions, Our Walmart, UFCW, Walmart strike | 2 Comments »
Posted on November 7, 2012 by dsalaborblogmoderator
Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka
Tonight, working families across the country celebrate the re-election of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden – and breathe a sigh of relief that our country will move forward on the path of sanity and shared prosperity. Nothing about the last four years has been easy, from the Great Recession to Hurricane Sandy, from unrelenting partisan obstruction by Republicans to the greatest onslaught of negative ads ever unleashed against an American president.
Throughout the tumult, President Obama and Vice President Biden have been steadfast allies of working men and women and the values we cherish, focused on repairing the economy, rebuilding the ladder to the middle class and investing in our shared future. That’s why workers and their unions made an historic effort on their behalf, bringing home the vote for the President from Nevada to Ohio, from Wisconsin to Pennsylvania.
With “Osama dead and GM alive” and the economy beginning to pick up steam, we are ready to work together with the President and all willing parties to win greater equality and economic opportunity for all – starting with ending the Bush tax cuts for the rich and opposing any cuts to Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid benefits.
Below are statements from the AFT, UFCW,UAW , AFGE , UFW, SEIU, IBEW, and IAM
Filed under: Politics | Tagged: AFGE, AFL-CIO, AFT, IBEW, Obama, SEIU, UAW, UFCW, UFW | 2 Comments »
Posted on October 10, 2012 by dsalaborblogmoderator
Walmart workers strike (Photo Student Labor Action Project)
Josh Eidelson. one of an exciting new generation of labor journalists. and sometimes Talking Union contributor, has a must-read article at Salon.com. Reporting on the spread of last week’s Walmart strikes to more states, he concludes that the “first-ever walkouts by warehouse workers and store employees are a game-changer.”
Here is what happened today.
For the second time in five days – and also the second time in Walmart’s five decades – workers at multiple US Walmart stores are on strike. This morning, workers walked off the job in Dallas, Texas and Laurel, Maryland; Walmart store workers in additional cities are expected to join the strike in the coming hours. No end date has been announced; some plan to remain on strike at least through tomorrow, when they’ll join other Walmart workers for a demonstration outside the company’s annual investor meeting in Bentonville, Arkansas. Today’s is the latest in a unprecedented wave of Walmart supply chain strikes: From shrimp workers in Louisiana, to warehouse workers in California and Illinois, to Walmart store employees in three states – and counting. (more…)
Filed under: Strikes and work action | Tagged: Our Walmart, UFCW, Walmart, Walmart strikes | 1 Comment »
Posted on October 6, 2012 by dsalaborblogmoderator
By Bruce Vail
LANDOVER, Md.–Alarmed by a stiffening anti-union attitude in the executive suites of one the Netherlands’ most prominent multi-national corporations, U.S. and Dutch unions are strengthening ties in a campaign to reverse the trend.
The campaign targets Royal Ahold NV, an Amsterdam-based corporation that owns supermarket chains in the United States and Europe. It’s a major player in the American grocery sector, operating about 750 stores and employing more than 100,000 U.S. workers. The best-known store brands are Stop & Shop, which blankets the Northeast states, and Giant Foods, a dominant player in the Mid-Atlantic region.
What disturbs labor leaders is that Ahold’s growth strategy seems aimed at undermining unions, if not eliminating them entirely, according to members of a delegation of Dutch trade unionists visiting the United States last week.
Filed under: Busting the union busters, Global organizing | Tagged: Federatie Nederlandse Vakbeweging, Giant Foods, Royal Ahold NV, Stop & Shop, UFCW | Leave a Comment »
Posted on October 4, 2012 by dsalaborblogmoderator
For the First Time in History, Walmart Faces a Strike Over its Illegal Retaliation and Attempts to Silence Associates who are Speaking out for Better Jobs
Community Supporters Join Workers to Call on Walmart and Chairman Rob Walton to Stop Retaliation against Workers who speak out against Poverty Jobs that are Hurting the American Economy
LOS ANGELES –As communities across the country raise their voices in calls for changes at Walmart, workers from nearly a dozen stores in the Los Angeles-area went on strike this morning in the first-ever Walmart Associate walk-out in protest of attempts to silence and retaliate against workers for speaking out for improvements on the job. Hundreds of community supporters, including Dr. Jose Moreno, Executive Director of Los Amigos, Maria Elena Durazo, Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, Rev. Eric Lee, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, are joining Walmart Associates in their ongoing calls on Walmart and Chairman Rob Walton to address take home pay so low that Associates are forced to rely on public programs to support their families and understaffing that is keeping workers from receiving sufficient hours and is also hurting customer service. The company has not only refused to address these concerns that are affecting 1.4 million Associates across the country, it has attempted to silence those who speak out and has retaliated against workers for raising concerns that would to help the company, workers and the community.
“Walmart should not be silencing workers for standing up for what’s good for my store, my co-workers, my family and my community,” said Venanzi Luna, a striking worker at the Pico Rivera Walmart. Luna is one of thousands of members of OUR Walmart, the nationwide Associate organization calling for changes at the company. “I am striking to take a stand against Walmart’s illegal bullying tactics.” (more…)
Filed under: Low wage workers, Strikes and work action | Tagged: Our Walmart, UFCW, Walmart, Walmart strike | 1 Comment »
Posted on May 10, 2012 by dsalaborblogmoderator
AFSCME Pres. Gerald W. McEntee and Sec.-Treas. Lee Saunders released a statement applauding President Obama’s message. They said:
“President Obama’s announcement today recognizes a fundamental American right – that every citizen is entitled to respect and dignity, and the equal protection of our laws. For too long, lesbian and gay Americans have been denied the right to marry the person they love, raise a family and live as equal citizens in our country.”
Filed under: Politics | Tagged: AFSCME, CWA, marriage equality, Obama, SEIU, UAW, UFCW, Unite Here | 2 Comments »