TGIF Steals Tips of Workers in UK

 

IUF worker solidarity appeal

 

 

 

 

Workers at two UK restaurants of the US-based franchise chain TGI Friday’s struck for 24 hours on May 18 after being given two days’ notice that they would be stripped of 40% of their income from tips – a loss of up to GBP 250 per month. Workers at two other TGI Friday’s locations have voted 100% in favor of possible strike action on June 25, with other locations set to follow.

As the strikes commenced on May 18, the IUF-affiliated Unite held lunchtime rallies at the restaurants to support the strikers before moving on to a mass low-pay rally in Central London including McDonald’s workers.

You can support the fight back against exploitation and low pay – CLICK HERE to send a message to CEO Karen Forrester, telling the company you support the workers’ demands and urging talks with Unite.

TGIF

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Poor People’s Campaign- Week 2

ppc_n-1The California Poor People’s Campaign is uniting people and organizations across the state to challenge the evils of systemic racism, poverty, the war economy and ecological devastation.  This second week of the campaign focused on Systemic Racism, Voting Rights, Immigration, Islamaphobia and the destruction of Indigenous communities.

The May 21 non violent direct action  in Sacramento followed the May 14 launch of the nationwide poor people’s campaign.  In the first national action, on May 14s hundreds participated in non violent direct action in Washington  and were arrested, including Poor People’s Campaign co chairs William J. Barber II, and Liz Theoharis. They were taken into custody along with over a hundred people from various states.  Non violent events were held in over 35 state capitols the same day.

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At the conclusion of the 40 days, on June 23, poor people and clergy and advocates from coast to coast will join together for a mass mobilization at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Speakers at the Sacramento event included representatives from CAIR . indigenous communities, Wes White of the Salinas Homeless Union, Melina Abdullah, Black Lives Matter, and religious leaders from numerous communities including the PICO Network, Pablo Reyes-Morales, SEIU Local 2015 and cofounder of NorCal Resisist.

After a rally packed with powerful voices from AIM, to BLM, to CIYJA, with leaders from the Islamic, Jewish and Christian faiths, we set off to deliver our demands to the Capitol. We filled the halls, singing, chanting, and blocking off Gov. Brown’s office while delivering him a letter with our grievances. 5 hours after we entered the Capitol, police arrested 18 Moral Witnesses who had committed to stay until our demands were addressed.

Poor People’s Campaign.  Endorsed by DSA.  Participated in by DSA.

See video at http://www.antiracismdsa.blogspot.com

 

 

Poor People’s Campaign – Sacramento

Sanders Seeks to Expand Union Rights

SandersThe fight to expand democratic control over the workplace just received a major shot in the arm.

From: Working In These Times.

Today, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced sweeping legislation that would dramatically expand labor rights, making it easier for workers to join unions, speed up contract negotiations, roll back “right to work” laws and clamp down on union-busting tactics by employers.

The legislation, known as the Workplace Democracy Act (WDA), is being co-sponsored by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and has been endorsed by more than a dozen major unions and labor groups.

At an event on Wednesday announcing the legislation, Sanders said: “If we are serious about reducing income and wealth inequality and rebuilding the middle class, we have got to substantially increase the number of union jobs in this country.”

If passed, the legislation would redistribute power on the job to vastly benefit workers over their employers. And it would do so by extending democracy to the place Americans spend much of their waking lives.

In the United States, the concept of democracy generally conjures images of voting booths and candidate forums. But every time workers come together to advocate their interests and challenge concentrated power, they are practicing democracy. In daily life, one of the most important—and universal—arenas for this form of democratic action is the workplace.

Corporations and employers hold enormous power over workers, dictating which hours of the day they’re at work, what they’re allowed to say on the clock, what they wear and when they can go to the bathroom. Employers also determine workers’ wages as well as the type of healthcare they receive (if any)—all with the dangling threat of losing their job if at any time a boss decides they are expendable.

This slanted power dynamic is what allows employers to keep workers compliant even under abhorrent conditions. And it is why the role of labor unions—the primary vehicle for advancing democracy in the workplace—is absolutely critical to protecting workers’ rights at a time of unchecked corporate power.

Enshrining labor rights

The WDA would simplify the process of unionization by allowing the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to certify a union if a majority of eligible workers say they want to join. That process, commonly called “card check,” would eliminate union elections and give workers a clearer pathway to organizing their workplaces.

As it currently stands, employers have wide-ranging power to influence and intimidate workers into voting against unionization. They commonly force employees to attend anti-union meetings and threaten workers involved in organizing campaigns. The WDA would curb this type of behavior and create a more level playing field during union drives.

Labor advocates believe such reform is critical to giving workers a stronger voice on the job. In an interview with In These Times, David Johnson, National Field Director for the National Nurses United (NNU)—which has endorsed the legislation—says the WDA “is an important step forward in restoring what should be worker’s constitutional rights to engage in concerted activity to freely associate and to form strong unions to advocate for themselves and, in the case of registered nurses, to advocate for their patients as well.”

The legislation would also repeal section 14(b) of the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act, which has allowed 28 states to pass laws restricting the ability of unions to collect dues from members who benefit from collective bargaining agreements. Such “right to work” laws have weakened unions in these states and led to lower overall pay for workers.

Under the WDA, employers would also be required to enter into contract negotiations within 10 days of a new union being formed. A full 37 percent of new unions go without a first contract for at least two years because of employers dragging their heels on negotiations. Such practices would be ended by this legislation.

As Sanders explained when introducing the bill: “Corporate America understands that when workers become organized, when workers are able to engage in collective bargaining, they end up with far better wages and benefits… and that is why, for decades now, there has been a concentrated well-organized attack on the ability of workers to organize.”

A more democratic economy

The push for the WDA—a version of which was originally introduced in 2015—comes on the heels of an announcement that Sanders’ office will soon propose a federal jobs guarantee. While the specifics have not yet been revealed, at its core such a program would seek to create a system of full employment in the United States, offering a job paying $15 an hour to any worker who wants one.

Once enacted, such a plan would have the potential to fundamentally shift the relationship of workers to their employers. If a job were always available through the government, workers would no longer live under the constant threat of losing their livelihood whenever their boss decides they are no longer needed. By setting a floor with a living wage, this form of a jobs guarantee would likely lift up the pay and benefits of workers everywhere, and open the space for more union activity in the private sector.

The combination of the WDA and a jobs guarantee, taken together with proposals for instituting Medicare for all, a federal $15 minimum wage and paid family leave, represents a barrage of progressive changes to the U.S. economy that would lift millions out of poverty and bring more democracy into workers’ daily lives.

Other senators have also recently voiced support for a version of a jobs guarantee, including Gillibrand and Cory Booker (D-N.J.). And the demand is not new in American politics: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. famously fought for full employment as a means to end poverty and advance the cause of racial justice.

Misery into progress

King was a staunch supporter of union rights throughout his life. In 1965, he gave a speech to the state convention of the Illinois AFL-CIO in which he called the labor movement “the principal force that transforme­d misery and despair into hope and progress.” King’s last major campaign before he was assassinated in April, 1968 involved joining with striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Tenn. to win justice and dignity on the job.

In 2018, 50 years after King’s death, the U.S. labor movement is facing monumental threats. The Supreme Court will soon rule on Janus vs. AFSCME, a case that is poised to deal a severe blow to public-sector unions. President Trump is overseeing a massive rollback of workers’ rights and stacking the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) with appointees who are outwardly hostile to unions.

Corporate entities such as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) have engaged in a decades-long campaign to weaken the power of labor, and today unionization rates in the United States stand at among their lowest levels in generations.

As NNU’s Johnson says, “I think we should be clear: There is a relative handful of incredibly wealthy, powerful mostly white men who are standing in the way of working people having the kind of country we deserve, where people have rights and they have decent wages and a decent community and a safe and healthy workplace, and education and healthcare as human rights.”

However, there are also signs of hope.

In states across the country, from West Virginia to Oklahoma, Arizona and Colorado, teachers have waged statewide strikes to win higher pay and better working conditions. Rank-and-file caucuses are helping to transform their unions into more militant organizations, willing to take dramatic action to defend members and stand up to attacks.

Workers in a diverse array of industries, from media to universities, logistics and tech, are launching new union drives. And over the past two years, workers under the age of 35 have led an unprecedented surge in union membership, and are much more likely to view unions positively. Overall, labor unions are now viewed more favorably by the public than they have been in well over a decade.

At a time of staggering economic inequality, when corporate profits are soaring while the safety net is shredded and working people are forced to scramble over crumbs, the renewed interest in labor unions is a sign that Americans are coming to see collective action as the best way to improve their living conditions and wrest workplace power from profit-obsessed employers.

While the WDA may be a dead letter under Trump and the GOP Congress, it does plant a flag for how a more democratic economy could be structured. And with a potential political sea change on the way in coming election cycles, this type of bold proposal sets the contours for what progressive politicians and activists alike can demand.

As workers are proving across the country, winning a better standard of living is possible, but it can only come about through demanding—and practicing—democracy on the job.

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Support the Poor People’s Campaign

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‘Our People Are Being Hurt and We Won’t be Silent Anymore’
California Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival To Kick Off Six Weeks of Non-Violent Direct Action Monday in Sacramento. Endorsed by DSA.
Protests Planned in over 30 State Capitals, Washington, D.C.
Movement Demands Sweeping Overhaul of Nation’s Voting Rights Laws, Policies to Address Poverty, Ecological Devastation, War Economy
SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA —The California Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival will kick off a six-week season of nonviolent direct action Monday in Sacramento.  The Campaign is demanding a massive overhaul of the nation’s voting rights laws, new programs to lift up the 140 million Americans living in poverty, immediate attention to ecological devastation and measures to curb militarism and the war economy.
The Monday rally in California is one of over 30 actions across the country by poor and disenfranchised people, clergy and advocates who will engage in 40 days of nonviolent direct action and voter mobilization, among other activities. As a movement, we aim at transforming the nation’s political, economic and moral structures by building on the work of the original Poor People’s Campaign 50 years ago.

 

To emphasize the urgent necessity for action, hundreds of participants are joining ‘Freedom Trains’, in solidarity with their 1968 counter parts. These caravans will be launching from  Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco. To Commemorate the daily hardships that Women  endure, these caravans will embark on Mother’s Day, May 13th, to join forces in Sacramento to focus on the first week’s theme: Somebody’s Hurting Our People: Women, Youth, Disabled, Children in Poverty and Right to Education.

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Support the California U.C. Strike

DSAI’m sending this urgent alert from our Democratic Socialist Labor Commission. This strike is happening RIGHT NOW — read on to see how you can help. In solidarity,  Maria Svart  DSA National Director

This week, 53,000 workers at ten University of California (UC) campuses and five UC medical centers across California will strike. The DSLC stands in solidarity with them.

The State of California is the fifth largest economy in the world, and The University of California is the largest employer in the state, so UC negotiations will have a ripple effect, setting standards for workers’ wages and working conditions across California.

This is a historic strike with three unions participating: AFSCME, CNA, and UPTE. The Democratic Socialist Labor Commission supports UC worker militancy and encourages all DSA and YDSA members to support this strike. If you are in California, join the picket lines! If you can’t, share your photos and messages of support on social media.

The UC Regents — a board that includes wealth managers, financiers, and real estate investors — have been imposing a regime of austerity on California’s public higher-ed system for years, raising tuition and privatizing services while the state cuts taxes on billionaires. Now they are going full tilt against workers in the hopes that the forthcoming Janus decision will allow them to attack contracts at every level. The Regents are targeting workers’ retirement, healthcare, wages, and layoff protections. Meanwhile, the Regents are ignoring workers’ demands for sexual harassment protections, ban the box, and protection from ICE raids at work.

Many of the strikers are entry-level service workers (custodians, security guards, groundskeepers) represented by AFSCME 3299, and are disproportionately women, people of color, and immigrants. This strike is historic because workers in higher paid jobs in the UC system, such as nurses represented by CNA, are not allowing their workplaces to be divided and conquered — they are striking in solidarity with some of the lowest paid. Continue reading

Harvard Will Bargain with Grad Students Union, Other Boston Area Students Encouraged

by Paul Garver

Harvard University will recognize and bargain with the Harvard Graduate Students Union-United Automobile Workers.   The union is now electing its bargaining committee and will base its demands upon in-depth surveys of the members of the bargaining unit. By creating a broad bargaining committee representing all sectors, the union hopes to overcome its relative weaknesses in some fields and professional schools.

The HGSU/UAW won the representation election on 18-19 April. Of the ca. 5000 eligible Harvard graduate students/research assistants and teaching fellows 1931 voted for union representation to 1523 against.

The union had narrowly lost a previous election held in November 2016.  The election was rerun in response to an appeal to the NLRB from the UAW because Harvard had violated the Excelsior rule by failing to supply with union with accurate eligibility lists.

The No vote remained constant between the two elections, but the Yes vote gained 500.   According to an extensive exit poll conducted by the staff of the Harvard Crimson, most new voters voted yes.

The exit poll revealed results that were both expected and surprising.

The strongest pro-union votes came from graduate students in arts and humanities (91% in favor), social sciences (88.5%), and the professional schools of government (91%), education (90%), public health (89%), law (88.5%) and design (81%).

Fewest yes votes came from engineering/applied sciences (28%), medicine (38.5%) and sciences (49.7%).   Students from the overall Graduate School of Arts & Sciences voted 66.4%, while those from Harvard College only 48.5%. Older students voted more pro-union than younger ones (83% if 29-33, 66.6% from 23-28, 47.5% from 18-22).

President Drew Faust and Provost Alan Garber announced willingness to bargain with the union over employment-related issues, while maintaining strict control over academic issues.  (In practice these issues are closely intertwined, and by insisting that these employees are primarily “students” Garber indicated the University could be intransigent on most sensitive bargaining issues.)

Nevertheless Harvard is breaking with elite private universities like Columbia, Yale and Chicago who are refusing to bargain with unions of graduate students, in the expectation that the Supreme Court will overturn the 2016 NLRB ruling that graduate students could form a union and bargain collectively.  Successful completion of a collective bargaining agreement at Harvard could set a valuable precedent.

Harvard has bargained decent contracts for several decades with its union of clerical and technical employees, and may choose to follow a responsible course with its graduate student employees as well, even if the Supreme Court rules it does not have to do so.

In early 2018 some national unions trying to organize graduate students withdrew representation petitions (e.g. U Chicago) in fear that the Supreme Court will profit from a challenge to a representation petition by ruling against NLRB protection of student employee organizing.

However other graduate student organizing efforts in the Boston area have redoubled efforts to organize and bargain, correctly assessing that formal law is not their ally.   The Boston University grad school organizing group (BURGER) is promoting mutual support networks with other area student organizing  a concerted push to profit from a positive outcome at Harvard.

Two hundred graduate employees at Brandeis Univ. have joined SEIU 509’s organizing drive. They held a militant May Day March to demand Brandeis bargain in good faith.

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[Ed. note pg – I am particularly delighted by the union victory at Harvard.  50 years ago we formed an association of graduate students and teaching fellows at Harvard to oppose the Vietnam war, and participated in the 1969 strike.  Although we did not demand collective bargaining at the time, Harvard did unilaterally boost our teaching stipends by some 40% in an unsuccessful attempt to resolve our grievances.  I applaud the new generation for following the union organizing model for more lasting results.]