CtW Stands with the Strike for Black Lives!

Monday, July 20, 2020
By Oliver Effron, CNN Business

Thousands of essential workers were set to walk off the job Monday to demand corporations raise wages, provide health care and paid sick leave, and grant employees the right to unionize — part of a larger effort to pressure businesses to confront systemic racism.

The walkout, called the Strike for Black Lives, will take place in more than 100 cities in the United States. Protesters include Black and brown fast food workers, home health aides, janitors, and others in industries where Black workers are disproportionately represented.

The Movement for Black Lives is organizing the protest, alongside the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the Fight for $15 and a Union, the Poor People’s Campaign, and other labor advocacy organizations.”

Black people are dying, Black communities are in danger, and workers of all races have had enough,” said Mary Kay Henry, president of the SEIU — which represents almost 2 million service workers — in a statement. “With the Strike for Black Lives, we are uniting the interconnected fights for racial and economic justice.”

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A new survey finds hundreds of McDonald’s workers have been assaulted by anti-mask customers

Thursday, July 16, 2020
By Kate Taylor, Business Insider

As mask requirements becomes the norm during the coronavirus pandemic, companies are facing looming questions on how workers can safely enforce new policies. 

A Service Employees International Union survey of 4,187 McDonald’s workers shared with Business Insider found that 44% of respondents said they had been verbally or physically assaulted after confronting customers who weren’t wearing masks. 

While the SEIU only surveyed a small proportion of the chain’s more than 800,000 workers in the US, the 44% of respondents alone represent more than 1,800 employees who say they have been assaulted on the job. 

Read the full story from Business Insider

OSHA Complaints Show the Morbid Dangers Healthcare Workers Face During the Pandemic

Thursday, July 16, 2020
By Nick Vachon, In These Times

During the darkest days of the Covid-19 pandemic, with thousands dying every day, America relied on a select few essential workers to keep society running, like postal workers, grocery workers and meat packers—all industries that have seen, together, hundreds of Covid-related deaths among workers. Chief among them are nurses, on the front lines of the pandemic, who have put their lives on the line to intubate disease victims and provide lifesaving medical care. Since the pandemic began, over 500 healthcare workers in the United States have died from the virus.

But these workers who we rely on so deeply—dubbed “warriors” by President Donald Trump and “heroes” by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell—continue to work under hostile management and in dangerous workplaces that make the disease even more contagious and deadly.

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The Case For Sectoral Bargaining Is Now Stronger Than Ever

Thursday, May 21, 2020
By Hamilton Nolan, In These Times

We are living through the economic equivalent of emergency medicine. Right now, we are focused on leaders trying (often ineptly) to triage the immediate consequences of our economic crisis. Most of us are just thinking about staying employed. But there is deeper trouble on the horizon—the future of wages. We need to talk about how we’re going to prevent the paychecks of workers from getting crushed for years even after the pandemic is over.Tens of millions of working people are newly unemployed. A large portion of the jobs they left will not come back. Hundreds of thousands of businesses will close as a result of the pandemic and its associated lockdown and the failure of our government to extend a proper lifeline. Ideally, the federal government would get workers and employers to the other side of this in one piece with a competent rescue package, but that is almost certainly not going to happen. Not even the Democrats have proposed measures that would be adequate to prevent a massive, long-lived crisis for working people. So let’s turn the discussion, for a moment, to what must be done to ensure that the aftermath of this does not reinforce all of the most devastating economic trends of the past 40 years: stagnant wages for working people, capture of great wealth by the very richest people, and inequality that, incredibly, keeps getting worse.

Economists say that what’s happening now will severely depress wages in coming years. Unemployment will remain high, along with desperation, and chunks of jobs will simply disappear, and companies will be all too happy to take advantage of that in order to hire at lower wages and resist wage increases for the workers they have. The layoffs that have already happened have disproportionately hit low-income workers—the group with the least ability to fight back against cutthroat employers that want to force them into future positions that will earn them even less. There will be fewer bad jobs, and the bad jobs will be worse, and companies will luxuriate in the large pool of unemployed people in order to lean into a “take it or leave it” attitude for lower pay. They will cut labor costs at the bottom, because they can, and funnel those savings to the bottom line. That will happen, because that is our system. So, if we care about working people, what do we do about that?

The core of the problem is that workers need more bargaining power, to prevent their bosses from pushing their wages down. That power comes from organized labor and collective bargaining. The revival and growth of unions in America is the long-term solution to the big capitalist mechanism that has kept wealth inequality growing for four decades.

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Delta, JetBlue criticized for cutting employee hours after receiving billions in coronavirus relief

Thursday, May 21, 2020
By Lori Aratani, The Washington Post

Lawmakers are criticizing Delta Air Lines and JetBlue for plans to cut employee hours, despite receiving more than $5 billion in government support as part of the federal coronavirus relief package.

In letters sent this week to the airlines’ chief executives, more than a dozen senators wrote that plans to reduce employee hours violate the intent of the Payroll Support Program that was established as part of the $2 trillion Cares Act.

“Your decision to cut employee hours is inconsistent with congressional intent and is a blatant and potentially illegal effort to skirt you requirements to keep workers on payroll, and you should reverse this policy immediately,” the senators wrote.

Under the Cares Act, U.S. airlines were eligible to receive more than $50 billion in grants and loan. Of that, $25 billion was in the form of grants that were to be used to keep front line workers such as flight attendants, pilots and mechanics on the job. In exchange for receiving the money, airlines had to agree to a number of conditions, including keeping workers on the job through Sept. 30.

Read the full story from The Washington Post

Could Coronavirus Help Amazon Workers Unionize?

Thursday, May 21, 2020
By Nandita Bose and Krystal Hu, Reuters

Amazon.com Inc employees across the country are seizing on the coronavirus to demand the world’s largest online retailer offer more paid sick time and temporarily shut warehouses with infections for deep cleaning.

Employees in at least 11 states this year have voiced their concerns and staged actions to highlight a variety of purported workplace deficiencies, allegations the company has denied.

Supporting these Amazon workers are labor groups and unions eager to penetrate the Seattle-based behemoth after years of failed attempts to unionize its operations.

Reuters spoke with 16 unions and labor groups targeting Amazon. They included established organizations such as the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), the United Food & Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), as well as newer worker advocacy groups like Warehouse Workers for Justice and Athena, a coalition of labor and social justice groups that have criticized Amazon’s business practices.

Read the full story from Reuters

How One Local Union Is Doubling Wages for America’s Airport Workers

Thursday, April 2, 2020
By Steven Greenhouse, The American Prospect

Andrea Bundy came to the United States from Jamaica in 2011 in pursuit of the American dream, but her first job in America—cleaning airline cabins at New York’s Kennedy Airport—turned out to be anything but a dream. Her pay was so low, just $7.25 an hour, that “I wasn’t able to afford the clothes for my daughter to be on the high school track team,” she says.

In a typical eight-hour shift, she helps clean 7 to 12 planes, picking up trash left on seats and in seat pockets and mopping airplane bathrooms and pantries. She also has to get on her hands and knees to look under seats to make sure no one on the previous flight left a bomb or poison. Airlines sometimes plant fake bombs on the floor or wedged underneath a seat cushion, and if cabin cleaners fail to find them, they can get suspended or even lose their job.

Bundy was fortunate. Most private-sector unionization campaigns fail, undone by obsolete labor laws that often thwart workers’ attempts to organize and by fierce opposition from their employers. But 32BJ decided to go all in, devoting sizable resources to the campaign and devising a strategy that mobilized workers and their allies to pressure government officials to raise the workers’ wages, which in turn built the momentum for unionization. It worked. Local 32BJ mounted one of the biggest private-sector unionization drives in years and spearheaded a living-wage campaign for the airport workers. That dual strategy doubled pay for many airport workers and enabled them to win a union.

Read the full story from The American Prospect

Farmworkers, Mostly Undocumented, Become ‘Essential’ During Pandemic

Thursday, April 2, 2020
By Miriam Jordan, The New York Times

LOS ANGELES — Like legions of immigrant farmworkers, Nancy Silva for years has done the grueling work of picking fresh fruit that Americans savor, all the while afraid that one day she could lose her livelihood because she is in the country illegally.

But the widening coronavirus pandemic has brought an unusual kind of recognition: Her job as a field worker has been deemed by the federal government as “essential” to the country.

Ms. Silva, who has spent much of her life in the United States evading law enforcement, now carries a letter from her employer in her wallet, declaring that the Department of Homeland Security considers her “critical to the food supply chain.”

“It’s like suddenly they realized we are here contributing,” said Ms. Silva, a 43-year-old immigrant from Mexico who has been working in the clementine groves south of Bakersfield, Calif.

Read the full story from The New York Times

UPS Workers Say Company Not Prioritizing Safety as Workers Test Positive

Wednesday, April 1, 2020
Guests: Richard Hooker and David Levin, Democracy Now!

The White House is now estimating 100,000 to a quarter of a million people could die from the coronavirus pandemic. Some of those most concerned about exposure to the highly infectious virus are workers on the frontlines of grocery stores and delivery services. On Monday, Amazon warehouse workers in Staten Island walked off the job, and the company fired one of them in response. At least three employees at a large UPS facility near Boston have tested positive, and two dozen more have been quarantined. Details about the infections were shared by the workers’ union because they said the company refused to provide the critical information to its employees. We speak with Richard Hooker, secretary-treasurer of the Philadelphia Teamsters Local 623, and David Levin, lead organizer with Teamsters for a Democratic Union and the coordinator of the UPS Teamsters United campaign.

On Monday, workers who fulfill orders for Instacart staged a protest to demand better working protections and hazard pay. Also Monday, Amazon warehouse workers on Staten Island walked off the job. Amazon fired one of them in response, and we’ll get his response later in the broadcast. Amazon says they fired him because he wasn’t doing social distancing. He tells a different story. On Tuesday, Whole Foods workers organized a national sick-out protest demanding double normal wages for workers as hazard pay for working on the frontlines during a pandemic. This comes as three workers at a large UPS facility near Boston have tested positive and two dozen more have been quarantined.

Read or listen to the full story from Democracy Now!

American Workers Are Going On Strike In Huge Numbers

Tuesday, February 11, 2020
By Dave Jamieson, Huffpost

U.S. workers continued to throw their weight around in a healthy economy in 2019, recording the largest number of major strikes in the decade.The U.S. saw 25 work stoppages involving at least 1,000 workers last year, according to data released Tuesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That was the most of any year between 2010 and 2019, a time span in which the average was 15.

The number of strikes is largely a reflection of the tight labor market, which has shifted leverage from employers to workers, coupled with the relatively slow growth in wages. Unions feel more emboldened to carry out strikes when many companies can afford to meet their demands and may have a difficult time finding replacement workers due to low unemployment. The total number of workers who went on strike in those work stoppages was 425,500 ― fewer than the 485,000 in 2018, but still a hefty number by historical standards. Workers generally have not gone on strike in such large numbers since the mid-1980s.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, 2018 and 2019 accounted for the largest two-year average of striking workers in more than three decades.

Read the full story from Huffpost