Tudor’s Biscuit World Workers Seek A Rare Fast Food Union

Despite the political successes of the “Fight For $15” movement, actual unionized fast food restaurants are rare. Burgerville workers in Portland, Oregon recently reached an agreement on a union contract after a years-long effort, and Starbucks workers in Buffalo and elsewhere have scheduled union elections at a number of stores. Now, 25 employees of a Tudor’s in tiny Elkview, West Virginia are joining them in the vanguard of fast food organizing by seeking to unionize with UFCW Local 400. Yesterday, they filed for a union election with the NLRB.

Continue reading

The Hypocritical Oath

The end of medical school is a moment that, for many medical school graduates, is several years — sometimes several generations — in the making. After four grueling years the graduate is ready to officially get that “MD” behind their name. But what else has the four years of medical school done for the soon-to-be physician? As previously discussed, medical school is not an apolitical environment in which “medical knowledge” is simply passed on to each student. Mechanisms are put in place to condition students to be less likely to question systems of power. Overall, the medical school structure serves as an indoctrination system. By the time they graduate, medical students are forced to take on massive amounts of student loans — the average medical school graduate has around $250,000 in student loan debt — which serves as a form of economic control and coercion.

Continue reading

Teamsters United Takes The Wheel

A new administration will soon take the helm of the 1.3 million-member Teamsters union. The Teamsters United slate swept to victory in this week’s vote count, beating out their rivals 2 to 1.

It’s the first time in almost a quarter-century that a coalition backed by Teamsters for a Democratic Union has taken the driver’s seat in the international union.

The incoming president is Sean O’Brien, leader of New England Joint Council 10. He says his top priorities are to unite the rank and file to take on employers, organize Amazon and other competitors in the union’s core industries, and withdraw support from politicians who don’t deliver on union demands.

Essential to organizing at Amazon or anyplace else, O’Brien argues, is winning enviable contracts for the existing Teamsters.

Continue reading

We Need Far More Radical Thinking Than Any COP26 Deal

Three issues arise directly from COP26. Firstly, the architects of the COP21 Paris agreement, Christiana Figueres and Laurence Tubiana, believe that yet more negotiations will have to follow COP26 next year. Secondly, the respected Climate Action Tracker put the consequences of what had so far been agreed, both before and during the summit, at a 2.4°C rise in temperature. Thirdly, and perhaps most daunting of all, even if a firm agreement is reached to keep the increase to 1.5°C, we are already experiencing the severity of climate change at the present 1.2° level.

When extreme weather events such as floods, wildfires and storms affect the Global North, they attract plenty of attention. There is still much less focus on the far greater impact of extreme weather on the Global South, which is a persistent source of bitterness given the failure of richer countries to implement the agreement for $100bn of support for poorer states.

Continue reading

‘Tell the Bosses We’re Coming’

The ongoing debate about reviving the U.S. labor movement tries to grapple with the devastating decline in the union membership rate from one-third of the workforce in the 1950s to less than 11% today. In this discussion, occasionally a book comes along that is a great combination of labor history, thoughtful analysis of union organizing, and suggestions for ways forward. Shaun Richman’s Tell the Bosses We’re Coming: A New Action Plan for Workers in the Twenty-First Century is such a book.

Richman is the Program Director of the Harry Van Arsdale Jr. School of Labor Studies at the State University of New York Empire State College. He brings the unique perspective of a veteran organizer who stepped away from union work to rethink organizing strategy and the legal framework in which unions operate.

Continue reading

The ‘Forgotten Fight’ For Prison Abolition In France

When I saw that Jaccques Lesage de La Haye had a new book called The Abolition of Prison, published by the French radical press, Éditions Libertalia, I reached out through my anarchist radio networks to find contact information for him. Jacques is a longtime anarchist and abolitionist in France, who for many years hosted the anti-prison radio show Ras les murs. His book promised to be a culmination of all of his experience writing and struggling against prisons and working to support people both inside and outside.

As a translator and an anarchist, I am always keeping an eye out for new texts to try to bring into English in order to connect movements around the world and especially to help connect the abolitionist struggles across national divides.

Continue reading

COP26: Governments Play Deaf To Social Movements

Glasgow, Scotland – One element that runs through all social movement climate summits is their rejection of the official meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the low ambition of its outcomes – and the treaty’s 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) was no exception.

The leaders of the UNFCCC “gladly welcome those who caused the crisis. COP26 has done nothing but pretend and greenwash,” Mitzi Jonelle Tan, a member of the non-governmental organization Youth Advocates for Climate Action from the Philippines, told IPS during a rally at the Glasgow Screening Room, a few blocks from the venue where the official meeting is being held until Friday, Nov. 12.

Continue reading

Kansas City Tenants Union: Organizing At The Speed Of Trust

Our tenant union network currently supports three tenant unions in the city. So that’s Gabriel Towers Tenant Union, McGee-Shiffman, Tenant Union, and the KC Homeless Union with plans to support the creation of many more unions. I’m sure that a lot of listeners of this podcast already know about the power that unions can wield. Lastly, our peoples Housing Trust Fund is a vision/ policy proposal that would make housing in KC truly and permanently affordable by divesting from our oppressors, namely gentrifiers and the police, and investing in our communities by funding social housing, rehabilitation to make homes more sustainable and accessible, protecting tenants rights, and more.

Continue reading

Mutual Aid Goes Mainstream

Last spring, within hours of the University of Chicago’s announcement that classes would be held online, students created a Facebook group to coordinate mutual aid efforts. Even with finals right around the corner, UChicago Mutual Aid came alive with activity. Students eagerly offered and accepted support in the form of advice, essential supplies like food and moving boxes, and spreadsheets listing leads on resources like housing. 

What I witnessed at my college was just one example of the many mutual aid networks, both college-based and non-college-based, that sprung up across the country in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mutual aid, a radical practice that has been undertaken by marginalized groups for decades, became a mainstream buzzword almost overnight.

Continue reading

Three Starbucks Set For Vote On Union

Workers hoping to unionize Starbucks stores in the U.S. have won a preliminary victory before the National Labor Relations Board.

The board said employees at three separate Starbucks stores in Buffalo, N.Y., can hold union elections in November in a new ruling. That means that workers need only a majority of votes cast at a single location to form a union. The company had argued that employees at all 20 Buffalo-area stores should vote in a single election.

If the effort is successful, the stores would be the first of Starbucks’ 8,000 company-owned U.S. stores to unionize. The Seattle coffee giant opposes the unionization effort.

Starbucks said Thursday evening that it had just received the ruling and was evaluating its options.

Continue reading

Nabisco Workers Hope Strike Inspires Others

A month-long strike by Nabisco workers beat back the snack-maker’s bid to introduce a two-tier health care plan and switch them onto 12-hour shifts. Employer contributions to workers’ 401(k) plans will be doubled.

One of the biggest issues in the strike was the company’s effort to do away with premium pay for weekend shifts and work after eight hours. The company wanted to put all workers on an Alternative Work Schedule consisting of 12-hour days, paid at straight time.

“The big issue for me is I just can’t do the 12 hours,” said April Flowers-Lewis, who’s been at the Chicago plant for 27 years. “Because the 12 hours will be 16 hours. And then if you do that and you’re not paying us for our time-and-a-half and double time, that’s like $20,000 from everybody.”

Workers are currently scheduled for eight-hour shifts Monday through Friday.

Continue reading

Is This A Strike Wave?

Last week, in the space usually reserved for sage editorials, the New York Times published Tom Morello’s ode to the radical Industrial Workers of the World and to Joe Hill, that union’s martyred troubadour. The Wobblies, as they were called, were the advocates of a militant, all-inclusive unionism and their songs—like “Solidarity Forever” and “Bread and Roses”—inspired tens of thousands in the industrial war they waged against the ruling class of America’s first Gilded Age. A couple days earlier, Bret Stephens, the conservative Times columnist, warned Democrats not to link their fortunes too closely to a revival of the labor movement, something he seems to take for granted. In support he recalled the militant coal mine strikes that nearly wrecked the British economy in the 1970s.

Continue reading

Water Protectors Show ‘Another World Is Possible’

A medic walked around the circle of 50 people occupying the lobby of the Department of the Interior, squirting water into our eager mouths before the police hauled us away. At the time, I had no idea that I wouldn’t be released until midnight, 12.5 hours after the action began. I just knew it was smart to stay hydrated, so I accepted every squirt of water offered, grateful for the care our Indigenous-led group was showing each other in circumstances designed to dehumanize us.

The Oct. 14 action occurred during the People vs. Fossil Fuels mobilization in Washington, D.C., a historic week of civil disobedience to pressure President Joe Biden to stop fossil fuel projects and declare a climate emergency. For Indigenous people, the protection of Mother Earth is deeply intertwined with the long struggle for Indigenous sovereignty, as destructive fossil fuel projects — like Line 3 in northern Minnesota — continue to be built through their territories without their consent.

Continue reading

Amazon Warehouse Workers In Staten Island File Petition For Union Election

Kayla Blado, the press secretary for the National Labor Relations Board, confirmed to ABC News on Monday that the union petition was filed in the NLRB’s Region 29. The petition must now go through the NLRB’s formal representation election process before a vote will be held.

The group of workers, which calls themselves the Amazon Labor Union, are being led by a former fulfillment center employee of the e-commerce giant, Chris Smalls. He became the face of the labor movement at Amazon when he was fired under contentious circumstances at the beginning of the pandemic after organizing a demonstration over working conditions amid the health crisis.

The milestone comes some six months after a high-profile union bid by Amazon workers in Bessemer, Alabama, who sought to be represented by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.

Continue reading

Non-Aligned Movement Celebrates Sixty Years

On October 11, 2021, delegations representing the governments of more than 105 nations, nearly all of the global South, met in Belgrade, Serbia to commemorate the founding of the Non-Aligned Movement sixty years ago in the capital of the former Yugoslavia.  The commemorative Summit was addressed by President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan, the current president of the Non-Aligned Movement; Aleksandar Vucic, President of Serbia, which hosted the event; Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, whose nation played an important role in the founding of the Movement; UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres; among others.  Several speakers criticized the accumulation of COVID-19 vaccines by rich Western countries, calling for more solidarity and a fairer distribution.

Continue reading