South Korea Will See A Massive Labor Uprising On January 15

On January 15, a coalition of workers across South Korea — rural farmers, the urban poor and laborers — will gather in downtown Seoul for a National All-People’s Mobilization, in a protest expected to reach large numbers. Since October, workers have mobilized to demand better conditions, broader labor protections and policies, and structural reforms ahead of the forthcoming presidential and local elections of 2022 (in March and June respectively).

The South Korean government has used pandemic restrictions to regulate and limit the right to public assembly, claiming without sufficient evidence that such mobilizations increase Covid-19 infection rates. Labor leaders say more than 100 labor organizers are under investigation since the October general strike, and many have been arrested

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Student Workers Of Columbia Reach Tentative Agreement

In the late hours of January 6, after more than two months on strike, the Student Workers of Columbia (SWC-UAW) reached a tentative agreement for their union’s first contract with Columbia University.

Contract wins include significant raises for workers, bringing annual compensation for those on 9-month appointments to just over $40,000 and raising the minimum wage for hourly workers from $15 to $21. SWC members also won dental insurance, childcare stipends, and an emergency healthcare fund available to all union members. They also won full recognition of all student workers as part of the bargaining unit and provisions for neutral arbitration of harassment and bullying cases. Full details have yet to be released to the public.

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After Years Of Setbacks, US Labor Demonstrates Its Power

2021 was a historic year for labor in the US. An eruption of strikes, major contract wins, and workers quitting low-wage jobs in unprecedented numbers all signaled that workers en masse are ready to reclaim their power. Workers organized union drives across nearly every industry, pushed for union reforms, and elected new union leadership, speaking volumes to their desire for a more democratic workplace.

For many workers, the pandemic revealed the cruelty of capitalism. Mainstream media and politicians campaigned for a return to business as usual during this second year of COVID. In particular, workers, called “essential” and “heroes” during the pandemic, were expected to continue sacrificing the most while receiving the least in pay and benefits.

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Going To Work Shouldn’t Be A Death Sentence

On Friday night, at a candle factory in Mayfield, Kentucky, an alarm sounded with a tornado warning. One employee, Elijah Johnson, approached his manager. “I asked to leave and they told me I’d be fired.” “‘Even with the weather like this, you’re still going to fire me?’” he asked the manager. The manager replied, “Yes.”

Workers who took shelter in hallways and bathrooms were ordered back to work. The bosses took a roll call to see if anyone had left. Three hours after the warning sirens began — more than enough time to send all employees home to seek shelter — the building was leveled by a tornado with 102 employees inside. Eight people were killed at Mayfield Consumer Products.

Workers make $8 an hour.

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How To Picket Stores That Sell Your Employer’s Products

Picketing stores that sell an employer’s products can publicize a strike and hurt earnings. It is also a good way to generate community support. Although the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) usually bars unions from picketing secondary (i.e., “neutral”) employers, a narrow legal exception applies to retail stores and distributors—provided the union does not interfere with operations, only asks the public not to buy struck products, does not ask customers to stop doing all business with the retailer (unless the store only sells struck products), and does not demand that the store stop buying products from the struck employer.

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Let’s Find Alternatives To Striking

While the LO, TCO and Saco top officials suffer from consensus fundamentalism, opposition among the grassroots often suffers from a fixation on strikes. Among the grassroots labor movement in Sweden, a call for big strikes or even a general strike is often heard. Strikes were called in response to the current attack on the Swedish Employment Protection Act, low wages, and attacks on the right to strike. In 2019, an attempt was made to stage a symbolic strike to highlight the climate crisis. As far as we are aware, no workplace was shut down. It should be acknowledged that sometimes we SAC members also have gotten lost in strike fixation and have tried to rush strikes into existence. An example is a strike in defense of the Unemployment Insurance Funds in 2006, which were being attacked by the Swedish government. It ended in a painful defeat.

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New Union-Busting Tracker Debuts Online

Helena, MT. – On Nov. 6, a group of volunteers launched a Web page called the Union-Busting Tracker to post examples of union-busting. Eleven days later, they’d listed 180 separate cases, naming the employers and the union-busting outfits they’d hired.

The project is intended to “embolden” workers, says Bob Funk, who founded the Website, which opened on May 1.

“A shocking amount of young workers think unions are illegal and don’t know their rights,” says Funk, who by day is communications director for a Montana union. “The union-busting industry takes advantage of people’s lack of knowledge.”

The group’s volunteers, union members from around the country, combed through LM-20 forms, which union-busting companies are required to file with the Department of Labor when employers hire them.

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The Labor Upsurge Of The 1930s And ’40s In The US

Union growth tends to take place in huge waves. As the most astute analysts have noted, during normal times very little seems to happen. Then, often unexpectedly, enormous gains are made. To be sure, there is plenty that organizers can do during the quieter times, not only to make important, if seemingly small gains, but also to prepare for the massive gains that will come with the next upsurge. It is our belief that most workers want and all workers need and benefit from unions. But what holds back union growth during normal times?

Two interrelated factors hold back the growth of unions. First, the initial development of unions is often thwarted by strong resistance from employers and the government.

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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.

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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.

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Hope For Labor At The End Of History

It was “the end of history”: America in the 1990s. Francis Fukuyama published a book with that title in 1992. Things would continue to happen, according to the philosopher, but the underlying story line had come to a finish with the triumph of liberal democracy and capitalism. As the decade wore on, Fukuyama’s prophecy seemed practically clairvoyant. At the turn of the millennium, Bob Dylan captured the zeitgeist: “I used to care, but things have changed.”

Yet how could that be? Talk of a second Gilded Age of gross disparities in income and wealth was already commonplace. Homelessness, declining wages, a reemergence of sweatshop labor, an explosion of a contingent and deeply insecure labor force, a population of the working poor numbering in the tens of millions, industrial ghost towns, the surgical removal of a whole occupational species of middle managers—on and on went the litany of what the “market republic” had accomplished.

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Left Labor Project, New York City Closing Statement

Left Labor Project was formed in 2008 by activists in New York City unions, with the goal of influencing the broad labor movement to the left. It brought together folks who had been deeply involved in labor, and other social movements as well. It was socialist, but inclusive of people from different groups and tendencies on the left. It was diverse, and included members of a variety of unions. No unions had official affiliation to LLP, however.

There were several features of LLP that distinguished it on the left and in the labor movement. It was mostly older activists, at a time before Occupy and the second coming of DSA as a predominantly under-40 group, but it sought to expand broadly via phone outreach and email. And it was a deliberate attempt to bring together members of socialist groups which have historically run on parallel, but not convergent paths.

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Millions Of Workers Want A Union

We know the U.S. labor movement is too small. Our current union density, or membership rate, is very low, about 11% of the workforce, with only around 6% in the private sector, and it’s been falling nearly every year for decades. To put this crisis in perspective, the union membership rate hasn’t been this low in more than a century. Wages, benefits and working conditions for many workers are not improving, and in some ways have gotten worse in recent decades.

Furthermore, union membership is concentrated in too few states. Over half of the 14.3 million union members live in just seven states. And in many southern states, the union membership rate is less than 5%. That means there are too many elected officials that have no fear of voting against union and workers’ interests.

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Letter To The Socialists, Old And New

I joined the labor movement 41 years ago. I had enrolled in the socialist movement two years before that. When I started out my links to the rest of the socialist movement were few; there were dwindling handfuls of people who identified publicly as “socialists.” The U.S. Mail and shortwave radio were my links to the bigger movement out there in the world. What remained of the socialist movement was rapidly decelerating and fissuring after the big 1960’s radicalization had run its course.

Even in these inopportune conditions I managed to climb aboard and find my places in both the labor and socialist movements.

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On Using Our Power To Stop Climate Disaster And Create A Just World

Time is running out to prevent full-blown climate catastrophe. Intertwined crises of wealth inequality, poverty, racism, and corporate despotism are deepening.

When working people refuse to go to work — when we put a stick in society’s gears — we can make enormous changes quite rapidly. There are many historical examples of this, including, flawed though it was, the New Deal.

How can we join forces across movements today to use our power to create the world we want before it’s too late?

Labor organizer, climate activist, and historian Jeremy Brecher will speak and then answer questions. He is the author of Strike! and the co-founder and policy and research director of the Labor Network for Sustainability.

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