What ultimately settles grievances? More often than not, it hinges on the union’s ability to pressure management to settle. When managers look at the steward and the grievant across the table at a grievance meeting, they must clearly understand that they are dealing with more than just two people. They are dealing with the entire union. Management must also go to the grievance meeting feeling some immediacy, so they don’t drag the grievance out through all the steps.Continue reading
Solidarity Center Funding Skyrockets For Venezuela And Colombia
The Solidarity Center’s activities in Venezuela and Colombia skyrocketed last year. Funding from the mis-named National Endowment for Democracy (NED) soared to almost 60% over the previous year’s awards. The 2020 funding, alone, represents over 40% of the total for similar grants for the last five years on record ($3,617,000). In 2020, the Solidarity Center’s Bogotá office received $1,470,000 in regional NED funding. That is up over $626,000 in 2019. Additionally, the NED gave a $50,000 award for “a survey of labor rights violations” but did not specify to whom the grant was given.
The Solidarity Center works closely with long-time partners, the Confederation of Venezuelan Workers (CTV, for Confederación de Trabajadores de Venezuela), as well as the Labor Solidarity Movement (MSL for Movimiento de Solidridad Laboral), which includes current and former CTV officials in its leadership, as well as Orlando Chirino, who was a candidate for president of Venezuela against Hugo Chávez in 2012.Continue reading
Workers Have Leverage
The capitalist vultures are wheeling low, but they’re finding slim pickings to choose from these days.
“No one wants to work!” The bosses whine about a worker shortage—though it’s one they brought about.
Eighteenth-century British economist Adam Smith noted how common it is to hear complaints about workers coming together to fight for their interests, and how rare it is to hear about all the scheming the bosses do to plunder workers’ labor.
“Masters are always and everywhere in a sort of tacit, but constant and uniform combination, not to raise the wages of labor above their actual rate,” Smith wrote in The Wealth of Nations.
That scheming is the background to the current labor shortage.Continue reading
US Labor’s Future May Depend On Monetary And Fiscal Policy
Labor Day is a good time to reflect upon how American workers have been doing — especially the majority who have been left behind for most of the past 40 years. From 1979 to 2018, the median wage has grown by just 11.6 percent. If we compare this to prior decades, e.g., 1948 to 1979, that increase was 93.2 percent. These two facts tell a big part of the story of a social transformation that is both inexcusable and historically unusual: a high-income country becoming vastly more unequal, as most workers’ pay fails to rise with most of the gains in productivity that has accompanied their work.
Then came COVID, which has disproportionately harmed and killed lower-wage and Black workers. Hopefully, the current wave will subside and pass soon, as more people are vaccinated.Continue reading
Pandemic Discrimination Against Asian Americans Has Long Roots
“I have pepper spray and I hold it every time I’m alone right now in case I see someone that is really frightening,” said New York City teacher Annie Tan, who is Chinese American.
By February 2020, friends of hers had already been verbally harassed on the subway. One had been deliberately coughed on. Another was too scared to take the train anymore.
Many Asian Americans and Asian immigrants are experiencing similar incidents.
A neighbor pointed to her and said “China virus,” said Ah Ying, a homecare worker in San Francisco who immigrated years ago from Taishan, China. A physical assault on an Asian American occurred near where she lives. Ah Ying has told her daughter to restrict her activities outside the home.Continue reading
The Year That Labor Hung On By Its Fingertips
Broadly speaking, there have been two very large labor stories this year. The first is, “I have been forced into unemployment due to the pandemic, and I am scared.” And the second is, “I have been forced to continue working during the pandemic, and I am scared.” America’s labor reporters spent most of our year writing variations of these stories, in each company and in each industry and in each city. Those stories continue to this day.
The federal government left working people utterly forsaken. They did not create a national wage replacement system to pay people to stay home, as many European nations did. OSHA was asleep on the job, uninterested in workplace safety related to coronavirus.Continue reading
Remembering Leo Panitch
My first meeting with Leo Panitch didn’t go so well. I was sitting in a restaurant before the 2016 Labour Party conference in Liverpool with Jacobin editor Bhaskar Sunkara. Leo arrived dressed in a sharp leather jacket and looking far too young for his age. Unfortunately, he seemed to have travelled from Canada with a determination to debate Bhaskar about something or other, and a spirited conversation ensued. I literally didn’t get a word in and we barely exchanged names before he had departed again, already late for a meeting with another of his many mentees.
Things didn’t swiftly improve. Bhaskar and I had been involved in organising one of the headline events of the first World Transformed festival, a discussion of the legacy of Ralph Miliband involving Leo Panitch, John McDonnell, and another of Leo’s protégés, Max Shanly.Continue reading
America’s Current Jobs ‘Great Depression’
“Two well-known and highly respected mainstream economists, Carmen Reinhart, a chief economist for the World Bank, and Vincent Reinhart, chief economist for Morgan Stanley bank, have recently published an article in the widely read capitalist source, Foreign Affairs, entitled ‘The Pandemic Depression’. Arguing primarily from a global perspective, the economists have concluded the US economy as of the 3rd quarter 2020 is not merely now experiencing a ‘great recession’ but now qualifies as another Great Depression.Continue reading
Workers Are Striking During The COVID18 Pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic has revealed much about work in the United States: There have been countless examples of workers speaking out against unsafe work conditions and demanding personal protective equipment (PPE) to try and stay healthy and safe on the job. We also have seen that essential workers are often not paid commensurate with the critical nature of their work. Few U.S. workers have access to paid sick time or paid leave of any kind. And, when workers have advocated for health and safety protections or wage increase, they have often been retaliated against, and even fired for doing so. As a result, many workers have decided to strike in an effort to have their voices heard.
Even before the pandemic, data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed an upsurge in major strike activity in 2018 and 2019, marking a 35-year high for the number of workers involved in a major work stoppage over a two-year period.Continue reading
Yes, The U.S. Unemployment Rate Is Low, But So Is The Job Quality Index
The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ November jobs report released on Dec. 6 showed a 50-year low unemployment rate of 3.5 percent, with 266,000 jobs added. This signals a strong economy. But another recent report, from the Coalition for a Prosperous America, shows that while the quantity of jobs has increased since the Great Recession, the quality of jobs has decreased. The November federal jobs report shows the health care sector leading the way with the number of jobs added, followed by manufacturing and hospitality. Nevertheless, wage growth actually dipped by a tenth of a percent, and wage growth has slowed this year compared to last year.Continue reading
Labor Organizers Have Filed A Complaint Against The Marciano Art Foundation Over Its Abrupt Closure In The Wake Of Unionization Efforts
“[The museum closure] shows that they would rather shut down a ‘public service’ institution than raise wages a dime—or raise pay a dime above minimum wage,” one of the laid-off workers, Spencer Longo, told the Los Angeles Times. A number of the dismissed employees demonstrated outside the shuttered museum on Friday, where they were joined by workers from other museums. “We have other actions in the works,” Izzy Johnson, a docent who serves on the union’s organizing committee, told the Los Angeles Times.Continue reading
Teachers Are More Stressed Out Than You Probably Think
When I was just a new teacher, I remember my doctor asking me if I had a high stress job. I said that I taught middle school, as if that answered his question. But he took it to mean that I had it easy. After all – as he put it – I just played with children all day. Now after 16 years in the classroom and a series of chronic medical conditions including heart disease, Crohn’s Disease and a recent battle with shingles though I’m only in my 40s, he knows better.Continue reading
The Latest Attacks On Labor, Social Security, And Government
Labor Day is a holiday designed to honor America’s workers. Instead, Donald Trump continues to attack them. Indeed, his administration is in the midst of a stealth effort that not only attacks workers but also our earned Social Security benefits and our federal government. The long-term goals of Trump and his Congressional allies are to destroy the labor movement, wreck the federal government, and end Social Security. That may sound hyperbolic, but it is not. Trump’s latest stealth attack is not only anti-union, it will eventually make it so difficult to access Social Security benefits that some beneficiaries…Continue reading
NLRB Reversing Important Labor Law Precedents
Employee rights advocates say this Labor Day’s family barbecues and union solidarity picnics will take place in the shadow of a Trump administration that has quietly stacked the National Labor Relations Board with anti-labor members. The federal agency is far less well-known than the IRS or EPA, but its five presidential appointees issue rulings with often far-reaching consequences for America’s working men and women. The NLRB was created in 1935 to oversee collective bargaining and protect labor standards…Continue reading
Every American Should Be Guaranteed A Job. The Green New Deal Could Make That Happen.
Yes! President Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed a “second Bill of Rights” in his 1944 State of the Union, a list of economic and social rights including “the right to a useful and remunerative job.” “Full employment” has been the official goal of the U.S. government since 1978, with the Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment Act following advocacy from labor groups as well as Coretta Scott King. Early versions of the bill included an actual jobs guarantee, which was cut out of the final legislation. A jobs guarantee was also part of Jesse Jackson’s 1988 presidential platform.Continue reading