Category Archives: Unions and Organized Labor

Senate Bill Would Guarantee Paychecks to Laid-Off Workers for Rest of 2020 ‘To Avoid Another Great Depression’

“We cannot continue to allow tens of millions of Americans to lose their jobs, income, and health insurance during this horrific pandemic,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders, one of the bill’s lead sponsors.

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-21-2020

Unemployed men queued outside a depression soup kitchen opened in Chicago by Al Capone. Photo: Public domain

Sens. Bernie Sanders, Mark Warner, Doug Jones, and Richard Blumenthal on Thursday unveiled legislation aimed at stemming coronavirus-induced mass layoffs in the United States by guaranteeing paychecks and healthcare benefits to laid-off and furloughed workers for the rest of 2020.

The Paycheck Security Act—introduced with support from senators across the ideological spectrum of the Democratic caucus, and with the notable backing of Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)—would massively expand the existing Employee Retention Tax Credit to cover wages, salaries, and benefits for laid-off or furloughed workers up to $90,000 per year. Continue reading

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Pelosi Support for Corporate Lobbyist Bailout Denounced as ‘Dumbest Political Maneuver You Could Possibly Make Right Now’

“Pelosi has run the House of Representatives by fiat for close to two months, and there hasn’t been a single word of protest as she locks every other member of the Democratic caucus out of policymaking.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-7-2020

Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has thrown her support behind a proposal to allow corporate lobbying groups to receive bailout money from a Covid-19 relief program meant for small businesses, a move one critic bluntly described as the “dumbest political maneuver you could possibly make right now.”

During a webinar with small business representatives on Tuesday, Pelosi said the next coronavirus relief package will include a change to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that would permit 501(c)(6) organizations to receive forgivable taxpayer loans. Continue reading

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Workers Gear Up for Major May Day Strike in Pushback Against Unsafe Conditions Amid Pandemic

One organizer explained that the goal is to “push back with large numbers against the right-wing groups that want to risk our lives by reopening the economy.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-29-2020

Amazon workers started calling in sick last week. Screenshot: WXYZ

Workers at some of the nation’s biggest companies including Amazon and Target are preparing to symbolically lock arms Friday for a May 1 strike and demand better protections on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic.

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“We Are Undervalued’: Target Delivery Workers to Walk Off Job in Demand for Better Treatment Amid Outbreak

“We are exposing ourselves to great risk so others don’t have to. During these uncertain times, Shipt must not put profits before people.”

By for Common Dreams. Published 4-6-2020

Photo: Wonderlane/flickr

Joining a nationwide wave of employee-led direct action during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, gig workers at the Target-owned grocery delivery service Shipt plan to walk off the job Tuesday and not return until the company provides them with two weeks of paid sick leave, hazard pay, and personal protective equipment.

“On Tuesday, April 7th, Shipt workers will walk off until our demands are met,” the group of Shipt workers that organized the walkout wrote in a Medium post Monday. “We call on customers, in a showing of solidarity, to boycott Shipt on Friday, April 10th.” Continue reading

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‘Now Make It National’: Vermont and Minnesota Classify Grocery Store Staff as Emergency Personnel

“If your job is so ‘essential’ that you can’t get off for a killer global pandemic, you deserve $15 an hour and a union.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-19-2020

Photo: Piqsels

Demands for nationwide protections for grocery store workers grew Thursday after officials in Minnesota and Vermont officially designated such employees as emergency workers who are essential to the U.S. population’s wellbeing as the coronavirus pandemic spreads across the country.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, a Democrat, added grocery store workers to those protected under the state’s “Care for Children of Families of Emergency Workers” order, requiring schools in the state to provide childcare for the employees. Previously, only hospital staff, nurses, and other public health and disaster workers qualified as emergency personnel under the directive. Continue reading

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‘We’re Just Getting Started,’ Says Union Leader, as Worker Strike Activity Hits 35-Year High Under Trump

“Trump’s economy is not a workers’ economy, and workers know solidarity is the best way to fight back.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-11-2020

Thousands of members and allies of the Chicago Teachers Union demonstrated in the city’s Union Park during a strike in October 2019. (Photo: CTU/Twitter)

In yet another rebuke to President Donald Trump’s claims that the U.S. economy is “roaring” and his “relentlessly pro-worker” agenda is serving the American public, a report published Tuesday by a progressive think tank revealed that the “number of striking workers surged in 2018 and 2019” after decades of decline.

The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) report, entitled Continued Surge in Strike Activity Signals Worker Dissatisfaction With Wage Growth, noted that the spike marked “a 35-year high for the number of workers involved in a major work stoppage over a two-year period.” Continue reading

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Real pay data show Trump’s ‘blue collar boom’ is more of a bust for US workers, in 3 charts

When looking at your paycheck, don’t forget about inflation. Leif Skoogfors/Getty Images

David Salkever, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

If you thought workers’ hourly pay was finally rising, think again.

At first glance, the latest data – which came out on Feb. 7 – look pretty good. They show nominal hourly earnings rose 3.1% in January from a year earlier.

But the operative word here is nominal, which means not adjusted for changes in the cost of living. Once you factor in inflation, the picture changes drastically. And far from representing a “blue collar boom” – as the president put it in his State of the Union address – the real, inflation-adjusted data show most U.S. workers have not benefited from the growing economy. Continue reading

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As NLRB Delivers ‘Victory’ to McDonald’s, Docs Reveal Fast Food Giant’s Dirty Anti-Union Tactics

“The owner class will buy up every lever of power they can… But in the end we will win because together we are unstoppable.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-12-2019

Workers and allies demanding a $15 an hour wage stage a protest outside a McDonald’s restaurant. (Photo: Steve Rhodes/flickr/cc)

A lengthy Bloomberg article spotlighting President Donald Trump’s long affinity for McDonald’s—which preceded a major decision from a federal agency that involved the fast food giant—revealed Thursday morning that thousands of previously unreported company documents and internal emails expose how “corporate executives monitored developments as managers helped orchestrate a years-long anti-union response across the U.S.”

Bloomberg reviewed McDonald’s internal records and reported that the company’s “tactics, which were discussed by and, at times, coordinated by regional executives of the company, included gathering intelligence from a cashier who attended a union meeting as a mole, circulating names of suspected pro-union workers, and coaching a franchisee on how to avoid hiring union sympathizers.” Continue reading

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‘Talk About Direct Action Getting Results’: Bankrupt Blackjewel Agrees to Pay Over $5 Million to Laid Off Coal Miners Who Blocked Train Tracks

“When workers stand together, fight back, and demand an end to corporate greed—they win,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders.

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-25-2019

Coal miners from Blackjewel coal company started blocking a train in Cumberland, Kentucky on July 29, to prevent a shipment from their former employer until Blackjewel pats them their lost wages. The miners were suddenly put out of work when the company declared bankruptcy in July. Photo: BlackJewel Miners Blockade/Twitter

Progressives on Friday highlighted the power of direct action following a series of federal court settlements this week that will provide coal miners who blocked train tracks in Kentucky for nearly two months this summer to protest against unpaid wages from their bankrupt employer, Blackjewel LLC, with over $5 million in back pay.

Congratulating the laid off coal miners on their victory, longtime labor advocate and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) tweeted Friday, “When workers stand together, fight back, and demand an end to corporate greed—they win.” Continue reading

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Demanding ‘Education Justice and Equality,’ Striking Chicago Teachers Call on Mayor to Put Campaign Promises In Writing

“We mean business. It’s got to be about shifting and transforming the infrastructure of inequity.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-19-2019

Photo/: Midwest Unrest/Twitter

On Friday, the second day of the Chicago Teachers Union strike, union leaders said that contract negotiations have seen some progress but that teachers and Chicago Public Schools have more work to do before achieving “educational justice” for the city’s 300,000 public school students—not just raises for teachers.

Before heading into negotiations Friday morning, CTU President Jesse Sharkey said the city offered $8 to $10 million to reduce class sizes—an improvement over the $1 million it initially offered. Continue reading

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