Category Archives: Unions and Organized Labor

The time for a four-day week has arrived

A new experiment from Iceland confirms what many of us have long suspected: reducing working hours improves wellbeing and productivity

By Jack Kellam.  Published 7-8-2021 by openDemocracy

Photo: Rawpixel Ltd/flickr/CC

Over the past six years, Iceland has been quietly conducting a major economic experiment. More than 2,500 public sector employees – representing over 1% of the country’s entire working population – reduced their working hours from 40 hours per week to 35 or 36 hours, with no loss of pay.

Trials of shorter working weeks are not new: in recent years a number of ‘four-day week’ experiments have taken place around the world – from Microsoft’s trial in Japan to Unilever’s experiment in New Zealand. But Iceland’s two trials, which took place between 2015 and 2021 among employees of the country’s national government and Reykjavík City Council, are unparalleled in terms of scale and scope. Progress was meticulously monitored by Icelandic researchers, which generated an unrivalled amount of evidence on the impact of shorter working hours. This week the key findings were published in a joint report published by Alda (Association for Sustainable Democracy) and Autonomy. Continue reading

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As Pandemic Wiped Out Workers, Covid Crisis Proved No Obstacle to Soaring CEO Pay

“This should have been a year for shared sacrifice,” said one economist. “Instead it became a year of shielding CEOs from risk while it was the frontline employees who paid the price.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-28-2021

Carnival CEO Arnold Donald’s pay package in 2020 surged to $13.3 million, a 19% increase over the previous year, even though the cruise operator recorded losses of $10.2 billion. Photo: World Travel & Tourism Council/flickr/CC

Even as the Covid-19 pandemic created record losses in the second quarter of 2020—and claimed the lives and livelihoods of millions of workers—median CEO pay in the U.S. increased yet again last year, according to a new analysis.

At a time when “CEOs’ big pay packages seemed to be under as much threat as everything else,” many boards of directors “made changes to the intricate formulas that determine” executive compensation to “make up for losses created by the crisis,” the Associated Press reported Friday. Continue reading

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Progressive Groups Mark May Day With Rallies Urging Passage of PRO Act

“The fight for the PRO Act is a fight for a future of dignity for all workers,” said Democratic Rep. Jamaal Bowman of New York.

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-1-2021

Protest at Amazon HQ on Cyber Monday 2019. Photo: War on Want/flickr/CC

A coalition of over 40 progressive organizations on Saturday rallied online and in person to support the PRO Act—legislation that would strengthen workers’ right to organize among other pro-worker provisions.

Groups behind the May Day actions include MoveOn, Indivisible, Democratic Socialists of America, and the Working Families Party.

The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act passed the House in March but has not yet faced a vote in the upper chamber, where it confronts the 60-vote legislative filibuster and no support from three Democrats—Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), Mark Kelly (Ariz.), and Mark Warner (Va.). Continue reading

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‘Huge Victory’: Federal Appeals Court Orders EPA to Ban All Food Uses of Toxic Pesticide Chlorpyrifos

“EPA’s time is now up,” said the environmental law firm Earthjustice, which sued the agency on behalf of labor and public health groups.

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-29-2021

Agricultural workers in a filel outside La Conner, Washington. Photo: Library of Congress

The environmental law organization Earthjustice celebrated a “huge victory” for farmworkers and children on Thursday after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to ban all food uses of a toxic pesticide linked to memory loss and developmental harms.

The EPA was given 60 days (pdf) to revoke all food uses of chlorpyrifos and retain only those that are found to have no effects on people’s health. Continue reading

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200+ Groups From 67 Nations Demand ‘Transformational Change’ at Corporate-Friendly WTO

“The WTO’s hyperglobalization rules shaped a global economy that is not working for most people, and it’s due time to replace them.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-28-2021

WTO Headquarters. Screenshot: Sky News

More than 200 environmental groups, labor unions, and civil society organizations from 67 nations sent a letter to global heads of state on Wednesday demanding “transformational change” at the World Trade Organization, a relatively new institution that critics say is structurally inadequate and much too corporate-friendly to confront the planet’s most pressing challenges.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed how the WTO model exacerbates insecurity, inequality, and instability,” argues the coalition, which includes Public Services International, Third World Network-Africa, and Public Citizen. “Legitimate global commercial rules should facilitate the improvement of the livelihoods, health, and wellbeing of all people around the world and the long-term survival of the planet. The WTO system has not met these goals: It was never fit for purpose and certainly is not now.” Continue reading

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Democrats Warn DeJoy’s New 10-Year Plan Guarantees ‘Death Spiral’ for US Postal Service

“This so-called plan from Louis DeJoy should itself be a dead letter. This is a blueprint for the Post Office’s continued decay and destruction.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-23-2021

Congressional Democrats gravely warned Tuesday that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s new 10-year strategic plan would ensure that the U.S. Postal Service remains in a “death spiral” by further degrading the agency’s performance, slashing Post Office hours across the country, and raising postage prices for consumers and businesses.

Slamming the sweeping changes as “draconian,” Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) said in a statement Tuesday that “customers and Congress are fed up with DeJoy’s service cuts and record delays.” Continue reading

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‘It’s Not Up to Him,’ Respond Critics as DeJoy Says He Plans to Remain Postmaster General for a ‘Long Time’

“DeJoy is daring Senate Democrats to do something about him.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-24-2021

Screenshot: C-SPAN

Update:

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said during a House Oversight Committee hearing Wednesday that he intends to remain in his role “for a long time” and added, “Get used to me.”

But critics were quick to note that how long DeJoy remains postmaster general is ultimately up to the Postal Service Board of Governors, which is composed of up to nine Senate-confirmed officials who have the authority to remove and replace DeJoy. The postmaster general does not serve a fixed term. Continue reading

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New York AG Sues Amazon Over ‘Flagrant Disregard’ for Worker Safety During Pandemic

“We won’t let corporate bullies put hardworking New Yorkers in harm’s way,” said the state attorney general, Letitia James.

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-17-2021

Screenshot: YouTube

New York Attorney General Letitia James on Tuesday sued Amazon, accusing the retail giant of disregarding worker safety during the coronavirus pandemic and retaliating against employees who raised concerns—a move that came just days after she declared that “we won’t be intimidated” in response to the company’s preemptive lawsuit.

The state’s suit (pdf), filed in the New York Supreme Court, follows an investigation launched last March and claims Amazon violated multiple labor laws as the virus struck. Continue reading

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‘Fire DeJoy Before He Burns Down USPS’: Postmaster General Pushes Plan for Slower Mail, Higher Prices

“Biden should fire the governors of the USPS who appointed DeJoy, install new ones, and have them fire DeJoy. He should not be allowed to continue destroying the Postal Service.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-14-2021

Undeterred by the backlash and widespread delays that followed his disruptive operational changes at the U.S. Postal Service last year, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is reportedly planning to roll out another slate of policies that would significantly hike postage rates and further slow the delivery of certain kinds of mail.

While the plan has yet to be finalized, new details of the proposal—first reported by the Washington Post—intensified pressure on President Joe Biden to take decisive action before DeJoy inflicts any more damage on the most popular government institution in the country. Continue reading

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In ‘Particularly Cruel’ Act, Maine Hospital Vaccinates Out-of-State Union-Busters as Vulnerable Residents Forced to Wait

“It’s concerning that MaineHealth would put their own anti-union agenda, and their own bottom line, ahead of the health and well-being of Maine people.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-11-2021

“MaineHealth is comfortable calling nurses heroes but draws the line at treating them like heroes or respecting their desire to form a union,” said Maine’s Assistant Senate Majority Leader Mattie Daughtry (D-Brunswick). Photo: Medic454/wikimedia commons/CC

Maine’s largest health network is being condemned this week by organized labor leaders, a local editorial board, and elected officials after it vaccinated union-busters who traveled from Florida and New York to the Pine Tree state to undermine a unionization effort at a Portland hospital while the state’s frontline workers and eligible residents in high-risk groups were forced to wait.

“Every out-of-state consultant and lawyer that MaineHealth flew in as part of their intimidation campaign got the vaccine instead of someone’s grandparent or loved one,” Maine Senate President Troy Jackson, a Democrat from Allagash, said in a statement Tuesday. Continue reading

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