Category Archives: Unions and Organized Labor

Workers Mark May Day With Pro-Labor Protests Worldwide

“It’s a May Day of social and civil commitment for peace and labor,” said Daniela Fumarola, head of Italy’s CISL union.

By Jessica Corbett  Published 5-1-2022 by Common Dreams

Immigrants and allies marching in Washington DC on May 1, 2022. Photo: United We Dream/Twitter

Workers and labor rights advocates across the globe came together Sunday for demonstrations marking International Workers’ Day, or May Day.

Organizers held about 250 actions across France, many pressuring newly reelected French President Emmanuel Macron to ditch his plan to raise the retirement age from 62 to 65. Reuters reported that “marchers carried banners reading ‘Retirement Before Arthritis,’ ‘Retirement at 60, Freeze Prices,’ and ‘Macron, Get Out.'” Continue reading

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After Amazon and Starbucks, what’s next for revamped US labor movement?

Workers across the country are beginning to reverse a 40-year decline of labor organising. But deeper problems remain

By Aaron White  Published 4-29-2022 by openDemocracy

Starbucks employees protesting outside the Magnolia Dr. location in Tallahassee, FL. Photo: Ethan B./Wikimedia Commons/CC

“Starbucks has this image of being a progressive company that takes care of its employees. But really that hasn’t been the case,” Will Westlake, a barista at a Starbucks in Buffalo, tells openDemocracy.

Will got a job at Starbucks nearly a year ago, and was one of nearly 50 people from the Buffalo New York region – as part of Starbucks Workers United – to sign a letter in August asking then-CEO Kevin Johnson to support a fair union election. Continue reading

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Rallies Held Across US for ‘Climate, Care, Jobs, and Justice’

“The president and Congress must protect our planet and the people who call Earth home—now.”

By Kenny Stancil  Published 4-23-2022 by Common Dreams

SEIU executive vice president Gerry Hudson speaks at the “Fight for Our Future” rally in Washington, D.C. on April 23, 2022. (Photo: Adrien Salazar/Twitter)

Scores of people in communities around the United States took to the streets on Saturday to demand swift and bold legislative and executive action to tackle the fossil fuel-driven climate crisis as well as skyrocketing inequality.

At “Fight for Our Future” rallies held in Washington, D.C., Phoenix, Atlanta, and more than 40 additional cities across the country, the message was simple: Time is running out for Congress and President Joe Biden to make the bold investments needed to create millions of unionized clean energy and care sector jobs that can simultaneously mitigate greenhouse gas pollution along with economic and racial injustice. Continue reading

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Thousands of Sutter Health Nurses Stage 1-Day Northern California Strike

“We’re tired of being ignored and left without the resources we need to care for our patients,” explained California Nurses Association.

By Brett Wilkins  Published 4-18-2022 by Common Dreams

Nurses and healthcare workers at Sutter Health’s Solano Medical Center in Vallejo, California participate in a one-day strike on April 18, 2022. (Photo: California Nurses Association/Twitter)

Thousands of nurses at 18 Northern California Sutter Health hospitals and medical facilities on Monday began a one-day strike to protest what their union called the healthcare provider’s refusal to address “proposals about safe staffing and health and safety protections” amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

More than 8,000 members of California Nurses Association (CNA)—a National Nurses United (NNU) affiliate—and CNA-affiliated Caregivers and Healthcare Employees Union are participating in the action, according to NNU. Continue reading

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‘Release the Dough’: Minneapolis Teachers Strike for First Time in More Than 50 Years

“We’re on strike for safe and stable schools and systemic change,” said the leader of the local teachers union.

By Kenny Stancil.  Published 3-9-2022 by Common Dreams

Photo: Becky Pringle/Twitter

The Minneapolis teachers’ strike entered a second day Wednesday as union representatives and district officials resumed negotiations over smaller class sizes, improved student supports, and better pay.

In addition to demanding caps on class sizes and counselors in every school, the union is seeking higher starting salaries for educational support professionals (ESPs) as well as “a 12% salary increase for first-year educators and 5% increase for second-year teachers,” the Star Tribune reported. Continue reading

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Poor People’s Campaign Readies ‘Massive, Nonviolent’ Effort to Save Democracy

“We are not in this for a moment, but for a movement,” said Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II. “Our deadline is victory.”

By Jake Johnson.  Pubished 1-16-2022 by Common Dreams

Photo: Becker1999/flickr/CC

Don’t call it a day of action.

On June 18, the Poor People’s Campaign and its partners in organized labor, the civil rights movement, and religious communities are planning to mobilize their members and allies from across the U.S. to Washington, D.C. for what they hope will be the “largest mass assembly of poor people and low-wage workers in this nation’s history.”

But Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, cautioned against viewing the impending “massive, nonviolent” march on the nation’s capital as a singular event, one whose energy and demands will fade as soon as that June Saturday ends. Continue reading

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More Than 8,000 Kroger Grocery Workers Strike in Colorado

The strike began a day after a report showed 14% of Kroger workers have experienced homelessness in the past year.

By Julia Conley.  Published 1-12-2022 by Common Dreams

Photo: Chimi Chi/Twitter

On the heels of a new report showing significant financial insecurity, including homelessness, among workers at Kroger grocery stores, more than 8,000 of the chain’s employees in Colorado went on strike Wednesday to demand fair wages and better healthcare benefits.

Amid a recent wave of successful strikes at companies including John Deere and Kellogg’s, the work stoppage is taking place at nearly 80 King Sooper grocery stores, which are owned by the Kroger Company, across the Denver metropolitan area. According to the Colorado Sun, 10 additional stores in Colorado Springs could also go on strike in the coming weeks. Continue reading

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Caravans Across California Set to Hit the Road as State’s Single-Payer Bill Advances

“Single-payer healthcare is long overdue, and while we push for Medicare for All nationally, California can lead the way by enacting CalCare.”

By Brett Wilkins  Pubished 1-7-2022 by Common Dreams

Single-payer healthcare advocates prepare to participate in an April 16, 2020 auto caravan in Ukiah in support of A.B. 1400, also known as CalCare, which would provide all California residents with medically necessary care with no co-pays, deductibles, or other out-of-pocket costs. (Photo: Bob Dass/Flickr/cc)

As a bill to deliver single-payer healthcare to Californians is set to advance to a state legislative health committee next week, more than a dozen automobile caravans will take to the streets of cities and towns across the Golden State on Saturday to promote and show support for what could be a first-in-the-nation universal care program.

The proposed legislation, A.B. 1400 or CalCare, would provide all medically necessary healthcare to every California resident, regardless of immigration status, with no co-pays, deductibles, or out-of-pocket costs.

A related bill, Assembly Constitutional Amendment (ACA) 11, that was introduced Wednesday by Assemblymembers Ash Kalra (D-27) and Alex Lee (D-25)—two of A.B. 1400’s primary sponsors—would fund CalCare via a gross receipts tax, payroll tax, and a personal income tax on high earners.

On Thursday, A.B. 1400, which had previously stalled due to questions over how it would be funded, was approved by the Assembly Rules Committee—with strong Republican opposition—and will advance to the Health Committee next week.

At least 15 California caravans are planned for Saturday, from San Diego in the south to Eureka in the north. California Nurses Association (CNA) will host a rally and car caravan to the state Capitol in Sacramento.

“A.B. 1400 and ACA 11 provide Californians a clear understanding of what they can expect from a truly publicly financed, single-payer healthcare system and allows them to decide for themselves if they are better off paying for the most expensive healthcare in the world with the worst outcomes of any wealthy nation or guaranteed healthcare for all with CalCare while reducing overall healthcare costs,” Kalra said in a statement.

“Those that profit off the immoral status quo may not like it, but I am confident that the vast majority of working and retired Californians will see the benefit of significant cost savings as we remove debilitating insurance costs, out-of-reach prescription drugs, and arbitrarily high hospital fees,” he added.

Mike Bonin, who serves on the City Council of Los Angeles—one of more than two dozen municipalities supporting the bill—said in a statement that “single-payer healthcare is long overdue, and while we push for Medicare for All nationally, California can lead the way by enacting CalCare.”

“Unanticipated medical expenses should not doom people to bankruptcy, poverty, or homelessness,” Bonin continued, noting that A.B. 1400 “would offer healthcare coverage to three million uninsured Californians. As we have done with the minimum wage and the fight against the climate crisis, California can lead and show what’s possible.”

Oakland City Councilmember and mayoral candidate Sheng Thao said that “in Oakland, we know health disparities overwhelmingly impact our BIPOC communities in East and West Oakland. As cities across the state work to end health disparities we need California to step up and reaffirm that healthcare is a human right, that nobody should go bankrupt because they are sick, and that our health system prioritizes patients over profit.”

“They can do this by passing AB1400 this year to expand quality, affordable healthcare to every Californian,” she added.

Stephanie Roberson, CNA’s government relations director, said that “in 2022, we already have one guarantee: out-of-pocket healthcare costs for Californians will continue to sharply rise. This time, let’s guarantee Californians can get the care they need without going into medical debt, starting a GoFundMe campaign, or going homeless or not paying for food or heating bills instead.”

Activist Ady Barkan, who suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease), noted that “our whole society has been profoundly disrupted by the Covid pandemic because we have built a healthcare system that prioritizes profits over people, and private wealth over public health.”

“Our state leaders must listen to our cities—large and small—who bear the brunt of our healthcare crisis and deliver guaranteed health care for all through A.B. 1400,” he added.

While then-Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, supported single-payer legislation in the past and called for such a program while campaigning for governor, he has not taken a position on CalCare.

“I don’t know how to do it, because it’s never been done,” Newsom said of single-payer during his gubernatorial run in 2018. “But I believe it can be done. And if any state can prove it, we can. I’m willing to tackle this.”

In addition to the 26 cities and Santa Clara County—home to San Jose—that support the bill, groups including the California Democratic Party, the California Labor Federation, CNA, Public Citizen, and various local chapters of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) back the measure.

“Guaranteed single-payer healthcare for all people regardless of citizenship status would have made my family’s life much more stable and safe when we were undocumented immigrants,” Dr. Haemin Cho, secretary and co-chair of the Progressive Democrats of America’s San Francisco chapter—a supporter of A.B. 1400—told Common Dreams. “CalCare is the best thing we could do during this crippling pandemic to ensure all families are safe from financial ruin due to illness. It can save lives and stabilize our economy.”

Lee, the legislation’s co-author, lamented that “despite being the richest country in the world, the United States is still the only country in the developed world without a system of universal healthcare.”

“The pandemic has made evident that tying your healthcare to employment isn’t just antiquated, it’s dangerous,” he added. “Now is the time to realize healthcare is a human right—and California will lead the way with CalCare.”

This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).
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‘This Is a Big Deal’: Amazon Settlement With NLRB Could Ease Worker Unionization Efforts

“This settlement agreement provides a crucial commitment from Amazon to millions of its workers across the United States that it will not interfere with their right to act collectively to improve their workplace by forming a union or taking other collective action.”

By Jessica Corbett.  Published 12-23-2021 by Common Dreams

A demonstration supporting Amazon workers in Philadelphia on Marh 20, 2021. Photo: Joe Piette/flickr/CC

As Amazon faces growing criticism over working conditions and its response to employee organizing, the online retail giant this week finalized a settlement with a federal labor agency that’s expected to make it easier for workers in the United States to unionize.

“This is a big deal,” Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1021 tweeted Thursday.

The union shared The New York Times‘ reporting on Amazon’s agreement with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which is the result of six cases of workers saying the company limited their organizing abilities. Continue reading

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Myanmar’s Spring Revolution: a history from below

Women factory workers took to the streets and catalysed a mass movement

By Ko Maung.  Published 12-15-2021 by openDemocracy

Protest in Myanmar against Military Coup Feb. 14,2021. Photo: MgHla (aka) Htin Linn Aye/Wilimedia Commons/CC

A year before the February 2021 military coup in Myanmar, striking workers from the Tai Yi shoe factory protested in front of their workplace to demand an increase in their daily wages. To raise their spirits, the workers sang the revolutionary anthem, ‘Thway Thitsar’.

In Myanmar’s Spring Revolution, the mass movement against the 2021 coup, ‘Thway Thitsar’ could be heard all over the country. “The present is critical, brothers and sisters. We must have solidarity.” A regular feature of workers’ protests, the anthem had now become part of the revolutionary movement. I say this not to highlight the song itself, but to call attention to the history of worker organising and struggle in Myanmar – a history that laid the groundwork for the Spring Revolution. Simply put, had workers not previously organised unions inside their factories, the protests that catalysed the Spring Revolution would not have happened. The February 6 protests ignited the anger of people across the country and led to nation-wide protests in the days that followed. Continue reading

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