“In the Age of Trump, Can Labor Unite?” asks Labor Notes Editor Alexandra Bradbury in her May 2017 cover story for In These Times magazine. Here’s how it begins:
“You know you’re getting the short end of the stick as a worker, but you don’t really know why,” says Joe Tarulli, a Staten Island Verizon tech who’s put in 17 years with the company. “They make it seem like these rich people are just lucky they got the right chances, and these poor old working folks, nothing ever goes right for them. No! These corporations are doing it on purpose.”
On May Day in the Twin Cities, janitors, bakers, university workers, teachers, and bank workers will team up with students, renters, and immigrant rights groups to confront the powerful corporations that control Minnesota’s economy.
Eli Porras Carmona had been coming to work planting and harvesting sweet potatoes in North Carolina for eight years when he got a call from Mexico. His wife needed emergency surgery and he had to return home.
Carmona works under the H-2A program, where thousands of guestworkers are granted temporary permits to work on farms in the U.S. for up to 10 months per year.
Many return year after year—and since guestworkers are tied to one employer, it’s risky to speak out on the job. The employer can easily send you home, or not call you back the next season.
I had no money and spoke no English when I illegally crossed the border into California 23 years ago, but I worked hard and fought for the right to stay here.
Had I made that harrowing journey this year, I’m sure I’d be deported right back into the crosshairs of the Honduran government’s death squads that had targeted me and many other community organizers.
Instead I quickly won a grant of political asylum—and later received full American citizenship.
Durante cinco semanas, los maestros de Argentina han estado en huelga casi continuamente, usando los días que en que concurren a las escuelas para explicar a los estudiantes y a los padres las razones de su conflicto con el gobierno nacional.Hoy se unen al resto de los trabajadores del país en la primera huelga general del presidente Mauricio Macri. Los huelguistas están protestando por la ola de reformas pro-corporativas incluyendo recortes de subsidios que han llevado a aumentos masivos en las facturas de servicios públicos, exacerbando la creciente tasa de pobreza del país.
For five weeks teachers in Argentina have been on strike almost continuously, using the days they do go to school to explain to students and parents the reasons for their conflict with the national government. Today, they’re joined by the rest of the country’s workers, in the first general strike under President Mauricio Macri. Strikers are protesting a wave of pro-corporate reforms including subsidy cuts that have led to massive increases in utility bills, exacerbating the country’s growing poverty rate.
When they heard President Donald Trump would address the Building Trades national legislative conference, activists from Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 569 knew they had to do something.
“We couldn’t let him come and speak to us and just sit there,” said William Stedham, a “workaday Joe” and executive board member of the San Diego-based local. “If we hadn’t, everyone would think that the Building Trades was on board with him 100 percent, and we’re not.”
If you’ve ever attended a Labor Notes Conference or Troublemakers School or picked up one of our books, you know that everything we do draws on the organizing know-how and creativity of rank-and-file workers.
This style of education is known around the world as “popular education.” In the U.S., it was pioneered at a school tucked away in the hazy Appalachian mountains of East Tennessee.
The remarkable “Day without Immigrants,” when tens of thousands walked out February 16, sprang from the grass roots with little coordination by unions or worker centers. But to their credit, many groups are now looking to build on that momentum with strikes and protests May 1.
On a snowy winter day, 25 people gathered in a library meeting room in Greenfield, Massachusetts, to hear how a movement of progressive activists had won elections and taken power in Richmond, California.
Veteran labor organizer Steve Early was giving a talk about his new book Refinery Town: Big Money, Big Oil and the Remaking of an American City. The meeting was sponsored by Franklin County Continuing the Political Revolution, which grew out of Senator Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.
Sixty thousand women childcare workers in Colombia are on the verge of winning pensions and back pay, after decades of making just half the minimum wage.
Their union, Sintracihobi, has been able to achieve these remarkable results—despite representing only a minority of employees in the childcare sector—with an approach that combines legal action, political advocacy, and mass mobilization.
Shop steward Tomas Mejia sensed something was different when 600 janitors streamed into the Los Angeles union hall February 16—far more than for a regular membership meeting. Chanting “Huelga! Huelga!” (“Strike! Strike!”), they voted unanimously to strike on May Day.
Employers often use race to divide workers against one another. At University of California campuses and hospitals, we’re seeing the problem get worse now that President Donald Trump’s administration is unleashing new waves of racism and attacks on immigrants.
Our union, AFSCME 3299, represents 24,000 patient care and service workers. About half of us are Latinos, and a supermajority are people of color. Our co-workers report that they’re frequently attacked based on their race or nationality.
Year after year, the official statistics tell us the strike is all but disappearing from the United States. But is this the whole story?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics only reports strikes of 1,000 or more workers. There were just 15 of those last year.
The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service reports more, but only those directly connected to contract expirations and new contract negotiations. They report that 91 strikes ended in 2016, with another 12 still in progress.
When we think of the biggest issues at work, wages and benefits usually top the list. But in many industries, sexual harassment and assault are huge concerns—even if nobody’s talking about it.
Workers who experience harassment on the job can file charges with the federal Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, but they face many hurdles to get even a hearing. Deadlines are short. Only employers with 15 or more employees are covered.