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This Week in Workers’ News

TVA doing up to $200M worth of business with contractor accused of poisoning coal ash workers
TVA is continuing to back — financially and publicly — the global contractor accused of poisoning hundreds of workers, including the agency’s own employees, during the clean up of the agency’s coal ash spill. And, as Roane County leaders gathered on the 10-year anniversary of the Dec. 22, 2008, disaster to honor the more than 35 workers who are now dead and the more than 300 who are dying, TVA spent $1,225 to buy a full-page ad thanking its contractors, including Jacobs Engineering. Read the full story at Knox News.

A massive labour strike has shut down schools and public transport in parts of India
Up to 10 central trade unions, comprising around 150 million employees of banks, public transport units, factories, and government companies, are protesting what they describe as the “anti-labour” policies of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government. Read the full story on Quartz.

Why Unpaid Federal Workers Don’t Just Strike During a Shutdown
Since the enactment of the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947, federal employees have been legally prohibited from striking. That law was intended to prevent public-sector workers from leveraging a work stoppage that could cripple the U.S. government or major industries in negotiations for better pay, working conditions, and benefits. But it likely did not envision a scenario where the government would require its employees to work without paying them, as is the case now. Read the full story at The Atlantic.

How Federal Workers Could Fight the Shutdown
The ongoing holiday lockout is the most recent insult the federal government has hurled at its workers. But pay and benefits have been deteriorating for years, and conditions look set to degrade even faster in the near future. If federal workers want to stop the attacks on their livelihoods and their dignity, the only realistic path is the same as for any group of workers facing a mean and unpredictable boss, cuts to pay and benefits in real dollars, and unexpected furloughs: they need to organize. Read the full story at Jacobin.

‘Hope to god you don’t get thirsty’: McDonald’s warns Australian workers about breaks
Hundreds of McDonald’s employees in Australia have been warned that a push to enforce their right to have 10-minute breaks on shifts four hours and longer would mean they would not be allowed to have a drink or use the bathroom at any other times. The post prompted outcry from union officials, who are now organising a protest outside the Myer City McDonald’s store in Brisbane this Friday, and are preparing to take legal action against the franchisee, Tantex, for allegedly misrepresenting workplace rights and threatening adverse action on staff for exercising workplace rights. Read the full story on Stuff.

Tim Cook made over $15 million in 2018 — that’s 283 times more than the median Apple employee earned
Not even linking to this Business Insider article; we’re just putting this here to point out that Tim Cook makes 1500 times what the average worker who assembles Apple products in China earns, and also that those wages are not factored into the “Apple employee median earnings” calculation at all.

How Four Roses Bourbon Strikers Fought Off Two-Tier
Just as their industry was preparing to welcome thousands of visitors for September’s Kentucky Bourbon Festival, workers at the Four Roses bourbon distillery and bottling plant walked out on strike—in defense of workers they hadn’t even met yet. Read the full article at Labor Notes.

Thousands in Budapest march against ‘slave law’ forcing overtime on workers
Passed in December, the law allows companies to demand that staff work up to 400 hours overtime a year – or the equivalent of an extra day a week. Read the full story in The Guardian.

National Grid gas workers unions ratify agreement to end lockout
John Buonopane, president of USW Local 12012, and Joe Kirylo, president of USW Local 12003, said in a joint statement that the contract provides “a significant wage increase” and other protections for workers. It includes significant sick time, compensation, and retiree health and life insurance protections for newly hired employees. It also creates dozens of new public-safety related jobs including inspector positions and instrumentation and regulation jobs. Read the full story at Mass.Live.

Teamsters say they will not let Hernando County commissioners’ mismanagement strip worker pay
“In 2017, the Teamsters Union Negotiating Team bargained in good faith for wages, benefits and conditions of employment. Now, because of the county commissioners’ failure to be fiscally responsible, you expect to balance the budget on the backs of the county workers?” Read the full story at the Tampa Bay Times.

Sears workers demand hardship fund after Toys ‘R’ Us success
“If he [Eddie Lampert] can drum up the money for another takeover bid, he can find the resources to come up with a hardship fund,” said Onie Patrick, a laid-off Kmart employee who is part of the organising effort. Read the full article in Business Day.

Federal workers rally in Philly to protest shutdown
About 150 federal employees and supporters are rallying in front of the Liberty Bell to protest the partial government shutdown and pay freeze. Read the article in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

50,000 garment workers strike in Bangladesh, demand higher wages
Around 50,000 workers have walked out of their factories, which make clothes for retailers such as H&M, Walmart, Tesco and Aldi, demanding higher wages. One striking garment worker has been killed and 50 others injured in Bangladesh after police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at around 5,000 protesters in Dhaka. Read the full story at RTE.

Trump, a Billionaire, Says He Can “Relate” to Unpaid Federal Workers
Nylon calls bullshit. Read the full story at Nylon.

In aftermath of viral McDonald’s fight, workers plan strike to demand training, protection from violence
Workers say they’re leaving their posts behind grills, drive-thrus and cash registers in a strike to demand the chain and others like it provide training for employees and managers on how to handle violence in the workplace. Read the full article in the Tampa Bay Times.

Minimum wage: Labour holds protests in Delta, shuts down offices
The Nigeria Labour Congress, Trade Union Congress of Nigeria and the United Labour Congress, Delta state chapters, on Tuesday shut down offices to protest against the delayed implementation of N30,000 minimum wage. Read the article on Punch.

Stanislaus County workers walk off the job again. What will it take to end strike?
“We want a fair contract and we want our county to invest in our community,” said Kate Selover, SEIU chapter president. Read the full article at The Modesto Bee.

WorkersStrikeBack: How ‘Modern Times’ Are Squeezing Workers in Tamil Nadu’s Auto Hub
The string of protests and strikes in Tamil Nadu’s auto manufacturing sector last year has given workers more reason to gear up for the two-day countrywide strike on Jan 8-9. Read the full article on News Click.

Workers Just Notched a Rare Win in Federal Court
A federal court issued a long-awaited ruling last week finding that corporations could be held responsible for issues like wage discrimination or illegal job termination, even if the employees were subcontractors or working at a franchised company. Read the full story in The Intercept.

How To Get Power When Older Workers Fill 6.4 Of The 11.4 Million New Jobs
To be direct: the loss of bargaining power among older workers — because many must say “yes” to any wages, hours, and working conditions offered up — is bound to affect the rest of the labor market. How can younger workers improve their bargaining power on the job? Make sure a large group of substitutes or competitors on the job–older workers–can just say no to further work and retire with dignity. [Ignore the article’s pitch for financial products at the end. Increased bargaining power comes through worker organization: organize with your younger and older co-workers for the benefit of all of you.] Read the full article in Forbes.

Workers on Corporate Boards? Germany’s Had Them for Decades
German laws dictate that workers at large companies elect up to half the members of supervisory boards, which make high-level strategic decisions, including how to invest profits and whom to hire for senior management positions. Workers also elect representatives to works councils, the “shop-floor” organizations that deal with day-to-day issues such as overtime pay, major layoffs and monitoring and evaluation. Read the full story at The New York Times.

Wisconsin faces shortage of child care workers
“As far as I see it, there are two issues to this problem. Recruitment, and retention,” Brinkman said. “It’s really hard to get people into a field that they know isn’t going to pay them a living wage, and similarly turnover is really high for retention. People are leaving to get jobs that pay them more.” Read the full article at NBC15.

Dozens of hospital workers in Eutaw, Alabama losing health insurance benefits
According to a letter sent to employees from United Food and Commercial Workers Union, health insurance benefits are being terminated because the hospital did not make proper contributions to the health fund. Read the full story at CBS42.

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