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This Week in Workers News

Mexican workers strike, and win higher wages

“If you don’t want people to go north looking for work, then pay us a dignified wage,” said Samuel Cruz, 50, who was among the hundreds of striking workers protesting outside a Fisher Dynamics plant that makes car seat parts. “It’s that simple.” Read the full story at San Antonio Express-News.

How the Public Employee Unions Refused to Die

“We began talking about changing from a service organization [one that serves members by bargaining for them and handling their grievances] to a culture of organizing, getting back to our roots,” Pringle said. “We also took a look at membership. … We had to let them know that the union was a place where they could get their power and feel it is their place.” Pringle noted that the NEA’s membership, instead of falling as many predicted, has actually risen by 4,000 over the past year. Read the full story at The American Prospect.

Activision Blizzard reports historic financial gains amid major layoffs

After reporting $7.5 billion in revenues for 2018, the company is increasing how much it pays in cash dividends to shareholders—and letting go about 800 of its workers. Read the full story in Gamasutra.

Eskom workers go on strike amid power emergency

“The national shutdown is under way,” Cosatu spokesman Sizwe Pamla said by phone. “Workers from all sectors of the economy in the private sector and public service are on board and we will be marching to the legislature and the Chamber of Mines.” Read the full story at Tech Central.

Workers at BuzzFeed declare intention to unionize

After the company signalled it would not compensate laid-off workers for paid time off they had accrued but not taken, a letter from almost 600 staff members forced it to reverse course. That show of staff muscle – and simultaneous layoffs at other media outlets – helped re-energize organizing efforts at BuzzFeed that had been proceeding slowly over the past year. Read the full story at The Globe and Mail.

Arizona bill would allow some workers to be paid less than minimum wage

Insisting it will be good for young people, a House panel voted Monday to let employers pay students who are part-time workers just two-thirds as much as they do anyone else. Read the full story at

Teach For America Slammed Over Telling Oakland Members To Cross Picket Line

Hundreds of Teach for America alumni are slamming the educator placement program for telling members to cross the picket line during a potential teacher strike in Oakland, or risk losing thousands of dollars at the end of their service. Read the full story at KPIX.

Apple’s ‘black site’ gives contract workers few perks and little job security

Places like Hammerwood undermine the mythology of Silicon Valley as a kind of industrial utopia where talented people work themselves to the bone in exchange for outsize salaries and stock options. A common perception in the Bay Area is that its only serious tech-labor issue is the high cost of living driven by the industry’s obscene salaries. But many of those poorer residents work in tech, too. For decades, contractors and other contingent workers have served meals, driven buses and cleaned toilets at tech campuses. They’ve also built circuit boards and written and tested software, all in exchange for hourly wages and little or no job security. Read the full story at the Los Angeles Times.

After Winning a $15 Minimum Wage, Fast Food Workers Now Battle Unfair Firings

New York city’s fast food workers are asking the City Council to shield them from being fired without a valid reason. That protection, the sort of job security that unions usually bargain for, would be a first for a city to provide to workers in a specific industry, labor law experts said. Read the full story in the New York Times.

Restaurants oppose wage raises for tipped workers

The two-tiered wage system fundamentally changed the practice of tipping, shifting the responsibility of compensating servers from business owners to customers. “Today, that responsibility has continued to shift, moving from patrons and business owners to the taxpayers,” Hunt said.  Restaurant servers are three times more likely to live in poverty than the general work force, and two times more likely to be on food stamps or Medicaid, Hunt said. Read the full story at the Lincoln Journal-Star.

Hospital employees don’t get paychecks, say they lack basic supplies

Staff at an eastern North Carolina hospital are voicing concerns after their paychecks never came on Friday. Now they’re saying they can’t serve the community because they have no supplies. “Someone could drive up to the back of our door with an acute heart attack, an aneurysm, a stroke, and we don’t have what we need to even stabilize some of these patients.” Read the full story at News Channel 12.

Prison, mental hospital workers say they’re being ‘worked to death’; bill targets overtime

Nebraska state prison and mental hospital workers told state lawmakers Monday that they’re being “worked to death,” putting in up to four 16-hour shifts a week because high turnover and low pay are leaving posts unfilled. Read the full story in the Omaha World-Herald.

Workers at closing Keystone Tailored Manufacturing walk out over severance negotiations

“It was important to send a message because if the workers here didn’t demand a severance package, and they weren’t in solidarity with workers in Chicago, it would be easy for them to be exploited,” Rose said. “Based on the situation of them losing their jobs in the near future, the company could have shifted a lot of work here and mandated overtime here. In the meantime, we would still be waiting for the company to come to the table and talk to us about a severance package. We weren’t going to let the workers basically become pawns for this corporation.” Read the full story at

Most retail employees don’t work 9 to 5 — and it’s making their lives miserable

In recent years, more companies have begun implementing on-demand scheduling technology that uses data analytics on everything from customer behavior to the weather to determine how many workers are needed to operate a retail location at any given time. As the researchers explained, this technology has allowed employers to shift their economic risk onto their employees. Read the full story at Market Watch.

Behind the Denver teacher strike, a union that’s grown substantially in recent years

Locally, an internal caucus has for years been pushing the Denver teachers union to be more aggressive and progressive in an effort to attract younger members. That effort has paid off, according to educators who have been with the district for decades. Read the full story on Chalkbeat.

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