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This Week in Workers News

Workers detained in massive Tennessee raid sue ICE officers

On Thursday, two advocacy groups and a law firm filed a lawsuit against immigration officers, accusing them of unlawful searches and arrests, racial profiling and excessive force. Attorneys said it was the first lawsuit against a large-scale work-site raid conducted by the Trump administration. Read the full story at NBC News.

West Virginia Strikes Again, Defeating Privatization Bill in a Single Day

Educators didn’t know how the community would respond when they walked a second time. But as it turned out, “that fear that we would not have community support—it was wrong,” Engnoth said. “We have pizza, chicken nuggets, and homemade cinnamon rolls. I think people are really proud of us.” By midday Tuesday, with schools closed and hundreds of educators flooding the statehouse, the House of Delegates voted to table the omnibus bill indefinitely—effectively killing it. Read the full story at Labor Notes.

Many states still don’t have protections for LGBTQ workers

“A lot of people think that after marriage equality, everything was equalized,” said Jonathan Lovitz, National LGBT Chamber of Commerce senior vice president, “that that also meant our workplaces were safe, or our public housing programs were safe. And it’s not true.” Listen to the story at Marketplace.

Want a union? Here are some things to know

The vast majority of Americans also don’t have what’s known as “just cause” protections—the straightforward idea that if an employer fires you, they’d better have a good reason. Most Americans don’t have contractually guaranteed healthcare, predictable wage increases, nondiscrimination protections, guaranteed leave, and a host of other things that union contracts can guarantee. In other words, they don’t have a voice on the job: everything is determined by whether the boss wants it, or not. As a result, non-union workers are more vulnerable to exploitation; for example, wage theft takes billions out of the pockets of workers every year. Read the full story at Strikewave.

Google ends forced arbitration contracts for workers after googler uprising

The binding arbitration contracts meant that women who had suffered systematic discrimination and abuse at Google could not sue the company, especially not collectively through class action suits, which are often the only economically feasible way for groups of people to get redress from giant, powerful corporations—under binding arbitration, women who’d been abused at Google couldn’t even sue to be released from their confidentiality clauses so that they could publicly discuss their experiences. Read the full story at Boing Boing.

With fitness trackers in the workplace, bosses can monitor your every step — and possibly more

“The more that employers know about their employees’ lives, especially outside the workplace, off-duty hours, the more potential control or effects they have on their lives in the first place,’’ said Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit organization that advocates for consumer privacy. “It’s quite possible,’’ he said, “there will be effects on whether you are retained, promoted, demoted — who is first to be laid off.’’ Read the full story at The Washington Post.

‘People Are Starting to See That Winning Is Possible’: Denver Teachers Win, Oakland Next

The teacher strike wave keeps gathering steam. After three days out, February 11-13, Denver teachers won a settlement that achieved their main goal—to dramatically reduce the effects of the district’s chaotic merit pay system. Oakland teachers, meanwhile, have announced they will strike February 21. Read the full story at Labor Notes.

State Sen. Patricia Jehlen of Somerville and Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier of Pittsfield, both Democrats, are calling for the elimination of the state’s so-called “sub-minimum wage” of $4.35 an hour for tipped workers. Read the full story at WBUR.

Sex workers say Google could put lives at risk if safety app functions disabled

“Taking away these automatic alerts will be removing a tool a very marginalised and vulnerable group of people absolutely rely on to stay safer,” she said. “Google has the power to enable sex workers to continue receiving these automatic safety alerts, by giving an exception, as they have various other apps.” Read the full story in the Irish Examiner.

Birmingham bin strike: Workers start latest industrial action

It stems from claims some staff have been “blacklisted” for taking part in industrial action in 2017, when piles of rubbish were left on the streets. The Unite members have worked to rule since 29 December over what it calls “secret payments” given to GMB members who abstained from a previous strike. Read the full story at BBC News.

Indian garment workers take to the airwaves to demand better conditions

Three radio stations set up across Tamil Nadu over the last year attract more than 200 callers per day and have quickly become a huge hit among the state’s garment workers. Read the full story at

‘We won’t be trampled on’: striking Mexican workers vow to fight the fight

A wave of wildcat strikes has rolled across this Mexican border town, as thousands of workers walked off the job to demand better salaries, safer conditions – and union leaders who put members’ concerns ahead of company interests. The strikes have closed or slowed production at dozens of maquiladora assembly plants and other factories located south of the border to take advantage of lower labour costs. But more than two weeks after the strike began, companies are still underestimating the workers’ determination. Read the full story at The Guardian.

Tipped workers describe harassment on job

Contributing to a national day of action, restaurant industry workers told personal stories last Wednesday and framed the issue of tipped worker wages as a matter of women’s rights. Read the full story in the Lowell Sun.

Irish migrant fisher workers’ scheme breaches human rights

Ireland’s work permit scheme for migrant workers in the fishing industry breaches the human rights of migrants and may be failing to prevent modern slavery, four United Nations human rights experts said on Monday. The system, introduced in 2016, leaves workers tied to a single employer meaning they are vulnerable to abuse. Read the full story at Reuters.

Underpaid and abused, Guinea-Bissau’s domestic workers seek protection

Survey data shows nine in 10 domestic workers in Guinea-Bissau are victims of sexual abuse, with other forms of violence common. In a recent case that made local headlines, a 14-year-old girl’s employer doused her with boiling water. “It’s the culture here. We want to turn the page, change the mentality.” Read the full story at Reuters.

The deregulation of overtime in Hungary has triggered a social uprising

“It’s the factory for us, the castle for them”. The slogan, written on a placard held up by demonstrators is clear: the crowd are protesting both against a law to ‘flexibilise’ overtime and against the government’s growing authoritarianism. Read the full story at Equal Times.

An Open Letter To Game Developers From America’s Largest Labor Organization

Through the fog of sleepless nights that fade into morning, piles of crumpled Red Bull cans and incessant pressure from management, you have accomplished the unthinkable. You’ve built new worlds, designed new challenges and ushered in a new era of entertainment. Now it’s time for industry bosses to start treating you with hard-earned dignity and respect. Read the full story at Kotaku.

A vision of equality, diversity and basic respect at work

TSSA organising director NADINE RAE is the first ever trade union official to be nominated in the British LGBT Awards. Here she talks to the Star about the changing face of the rail industry and the politics of inclusion. Read the full article at The Morning Star.

The Rebirth of Mexico’s Electrical Workers

The Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME) is Mexico’s most important independent union on the Left. Ten years ago, it was nearly destroyed. Today, its members are rebuilding through a new labor cooperative. Read the full story at Portside.

A Green New Deal for American Labor?

Just like the original New Deal in the ’30s, her version of a Green New Deal would include a federal guarantee of living-wage employment—that is, anyone who wanted a job could get one at a salary that could support a family, with an emphasis on union jobs and protecting the right to organize. Read the full story at Labor Notes.

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