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This Week in Workers’ News

Tennessee Teachers Could Be the Next to Strike

Teachers living with anemic unions and deteriorating conditions in their schools have created their own Facebook groups to communicate with each other and coordinate actions across school sites. Examples include West Virginia Public Employees United, KY 120 United, and Arizona Educators United. Now there is TN Teachers United. Read the full story at the Tennessee Education Report (and share it with your TN teacher friends and family).


Buoyed by successful strikes in other states, new Tennessee teacher group readies for a fight

They plan to fight the establishment of a voucher program and to fully fund the Basic Education Program, which is how the state distributes money to schools. Districts have long argued they are underfunded, and both Shelby County Schools and Metro Nashville are suing the state as a result. Rucker said the end goal is not to strike, but the group isn’t afraid to take such drastic measures if necessary. “If the end result is a strike, then that means that we were not heard by the individuals that have the power to make the change that’s necessary,” she said. Read the full story at the Commercial Appeal.


Study finds unions boost area workers’ wages

“Given that the loss of manufacturing and other middle-wage jobs is expected to continue, it is vital to improve the pay, benefits, and conditions of service sector jobs, and there is no viable way to accomplish that policy goal without organized labor.” Read the full story at Buffalo News.


The Public Does Not Hate Labor

More and more states are enacting anti-labor policies. But it’s not because the public dislikes labor — it’s because conservative donors and rich people do. Read the full article at Jacobin.


New brand, same culture: Wells Fargo workers say the company is still toxic

Employees have reportedly been pressured by Wells Fargo to sell financial products customers can’t afford, collect credit card debt at breakneck speeds, and send incorrect interest rates and fee calculations on mortgages. A financial adviser interviewed noted the company pushed her to steer clients toward fee-generating investments including an instance in which “it was not in the client’s best interest.” Read the full story at Vox.


Why Unions Must Bargain Over Climate Change

The looming timeline of the IPCC report means unions must have a right to bargain over climate change, especially in the public sector. What good is it to negotiate the assignment of overtime when the sky is on fire? Does a public employer really want to claim that its direct complicity in the potential collapse of civilization has no bearing on working conditions? Can government claim that abandoning its workforce to die or flee their homes doesn’t affect working conditions? If employers don’t accept that every choice made today affects the near future, they’re denying science. Read the full story at In These Times.


Teachers Urge Divestment from Private Prisons

Teachers and their unions are expanding the fight for more just communities beyond contract negotiations. A recent two-part report from the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) exposes how public pensions are intertwined with some of the most harmful institutions out there — immigration detention centers and private prisons. Read the full story at Inequality.org.


Suicide attempts and mental breakdowns: 911 calls from Amazon warehouses reveal that some workers are struggling

For years, Amazon warehouse workers have spoken up about what they call the company’s poor conditions. These emergency calls illustrate that such conditions can be especially difficult for those already struggling with mental health issues. Read the full story at Vox.


 Sex Work is Work

The management at this club skirts around providing us direct copies of our contracts, despite the fact that we’re entitled to them, so we can’t refer to them. There are no benefits, and the model of the industry is built on high turnover. My old management said “a new girl turns 18 every day.” Read the full story at New Labor Forum.


Bernie Sanders Campaign Workers Join UFCW Local 400

Workers on the Bernie Sanders Campaign made themselves the first presidential campaign employees in history to win union representation, as a majority signed cards joining United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 400. This victory resulted from the Bernie 2020 Campaign’s decision to stay neutral in the employees’ organizing drive and its agreement to recognize UFCW Local 400 when a majority of workers signed union cards. As a result, all campaign employees below the rank of deputy director are now represented by UFCW Local 400 and negotiations for their first collective bargaining agreement will begin as soon as possible. Read the full story at UFCW400.org.


Boots pharmacists to join trade union after decisive vote

Pharmacists at Boots, Britain’s largest chain of chemists, have voted overwhelmingly to join a trade union in a long-running dispute about union recognition. Pharmacists voted last year to stop being represented by the Boots Pharmacists’ Association, a “sweetheart union” which they argued was not independent of the company. Read the full story at The Guardian.


Teamsters Union Faces Revolt From Members Over UPS Contracts

When UPS workers in western Pennsylvania held a vote on their new collective bargaining agreement earlier this year, 96 percent of them voted against it. But it appears the national union leadership plans to implement the contract anyway. Read the full story at Portside.


What if Workers Owned Their Workplaces?

Worker cooperatives aren’t just a fluffy hippie social experiment, they’re viable businesses with a track record of promoting civic-minded sustainable enterprises. What worker-owned cooperatives offer is simply this: a stake for each worker in the future. Based on a structure centered on shared equity and worker autonomy, the business model, which hews to a principle of “one-member-one-vote” workplace governance, intrinsically guarantees that each worker profits in tandem with their labor. The key difference from the conventional corporate model is that workers share in the equity and direct how funds are reinvested, be it in pay raises and pensions, new hires, or investing in tech upgrades and staff training. Read the full story in The Nation.


Sex Workers Crash NYC Protest Against Decriminalization Bill

The gathering in front of City Hall—which featured a written statement of support by iconic women’s rights leader Gloria Steinem—was interrupted by two current sex workers who shouted, “Listen to sex workers!” and carried signs reading “Consensual sex workers against sex trafficking.” Read the full story at The Daily Beast.


Disabled Workers Sue Oscars Swag Bag Company for Wage Theft

A New Mexico non-profit that’s assembled gift bags for the Oscars and Grammys is facing a class action lawsuit brought by disabled employees who say it pays as little as 18 cents an hour. The suit is the latest to challenge a little-known—but often legal—practice of segregating disabled workers and paying them less than the federal minimum wage. Read the full story at Bloomberg.


The Burgerville Union Drive Keeps Expanding, as Workers Grow Disgruntled by Wage Negotiations

“Facing such a comically low wage offer at the bargaining table, the Convention Center and the Montavilla workers intend to bring the militant energy they have cultivated at their stores to the contract negotiation process,” BVWU notes in a statement. “Workers there are prepared to fight for the wage they know they deserve.” Read the full story at Willamette Week.


Amazon workers strike again with three-hour walk-out in Shakopee

From about midnight to 3 a.m. on Friday morning, Hassan and a group of late-night workers at the Shakopee facility stopped working, protesting the undue strain. They were mostly East African employees with heavy-lifting jobs. Read the full story at City Pages.


Denver passes $15 per hour minimum wage for city workers

The measure comes after a group of employees at Denver International Airport turned in signatures to try and get their initiative to raise minimum wages for some airport workers to $15 an hour onto the May 2019 ballot in Denver. Read the full story at The Denver Channel.


Disabled workers must be paid at least minimum wage under new bill

The Washington state House has passed a bill that would require physically or mentally disabled workers to be paid the same minimum wage that other workers in the state receive. The measure passed on a bipartisan 81-17 vote and now heads to the Senate for consideration. Read the full story at KXLY.


UAW chief boosts workers’ strike pay, warns automakers over closings

Gary Jones told delegates in Detroit that UAW would raise weekly strike pay from $200 to $250 per week this month and $275 in January of next year. The president said he doesn’t expect strikes, but that they are on the table if contract negotiations with General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler don’t go as planned. The union’s four-year contracts with all three expire on Sept. 15. Read the full story at The Hill.


A major flight-attendants union is calling on US regulators to investigate the plane involved in 2 crashes in 5 months

“We write today to advise you that crew and passengers are expressing concerns about the 737 MAX 8 after the March 10, 2019 crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, relatively closely following the tragedy of Lion Air Flight 610 on October 29, 2018,” Sara Nelson, the international president of the Association of Flight Attendants, said in a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration. Read the full story at Business Insider.

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