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This Week in Workers News

‘Whores But Organized’: Sex Workers Rally for Reform

Jennifer Orellana, a trans woman and activist, said that, after coworkers’ bigotry forced her from a nursing job at San Juan City Hospital in Puerto Rico, she moved to New York and turned to the “oldest profession,” in which she has worked for the past eighteen years. But she lived under constant police harassment: on one occasion, she said, officers broke down her door to arrest her. Then, Kiara St. James came forward, telling the crowd that sex work had saved her life by providing her with the means to support herself. Read the full story at The New York Review of Books.

Jacobs Engineering seeks appeal in alleged poisoning of Kingston, TN, coal ash workers

A government contractor accused in a lawsuit of exposing workers who cleaned up the nation’s largest coal ash spill to a toxic stew of pollutants wants to appeal a jury’s verdict in the case. In November, a jury in U.S. District Court ruled Jacobs Engineering breached its $64 million contract with the Tennessee Valley Authority — and its duty to protect the hundreds of laborers who cleaned up a 2008 spill of 7.3 million tons of coal ash at TVA’s Kingston Fossil Plant in Roane County. Read the full story at Knox News.

Workers at Little Big Burger Form Union, Joining Portland Fast-Food Labor Drive

“Soon there won’t be a burger flipped in this town that isn’t flipped by a union hand.” The Little Big Union, which is the second fast-food union in the nation, is demanding $5 per hour raises, fair and consistent scheduling, benefits, paid sick leave and transparent hiring and firing practices. Read the full story at Willamette Week.

40,000 UC Workers Are About to Strike Over Race, Class, and Gender

UPTE-CWA and AFSCME workers are holding a one-day strike March 20 not just over wages and benefits, but over a larger social struggle for dignity in their work. Read or listen to the full story at The Real News Network.

Companies often mislabel employees as “freelancers” to cut costs. Workers are fighting back.

Understanding the difference between an independent contractor and an employee is crucial for workers. Companies have a huge incentive to mislabel employees because they don’t have to pay taxes for a contractor’s Social Security, Medicare, unemployment benefits, and health insurance premiums. They also don’t have to pay an independent contractor overtime, workers’ compensation, or even the minimum wage. And they don’t have to worry about contractors joining a labor union because only employees have the right to do that. In other words, an employee who is misclassified as an independent contractor is getting screwed. Read the full story at Vox.

Southwest Airlines’ new mechanics contract gives immediate 20 percent pay hike

Southwest Airlines Co. and the union for its mechanics reached an agreement in principle for a new contract Saturday, amid an exchange of lawsuits and more than six years after beginning negotiations. Read the full story on Dallas News.

Helen Miller, who took care of the sick and the elderly for nearly 40 years in Chicago while championing her fellow home care workers, fighting for greater pay and benefits as a union leader and speaking eloquently about the dignity of their work, died on March 5 in Louisville, Miss., where she was born. She was 82. Read the full story at The New York Times.

Unionizing Daycare? California’s Child Care Workers Seek A Seat At The Big Kids’ Table

A bill introduced by Assemblywoman Monique Limón, a Democrat from Santa Barbara, would allow self-employed child care workers who serve subsidized families to collectively bargain with the state. Included in this new class of organized laborers would be trained workers like Harvey, but also unlicensed friends, family and neighbors who parents turn to when they are out of other options. Together, these at-home providers are responsible for more than one-third of the young children who attend subsidized daycare—and a larger share of toddlers and infants. Read the full story at Capital Public Radio.

Bally’s, Harrah’s, Paris and Wynn Dealers vote brings more casino workers into UAW fold

Bally’s, Harrah’s, Paris and the Wynn Dealers voted Sunday to join the UAW, according to a United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America release. About 1,479 gaming workers will be added to the union after the vote, a UAW spokesman told the Free Press. Read the full story at the Detroit Free Press.

UPS Workers in Ohio Sue Shipping Service for Racism and Discrimination

In the suit filed against UPS and five managers at the facility, workers allege being subjected to racist remarks, including comments about Ku Klux Klan meetings. They also cite alleged incidents in which a noose and Confederate flags were hung in the distribution center. In addition, the workers that filed the suit allege that in addition to specific incidents, a decade-long pattern of discriminatory hiring practices and promotions favored white workers with less experience and seniority at the distribution hub located in Maumee, a southwest suburb of Toledo. Read the full story at Fortune.

Kroger union workers reject contract, vote to authorize strike

Members of the United Food Commercial Workers Local 7 voted over the past two days with 92 percent of voting members selecting to reject the latest contract proposal, according to a City Market and King Soopers spokesman. Read the full story at The Daily Sentinel.

Napa Valley restaurant owners kept tips from workers

Only about half of those total tips made their way into Dhondup’s pocket. According to the Labor Commissioner report, business owners Chirring Sherpa and Ngima Sherpa were keeping the other half. Read the full story at the Napa Valley Register.

DoorDash Has Been Confusing Its Workers About Payments for Nearly Two Years

“It just seemed like a backwards way of doing business. Like they’re shuffling the deck behind the scenes sort of thing, you know?” Read the full story at Gizmodo.

Minnesota Amazon Workers Walk Off the Job over Speed-Up

“The pace of work is inhumane,” said Mohamed Hassan, one of the strikers, speaking through a translator. “Everyone feels continuously threatened by the system.” If workers make errors on two separate occasions, they can be terminated. Read the full story at Labor Notes.

Factory workers at GM see layoffs, not benefits, after tax cuts

Results, so far, have been the opposite of Trump’s promises. GM has shed roughly 3,000 hourly and salaried jobs in the area since the tax cuts. Read the full story at NBC News.

Amazon fired a warehouse worker who was trying to unionize. Now he’s taking legal action.

In his complaint, which was first reported by the New York Times, Long said that terminating him for a safety violation was just a cover for the real reason: Supervisors were punishing him for speaking out about working conditions at the warehouse. Read the full story at Vox.

Broadview manufacturer locks out striking workers

The company locked the workers out when they tried to enter the factory at 7 a.m. to collect their paychecks and personnel files, said Adam Kader, director at Arise Chicago, a workers’ rights organization. Read the full story at Chicago Business.

If Performance Governs Pay, More Workers Take Antidepressants

In the first big-data study combining objective medical and compensation records with demographics, researchers discovered that once a company switches to a pay-for-performance process, the number of employees using anxiety and depression medication increases. Read the full story at Futurity.

University of California workers strike in San Diego, across California

Thousands of University of California research and technical workers, joined in solidarity by thousands more healthcare and patient-care employees, conducted a one-day strike at facilities across the state Wednesday amid contentious contract negotiations. Read the full story at 10 News.

Bay Area Ford GoBike workers to unionize

Ford GoBike mechanics and bike service workers will vote March 28 on whether to join the Transport Workers Union of America. San Francisco is relatively late to unionizing its bike share workers. TWU has previously organized Motivate workers in New York City, Washington D.C., Chicago, Boston, and Jersey City. They started with New York City five years ago. Read the full story at the San Francisco Examiner.

We’ve let wage exploitation become the default experience of migrant workers

A significant report on the exploitation of migrant workers in Australia has been published this month. After a two-year inquiry by the federal Migrant Workers’ Taskforce, the report concludes that wage theft is widespread. Possibly as many as half of all temporary migrant workers are being underpaid. Read the full story at The Conversation.

Workers at Portland’s Busiest Burgerville Say Managers Are Trying to Bust Their Union

“It’s just like they’ve taken the gloves off and they seem to think no one in the world cares about fast-food workers,” employee Chris Merkel says. Read the full story at Willamette Week.

Judges give workers wins over anti-union right wingers

In a footnote, St. Louis County Judge Joseph Walsh III added the bans on strikes and picketing, and even on paying for “lost time” to handle grievances, all are “a blatant attempt to subject employees to the whims and caprices of management, individual supervisors and other designated representatives… free from the obligation to bargain in good faith.” Read the full story in People’s World.

Iowa should ban tactics restricting employment opportunities for hourly workers

Non-compete clauses, no-poach provisions and other tactics drive down wages and prevent upward mobility in jobs. Iowa should ban such restrictions, which hurt low-wage workers. Read the full story at the Des Moines Register.

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