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This Week in Workers’ News

Tennessee Janitors Convince Target To Drop Dirty Cleaning Contractor

Retail janitors organizing with a Tennessee worker center got Target to drop a crooked cleaning contractor at all the state’s stores. Now they’re pressing Target to stop using Diversified Maintenance nationally. Read the full story at Labor Notes.

VW Chattanooga workers say union vote is near

UAW officials say the NLRB hurdle barring a unionization vote by Volkswagen employees at the East Tennessee car plant has been lifted. A date for the vote was not disclosed. Read the full story at the Commercial Appeal.

How Volkswagen Has Gotten Away With Union-Busting

Reports from Volkswagen workers in the plant paint a disturbing picture of a company that is exploiting the broken system of U.S. labor laws to fight the union—violating the rights of workers in ways that would never be acceptable in the company’s home country. Read the full story at In These Times.

Delta tells nonunion workers they should just buy video games instead of joining a union

For the past few years, Delta Air Lines employees have been trying to form a union. While the airlines pilots and dispatchers are represented by their own union, other employees do not have such representation. Delta has gone to great lengths to hinder the unionization effort. Now Delta is at it again, this time with a new and even more patronizing poster. Read the full story at Fast Company.

Why the Uber Strike Was a Triumph

The three worker organizations I have studied (which were responsible for the largest protests in the U.S.)—L.A. Rideshare Drivers United, the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, and Gig Workers Rising—engaged in years of independent, on-the ground organizing with almost no funding but a lot of energy. They systematically eschewed the notion that, in the digital economy, workers’ rights could only be achieved by holding hands with capital. They did what successful labor organizers have always done and built solidarity through one-on-one conversations, raising worker awareness around the possibilities of acting together. But, ingeniously, these worker organizations adjusted their tactics to directly address the specific hurdles posed by the platform-based service economy. Read the full story at Slate.

Harris, faith and union leaders push living wage for SCS cafeteria workers

Surrounded by two dozen faith and union leaders, Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris Wednesday called for county government and Shelby County Schools to find a way to raise the salaries of more than 680 cafeteria workers to $15 per hour this budget season. “The solution to poverty in our community is to pay people a living wage,” Harris said. “We believe that everyone who works is entitled to a living wage whether they work for a private employer or a public employer. However, it is particularly important that employees that work for public organizations are put on a path to a living wage.” Read the full story at the Daily Memphian.

Amazon fired these 7 pregnant workers. Then came the lawsuits

A warehouse worker told her manager she was pregnant. Less than two months later, she was fired. Several lawsuits against Amazon show a similar pattern. Read the full story at CNET.

Foodora owes $8 million to former delivery workers, who will only receive 29 cents in the dollar

The food delivery company had been accused of systematically exploiting its pink-uniformed bicycle delivery riders and underpaying them. The Transport Workers’ Union (TWU), which represents the former riders, said that “the extent of the wage theft runs to even more millions of dollars” given a vast majority of the workers did not lodge claims.” Read the full story at

Canada Smelter Workers Protest At Alcoa Meeting

Workers from Canada protesting a protracted labor dispute at a smelter in Quebec have come to western Pennsylvania to deliver their message to shareholders at Alcoa’s annual meeting in downtown Pittsburgh. Read the full story at CBS Pittsburgh.

Local unions support striking Mercy Health St. Vincent’s workers

Union leaders said there has been an immense amount of support from the community including from the Toledo Firefighters Local 92. Other local unions representing teachers, TARTA and the manufacturing industry have also been showing their support according to UAW Local 12 president Bruce Baumhower. Read the full story at NBC24.

Sex workers seek end of ‘walking while trans’ loitering law

Under current law, loitering for the purposes of engaging in prostitution is a violation, the lowest level of offense, for first-time offenders and is a misdemeanor for repeat offenders. Several speakers referred to the charge as “walking while trans” because, they said, transgender people are often charged by police based on their clothing or appearance. Read the full story at AP News.

Ethiopia’s $26-a-month factory workers all quit in the first year

“The $26 per month wage comes no where near replacing the workers physical energy expenditure, forgetting expenses for any other social obligations,” says Ayele Gelan, a developmental economist, “Workers are effectively subsidising billionaire factory owners!” Read the full story at The Africa Report.

Sanders Campaign, Workers Ratify Union Contract

Workers on the Bernie Sanders 2020 presidential campaign have ratified a union contract with management, which says it is the first campaign union contract at the presidential level. The campaign and the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400 — with whom the workers are affiliated — both announced the agreement on Wednesday. Read the full story at NPR.

California health care union protests Joe Biden fundraiser

Union President Sal Rosselli told ABC News Tuesday that his members hope Biden, who has been an advocate for mental health care, will support the union’s position. “We want to shed more light on the inadequacies of mental health care at Kaiser to frankly force the corporation into, again, doing it right — offer mental health care at the same level as medical care. And we’re hoping the vice president will help us accomplish that.” Read the full story at ABC News.

Why the Labor Movement Has Failed—And How to Fix It

Workers’ struggles and organizations must play a central role in shaping the twenty-first century if we are to win the changes we need. But workers will not be able to do that by clinging to strategies of the past. The outlines of new labor thinking are visible in the recent efforts of unions and their allies to remake collective bargaining and organizing campaigns for the twenty-first century. These efforts have given rise to a conscious rethinking and broadeni­­­ng of the participantsprocesses, and purposes of organizing and collective bargaining. Read the full story at Boston Review.

The 99 per cent is the power that can change society

Just as it is essential not to engage in false divisions between the so-called working class and middle class, it is essential we recognise the working class as it actually is composed today if as a movement we are to best connect with – and represent the interests of – the working-class majority. Read the full story at Morning Star.

Amazon holds talks with workers in Poland as strike threatened

On Thursday unions in Poland demanded Amazon nearly double its employees’ pay, which stands at around 17.5-19.5 zlotys ($4.58-$5.10) per hour for a low-level position depending on the region, and improve working conditions. Read the full story at Reuters.

Roane leaders accuse TVA, contractor of conspiring to keep secret dangers of coal ash

Roane County and two cities within its borders filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the Tennessee Valley Authority and its prime contractor in the cleanup of the nation’s largest coal ash spill. The lawsuit alleges TVA and Jacobs knew the truth about fly ash – the dry and powdery form of coal ash. So, the lawsuit alleges, TVA and Jacobs plotted to mislead the public about the risks of coal ash exposure. Read the full story at Knox News.

Nursing home workers set new strike deadline

Connecticut’s largest health care employee union issued a new threat Thursday, setting a deadline of June 3 for more than 2,500 nursing home workers to strike if additional funding for pay raises isn’t added to the state budget. Read the full story at the Hartford Courant.

Muslim workers at Amazon say they were scared to pray for fear of being fired

The three workers also alleged in the letter that Muslim Somali and East African workers were “regularly passed over” for promotions over white workers. White workers receive better assignments and work, they said. Amazon did not address this complaint in its statement. Read the full story at Business Insider.

Striking JPS workers ordered back to work by IDT

A back-to-work order has been issued for workers of the Jamaica Public Service (JPS) who have been staging a series of work stoppage across the island. Read the full story at Loop Jamaica.

Farm workers bill of rights stands best chance of passage in decades

Supporters hope that their efforts to change an 80-year-old law that excludes farm workers from many of the protections afforded to other workers in New York, may finally meet with success in the all Democratic-led State legislature. Read the full story at NCPR.

Mine workers call on Congress to protect failing pensions

With hundreds of pension plans on the verge of failure, members of the United Miner Workers of America and others lobbied Congress to step in on Wednesday. The union is asking lawmakers to create a low-interest loan program through the Treasury Department to float their pension plan, which is expected to be become insolvent by 2022 if nothing is done. Read the full story at WTAP.

Agricultural workers and laborers facing kidney disease epidemic

A mysterious epidemic of chronic kidney disease among agricultural workers may be caused by increasingly hot temperatures, toxins, and infections, at least according to researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Read the full story at WSET.

Game Workers Unite Investigating Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault at Quantic Dream

Game Workers Unite is working with French union Solidaires Informatique to gather testimony from game developer Quantic Dream workers who experienced sexual harassment or assault. Read the full story at Variety.

Riot Games employees walk out to protest forced arbitration in sexual harassment claims

More than 150 workers at Riot Games walked out of the video game company’s Los Angeles headquarters Monday protesting the company’s use of arbitration to handle sexual discrimination claims. Read the full story at CBS.

As Riot Games employees walk out, discontent swirls among video game industry workers

The video gaming industry has become ground zero for labor action and anti–forced arbitration activism. In the past year, there have been rumblings within the industry that hint that unionization is on many worker’s minds. At the 2019 Game Developers Conference, pro-union zines were handed out after the games workers branch of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain was established, which was the first legal trade union for game workers in the UK. Read the full story at Salon.

What the Strike Ahead of Uber’s IPO Exposes About American Inequality

These disparities are especially stark in big cities like San Francisco, where tech IPOs are minting new millionaires every month, making the price of housing and other necessities skyrocket. Software employees represented more than 50 percent of the people buying properties in San Francisco in 2018, according to real estate firm Compass. While workers in the highest-income households in San Francisco have seen income increase 48 percent since 1989, those in the lowest-income households have experienced a five percent decrease in income. Read the full story at Time.

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