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This Week in Workers’ News

Nashville teachers protest again ahead of budget approval

“Our wages have been basically frozen for a decade,” said Red4Ed organizer and MNPS middle school teacher Jayne Riand. “In some cases they have actually gone backward. Adding 3% to what the city was giving us in 2008 is not really fixing the problem. Teachers, paraprofessionals, bus drivers, we’re all really struggling to be there for the kids and still be able to pay our bills.” Read the full story at The Tennessean.


Support workers’ right to vote on union at Volkswagen

Members of the Chattanooga Area Labor Council, including the OPEIU (Local 179), USW (Local 15120), CWA (Local 3802), UCW (Local 3865), SEIU (Local 205), AFM (Local 80), Ironworkers (Local 704), IBEW (Local 175), SMART (Local 5), ATU (Local 1212), IUPAT (District 77), LiUNA (Local 846), Utility Workers (Local 121), IAFF (Local 820), IAMAW (Local 56), and BCTGM (Local 25) proudly stand with VW workers as they seek to exercise their legal right to choose whether to form a union. We call on our neighbors, co-workers and elected officials to do the same. Read the full story at the Times Free Press.


Mexico’s Congress voted to grant the country’s cleaners, cooks, babysitters, gardeners, caretakers and other domestic workers basic labor rights like limited work hours and paid vacations on Tuesday, in a momentous victory for a historically disenfranchised part of society. Read the full story at the New York Times.


The PRO Act: Pathway to Power for Workers

In order to restore balance to an astronomically uneven economy, Congress must restore workers’ power to organize. Democrats took a first step last week toward accomplishing that when they introduced the Protect the Right to Organize (PRO) Act in the U.S. House and Senate. It would give back to workers the power they need to demand their fair share of the profits created by the sweat of their brows. Read the full story at Common Dreams.


“People Are Ready to Fight”

Sara Nelson in her own words on building a fighting labor movement, the proud history of democratic socialism in America, how workers ended the shutdown, and how they’ll stop Trump, too. Read the full story at Jacobin.


Tens of Thousands of Employers Get Government Letters About Possible Undocumented Workers on Their Staff

The letters, which alert companies to workers whose names do not match their Social Security numbers, is expected to result in lost jobs for thousands of undocumented workers. The construction, restaurant, hospitality, and agriculture industries are among those that will likely face the biggest losses. Read the full story at The Daily Beast.


Labor head warns of ‘frightening uptick’ in black lung disease among miners

“What we have seen is a frightening uptick in younger miners — when I say younger, people who have been in the industry less than 20 years.” The report also found that some coal miners in certain regions, like Appalachia, are being disproportionately affected. As many as one in five have been identified as having black lung, which marks the highest level in almost 25 years. Read the full story at The Hill.


As contract talks drag on, Hilton Hawaiian Village workers rally in Waikiki

Amid ongoing contract talks, hundreds of unionized Hilton Hawaiian Village workers are rallying outside the hotel Friday afternoon. Union members are calling for better pay, job protections and changes to workloads. Read the full story at Hawaii News Now.


WABTEC union workers picket shareholder’s meeting

The workers were there to remind company ownership that Erie union workers still do not have a contract since WABTEC purchased General Electric Transportation. Read the full story at YourErie.


When Workers Take Over

What do you do when the business you’ve spent years building is thriving, but you realize your age means it’s time to hand ownership to someone else? Usually, put it up for sale to the highest bidder — but Julian Richer, the owner of London-based home electronics company Richer Sounds, had a different idea. He’s handing control of the company to the workers. Read the full story at Jacobin.


Union workers strike at 10 campuses, 5 hospitals in California university system

“The University of California has bypassed its workers at every turn, refusing to meet and confer about plans to outsource the last middle-class jobs in California to poverty wage contractors,” AFSCME Local 3299 President Kathryn Lybarger said in a statement. “By cutting workers out of decisions about who will be providing the services that UC patients and students rely on, it’s clear that UC is focused on one thing — paying its lowest wage workers even less.” The walkout includes workers of all types, from custodial employees to food workers to healthcare specialists. Read the full story at UPI.


Hospital Workers in Toledo, Ohio, Strike for Safe Patient Care

The workers overwhelmingly voted to go on strike with the union’s registered nurse contingent, voting 90 percent in favor on October 29, 2018, which is the same day the current contract expired. “The main reason why nurses went on strike is because of patient safety,” said Barb Mazur, a registered nurse and strike captain of UAW Local 2213 Professional Registered Nurses. Mazur is concerned about their current nurse-to-patient ratios and working long shifts that put patients in danger. “Our concern is that we’re being overworked and extended to longer hours. The major focus is patient safety. We’re standing up for our patients.” Read the full story at Truth Out.


Miami airport workers fighting for better conditions face retaliation

Employees for Eulen America say their hours are being cut after discussing worker treatment at a roundtable with local politicians. “I was one of the speakers at the roundtable. Right after that they started cutting my hours,” said Benitez. “The next day I came in, my manager told me I was going to get a warning from something three weeks before due to another worker in my crew who missed cleaning a spot on a plane, and they had already given that worker a warning.” Read the full story at The Guardian.


City Council approves ‘just-cause,’ a cutting-edge worker protection law, for the parking industry

Philadelphia just got a lot closer to becoming the first U.S. city to enact a worker protection bill on the cutting edge of labor-oriented anti-poverty laws being considered around the country. It’s the latest in a series of bills to protect low-wage workers that Philadelphia City Council and the Kenney administration have championed. Read the full story at Phillly.com.


Video Game Workers See Power in a Union

“I reported and he got promoted.” In a first for the industry, employees at Riot Games walked out to protest workplace discrimination and the forced arbitration that perpetuates the problem. Read the full story at New Republic.


House approves anti-LGBT-discrimination Equality Act

The Equality Act would expand the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Housing Act to ban discrimination in employment, housing, jury selection and public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Read the full story at The Hill.


Kaiser workers make voices heard

“Kaiser has lost their way, so we’re trying to get them back on track as a company that works with their employees,” union representative Melanie McBride said. The union plans another event on May 23 at the Kaiser facility in Lancaster on Avenue L. Both are part of statewide effort by the union to bring attention to the contract negotiations and their concerns. Read the full story at Antelope Valley Express.


‘Like any other job’: Indian sex workers lobby for pensions and healthcare

Five million sex workers vow to vote en bloc in national elections in effort to have rights acknowledged. In Kolkata, sex workers are taking their demands directly to candidates for the first time. Sex workers have lobbied two-thirds of the 150-plus candidates standing in West Bengal, where Kolkata is located, to sign declarations of support for their demands. Read the full story at The Guardian.


Insider Alleges Pressured PG&E Workers Resorted to Dangerous Shortcuts

A PG&E insider is making new allegations against the company’s already troubled gas-line mark and locate program, saying workers there were under so much pressure to satisfy their bosses that they resorted to illicitly doing highly dangerous work they weren’t trained to do around live electrical lines. Read the full story at NBC Bay Area.


Workers Rights Center Starts Co-op Farm In Western Massachusetts

A group of immigrants from Mexico and El Salvador are starting a cooperatively-run farm on a four-acre hay field that straddles Northampton and Hatfield, Massachusetts. The seven farmers are members of the Pioneer Valley Workers Center, a nonprofit that assists immigrants and low-wage workers in the region. Read the full story at New England Public Radio.


Report: Racial Segregation, Bias Deny Living Wages to Bay Area Restaurant Workers

The study, which surveyed restaurant employers, workers and consumers throughout California, documented systemic race-based occupational segregation and implicit biases in the restaurant industry that results in lower wages, benefits and working conditions for people of color. Read the full story at KQED.


Domestic workers’ alliance sets up hotline for reporting abuses

The Pilipino Workers Center (PWC) and the California Domestic Workers Coalition have unveiled the California Homecare Agency Labor Violations Tip Line, a hotline that allows caregivers, consumers and agencies in California to anonymously report labor violations and unethical behaviors of home care agencies. Read the full story at Inquirer.net.


Seven in 10 LGBT employees are harassed at work in Britain

“This research reveals a hidden epidemic,” TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said in a statement. “In 2019 LGBT people should be safe and supported at work, but instead they’re experiencing shockingly high levels of sexual harassment and assault.” Read the full story at CNN.


The Significance of Four Centuries of Black Labor

An excerpt from Workers on Arrival: Black Labor in the Making of America reflects on the meaning of centuries of black labor for the future of America’s economy and democracy. Read the full excerpt at Stanford Social Innovation Review.


The Man Who Put Public-Employee Unions on the Map

Wurf—born a century ago on May 18, 1919—believed that garbage workers, secretaries, hospital orderlies, emergency medical technicians, child-care providers, highway laborers, office clerks, janitors, social workers, mental-health workers, and food service workers deserved decent pay, health-care benefits, and pensions. They should not have to give up their hopes, or their rights, just because they worked for government. Read the full story at The American Prospect.


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