Why Hilton housekeepers need a union

By ERNIE GOTTA In the coming weeks Hilton Hotel workers in Stamford, Conn., will likely face a serious attempt by the bosses to bust their campaign for union recognition. In past union drives the bosses have paid millions of dollars to law firms that specialize in union busting. The owners of the hotel would rather…

Labor Briefing, Nov. 2017

By BILL ONASCH No VIPs in St Louis—The AFL-CIO quadrennial convention to elect officers and pass policy resolutions was held in St. Louis, Oct. 22-25. While many of the biggest unions—the National Education Association, Service Employees International Union, Teamsters, and Carpenters—are not affiliated, the federation still represents 12.5 million workers. In response to police killings…

Tragic construction site murder was avoidable

By a WORKING CARPENTER On Oct. 5, a recently fired carpenter, Samuel Perry, 42, arrived at a Midtown Manhattan job site to pick up his last paycheck. He shot his foreman, 37-year-old Christopher Sayers, twice, killing him. He then turned the gun on himself. Both men were members of Carpenters’ Local 212, a concrete construction…

Labor Briefing: October 2017

By BILL ONASCH Trying to Stop Runaway Train—As recently as a few years ago, the biggest local in the United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers had nearly 6000 members at General Electric’s locomotive works in Erie, Pa. There is strong demand for locomotives and GE’s are most favored. But instead of rewarding their workforce with…

Labor Briefing for September 2017

By BILL ONASCH A vote to reject—In recent years the threat of a veto by a Democratic governor stalled right-wing plans to pass a so-called “Right-to-Work” law in Missouri, as was passed in several other new states. That last obstacle was breached when the 2016 elections not only gave the Republicans a veto-proof majority in…

UAW to contest election loss at Nissan

By BILL ONASCH The United Auto Workers’ organizing drive at the giant Nissan plant in Canton, Miss., once showed promise of becoming the biggest union victory in the Deep South since the United Food & Commercial Workers won bargaining rights—and a contract—at Smithfield’s huge hog plant in Tar Heel, N.C., in 2008. A win at…

PepsiCo workers resist in Argentina

By ANN MONTAGUE On June 20, 691 PepsiCo workers in Buenos Aires arrived at work to see a piece of paper on the door notifying them that the plant was being relocated and they were all out of a job. In Argentina it is illegal to just close a factory and lay off workers. Companies have…

Tufts nurses strike

By ERNIE GOTTA — BOSTON — About 1200 nurses at the Tufts Medical Center went on strike in July. Following the strike and a four-day lock-out, they returned to work on July 17 without a new contract in place. The union says it was the largest nursing strike in Massachusetts history. Socialist Action recently interviewed…

Living wage under attack

By WAYNE DELUCA A recent study by the University of Washington announced that the second phase of Seattle’s increase in the minimum wage, moving from $11 per hour to $13 per hour, had the net effect of lowering the real wages of low-wage workers by around $125 per week. This study was immediately seized upon…

Philadelphia City Council pushes ‘diversity’ in the building trades

By a WORKING CARPENTER The Philadelphia city council passed a law allowing the city to secure loans for a program to renovate city parks, recreation centers and libraries called Rebuild Philadelphia. Some council members expressed skepticism about the program, asking whether any of the jobs created would go to people living the neighborhoods where the…

July 2017 Labor Briefing

By BILL ONASCH A Bundle Including DirecTV—After mass informational picketing, the Communications Workers of America won a renewed contract for 17,000 AT&T workers in California and Nevada that includes modest wage and benefit improvements and, for the first time, covers employees of the satellite television competitor with cable the carrier acquired in 2015. Follow the…

Labor Briefing for June 2017

By BILL ONASCH Off the Job Training—Of the 700,000 members of the Communications Workers of America, 150,000 work for AT&T—making them second only to UPS as the biggest unionized private sector employer in the U.S. But since deregulation “broke up” the virtual telephone monopoly of Ma Bell in the 1980s, a single national contract has…

Fight for 15 confronts McDonald’s stockholders meeting

By ANN MONTAGUE This is the fifth year that Fight For 15 made the trek to Chicago and then to suburban Oak Brook, Ill., where the annual McDonald’s shareholders meeting was taking place. The first day, May 22, started with showcasing the leading role of women of color. A panel of activists expressed their message…

Labor Briefing for May 2017

By BILL ONASCH Movers Become Shakers In D.C.—The motto of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 is We Move This City. Their 9000 members keep the second biggest (in mileage) subway system in the USA running—as best they can with the Metro’s austerity budget—in addition to dozens of usually standing-room-only bus lines and paratransit services. Their contract…

NYC immigrants strike against union busting

By MARTY GOODMAN — NEW YORK — B&H Photo, the nation’s largest non-chain photo store, announced during contract negotiations plans to shut down two warehouses in Brooklyn and move facilities 75 miles away to Florence, N.J., by the end of the year. For 330 immigrant B&H warehouse workers who belong to the United Steel Workers…

Chicago workers take to the streets on May Day

By MARK UGOLINI — CHICAGO — Nearly 10,000 workers, immigration rights activists, and supporters took to the streets on May Day to demand legalization of undocumented workers; an end to terrorizing immigrant communities with raids on homes and workplaces; and an end to criminalization, mass incarceration, and deportations. (See a full list of demands at…

Women activists came together on May Day

By ANN MONTAGUE The organizers of the International Women’s Day Strikes issued a comprehensive statement encouraging women to support the May Day actions this year. It was entitled, “No Ban, No Wall, No ICE,” and said in part, “We come together with the understanding that our exploitation as waged and unwaged workers have a common…

May Day marches: A show of unity

By MICHAEL SCHREIBER Millions of people around the world took part in demonstrations on May Day. Actions included a general strike and mass march, backed by the major unions, to protest government austerity measures in Puerto Rico. This followed a huge general strike in Brazil two days earlier. The May 1 international day of working-class…