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From the Archives: Mass Action Backs Up Stewards on Grievances

May 06, 2019 / Gene Bruskin<?
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?>(Editor's Note: A version of this article first appeared in Labor Notes #67, August 1984.)
Our local keeps the company on the defense by fighting many grievances with direct action, membership involvement, group stewarding, and an uncompromising demand for respect.
Steelworkers Local 8751 represents 550 school bus drivers working for a large conglomerate (ARA Services) under contract with the City of Boston. Our workforce is divided between three geographically separate yards and our contract calls for one working steward per 25 drivers.

Trump Labor Board Postpones VW Vote while Company Manufactures Climate of Fear

May 03, 2019 / Chris Brooks<?
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?>The National Labor Relations Board has ruled to postpone a planned union election vote at Volkswagen's factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where plant management spent the week waging war against union supporters.
In an unexpected victory for Volkswagen, the company has evaded another plantwide union election thanks to a ruling from the Republican-dominated Labor Board. The election, petitioned for by the Auto Workers (UAW) on April 9, has been put off indefinitely.

This year’s C&M conference had rousing speeches, recognition of those who rose above the call, invaluable workshops, and an opportunity to engage with leadership on important topics. Director of Construction and Maintenance Department Mike Richard had some thoughts about just how special it is to be an organization like the IBEW.
He said the construction department alone is 370,000 members strong. It’s not just the shear size that makes the IBEW different, but that it’s a brotherhood where the wellbeing of every member matters.
Mike Richard, Director of Construction and Maintenance Department, said, “Our rank and file members have signed up to do their jobs everyday to the best of their ability. Everyone needs to keep one eye on where technology and our industry is headed. We not only have to acknowledge the advances that are right in front of our faces, but we have to be able to read the tea leaves well enough to see how it will impact our industry and our union.”
The brotherhood received an update from the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance.
Walt Ingram, Director of Union Relations, Union Sportsmen’s Alliance, said, “The last 365 days have been a whirlwind...

In April the U.S. government carried out its largest workplace raid on immigrants in 10 years, detaining 280 people in Texas.
It’s the latest attack by a president who campaigned on the threat to build a wall along the Mexican border and has repeatedly tried to ban all migrants from several majority-Muslim countries.
The excuse for all this is an alleged crisis of immigration.

Connecticut Hotel Workers Do Their Own Organizing and Beat the Boss

April 30, 2019 / Joe DeManuelle-Hall<?
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?>One union’s member-centered model prepared it for a fierce anti-union campaign that would have broken many others.
UNITE HERE Local 217, which represents 3,000 workers in hotels and university cafeterias, has been on an organizing sweep through southern Connecticut, winning union elections at the Hyatt in Greenwich in 2015 and the Hilton in Stamford in 2017. Building off that momentum, workers at the nearby Stamford Sheraton began to organize.

The lines stopped at Tennessee’s Volkswagen factory today as workers were forced to attend an all-plant captive audience meeting with the state’s Republican governor, Bill Lee.
A recording of the governor’s speech, obtained by Labor Notes, reveals a raucous meeting in which the Governor tried to praise workers while encouraging them to vote against the union.
Workers at Volkswagen’s sole U.S. plant filed for a union election with the Labor Board earlier this month. This will be the third union election there in the past five years.

Federal Workers Pivot from Shutdown to Defeat Childcare Cuts

April 29, 2019 / Ben Beckett<?
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?>How do you springboard organizing momentum from one issue fight into another? Federal workers in New York City did it when they harnessed members’ energy from a government shutdown solidarity campaign to push back against cuts to their own childcare subsidies.
The 35-day government shutdown began in December 2018, locking out hundreds of thousands of federal employees and contractors and forcing others to come to work without pay.

“The anti-union campaign has begun,” said a Volkswagen worker, who asked to not be identified due to fear of being targeted by management.
Before each shift, the 1,700 workers at the company’s Chattanooga, Tennessee factory attend mandatory meetings where they do stretches while supervisors read updates from the company’s “JumpStart” newsletter.
This morning, the supervisors read something new: anti-union talking points.

Labor Notes has been busy across the country, organizing four big Troublemakers Schools already this spring, with more to come. These schools are unique opportunities for workplace activists from various unions and sectors to build organizing skills and swap strategies.
Two hundred hospital workers, school staffers, farmworkers, and baristas packed the Plumbers Local 267 hall in Ithaca, New York, on March 23 for our first Troublemakers School of the year.

A general strike in Poland’s education sector that began on Monday, April 8 continues with no end in sight. According to organizers from the two unions that initiated the strike—the Polish Teachers’ Union (ZNP) and the Trade Union Forum (FZZ)—on the first day of the strike 14,000 schools and kindergartens out of 20,400 such institutions joined the walkout. Teachers at 2,000 of those schools have since returned to work, but there are strong indications that this will be a longer protest, comparable in scope to the mobilizations by the country’s teachers between 1991 and 1993.