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Undergraduate student workers—ranging from residence hall advisors, lifeguards, and library workers to art gallery assistants and student farmers—are organizing to form a union at Kenyon College, a small liberal arts college in rural central Ohio.

All summer, our union of undergraduate workers has been battling UMass Amherst over its response to the coronavirus crisis. We won personal protective equipment (PPE), campus-wide COVID testing, and workers comp; then we won the reversal of an incredibly dangerous reopening plan. Now we’re battling retaliatory layoffs.

Workers across the country are taking up the fight for health and safety and against furloughs, budget cuts, and concessions.
Faced with unsafe school openings, educators are at the forefront of these struggles—and we can learn a lot from them. On August 25, Labor Notes hosted a discussion with labor activists organizing around safe reopenings.

It was a pipe dream to think, when we went into crisis mode in March, that we could possibly have a vaccine for a rampantly growing and politically charged virus before school was due to resume in the fall.
Evidently it was an even bigger pipe dream to think that the powers that be would use the time over summer to collaborate with educators to develop remote learning options and support services for students and families.

How should our university be funded? Should students be liable for its debts? Who are the winners and losers when public higher education is privatized?
These are questions that caused our faculty union, the Salem State chapter of the Massachusetts State College Association (MSCA), to reestablish its Political Action Committee—to educate about the funding crisis in public higher education and to call our members and students to action.

Graduate students at the University of Texas at Austin do not have formal union protections, but that has not stopped us from organizing to put demands on university administration during the pandemic.

Overturning Austerity 101: California’s Prop 15 Will Tax the Rich

August 24, 2020 / Fred GlassCalifornia’s November ballot will feature a challenge to the notorious Proposition 13, which in 1978 helped to inaugurate the decades-long neoliberal assault on labor.
Prop 13’s anti-tax, small government campaign, with a dog-whistle racist subtext, created a national template for conservatives to simultaneously attack public sector unions, public employees, and the people they served. For the right wing, this was the lab experiment for Austerity 101.

Whenever our overcoat is ragged
you come running up and say: this can’t continue,
you must be helped in every possible manner.
And, full of zeal, you run off to the bosses
while we who freeze are waiting.
And you come back and in triumph
show us what you have won for us:
a little patch.
—Bertolt Brecht

The State of Alaska is more than 660,000 square miles… most of which is uninhabited, hard-to-get-to and extreme. But, every square inch is managed by the men and women of IBEW Local 1547 to ensure power remains uninterrupted.
One week, in the most populated city of Anchorage or the next week hopping in a small bush plane, followed by a snowmobile to work in a tiny remote village… 
Whether it’s construction or maintenance, inside or outside, the linemen, electricians or technicians are prepared for anything the conditions may present.
Being prepared to work safely and accomplish any task or project, in any weather condition, the brothers and sisters of 1547 keep on in spite of the challenges.
That’s The Alaskan Way.
The post IBEW Hour Power Feature: The Alaskan Way Pt 1 appeared first on IBEW Hour Power.

Milwaukee Letter Carriers Are Refusing to Comply with Mail Delays

August 19, 2020 / Travis AlbertThe most shocking aspect of the operational changes that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced July 10 was that the U.S. Postal Service would no longer commit to moving the mail if it would take too much overtime to do so.