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Originally published in Dollars & Sense.
As we watch—rapt—the unexpected teacher insurgencies in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, Kentucky, and Colorado, we’re also grasping for understanding: Why is this stunning revolt occurring where unions are weak, where labor rights are thin, and where popular politics are considered to be on the right? To understand the insurgency, we need to look at economics, and at political economy specifically. But we especially need a labor-movement analysis.

The 2017 Journeyman Mentor of the Year is Jay Metzger, from IBEW 654. Congratulations!
Jay always knew he wanted to be an electrician. He’s always had tools in his hands, and even helped his dad with welding projects as a kid. He said being in the IBEW is a great honor and feels a big sense of pride towards  it. Many of his family members were electricians, and his family business has been with the IBEW since 1976.
Jay was described as a dedicated and dependable person, who, “likes to make sure he can be there to help at any time.” He has a great work ethic, and really enjoys working with apprentices, even if it means taking an extra minute out of his day to show them the right way to do something.
Jay’s father said, “I’m very proud of him because he’s done it all on his own. Before he was even born he was going to be better than me, I made sure of that. I made sure he knew everything and how to use every tool safely.”
Jay won this award because he is an incredible, exceptional, and amazing person, who really gets after his work.
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Steward's Corner: Legal Rights in a Contract Campaign

May 16, 2018 / Robert M. Schwartz<?
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?>In today’s dysfunctional economic climate, straightforward bargaining frequently comes up empty. Employers come to the table with lengthy lists of takeaways and refuse to compromise. Claiming impasse at the earliest opportunity, they threaten to carry out their final offer or impose a lockout.
To cope with these realities many unions are turning to militant contract campaigns. Creative and aggressive tactics can demonstrate members’ solidarity, resolve, and willingness to act.

Puerto Rico: The Teacher Uprising the Media Is Ignoring

May 14, 2018 / Meghan Brophy, Jonah Furman<?
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?>You’ve read about the teacher strikes in West Virginia, Arizona, Oklahoma, Colorado… but what about Puerto Rico? Fighting to keep the island’s public schools open in the wake of Hurricane Maria, teachers there are boycotting standardized tests and even teaming up with parents to occupy their schools.

I Work with Mark Janus. Here’s How He Benefits from a Strong Union.

May 11, 2018 / Donnie Killen<?
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?>Like everyone else in the labor movement, I’m nervously awaiting the Supreme Court ruling in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, which would weaken public sector unions by letting workers receive the benefits of representation without contributing toward the cost.
But I’ve got a unique vantage point: I work in the same building as the plaintiff, Mark Janus.

Congratulations to the 2017 IBEW Apprentice of the Year, Patrick Armet.
Patrick is from IBEW Local 570 in Tucson, Arizona where he originally worked as a cook. He realized his life wasn’t going anywhere and changed his outlook, attitude, and career.
Patrick’s friends and family describe him as an eager, driven, focused, professional, loyal, and humble person. He has loved the journey of becoming an electrician, including learning and going to school.
Jay Marr, Superintendent at Ashton Construction, IBEW Local 570, said of Patrick, “The reason he deserves it is because he doesn’t understand why he deserves it. He’s a dynamic guy, he’s willing to help anyone out, and he donates his time to the union and to other people in the community.”
Patrick won this award because he wants to be the best in everything he’s doing and that’s what makes him special.
To download the video, click here.
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Subway Woes? Don't Blame Workers

May 09, 2018 / Laura Gabby<?
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?>“Dirty, delayed, and dangerous.” That’s the slogan of a new ad campaign that blames New York City’s subway woes on construction unions.
The campaign plays on New Yorkers’ mounting frustrations with a system roiled by delays and overcrowding. It’s part of a volley of attacks on the city’s building trades unions by powerful developers and corporate mouthpieces.

The U.S. is quickly becoming an open-shop country. A majority of states now have “right-to-work” laws, and the Supreme Court’s decision in Janus v. AFSCME is likely to make right to work the law of the land in the public sector. Many unions are bracing for an immediate exodus of dues- and fee-payers.

The final day of the 2018 Construction & Maintenance Conference was a strong one for sure. Scott Vance of the Union Sportsmen’s Alliance spoke on the victories that the USA has accomplished throughout the year as well as what the organization is looking to do moving forward – conservation, community outreach, and growing their ranks.
Finally, the speaker that everyone was looking forward to took the stage. Rob O’Neill, retired Naval Special Warfare Development Group Team Leader and one of the most highly decorated combat veterans of our time, spoke at length about his experience and how important the concept of brotherhood is – no matter where you are.
It’s safe to say that this Construction & Maintenance Conference was one for the books.
To download the video on the 2018 Construction & Maintenance Saturday Session Recap, click here.

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Troublemaker Awards

Labor Notes handed out five Troublemaker Awards to those who have carried the banner of a fighting, bottom-up labor movement.