Labor Headlines-Monday, April 22

LABOR HEADLINES
MONDAY, APRIL 22, 2019

From France:
The yellow Vest movement took to the streets of France for the 23rd consecutive weekend to continue its demands for economic and political rights for workers, students, pensioners and the poor in general.
Over the last five months pf resistance to the Macron government’s stripping of labor rights, cutting social programs and granting huge financial breaks to corporations and wealthy individuals, thousands have been arrested or injured by the tear gas, stun grenades and physical beatings by police.
Anger has increased by the $1 billion in pledges for the rebuilding of Notre Dame cathedral, so publicly donated by some of France’s elite who have rejected any attempts to use public monies to alleviate poverty.
While the corporate media dismisses the Yellow Vest Movement as unorganized trouble-makers, in fact they have delegated meetings including one that took place Ap. 5-7 with 200 separate, elected delegations from across the country composed of 2 delegates and 2 observers. Also in attendance were volunteers, journalists and others who saw the serious discussion and debate on how to press forward not only with their opposition to this society so filled with inequities and injustice but to develop a real alternative program to the capitalist model that has engendered the misery of the masses.
The Yellow Vest Movement has a message for all working and poor people to learn from, I think.

31,00 workers at the huge grocery chain, Stop and Shop, declared victory in their one week strike yesterday.
The tentative agreement preserves healthcare and retirement benefits, provides wage increases for all employees, spousal insurance and maintains time and a half pay on Sundays for current employees.
You might remember last Monday’s Labor News segment when we reported on the beginning of the strike by United Food and Commercial Workers Union members in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. The company’s offer had included a tripling of their healthcare co-pay, cuts in pensions, no raises for three years, the exclusion of spouses from health insurance coverage and loss of time and a half pay on Sundays for part time workers.
Strong picket lines at the 240 stores with support from other unions and community groups despite days of rainy and cold weather produced empty stores with no customers during the week before Passover and Easter.
Our congratulations to the strong union women and men who defended the gains of the past and preserved them for the future.

Here in Atlanta, last Thursday, some 400 members of Teamsters local #528 went on strike for 2 days to protest their boss’s unilateral changes in working condition at the SYSCO College Park distribution Center.
The workers; contract expired March 31 and while negotiations continue, a new local management team ended without any notice a long-standing practice that allowed the union to speak as a part of orientation for new employees.
According the Maurice Cobb, president of #528, as quoted in the AJC, “we were told if we mention anything about the union, we’d be escorted off the property.”
Workers understood this to be an Implicit threat that discussions about demands they wanted in the contract or anything about why they were union members would be censored.
SYSCO is a global distributor of food products and supplies to restaurants, health care and educational facilities as well as hotels and other segments of the hospitality industry.
Atlanta customers were told they could come to the warehouse to pick up their orders since their supplies would not be delivered on time. No doubt raising huge problems for many businesses.
The strike although intended to be of short duration nevertheless gave SYSCO a taste of worker power.

Dianne

LABOR HEADLINES– MONDAY, APRIL 15, 2019

ABOR HEADLINES
MONDAY, AP. 15, 2019
I HOPE EVERYONE HAS GOTTEN THEIR FEDERAL AND STATE TAX FORMS IN. MIDNIGHT TONIGHT IS THE DEADLINE.
THE TRUMP TAX CUTS, AS YOU WILL FIND OUT, WENT TO LAGELY TO SUPER WEALTHY INDIVIDUALS AND CORPORATIONS.
AS HAS BEEN REPORTED BEFORE, MANY MAKING BILLIONS IN PROFIT LAST YEAR NOT ONLY PAID NO FEDERAL TAX BUT ACTUALLY GOT MONEY BACK LIKE AMAZON.
As I search the internet for the labor news largely absent from corporate newspapers, tv and radio, I find more victories among adjunct professors and other college and university workers.
Let’s start with UGA where without any input from the affected workers, the University raised its health insurance premiums 345% in the 2018-19 school year.
Utilizing various forms of protest, the grad students who serve as adjunct professors succeeded in tossing out the clause stripping children from being included and reduced the premium for spouses. Still the cost for married grad students to get family coverage soared for $187 too $589 a month.
The union won inclusion on the groups who determine healthcare costs.
In N. Cm grad students at Duke won a $15 an hour or $31,000 a year stipend to be disbursed over 12 months. Their union had struggled for one year to get this concession.
Also in NC, Elon College adjuncts just voted 2 to 1 to join a union for their campus workers.
With the school year coming to a close, teachers and other school workers continue to be advancing their collective power to make needed changes.
Meanwhile, in New England, Shop and Stop stores are mostly closed or offering very limited service since 31,000 members of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) went on strike this past Thursday. The states of Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island are impacted by the strike with 240 stores.
The chain is owned by a Dutch corporation, Aheld Delhaize and reported 2 billion in profits in 2018.
The cashiers, stockers, bakers, deli clerks, butchers and others are striking to prevent a tripling of their healthcare co-pay, cuts in their pensions, no raise for three years, the loss of time and a half on Sundays for part-time workers, less hours and the exclusion of spouses from health insurance coverage.
The picket lines have bee strong and many stores are completely closed or only offering pharmacy and banking service and self-checkout. The Teamsters union is not crossing the picket lines so some 800 warehouse workers and 250 drivers are not replenishing Stop and Shop’s staples and fresh meat, fruit and vegetables.
Other unions such as the Boston school bus drivers Firefighters and others are offering support by walking picketlines, and donating food and water.Most of Stop and Shop’s regular customers are taking their business elsewhere.
Negotiations have resumed and we look forward to a big victory by these determined workers.
Dainne

LABOR HEADLINES–MONDAY, MARCH 25, 2019

For today’s Labor Headlines, I am only reporting on one story — no, not the Mueller report — but the announcement that the Missing and Murdered Children’s cases are being reopened.
Taklk about a reign of terror that gripped Atlanta’s poor and working class Black communities from the summer of 1979 to early 1981 as at least 25 African-American children, mostly boys, were killed. Several adults in their 20’s were also murdered during this period for a total of 31 homicides, many along the Memorial Dr corridor and connecting streets.
Wayne Williams, then 23 years old, was convicted in the deaths of two adults in 1981 and sentenced to two consecutive life sentences. Although he was not charged in the children’s murders and no evidence has been admitted in a court proceeding to that effect, police claimed that he was responsible for at least 22 of the killings. Williams has always to this day denied any connection to the children’s cases.  Nevertheless, all of the Fulton County cases were closed and 5 under DeKalb jurisdiction remain officially unsolved.
For the most part, the children’s murders disappeared from the public view although a number of the mothers over the years continued to press for answers.
Forty years have gone by.
On Thursday, March 21, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced that the evidence from the crime scenes would be retested given that there are now advanced DNA and forensic tests.
According to Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields, there are boxes and boxes of materials related to these children’s deaths, a significant portion of which has never been tested. (Reminds me of the thousands of rape kits that went untested by police agencies, leaving the victims of sexual assault with no recourse.)
Several children went missing after going to the corner store for their mom or playing in a park, only for their bodies to be found days and even months later.
It took Atlanta police a while to realize that there was a serial killer targeting Black children.
The fear in Atlanta was palpable. I remember driving along I-20 and seeing a black trash bag on the side of the highway, scared there was another child’s body inside until a gust of wind caused it to blow away.
Every week-end hundreds of people would be involved in search teams, scouring wooded areas and abandoned buildings, looking for the missing children.
The public housing projects, home to some of the victims, responded, particularly Techwood Homes, near the Georgia Tech campus. It has since been torn down and replaced with so-called mixed housing. But at that time Marian Green, the tenants association president and a militant community leader, organized with the help of several Vietnam war vets and others the Bat Patrol, teams of residents and allies who patrolled the neighborhood to keep watch over the children. Some would carry a baseball bat, hence the name.
The police who were under intense criticism for the tepid response to the first several murders of Black children reacted to the Bat patrol with charges of “vigilantism” and “impeding the police investigation.”
I recall vividly an evening when Patrol members were gathered In the Techwood Homes community center and the building was surrounded by police who threatened to arrest anyone who attempted to guard the community.
40 years ago these Black children’s lives did not matter to the power structure of Atlanta. They have always mattered to their families and communities.
We at The Labor Forum demand that their killer or killers be identified and p whatever justice can be found for their families under this biased system be provided.
Dianne

WRFG Labor Forum program on Monday, March 25

Tune in Monday, March 24 to The Labor Forum on WRFG 89.3FM from 4-5pm and hear from three members of the Iron workers Local Union  #387 about the work they do and how to join their apprenticeship program.

The Labor Forum is glad to collaborate with the Building and Construction Trades Council to bring another skilled trade union to the airwaves of Atlanta’s progressive, community radio on the fourth Monday of each month.Previous programs have featured electricians and operating engineers, all fields in the construction industry that are in need of a new generation of workers and union members.The Labor Forum supports ALL workers’ rights to livable wages, safe working conditions, benefits like health insurance, paid vacations, holidays and sick days and pensions, the right to join a union and negotiate a contract and RESPECT for the work they do.

To contact The Labor Forum, the e-mail is laborforumwrfg@gmail.com

LABOR HEADLINES–MONDAY, MARCH 18, 2019

This past Saturday, thousands marched in DC to denounce US attempts to overthrow the democratically-elected government of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela. Videos and pictures of the national protest called by the ANSWER Coalition can be found on the internet as well as photos from other cities in the US and other countries. The pictures from South Africa are quite impressive, showing workers, mobilized by COSATU, the South African trade union organization, all wearing red t-shirts, vigorously marching and chanting their support for the Bolivarian Revolution
Meanwhile a US Peace and Solidarity delegation is still in Caracas as of this morning since American Airlines abruptly canceled flights in and out of the country, ostensibly because of dangerous civil unrest. The group  includes at least two people who have been interviewed on this program in the past, Ajamu Baraka of Black Alliance for Peace and Sara Flounders, co-ordinator of the International Action Center.
They have met with community groups, students, and workers; had meetings with government officials including President Maduro; have walked through many neighborhoods of Caracas, speaking with people on the street and videoed open stores, restaurants, schools, clinics, operating transit subways and buses and people going about their daily lives, repudiating the dire images of chaos presented by the US media.
Delegation members have also filmed several of the huge pro-government demonstrations that occur frequently to warn US imperialism to stop threatening their country.
March 30 will see another anti-war, solidarity with Venezuela mobilization in DC when the members of NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, meet in DC to celebrates its 70th anniversary of military aggression and intervention in eastern Europe, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya etc.
Unbelievably, the NATO summit will officially assemble on Ap. 4, the anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination. A perfect example if the relevance of King’s warnings about the dangers of militarism.
For more information on the activities surrounding the protests against NATO and solidarity with Venezuela, the website is No War on Venezuela.org
10,000 nurses who work at four large NYC hospitals have told management that they will strike on Ap. 2 to win safe staffing ratios.
A press conference by the NY State Nurses Association made this announcement this morning at Mount Sinai Medical Center.
In the almost five months since their contract expired Dec 31, 2018, negotiations have produced no progress on the nurses’ key concerns of working conditions, staffing ratios and health benefits.
Montefiore, Mt. Sinai, NY Presbyterian Columbia and Mt. Sinai West/St. Luke’s are among the most profitable private hospitals in the city yet the joint management team only offered a 3% raise (not even retro active to Dec. 31) but contingent on the hospitals receiving state funds in the upcoming budget.
It is common for nurses t work 12 hour shifts in departments that are chronically understaffed. Resulting in reduced patient care. Nurses suffer from high rates of occupational injuries and even workplace violence.
Nurses at Brooklyn Hospital center are voting this week to join the strike and other hospitals are expected to follow.
Teachers and nurses, two fields of work largely populated by women have used their power to mobilize, grow and inspire the labor movement.
The Labor Forum applauds their bold determination and spirit of fightback as they loudly declare, “Time’s Up on concessions, stagnant wages and benefit cuts as they fight for their students and patients.”

Dianne

WRFG Labor Forum program on Monday, March 18

This is the last week of the WRFG 89.3FM Spring Pledge Drive and the listeners of The Labor Forum are encouraged to do your part to keep this pro-worker, community radio station on the air.

Please use our secure online donation devices, either at wrfg.org on using your mobile phone app to contribute a one-time or monthly amount to a station that supports YOU.

On Monday’s program, March 18, the Labor Forum team will speak with students from KSUnited to get an update on what is happening with the struggle against a series of racist events on campus. This interview will be from 4:15-4:30

At 4:30, Jacklyn Izrael from the National Domestic Workers Alliance will join us in the studio to talk about the work of the organization to uplift the wages, working conditions and recognition of the valuable work done by housekeepers, nannies, and home care workers.

And a reminder, on the 4th Monday of each month, The Labor Forum learns about the work and apprenticeship programs of one of the nineteen skilled building and construction trades.
On March 25, the Ironworkers Union Local 387 will be featured on The Labor Forum, 4-5 pm at 89.3FM, streamed at wrfg.org and on the WRFG app for mobile devices.

To contact The Labor Forum, laborforumwrfg@gmail.com or see our Facebook page , WRFG Labor Forum.

Thank you for your support.

WRFG Labor Forum program on Monday, March 11

On this second week of the 2019 Spring Pledge Drive, The Labor Forum hears from organizers of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers Fair Food Tour which is coming to Atlanta today to bring attention to the failure of Wendy’s fast food chain to support the human rights of Florida farm workers.

From 5-6, farm worker families will be joined by students, members of the faith community, and labor and community organizations in a demonstration at the Wendy’s, 660 Boulevard (near Ponce de Leon).

Following the picket, there will be a community dinner at Grace United Methodist Church, 458 Ponce de Leon Ave. NE from 6:30-8:30pm with the CIW members discussing the Fair Food Program and the ongoing struggle to win Wendy’s over to joining it.
This interview, will be from 4:15-4:30pm.

Our guest from 4:30-4:55 is Michael Yates, an economist, labor educator, and associate editor of the socialist magazine Monthly Review.

Michael was born in 1946 in a small coal mining town about 40 miles north of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His immediate family had a long history working at dangerous, unhealthy jobs in the coal mines. For more than three decades, he has been a labor educator, teaching working people across the United States.
He advocates a socialist view of economics and has written many books including “Why Unions Matter” and his latest, “Can the Working Class Change the World?”

The Labor Forum team will talk with him about his views on what the changes in types of work, particularly the gig economy, mean for union organizing and movement building in the US and around the world.

WRFG 89.3FM is a community, commercial free radio station, supported by our listeners for close to 46 years. YOUR donations allow us to provide our listeners with the widest range of music on any station in Atlanta and beyond as well as public affairs programs like The Labor Forum, committed to bringing the voices, issues and solutions of working people to the airwaves.

PLEASE make a contribution by calling 404.523.8989 anytime or going online at wrfg.org and following the Donation prompts. Checks can be mailed to 1083 Austin Ave NE 30307.

Thank you in advance for helping to keep WRFG on air and the bills paid!

Farmworkers in Florida have organized for living wages and decent working conditions for years under the leadership of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers.

Many growers and grocery store chains and restaurants that use the tomatoes they pick have signed onto the Fair Food Program which has brought significant improvement to the lives of these hardworking men and women.

But not the fast food chain, Wendy’s.

On Monday, March 11, Florida farmworkers will be joined by Atlanta students, members of faith communities, labor and community activists in a demonstration in front of the Wendy’s at 660 Boulevard Ave. NE from 5-6pm.

Following the protest, there will be a Community dinner at Grace United Methodist Church, 458 Ponce de Leon Ave where farmworkers will describe their ongoing fight for human rights as well as the victories they have achieved.

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers and Freedom University Georgia are sponsoring this social justice action.

For additional information, ciw-online.org

LABOR HEADLINES–MONDAY, MARCH 4, 2019

This past Friday, the World Federation of Trade Unions at a conference Istanbul, Turkey issued a strong statement of solidarity with the elected government of Venezuela and its president, Nicolas Maduro.
The WFTU has initiated its own “Hands Off Venezuela” campaign and encouraged its members to mobilize to “stop the imperial attack that spends millions of dollars in favor of anti-union policies throughout the world.”
The WFTU Secretary-General concluded that “in the face of imperialist aggression, we need internationalist solidarity.”
The No War On Venezuela social media platforms have many pictures and reports from the more than 153 solidarity events held on Feb. 23 around the world.  It’s worthwhile to check it out.
Over this past weekend, Oakland education workers declared a victory as they voted to approve agreements after a seven day strike that began on Feb. 21.
Similar to the more than 20 strikes and job actions that have taken place in the last year, rocking the public education system in the US, the Oakland teachers’ demands centered on students’ needs for smaller classroom sizes and other resources, low-pay and privatizing of public schools.
According to the Oakland Education Association, the contracts mandate an 11% pay hike over 4 years with an immediate 3% bonus, a phased in reduction in classroom size, funds for additional counselors, nurses and other support staff, a moratorium on approving charter schools and a 5 month pause in the plan to close 24 schools. A number of teachers were not satisfied with this particular element of the agreement, wary of losing the momentum of the strike to bargain for a real halt to the closures.
Tonight the agenda of the Atlanta School Board includes the proposed Excellent School Project, a system of grading schools to identify those that don’t meet certain standards and thus subject them to a number of remedies including being taken over by a charter organization, closed or merged with another school.
The teachers’ union, American Federation of Teachers and other education associations have declared this to be a public relations stunt without addressing the need for resources such as smaller classroom sizes, safe and fully-equipped buildings, sufficient supplies, books and technology for each student, additional staff such as counselors, nurses,librarians, art and music programs and a pay scale that  enables teachers to live without needing to get a second job or be forced to quit.
Despite recent state budget upgrades, Georgia still provides less funding for K-12 than before the recession more than a decade ago, taking in account inflation.
The Excellent School Project is regarded by many teachers is regarded by many teachers to be a cover for turning more public schools over to charter operators who are privatizing and profiting from public education money.
The Community Comment section of the APS meeting is from 6-8pm at 130 Trinity Av. In downtown Atlanta. To sign up to speak, you have to turn in a form between 5 and 5:50.
Dianne
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