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Providing GOOD JOBS through Union & Community Cooperation

LABOR HEADLINES– MONDAY, MAY 20, 2019

LABOR HEADLINES
MONDAY, MAY 20, 2019
Ford Motor Company has announced that it is cutting 10% of its global white collar jobs.
Some workers have already taken buy-outs and are no longer working. Others will be laid-off starting tomorrow and concluding in August.
Of the expected 7000 workers who will be removed from the payroll, about 2400 are in the US, mostly concentrated in the Dearborn, Michigan area where the Ford headquarters is located.
You might recall last November when GM announced that it would eliminate 14,000 jobs; 8000 globally among white collar, ununionized workers and roughly 5000 assembly-line, union members who worked at the five plants that were shut down.
A considerable number of those workers who were willing and able to move have been resettled at another plant, The highly competitive auto industry is going to great measures to reduce costs, invest in new technology and above all, increase their all important profit margins. The well-being of these thousands of workers whose labor developed and built the vehicles and produced those profits is not a consideration in this economic system of capitalism.
The Labor Forum often mentions the community service that public sector workers do over and above their jobs. In particular, postal workers and public bus drivers in their daily work travel through the same neighborhood and streets.
There are countless stories that sometimes make the news of mail carriers who notice that a senior hasn’t taken their mail out of the mailbox because of a fall or other medical emergency or that something looks odd about someone’s home like an open door or a broken window and because of the vigilance of that letter carrier, help is called. At times, that can be a life-saving call.
Likewise, stories like the bus driver who spotted a small child, barefoot on a cold day, wandering alone down a sidewalk of a busy street can go viral on social media and become widely known. The video seen so many times shows the driver stopping the bus bus and running to scoop up the child and bring them back safely to the warm bus. It turns out the child had slipped out of its home and the parents were unaware that their little one was even missing.
That driver was hailed as a hero.
Unfortunately, the news is not always so good.
On May 18, about 4pm,a Tampa city bus driver, Thomas Dunn, was stabbed to death while on the job. He was a member of ATU local 1593.
According to news reports, the assailant had argued with Dunn before stabbing him and fleeing the bus.
Dunn managed to bring the bus to a safe stop ensuring no harm came to the passengers.
He died from his injuries on the scene.
Dunn had publicly raised his concerns about driver and passenger safety in December of 2018.
Just weeks ago, the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) international president, Larry Hanley on April 28, Workers Memorial Day dedicated to the memory of all workers who die on the job or from injuries sustained at work issued a strong statement advocating for stronger protections for workers.
The statement opened with the famous quote from Mary Harris known as Mother Jones. “Pray for the dead and Fight like hell for the living” was her rallying call at many a strike and rally.
According to an AFL-CIO report, 150 workers die EVERY DAY from injuries or illnesses incurred at work.
The ATU statement honored the 55 transit workers who have died over recent years including a Canadian driver in Winnepeg who was stabbed to death by a passenger in Feb of this year.
Hanley noted that countless other drivers have been assaulted in many ways from racial or misogynist slurs to being hit or
punched, often over a fare dispute or a late arrival.
He described the campaign the union is engaged in from coast to coast to secure more protection for drivers, passengers and pedestrians that would require structural changes in the bus as well as operating improvements.
There is also a demand for greater accounting of injuries and violent experiences to drivers and passengers, information necessary to evaluating whether progress is being made.
The Transit Worker and Pedestrian Protection Act would legislate these measures nationally if Congress approves the bill and the president signs it
Just days after issuing this strong defense of workers right to a safe work environment, Larry Hanley, one of the most progressive international union presidents and a supporter of The Labor Forum, died at age 62.
We close our headlines by saying, together,
Thomas Dunn, presente!
Larry Hanley, presente!
Dianne

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

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