You can now drink and drive... in an organizing drive, that is. The craft brewers at Anchor Brewing Company in San Francisco have chosen to unionize with the International Longshoremen and Warehouse Union (ILWU). In a bold move, members of the organizing committee canvassed bars, restaurants and liquor stores asking if they could display pro-union signs. Fermentation worker Garrett Kelly told In These Times: “My group went to eight places and we didn't get a single negative reaction. People were giving us free beer, free food; they were just really excited to support us.”
Stage actors have increasingly been asked to contribute work for free. That’s why 50,000 member Actors Equity launched a five-week strike against stage producers that concluded in a win February 8. “In a groundbreaking agreement Friday,” wrote The New York Times, “the commercial producers who finance Broadway’s big hits have agreed to give a percentage of profits to performers who help develop successful shows.” Although it’s just one percent of profits, the money is a big deal to actors. Kyle Selig, who stars in Broadway’s Mean Girls, was happy. “I’m a younger actor, and my first five or six gigs were all developmental work,” he explained. “We’re being asked to do more and more and more, and nothing was changing payment-wise.”
Under a 1930s federal law, employers are legally permitted to pay people with disabilities less than US minimum wage—now standing at a paltry $7.50 an hour. But recently, according to the website Disability Scoop, Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA) have introduced a bill that would end the practice. “Although we have made progress, there are still far too many people who aren’t able to fully realize the American dream because of outdated laws and social stigmas,” said Senator Casey.
After 15 months of fruitless negotiations, Denver teachers launched their first strike in 25 years. Rob Gould, lead negotiator for the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, told The Denver Post: “We felt like we had to use the last tool in our tool chest to get them to listen... We think it’s important that DPS sees and knows and understands what it’s like not to have teachers in the classroom.”
While US teachers unions often face discipline for job actions, compared to their counterparts in Zimbabwe, they are relatively safe. There, strikes for a living wage are met with intimidation. Raymond Majongwe of the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe told French public radio (RFI), “They are threatening them with dismissal, threatening them with removal from the schools, they are threatening them with job losses, and they are also threatening them with violence,” said Majongwe. He added that teachers have also been summoned to police stations.