ICYMI

The Trump administration attacks on labor never stop. According to the influential Government Executive, this month “A union (The Federal Education Association) representing Defense Department education employees claimed in a federal lawsuit that the current board of the agency responsible for adjudicating disputes between federal agencies and labor organizations has a systemic bias against unions.” It’s not hard to make such a case because, “In the first 94 cases before the current board, the agency won 83 times, compared to only 10 awards for a union (one was left undecided).”

 

Not only are strikes increasing, but the strikers are different. Fortune magazine said, “There were at least 20 major work stoppages in the United States involving 485,000 workers, which is the highest increase in striking workers since 1986. Of the groups that walked out, a staggering 90% were from education, healthcare, and social assistance workers such as those in childcare, according to... the Bureau of Labor Statistics. By comparison, between 2009 and 2018, those groups otherwise accounted for just half of work stoppages.

 

Liz Shuler, secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, recently posted a guest editorial at Kotaku, a video game website and blog owned by Gizmodo Media Group. In it, she decried “Outrageous hours and inadequate paychecks. Stressful, toxic work conditions that push you to your physical and mental limits.” She urged workers to unionize the wildly successful industry, one which posted $43 billion in sales—3.6 times the movie industry.

 

Public Services International (PSI), the global trade union federation of 20 million public workers around the world, cautioned both against US military intervention in Venezuela and the actions of the Maduro government. “PSI urges the Maduro government to immediately put an end to the excessive repression and arbitrary arrests of the opposition and instead, respect human rights and listen to their legitimate demands,” they said. And added, “PSI rejects the possibility of external military intervention, a possibility that has not been ruled out by US President Donald Trump.”

 

One hundred years ago this month, the most effective strike in US history took place. According to a story in Labor Notes, “On February 6, 1919, Seattle’s workers struck—all of them. In doing so they took control of the city.” It began with 35,000 shipyard workers, who were fighting shipyard owners and the federal government’s U.S. Shipping Board. In response to management refusal, “Seattle’s Central Labor Council, representing 110 unions affiliated with the American Federation of Labor (AFL), called the strike. The CLC’s Union Record reported 65,000 union members on strike—a general strike, the first and only of its kind in the U.S. Perhaps as many as 100,000 people participated.” Read about it here.


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