Labor Notes writes that, “An experiment in Ithaca, New York, over the last two years has shown surprising results in helping workers become organizers, with a method easy to adapt and reproduce anywhere.” This article by Ellen David Friedman probes what makes a good organizer: “The most basic rule is that members show respect and curiosity for one another’s experiences. There is a lot of non-judgmental listening, offering questions, trying out ideas, providing encouragement.”
PBS NewsHour has reported that Amazon appears to have succeeded in its intensive Washington State lobbying. “Many of Amazon’s Seattle-area employees would be exempt from new labor protections in a bill passed by the state Senate after lobbyists for the tech giant pushed to change a key threshold in the rules.” On average Amazon employees are well-paid, with a median salary of $113,000, but that average includes many low-paid workers and it doesn’t mean they are immune to unfair management. A labor-backed bill asked for a cutoff of $80,000 a year, but Amazon flexed its money and won the first round.
International Women’s Day has added additional muscle to labor actions worldwide, In Argentine, Spain and Italy, Greece and Belgium unions have responded to pressure from women workers and have called for a wide range of national work stoppages—including general strikes. “That’s always been the animating passion behind International Women’s Day,” wrote Liza Featherstone in Jacobin. Capitalists can hashtag all they like, but International Women’s Day has radical roots. In 1909, the Socialist Party in the United States called for a National Women’s Day in honor of the 1908 garment workers’ strike.”
In another women-related action, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has called for an end to gender-based violence. As the ITUC said: “Globally, 818 million women have experienced violence and harassment. This is quite simply unacceptable. The situation is even worse for women who are further marginalised and discriminated against because of race, class, caste, disability, gender identity, migrant status, indigenous status, or age.” There’s also an economic loss. “Gender-based violence also costs businesses billions in terms of lost productivity, reputational damage and litigation. European Union estimates put the productivity cost of sexual harassment alone at 26 billion euros—or 1.5 per cent of its GDP.”
“For the first time since 2012, the musicians of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra went on strike on Sunday evening,” said the Chicago Tribune. “At issue is orchestra management’s proposal to alter the musicians’ pension from a defined benefit plan to a direct contribution plan, as well as a salary dispute.” Stephen Lester, CSO bassist and chair of the musicians’ negotiating committee, said, “We have been clear from the beginning that we will not accept a contract that diminishes the well-being of members or imperils the future of the orchestra,”
(Photo credit, Chicago Tribune)