Once again, workers at the Chattanooga Volkswagen plant are striving for union recognition under the UAW. And once again, the state is attempting to intervene to prevent a union victory. According to Labor Notes, this time, it was the state’s governor, Republican Bill Lee, who addressed the workers in a captive audience meeting. “We are very fortunate to be in a state that has low debt, that has pay-as-you-go, that has low income taxes, that has the work environment that we have in this state,” said the governor. A voice from the crowd shouted in reply, “Don’t forget low wages!”
And once again, the Trump Labor Department—which should be renamed the Labor Suppression Department—appeared in court on the side of employers. The DOL fought and succeeded to maintain that gig workers were not employees but contractors, a move that could deprive workers of billions in wages and benefits. It wasn’t always this way. Said The New York Times, “Under the Obama administration, the Labor Department issued guidance suggesting that gig workers like drivers for Uber and Lyft were likely to be employees, a stand the department rescinded several months after President Trump took office.”
On Workers Memorial Day, the AFL-CIO stated: “The Occupational Safety and Health Act and Mine Safety and Health Act promise workers the right to a safe job. Unions and our allies have fought hard to make that promise a reality—winning protections that have made jobs safer, saved hundreds of thousands of lives and prevented millions of workplace injuries and illnesses. But our work is not done. Each year, thousands of workers are killed and millions more suffer injury or illness because of their jobs.” In 2017, the Bureau of Labor Statistics noted that there were “... 5,147 fatal work injuries recorded in the United States,” and many thousands of injuries.
“Trump often says his resorts have no choice but to hire foreign guest workers — there just aren’t any Americans to take the jobs. But government records [Mar-A-Lago] of show nearly 60 US residents applied for those jobs, and only one was hired,” wrote BuzzFeed. Specifically, BuzzFeed discovered: “that at least 58 US workers applied for the temporary jobs as cooks, servers, and housekeepers at Mar-a-Lago and other Trump resorts from early 2014 through mid-2018.... Only one of them appears to have been hired.”
According to Rank and File Canada, labor is winning big among low-wage workers. “SEIU (Service Employees International Union) Local 2’s Justice for Janitors movement have been fighting against an industry rife with abuse and sub-contracting schemes. Over the past 10 years nearly 4,000 workers have joined the union in Toronto. Thousands more workers have joined in other cities such as Ottawa, Halifax and Vancouver. They have been able to win health, dental, and vision care benefits, above inflation wage increases, and personal emergency days.”
As Netflix steadily increases its animated show lineup, so does unionization among animators. Hollywood Reporter noted that with “... an estimated 50 series in production or on the platform are now unionized with The Animation Guild (TAG), also known as IATSE Local 839.” Nevertheless, there are still conflict zones: BoJack Horseman, which is going into its sixth season at animation house ShadowMachine, is said to be resisting a push for union wages and benefits. TAG is fighting abck.