Labor Notes # 456

Employers often use race to divide workers against one another. At University of California campuses and hospitals, we’re seeing the problem get worse now that President Donald Trump’s administration is unleashing new waves of racism and attacks on immigrants.

Our union, AFSCME 3299, represents 24,000 patient care and service workers. About half of us are Latinos, and a supermajority are people of color. Our co-workers report that they’re frequently attacked based on their race or nationality.

When we think of the biggest issues at work, wages and benefits usually top the list. But in many industries, sexual harassment and assault are huge concerns—even if nobody’s talking about it.

Workers who experience harassment on the job can file charges with the federal Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, but they face many hurdles to get even a hearing. Deadlines are short. Only employers with 15 or more employees are covered.

AT&T Mobility workers are waging their largest-ever contract mobilization. In retail stores and call centers across the country they’re sporting “We Demand Good Jobs” buttons, picketing on their days off, plastering union flyers on their lockers, and blowing up Facebook with pictures of their activities. These actions are helping knit together a sense of solidarity among 21,000 union members dispersed throughout 36 states.

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