Alexandra Bradbury

Missouri Voters Overwhelmingly Reject ‘Right to Work’

Unions in Missouri are declaring victory after voters shot down a Republican-backed “right-to-work” law by a hefty 2 to 1.

The final vote count was 937,241 against the legislation to 452,075 in favor.

Missouri became the 28th state with a right-to-work law on the books in February 2017, when Republican Governor Eric Greitens signed the law at a ceremony in an abandoned factory.

There are no flashy special effects in Tyler Binder’s 12-minute video, “Why the UPS 2018 contract sucks!”

No stirring soundtrack, no animation, no laugh track. It’s just him and his whiteboard, explaining in plain language how the tentative agreement would affect every group of workers.

But the video went viral. Just two weeks after he uploaded it, it had 90,000 views on Facebook and 50,000 on YouTube.

In negotiations over the nation’s largest union contract, a three-way battle is raging. UPS is demanding new givebacks, top Teamsters are offering them up, and rank and filers are organizing a grassroots network to push for better—and getting ready to vote down a bad deal, if necessary.

In February, Chief Negotiator Denis Taylor threw one opposition leader off the UPS bargaining committee; in May he kicked off three more. Their apparent crime was breaking the information “brownout” that keeps Teamsters in the dark about their own contract negotiations.

Update, June 27: As expected, today the Supreme Court ruled against the union in Janus v. AFSCME District 31, invalidating agency fees. This makes the whole public sector open-shop. Coming soon: the Labor Notes guide to organizing in open-shop America.

It’s Friday morning, and you’re starting another 12-hour shift in the bitter cold. At least you know the end is in sight, because tomorrow is Saturday and you’re almost to the 60-hour weekly limit.

That is, until your manager hits you with the news: UPS has decided to exploit a loophole in Department of Transportation regulations to allow 70-hour weeks. You’ll be working tomorrow after all.

If there’s one lesson labor can draw from the events of 2017, it’s this—to survive and grow in the face of a nationally coordinated employer offensive, we’ll have to use the attacks against us as organizing opportunities.

My Quarter-Million-Dollar Baby

Call her our $250,000 baby.

In July my uneventful pregnancy took a turn—I developed a serious condition called preeclampsia and had to deliver a month early. Paloma weighed less than five pounds at birth, and spent a week in neonatal intensive care.

She was one of the larger and healthier babies in the ward; I learned that a stint in baby intensive care isn’t unusual these days. I’m grateful to live in a time and place where babies and mothers can survive what Paloma and I did. A century ago we might not have been so lucky.

Making Buses Safer

After two passengers died in a horrific stabbing on a train in Portland, Oregon, the transit agency upped police presence. But the union is pushing for a different solution.

The May 26 incident began with a man yelling racist slurs at two young women of color. When three passengers defended the women, the man stabbed them.

Postal unions, like all federal employee unions, are open shop. That means workers can get the benefits of union representation while opting out of paying dues.

Yet the postal unions generally maintain high rates of voluntary union membership—and Letter Carriers Branch 82 in Portland, Oregon, does even better than most. From 90 percent membership five years ago, it has “slowly up-ticked,” says Organizing Chair Willie Groshell, to around 95 percent of the 1,200 represented carriers.

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