Chris Brooks

Let's Make 2017 the Year of the Slingshot

Fast food CEO Andrew Pudzer for Labor Secretary… Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson as Energy Secretary… Billionaire Betsy DeVos, enemy of public schools and public workers, to head Education…

President-elect Donald Trump promised to drain the swamp, but it’s obvious that the reptiles still have Washington in their claws. And with even more picks yet to come—including the late Antonin Scalia’s replacement on the Supreme Court—it’s hard to feel optimistic about the future.

In Short Strike, Jim Beam Workers Crush Two-Tier and Beat Grueling Hours

Jim Beam distillery workers won some relief from grueling hours and defeated a two-tier wage scale by going on the first strike in company history.

The 252 workers at Jim Beam’s two Kentucky factories start from the raw corn, rye, and barley; sort, grind, roast, ferment, and distill it; pack it into charred barrels; age it in warehouses; process it for flavor and alcohol content; and bottle it for distribution.

They walked out for a week in October after overwhelmingly rejecting two contract proposals.

What pushed tea factory workers to their boiling point?

In August the workers who supply Lipton’s entire North American market voted 108-79 to join Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 400.

They were fed up with an unrelenting schedule that produces constant fatigue, injuries, and broken relationships.

Lipton brings tea from around the world through the Port of Virginia. At its single 20-acre plant in nearby Suffolk, 200 workers roast, blend, package, and warehouse it, producing over 6 billion bags a year.

Tennessee’s infamous anti-union union is fading away for lack of members. Will Volkswagen’s rationale for keeping out a real union crumble with it?

The American Council of Employees, a business-financed rival to the United Auto Workers at Chattanooga’s VW plant, no longer meets the minimum membership threshold to qualify for meetings with management as part of the company’s so-called “Community Organization Engagement” policy.

Putting the Con in the Gig Economy

It’s called the Independent Drivers Guild—but the new organization for New York City’s estimated 35,000 Uber drivers is “independent” in name only.

Co-founded by Uber and the Machinists union, it's not a union, it has no collective bargaining rights, and it receives financial support from Uber.

Just how much support, we don’t know, since Uber and the Machinists won’t release their agreement—not even to drivers.

If you’ve attended a Fight for $15 rally or a Black Lives Matter protest in Chicago recently, chances are you’ve seen members of Future Fighters.

Their T-shirts proudly proclaim that they are “a movement of young leaders actively fighting against income inequality, racial profiling, police brutality, and homelessness; while engaging and educating other young workers who are taking direct action to unite and rebuild our communities.”

Where’s our economy headed? This is part two of our interview with Kim Moody, co-founder of this magazine and the author of many books on U.S. labor.

Despite the hype about the “gig economy,” Moody argued in Part 1 that the bigger change most workers are experiencing is the rise of the crappy-job economy. On the bright side, he pointed out how just-in-time production has created huge concentrations of workers—and vast potential for organizing.

Where’s our economy headed? Soon every factory worker will have to start driving for Uber, and the trucks will drive themselves—at least so the business press tells us.

But Kim Moody, co-founder of this magazine and the author of many books on U.S. labor, paints a different picture. Chris Brooks asked him to cut through the hype and describe what’s coming for working people and the opportunities for unions.

This is Part 1 of our interview with Kim Moody. Watch for Part 2, coming next week. —Eds.

As grocery industry standards erode, UFCW Local 21 is bucking the trend, building power through activism at work and alliances in the community.

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