Labor Notes #369, December 2009

A national “superunion” of 150,000 bedside nurses kicked off its founding convention Monday. Fights inside two of the three unions coming together make it clear: How unions make major decisions matters as much as the end product.

The Restaurant Opportunities Center of Michigan (ROC), one of eight regional affiliates of the national workers center, is upping the pressure on a metro Detroit fine dining chain this week. Restaurant workers are fighting Andiamo Italia over a raft of claims, including wage theft and racial and ethnic discrimination—and are asking for support from Labor Notes readers.

Single-payer supporters were sidelined from the get-go this year. With a public option now in the balance, "Medicare for All" activists keep building, worried that incomplete reforms could do more harm than good.

With the best of intentions, the International Labor Organization has launched “Better Work” programs in several countries in hopes of easing harsh conditions for long-suffering garment workers.

Unions at major airlines are pushing to regain lost ground. After multiple rounds of concessions and bankruptcies following 9/11, airline workers are working longer and harder for less.

Attacked daily as the biggest roadblock to improving public education, union teachers responded this fall, opening their own schools in two cities.

Student anti-sweatshop activists spurred a historic deal between a Honduran union and the largest exporter of T-shirts to the U.S. Russell will rehire 1,200 workers fired for unionizing, injecting hope into a movement eager for good news.

“It’s time to close the concessions stand,” said the candidates of the New Directions slate, and members of Teamsters Local 814 in New York City agreed. They voted 406-154 for the reformers.

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