Labor Notes #474

“In your union or workplace, what’s a situation where you’ve observed or experienced racism?” That’s the first question we ask people to discuss, in groups of three, as part of a Race and Labor training that our state labor council has offered for 29 local unions and labor councils so far in Washington state.

Collective bargaining is all but illegal for public sector workers in Wisconsin. So how did Milwaukee teachers not only block major cuts to public schools but also make gains on workload and health care?

At the height of the red-state teacher strikes in April and May, teachers and school employees in Milwaukee passed around a petition at school committing that to win their demands, they were ready to “do whatever it takes.”

As teachers, school employees, and students head back to school, what’s ahead for the #RedforEd movement?

This spring, teachers mobilized on an unprecedented scale in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Arizona, North Carolina, and Colorado. They protested, walked out, and even held statewide strikes—in states with limited to no collective bargaining rights, where school unions have traditionally focused on state politics.

The movement for a no vote keeps growing at UPS.

Each UPS local sent two leaders to the union’s “two-person meeting” August 9 to hear the international union’s sales pitch and decide whether to recommend the agreement to the 270,000 affected members.

It’s typically a rubber-stamping, but this time local leaders had a lot of questions and criticisms. In a voice vote, roughly a third voted against recommending the deal.

For years I used to say that when you looked at a map of Midwest “right-to-work” states, Missouri stuck into them like a thumb plugging a hole in a wall leaking sludge.

Then a flood of Trump votes netted us a hardcore anti-worker governor, Eric Greitens. The Republican-dominated legislature passed a right-to-work law almost immediately, and Greitens signed it in February 2017.

But Missourians have an unusual constitutional right to a “citizens’ veto” of unpopular laws. So unions began a petition drive to put it to a popular vote.

This summer, the scrappy union representing 21,000 taxi and for-hire vehicle drivers in New York City scored two groundbreaking victories against the world’s most valuable start-up company.

If Uber was looking for a fight, it found one in the Taxi Workers Alliance.

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