Labor Notes # 485

Boss pointing to worker

One of the most important jobs of a union representative is to help workers during investigatory interviews over discipline for an alleged infraction. An able rep can help a worker avoid self-incrimination. The rep may also dissuade an employer from imposing a penalty.

Bangladeshi workers rally behind a banner

On April 23, 2013, a local television crew shot footage of cracks in the Rana Plaza factory complex in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The building was evacuated, but the owner of the building declared it safe and told workers to come back the next day. One Walmart supplier housed in the building, Ether Tex, threatened to withhold a month’s wages from any workers who didn’t return.

The building collapsed on April 24, and when the rubble was finally cleared, 1,134 people were found dead, with another 2,500 injured. It was the worst industrial disaster in the history of the garment industry.

Strike authorization vote - people standing with arms raised.

This is part two of the story of how bus drivers in Alexandria, Virginia, finally unionized after 35 years of trying. In part one, the workers withstood a barrage of antiunion pressure and won their election 97-13. But they still had to bargain a first contract with the hostile company. Here’s how they did it. –Ed.

Selfie of four Baltimore teachers in front of a school.

The reform slate in the Baltimore Teachers (BTU) overcame its first hurdle after being elected in May: an attempt by the incumbents to force a rerun was rejected by the national Teachers (AFT) leadership.

The incumbents, who had held office for 20 years, had challenged the results after being defeated by the “Union We Deserve” slate.

That slate was supported by two rank-and-file caucuses, the Baltimore Movement of Rank-and-File Educators (BMORE) and the Caucus of Educators for Democracy and Equity (CEDE).

Taiwanese flight staff assembled in protest with arms raised.

Flight attendants at EVA Air have concluded the largest and longest strike in the history of Taiwan’s airline industry, from June 20 through July 10.

Strikers notched a partial victory against a notoriously anti-union company. Now they will have to consolidate their gains and fend off repression.

The strikers were all women—EVA does not hire male flight attendants, though it announced in the middle of the strike that it plans to. According to the Taoyuan Flight Attendants Union (TFAU), 2,949 of the airline’s 4,600 cabin crew members participated.

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