Jane Slaughter

A photo of an addressograph machine

How was Labor Notes #1, from February 1979, different from Labor Notes #500, the issue we just sent to the printer? There’s the obvious:

cartoon depicting sales stand of concessions

As union members return to their jobs, employers will ask them to open their contracts and take concessions.

They probably won’t be called “concessions” this time; employers’ demands for wage cuts and work rule changes will just be “common sense.” “We’re all suffering so we should all sacrifice,” we’ll be told. To save your job, your employer needs your cooperation.

book title concessions and how to beat them by jane slaughter, with image of group of workers pushing up against a giant screw

Employers never let a crisis go to waste. The economic crisis created by the global pandemic will be used as a springboard to demand that workers work more and accept less.

To help guide us through this moment, Labor Notes is providing a free digital copy of our first book, Concessions and How to Beat Them by Jane Slaughter. An updated introduction from the author and links to a few relevant articles are included below.

In a Pandemic, Finding New and Old Ways To Fight New and Old Foes

Nurses in Michigan protesting lack of PPE and calling for the nationalization of the healthcare system

Workers this spring were forced to find new ways to assert their rights when faced with a deadly foe and employers indifferent to their lives.

Sometimes they resorted to the oldest trick in labor's book, the strike, especially wildcat strikes early on in the pandemic, and especially non-union workers. Sometimes they were forced to organize and protest virtually, making the most of social media. And the car caravan was reborn as an appropriately distanced tactic.

Strike First, Then Bargain

The Louvre's outside pyramid at sunset.

Direct action gets the goods. If your employer is still not acting like workers’ lives matter, take a page from union members who are putting muscle behind their bargaining—they're shutting the place down first.

Detroit bus drivers collectively declared Tuesday morning that they weren't going to work without safety precautions. At both the city's two big terminals, they talked among themselves, told management “no way—we need protection,” and called their union.

A worker cleaning a yellow pole with disinfectant on a NYC bus with another worker looking on. the workers are wearing orange safety vests, helmets, and transparent visors.

If there were ever a time to say, “I'll fight for someone I don't know,” this is it. If we ever meant it when we said “an injury to one is an injury to all,” now we're seeing why that's so.

The labor movement's cherished values of solidarity and siblinghood are our only chance if we don't want to see our elders die before their time.

GM workers on a picket line, one work offscreen with arm raised, another centered with sign with arm raised.

The Auto Workers' strike against General Motors came to a close this weekend after six weeks on the picket lines, with workers voting to ratify a contract that was clearly unloved but accepted with a yes vote of 57 percent.

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