Alexandra Bradbury

This was a Teamsters convention like no other—and not just because it was held online, avoiding the usual Las Vegas spectacle where a few brave reformers run a gauntlet of booing red-vested delegates.

Even in person, the 2021 convention wouldn’t have gone down that way. The opposition slate didn’t just squeak past the 5 percent of delegates required to get on the ballot, as it often has before.

This time it pulled half the votes—reflecting a power shift in the union.

Employers Are Using the Crisis to Push Concessions They Don't Need

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Employers never let a crisis go to waste. Like clockwork, after this awful year, here come the demands for concessions.

Steelworkers at Allegheny Technologies are on strike to defend their benefits. The company wants them to start paying more, though it’s flush with cash. If you ask why, you’re not thinking like an employer.

The mountain climber George Mallory, when asked why he wanted to climb Mt. Everest, supposedly answered, “Because it’s there.”

“When Don first got his letter saying his pension was going to be cut 52 percent, it was one of those moments like when President Kennedy was killed and 9/11,” said Dana Vargo, spouse of a retired Teamster. “You remember exactly where you were.”

“My letter said, starting in a couple months, your pension will go from $3,000 a month down to $1,500,” said Greg Smith, who had put in 31 years as a freight Teamster. “When people got those, all of a sudden the phone started ringing.”

Viewpoint: A ‘Union’ That Pushes to Deport People Is the Labor Movement's Opponent

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What if I told you an employer had agreed that it could no longer make any change to policies affecting members without “prior affirmative consent” from the union?

Wow, you might say—that’s what I call worker power! But hold your applause till you hear who the employer is: Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the federal agency that detains and deports immigrants.

Rest in Power, Anne Feeney (1951-2021)

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This week the U.S. labor movement lost its best-known and best-loved troubadour: the great folksinger-songwriter Anne Feeney. She died of Covid on February 3, at age 69, with her children at her side. With her fantastic songs and feisty spirit, she made an incalculable contribution to the movement. She is irreplaceable, and gone too soon.

Every year, workers at the Postal Service and UPS expect to work long hours between Thanksgiving and Christmas. “This is like our Super Bowl,” said Kimberly Karol, president of the Iowa Postal Workers (APWU). “Employees really do rally together.”

But this year has been like no other. Workers were still catching their breath from last year’s holiday peak when the pandemic struck and online ordering ratcheted up. It was like Christmas all over again—and it never stopped.

North Pole Elf Sickouts Score Masks from Santa

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Holiday toy production season got off to a chaotic start this year. Santa Claus at first resisted the elves’ demands for COVID safety measures—prompting a wave of sickouts around the toy workshop.

Many elves joined the sickouts, especially in candy striping and wrapping and ribbons, despite frantic efforts by Elves, Reindeer, and Candy Stripers Local 1224 President Zack Keebler to tamp down the risky resistance. The crisis peaked when a batch of candy canes was shipped out unstriped—an error unprecedented in polar history.

The push to reopen schools and campuses is hitting educators with a brutal fact: your employer will place you in deadly danger for the sake of the economy.

You knew this already if you worked in a meatpacking plant, an Amazon warehouse, or a construction site. But until 2020 you didn’t think a school or university job might kill you.

We Need a Disability New Deal, Too

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The subway is something I’ve always loved about New York City life. But my family can’t ride it together, because my daughter has cerebral palsy and 3 out of 4 stations have no elevator.

One in seven U.S. adults has serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs or can’t do so at all. People with disabilities generally, including vision and hearing impairments and intellectual disabilities, make up 1 in 4 adults: that’s a huge minority.

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