Will this spring’s wave of teacher strikes lead to stronger unions? Not if their unions return to business as usual.
The motor force behind the strikes in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Arizona, Colorado, and North Carolina is teachers’ deep frustration. Educators are feeling the pinch from decades of funding cuts that their unions have been unable to stop.
Income inequality is higher today than any time since the Great Depression. One reason why is the widening gap between pay and productivity—a graph that resembles an alligator’s mouth.
Rising productivity is due to more than just robots. Work has intensified through lean production, where fewer workers are pushed to perform more work in shorter times. Workers are electronically monitored so that companies can squeeze maximum profit from every second.
One of corporate America’s next big goals might surprise you: passing legislation to prevent unions from having to represent workers who don’t pay dues. This is just the latest of many business-friendly labor law reforms proliferating across the country.
According to Kroger, sports partisanship on the job is OK but union partisanship is not.
The grocery chain has long allowed employees to wear team jerseys of their choice on designated “game days.” NASCAR and NFL teams are among the honorees.
But when Kroger workers in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio began wearing UFCW Local 400 jerseys to work on game day, as part of their campaign for a new contract, the company abruptly announced that only Kroger uniforms were allowed—nationwide.
At Labor Notes trainings I hear lots of reasons why union members think their co-workers aren’t involved: They don’t understand labor history. They don’t appreciate all the union has done for them. They watch Fox News. They’re scared or apathetic.
I always say, “Remember what inspires people to organize a union in the first place. They join and stay involved when they experience what it means to wield collective power.”