Labor Notes #396, March 2012

Arrests and train blockades may have grabbed the headlines, but automation was at the heart of the year-long conflict between the West Coast Longshore Union (ILWU) and grain terminal operator EGT.

With $4 billion cash in hand, why did American Airlines declare bankruptcy? Corporations are turning to bankruptcy courts not necessarily because they can’t pay their bills—but because they can negotiate with a hammer.

With more than 44 million Americans lacking access to paid sick leave, coalitions to win time off have emerged in half a dozen cities and several states. Enforcing the laws once they're won has proved challenging.

The idea that the 99% can actually stand up to the 1% is contagious. How can stewards build on this moment of opportunity? Several unions are drawing members into home defense actions.

Activists have won more than 125 living wage ordinances in cities and counties, and state and federal minimum wage increases. Yet the number of workers earning poverty wages remains as high as ever. Are the laws worth the effort?

After New York’s retail union announced a living wage deal, activists greeted the news with mixed feelings. Only a small number of workers will be affected, but activists think the campaign changed the conversation on low wages.

Michigan’s top union leaders are deciding whether to attempt to amend the state constitution to block emergency managers and a "right to work" law through a ballot initiative this November.

Two years after President Obama and Democrats abandoned labor’s much-anticipated Employee Free Choice Act, they have refused to block Republicans intent on making life miserable for airline and rail workers.

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