Labor Notes #397, April 2012

Rather than waiting for a right-to-work law to pass, Michigan unions are mounting a petition drive to make anti-union bills unconstitutional. They need 322,609 signatures to get on the November ballot .

Lockouts seem to be everywhere. At Cooper Tire in Ohio, sugar beet plants in North Dakota, the New York City Opera, the National Football League, and Caterpillar’s locomotive plant in Ontario, management has used the tactic to try to force outrageous concessions.

Teachers in British Columbia are planning their next moves, including withholding report cards, after Liberal Party legislators forced them back to work after three days on strike.

If the war against unions has reached a tipping point, Wilma Smith is among those determined to rebalance the scales. Workers like her are losing their fear and leading a spurt of organizing at General Electric.

In a post-recall world, will a Democratic governor willingly surrender the flexibility and power over state employees that Scott Walker has gifted her with? Unions need a presence in the workplace that can't be ignored.

The bus drivers union joined with community movements and Occupy in 15 cities April 4 to protest fare hikes and transit cuts. In Boston, after a 24-hour vigil, 150 people packed a board meeting to shout, "Shame on you!"

Seven months after last August’s bitter Verizon strike, the company's attack continues relentlessly. Hundreds of layoffs in New Jersey are underway as union leaders and rank-and-file rabble-rousers debate how to regain leverage.

Workers in the nation’s sprawling distribution network hold enormous potential power. Today warehouse workers are organizing in three hubs: the “Inland Empire” east of LA, a giant complex near Chicago, and the centers along the Jersey Turnpike.

In the face of huge cuts planned for the Postal Service, dozens of facilities threatened with closure have won a reprieve. That's giving hope to Vermont postal workers and supporters fighting to save the mail and good union jobs.

As Florida's tomato pickers turn their attention to grocery chains, they're training farmworkers to form committees and stand up for themselves on the job—and reporting notable success.


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