Lessons From the Tomb of Frank Little


Frank Little, who came to Butte in 1917, was brutally murdered for his efforts to organize mine workers against the Anaconda Copper Company.   (KUED / Creative Commons) In June of 1917, 168 workers died in the Speculator mine disaster in Butte, Montana—many from asphyxiation. That July, legendary Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) union organizer Frank Little arrived in Butte to help organize a...
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New Englanders Gather To Back Wal-Mart Worker

Late last week, OUR Walmart —a union-backed organization of store associates calling for improved working conditions, health benefits, and a minimum $13-an-hour wage—staged its largest protests since Black Friday. Demonstrations in 15 cities drew several thousand people, and about 100 were arrested . In addition to OUR Walmart’s core demands, the protesters turned out to insist that Wal-Mart resci...
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Machinists Union Launches Ambitious New Campaign


Downtown Klamath Falls, Ore., where the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers is organizing employees of the local Jeld-Wen factory as part of a farther-reaching campaign.   (Llywrch / Wikimedia Commons) One of the most ambitious new union drives in the country is gathering momentum from its starting point in the Pacific Northwest. The International Association of Machini...
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Wal-Mart Workers Take Demands for Change to Marissa Mayer’s Penthouse


On Sept. 5, 2013, Walmart workers rallied for better pay and the right to organize in outside the San Francisco Four Seasons, home of board member Marissa Mayer. (Photo by R.M. Arrieta)   SAN FRANCISCO—With Bob Marley’s “Get Up, Stand Up For Your Rights” blasting in the background, about 150 loud and raucous Wal-Mart workers and local union supporters marched down Market Street in downtown San Fra...
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Tipping Is Bad, But ‘No Tips’ Might Be Worse


The owners of Chez Panisse in the San Francisco Bay Area have added an automatic surcharge to bills in lieu of tips. (Ulterior Epicure / Flickr / Creative Commons)   Tipping is falling out of fashion—at least if you believe a new article in the New York Times. According to Pete Wells of the paper's Dining and Wine section, the practice is “irrational, outdated, ineffective, confusing, prone to abu...
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For Union Members, Defeat at Crystal Sugar Anything But Sweet

When workers in a labor struggle are forced to agree to major concessions, labor leaders and allies often find ways to recast the defeat as a long-term victory. Often, they say that losing a tough fight opened up workers’ eyes to the lengths they must go to in order to win the next one. In 2011, for instance, labor circles widely celebrated the massive Wisconsin protests of Governor Scott Walker’s...
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Underwire Under Fire: Victoria’s Secret Employees Win $2 Raise

At the Victoria’s Secret flagship location in Manhattan’s Herald Square, where all three floors are frequently packed with customers, a single bra can sell for $58 and customers often drop hundreds of dollars in a single spree. Yet wages for the company’s New York City retail workers can start at less than $10 an hour, and employees say unreliable scheduling means that a consistent paycheck is nev...
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Labor Day 2013: Things Have Never Looked Worse for Workers—Or Brighter

Four young men breakdancing on the Federal Plaza last week in downtown Chicago say a lot about why this Labor Day provides occasion for both celebration and protest. The dancers—black, white, Latino, all of them putting on a spectacular show—were fast food and retail workers on strike for the day for $15 an hour pay and the right to form a union without retaliation. They were among about 400 low-w...
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Columbus Janitors Won’t Be Taken to the Cleaners


Bobby Copley is one of nearly 1,000 Columbus janitors who may go on strike if their demands for full-time work, affordable health care, and decent working conditions aren't met.   (Photo courtesy of SEIU Local 1) When a representative from SEIU Local 1 first showed up at Bobby Copley’s door in Columbus, Ohio, about two years ago, “I was about to throw her out of the house. I was totally anti-union...
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Dollar Store Caught Nickel-and-Diming Workers; Uber Sued; NFL Gets Off Cheap on Concussions


Those bronze plastic gods at the Dollar Store may not come with a clear conscience. (Monado/ Flicker /Creative Commons)   Dave Jamieson has a must-read exposé on how the Dollar Store skims from its employees' wages by classifying them as managers. From The Huffington Post : In interviews and court documents, former and current store managers claim major dollar store companies classify them as mana...
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After Largest School Shutdown in History, Spared Schools See Few Financial Benefits


Whittier Elementary, in Chicago's mostly Latino Pilsen neighborhood, is starting the year without an athletic facility after the city demolished the school's field house in July, citing disrepair. The field house also housed a community education center and library (Josh K/ Flickr /Creative Commons).   In pushing through the closures of 50 neighborhood Chicago schools this summer over the vocifero...
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Bullet-proof Jobs: Summer Employment May Help Stem Youth Violence


A 2011 installation outside of Chicago's Fourth Presbyterian Church displayed 77 t-shirts, representing the 77 Chicago youth who were killed by violence during the 2010-2011 school year. (Photo by Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar via Flickr )   It’s conventional wisdom: Kids get into trouble when they have nothing better to do. Now, research reveals that a summer youth employment program might reduce ...
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Fast Food Strikes Hit a Record 58 Cities, As Campaign’s Tactics Are Debated

Fast food strikes reached record numbers yesterday, with organizers estimating that some 1,000 stores and restaurants in 58 cities were affected by workers walking off the job. In addition to growing in cities that have seen numerous strikes in the past, like New York City, Chicago and Detroit, the strikes entered into previously uncharted territory, including Raleigh, N.C., Wilmington, Del., Miss...
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UE Takes the Fight to GE and Wal-Mart—and McDonald’s, Because Why Not?

“Who are we? UE!” chanted some 200 protestors outside the Chicago headquarters of General Electric Transportation Division last Monday. GE executives did not need the introduction. They’ve faced off with feisty UE—the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America —for most of the union’s 77-year history. And since last year, UE has worked hard to save nearly 1,000 member jobs at the big ...
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Chicago Students Boycott Class, Demanding an Elected and Accountable School Board

“David Vitale, we don’t recognize you as the board chairperson... You’re fired!” Thus Jitu Brown, education organizer at the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization on Chicago’s South Side, began today’s protest rally of about 400 students, parents and community members outside the downtown headquarters of Chicago Public Schools (CPS), where Chicago Board of Education president Vitale and the rest ...
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