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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Wave of Low-Wage Worker Strikes Hits LA Ports

Workers at the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles were probably surprised yesterday to see groups of truckers chasing trucks making deliveries and setting up temporary picket lines in front of them. Port truck drivers went on a 24-hour strike early Monday evening to protest alleged union-busting by Green Fleet, one of the port’s biggest trucking companies. The Green Fleet drivers say that the com...
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50 Years After the March on Washington, Unions Still Have a Dream

At the Aug 24, 2013 march on Washington, D.C., thousands wore SEIU purple and carried signs demanding higher wages and an economy that works for all. (Belinda Gallegos/SEIU)   WASHINGTON, D.C.—At a rally of some 175,000 people on Saturday to mark the 50th anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech, several leading unions seized the opportunity to strengthen the ties between o...
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Carnivals Are No Picnic for Migrant Workers

Migrant workers who set up and take down rides at traveling fairs, like this one in North Texas, complain of wage theft and grueling hours. (Double H Photography/Wikimedia Commons).   A trip to the carnival is the quintessential American summer pastime. But for workers who run the show, the hard labor of making our holidays carefree can be shockingly grim. A lawsuit lauched last week by two migran...
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At MLK March, Renewed Call For Obama Executive Order on Wages

Alvin Turner, a veteran of the 1968 Memphis garbage workers strike, speaking at a Change to Win panel on the King's legacy for labor. (Change to Win)   WASHINGTON, D.C.—On the eve of a march to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech, labor and civil rights activists are calling on President Barack Obama to honor King with an executive order that would raise wages for as many ...
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Wisconsin Protests Rejuvenated by Crackdown on Singers in Capitol

The Summer of Solidarity Tour joins the Solidarity Singers at the State Capitol in Madison, Wis. (Summer of Solidarity Tour)   Yesterday, the Summer of Solidarity Tour stopped in Madison, Wis. and visited the state Capitol. There, the labor activists joined the daily Solidarity Sing Along held by protesters at noon inside the Capitol each day since Gov. Scott Walker signed a controversial anti-uni...
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