Are Young Workers the Future of Labor?

With union membership in a decades-long decline, recruiting a new generation of workers is crucial to keeping labor alive. Yet young workers are (and always have been) less likely to be in a union than their older counterparts: As of 2012, only 9.5 percent of 25-34 year old workers and 4.2 percent of 16-24 year old workers were union members, compared to 11.3 percent of all workers. At the same ti...
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Sex Workers in France Resist Attacks on Their Liberty


A demonstrator holds a placard reading, 'Yes to the freedom to prostitute oneself' during a November 29 protest in Paris against a bill that would punish clients of sex workers. (Joel Saget/Getty)   These days, French political culture appears to be retreating from its stereotypical liberalism on one of its best-known "vice" industries: the sex trade. Controversial new legislation in the country w...
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Supreme Court Dismisses Mulhall v. Unite Here, Giving Labor a Lucky Escape


In the 'card check' process, one type of neutrality agreement, an employer agrees to recognize a union if a majority of workers sign union cards. (Old Sarge/ Flickr /Creative Commons)   Unions dodged a bullet today when the Supreme Court took the unusual step of dismissing the strange and possibly disastrous case of Mulhall v. Unite Here Local 355 as “improvidently granted.” Though the dismissal l...
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Reston Townhouse Fire Caused by Candle in Garage

Reston Townhouse Fire Caused by Candle in Garage
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The Fairfax County Fire Department responded to a fire on Summer House earlier today for a fire that started in the garage of a three-story, middle-unit townhouse.  Firefighters encountered heavy smoke and fire coming from the garage and first floor living area of the three-story, middle unit townhouse upon arrival.  The fire was brought under control in approximately 15 minutes.&nb...
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On National Day of Action to Reclaim Public Education, Some Chicago Politicians Get Lumps of Coal


On December 9, 2013 in Chicago, Brandon Johnson of the Chicago Teachers Union holds up a Christmas list for the city schools. (Matthew Blake)   “Those aldermen who support the TIF surplus ordinance: They are on our good list,” Michael Brunson, recording secretary for the Chicago Teachers Union , declared to a few dozen protesters on a freezing Monday afternoon outside Chicago City Hall. “However, ...
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Volkswagen Tied to Another Anti-Union Group


A July flier by the Chattanooga Regional Manufacturing Association offers a training in response to 'the unionization threats of UAW at Volkswagen.'   CHATTANOOGA, TENN.—Volkswagen America recently told Working In These Times that it was not funding efforts to stop the United Auto Worker (UAW) union drive at the VW plant in Chattanooga, and that it supported the right of employees to unionize. Now...
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Will Power: 16-Day Strike Helps Public Workers Win Wage Increase

On 2:30 a.m. on Wednesday, union leaders and government officials in Will County, Ill., finally hammered out a contract agreement for county public workers after 15 months of negotiations and a three-week strike. Union members ratified the contract on Thursday with 95 percent support, ushering in four years of wage increases, in addition to an income-based sliding scale for worker contributions to...
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‘From Bean to Cup,’ Starbucks Labor Action Heats Up


As part of workers' Week of Action, a protester distributes leaflets outside of a Starbucks in Cambridge, Mass. (Association of Western Pulp and Paper Workers)   The Starbucks cup, with its iconic green mermaid logo and smart cardboard sleeve, seems to embody the essence of the urbane yuppie lifestyle. But the carefully constructed cool of the coffee mega-brand belies some serious anger percolatin...
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How Big Banks Shortchange Their Workers


The Committee for Better Banks protests outsourcing of teller jobs at a rally outside Bank of America on November 21.   (Sarah Jaffe) We've talked a lot about the finance industry since it nearly destroyed the economy back in 2008. (By “we” here I mean the American public, though it’s just as true of progressive communities and the world at large.) We’ve discussed pay for those who work at the top...
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Unions Furious with Illinois Democrats Over Pension Cuts

Illinois legislators, facing the deepest pension funding shortfall of any state—a gap of $100 billion and growing—voted on Tuesday to fill the hole by cutting $160 billion over the next 30 years in pension payments that the state had promised to current and future state employees. The decision by the solidly Democratic state government strongly rebuffed the public employee unions that played a maj...
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Spy vs. Spy at Walmart


Two apparent Walmart employees monitoring protesters during OUR Walmart's Black Friday campaign.   (Frank Leonardo) I took part in one of the hundreds of Walmart protests this past Black Friday. It gave me a new perspective on NSA surveillance. Well before noon, my husband and I were sitting on a sunny bench in front of the Secaucus, N.J., Walmart. To the Walmart security agents, conferring with g...
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Wait for Medical Relief Drags on for Last of Ground Zero Victims


More than a decade after the attacks on the World Trade Center, cleanup workers suffering from 9/11-related illnesses are still waiting for federal compensation. (USACE / Flickr / Creative Commons)   More than twelve years after the attack on the World Trade Center, thousands of people who inhaled toxic air at the site of Ground Zero are still awaiting government help for the medical problems they...
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How Chicago Whole Foods Workers Won Back Thanksgiving

On Wednesday around 5 p.m., half an hour into a rally to support striking Chicago Whole Foods workers, striker Matthew Camp took up the bullhorn and announced: "We got news that our company will now allow anyone who wants Thanksgiving off to have the day off." The assembly of about 100 demonstrators let out a cheer and quickly began chanting, "When we fight, we win!" The so-called “Strikesgiving” ...
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Secondhand Store Workers Push for First-Rate Treatment

CHICAGO—Ana Laura Lopez has working at Unique Thrift Store in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood down to a science. She’s sorted through loads of donated goods to determine what is sellable, priced the merchandise, put it out for customers and worked the cash register. But after eight years of working at the store, Lopez, a 38-year-old mother of six, earns just $9 per hour—75 cents more than Illinois’ ...
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A New Day, A New Danger: Temporary Workers Face Safety Hazards at Work


Representatives from the advocacy group Chicago Workers' Collaborative are taking OSHA to task for historically failing to protect temporary low-wage workers. (Chicago Workers' Collaborative)   Rosa Ramirez, a 49-year-old Mexican immigrant and mother in Illinois, knew something was odd about the plastics factory where her temporary-labor agency had sent her. "From the minute one walks into that fa...
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