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) ย  โ€œThose aldermen who support the TIF surplus ordinance: They are on our good list,โ€ Michael Brunson, recording secretary for the Chicago Teachers Union , declared to a few dozen protesters on a freezing Monday afternoon outside Chicago City Hall. โ€œHowever, ...
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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.' ย  CHATTANOOGA, TENN.โ€”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 Thursdayย 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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โ€˜From Bean to Cup,โ€™ 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) ย  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. ย  (Sarah Jaffe) We've talked a lot about the finance industry since it nearly destroyed the economy back in 2008. (By โ€œweโ€ here I mean the American public, though itโ€™s just as true of progressive communities and the world at large.) Weโ€™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 stateโ€”a gap of $100 billion and growingโ€”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. ย  (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) ย  More than twelve years after the attack on the World Trade Center, thousands of people who inhaled toxic air at the site of Ground Zeroย 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 โ€œStrikesgivingโ€ ...
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Secondhand Store Workers Push for First-Rate Treatment

CHICAGOโ€”Ana Laura Lopez has working at Unique Thrift Store in Chicagoโ€™s Uptown neighborhood down to a science. Sheโ€™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 hourโ€”75 cents more than Illinoisโ€™ ...
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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) ย  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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Ten Arrested at Chicago Wal-Mart in Black Friday Civil Disobedience

Cameras click as Chicago police arrest Myron Byrd for blocking the street outside of the Lakeview Wal-Mart where he works. ย  (Amien Essif) Around 7:30 a.m. on November 29, the day of the annual โ€œBlack Fridayโ€ shopping frenzy, demonstrators massed in front of the large Wal-Mart Supercenter on Chicagoโ€™s North Avenue, where steel crowd-control fences stood as remnants of one of the busiest shopping n...
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This Thanksgiving, Spare a Moment to Consider Turkey Plant Workers

A proposed poultry inspection privatization plan isn't good for workers or consumers, advocates say. (USDAgov / Flickr / Creative Commons) ย  With Thanksgiving Day nearly upon us, government officials are moving forward with plans to privatize some poultry inspections at chicken and turkey slaughter plants in a manner that could compromise worker and consumer safety. The poultry privatization plan ...
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Boeing Holds Jobs Hostage in Two-Pronged Fight With State Government and Machinists

Boeing has threatened to move the production of the 777X airliner, a hotly anticipated variant of the 777, out of Washington state. (Boeing Dreamscape / Wikimedia Commons) ย  For much of the last few years, Boeing has been soaring. In 2012, the aircraft-manufacturing corporation raked in $3.9 billion in net income; itโ€™s projected to earn at least $4.2 billion this year. And thanks to the $95 billio...
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UC Berkeley Professor Sends Heartfelt Anti-Union E-mail To Students on Eve of Strike

The union representing 22,000 service workers across the University of California system went out on a one-day unfair labor practices strike this Wednesday, joined by 15,000 graduate student employees. The action was particularly notable because of its use of a rare sympathy strike and the sight of academic workers standing in solidarity with service workers, as I reported last week. Alongside the...
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