New York City Immigrants Test a New Economic “Bridge”

Lady Liberty welcomes immigrants to New York City, but in reality it's hard for skilled workers to get their foot in the door. (Sgt. Randall. A. Clinton / Flickr   For all the supposed potential of the "American Dream," immigrants in New York City often have a terrible time redeeming its promise. Many arrive in the United States with no financial grounding or burdened by a heap of debt; others can...
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Off the Rails: How a Lack of Oversight Doomed Lac-Megantic

When a runaway train slammed into the small Quebec town of Lac-Megantic in July, incinerating the city’s core and killing 47 people, it may have marked the end of the line for the perilous, profit-maximizing model of railroading that has enthralled corporate and government officials across North America and the globe. The principal proponent of this laissez-faire template for railroading—raising i...
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Treasury Rejects Labor’s Top Obamacare Demand

Unions initially applauded the signing of the ACA in 2010, pictured here, but implementation of the new law has been a more complicated matter. (Pete Souza / Wikimedia Commons )   On Friday afternoon, following a major labor convention at which many union leaders forcefully advocated revisions in the Obama administration’s interpretations of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Treasury Department r...
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A New Blue-Green Coalition?

It may be difficult to imagine unions and environmentalists burying the hatchet. The high-profile divide over the Keystone XL pipeline is only the latest example of bruising blue and green conflict, fueled by a jobs-vs.-environment push-and-pull. But last week’s AFL-CIO convention, where labor formally embraced new partnerships with the Sierra Club, as well as worker centers and other progressive ...
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D.C. City Council Defeats Living Wage Bill

On September 17, supporters of LRAA gather to urge the city council to overturn the mayor's veto.   (Respect DC / Facebook ) On Tuesday, the D.C. City Council failed to overturn Mayor Vincent Gray’s veto of the Large Retailer Accountability Act (LRAA)—a bill that would have raised the minimum wage at large retail stores in the district from $8.25 to $12.50. The seven votes in favor (with six oppos...
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A 98-Year-Old Labor Reporter Who Loved Avant-Garde Music

This week, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka ran unopposed for the presidency of the AFL-CIO—but only because his opponent, labor activist Harry Kelber, died before the election. While foul play is not suspected (he died from natural causes in late March), the death of 98-year-old union dissident Harry Kelber still came as a shock to me. Harry had gotten so good at living, and at finding beauty and...
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Unite Here and Hyatt Hit Hiccups in Peace Process

A widely heralded union peace agreement  that would end a global boycott of Hyatt Hotels Corp and usher in a new era of better labor relations at the sprawling lodgings chain is hitting some potholes on the road to completion, but both sides are still expressing confidence in its ultimate success. Announced July 1, Hyatt's "national agreement" with the Unite Here union was advertised as the way to...
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Ban Ki-Moon Accused of Union-Busting at UN

An UN security officer stands at a cell entrance of a jail in Bunia in the DRC. A new policy by Ban Ki-Moon would curtail security officers' ability to negotiate safer working conditions, even though their work brings them to high-risk areas.   (UN Photo/Sylvain Liechti) United Nations workers spend their time on the front lines of the global struggle for human rights, but now they are battling fo...
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Nurses Taste Victory in Battle That Shook New York Politics

Nurses and supporters marched over the Brooklyn Bridge this summer to protest the closure of the Long Island College Hospital. (Photo from NYSNA).   The momentum in the fight to save Brooklyn's hospitals seems to have shifted decidedly to the side of the community, not the bosses. Not only did the fight over the hospitals prove central to the mayoral primary , helping sweep Bill de Blasio from the...
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D.C. Mayor Vetoes Bill To Lift Wal-Mart Wages

Respect DC is fighting to ensure a living wage for employees of six planned Wal-Mart stores in Washington, D.C. (Respect DC / flickr )   District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray disappointed labor supporters Thursday when he vetoed a bill that would have boosted the minimum wage for some retail workers at a time when Wal-Mart is moving forward with a major expansion in the nation’s capital. The bil...
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Following in Janitors’ Footsteps, Miami Cafeteria Workers Walk Off the Job

Nicole Berry is one of the 321 cafeteria workers at the University of Miami who joined 32BJ SEIU in May. (32BJ SEIU)   Food-service workers at the University of Miami walked off the job today during the noontime rush hour, accusing the university’s food service subcontractor, Chartwells’, of bargaining in bad faith. A yearlong organizing campaign culminated in 321 cafeteria workers joining the Ser...
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Mexico City Erupts Over Neoliberal Education Bill

Teachers have gathered en masse in Mexico City to protest President Nieto's new education reform legislation. (Viral MediaNews/Youtube)   In Mexico City, school teachers are meting out some serious discipline to a government gone awry. For the past several weeks, the metropolis has pulsed with a labor insurrection . There have been fierce union-led rallies, clashes with police , and mass demonstra...
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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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