European Austerity Deepens, Workers Strike Back

September 26, 2012

Plutocrats in Europe are continuing their march against the poor and working class. Their efforts to bleed workers dry has once again pushed unions in Greece to declare a nationwide general strike. And in Spain, protests this week turned violent as more austerity measures threaten the lives of workers already hurting from high unemployment and suffocating budget cuts.

Greek workers have endured massive cuts over the last several years and have repeatedly been forced to use the one thing they still have: the power to withhold their labor. Read the rest of this entry

DHL’s Attack on Turkish Workers’ Rights

August 15, 2012

In the last year, DHL  claims it has fired 24 workers in Turkey for “performance related” reasons. But the express parcel delivery company is fooling no one. TÜMTİS, the Turkey Motor Vehicle and Transport Workers’ Union, has been trying to organize the DHL workers for more than a year. DHL management in Turkey has fired workers for trying to organize and threatened to fire other workers for joining TÜMTİS. The company is also refusing to meet with the union over the firings.

Between last April and November, eight workers were fired for what the DHL called poor performance and endangering worker safety and health. But the workers said managers openly threatened one worker at a time with dismissal for organizing. Read the rest of this entry

Solidarity is a Wildfire: Houston Janitors’ Strike Spreads

July 18, 2012

The one percent is catching fire in the form of an expanding strike by the janitors who clean the buildings of some of the largest corporations in the U.S. Hundreds of janitors in Houston who walked off the job last week are being joined by hundreds more this week as picket lines extend to eight cities across the country.

The janitors – employed by contractors to clean office buildings for companies like Exxon Mobile, Shell Oil, and JP Morgan Chase – are striking against unfair labor practices. They are also demanding an end to poverty wages in a city recently named by Forbes as the number one city for millionaires. Read the rest of this entry

Solidarity Strikes, a DREAM Decree and “Obamacare” – June in Review

June 28, 2012

A new writing job in the labor movement has kept me from writing my own material more frequently both here at Subterranean Dispatches and other publications. 

While I hope to produce a new piece in the near future, for now I’d like to feature some outside anaylsis on important developments in the month of June – including inspiring solidarity pickets that spread around the country among Teamster sanitation workers and some insights on Obama’s recent executive order protecting 800,000 undocumented youth from the threat of deportation.

But first my take on healthcare reform…

Stepping Away from Single-Payer

In one of the most high-profile Supreme Court cases in recent history and a fever-pitched media event, the country’s highest court closed out the month of June with a decision on the Obama administration’s healthcare reform law. The decision is understood as being hugely historic on both the right and the left. But there was a lot of confusion about the substance of the verdict that the Supreme Court finally handed down on the Affordable Care Act. Read the rest of this entry

Unionizing the New Jim Crow?

May 28, 2012

Published at Common Dreams and Counterpunch.

Dozens of people recently gathered outside of a supermax prison in Illinois demanding that the facility be shut down. They held signs that read “I am a mom,” a spin on the iconic “I am a man” signs held by striking sanitation workers in Memphis in 1968.

But these protesters – many of them mothers of incarcerated men at the prison – were directing the repurposed slogan in part against the very same union that represented those African-American strikers as they marched alongside Dr. Martin Luther King more than 40 years ago. Read the rest of this entry

Historic Union Victory and New Promise for Port Drivers

April 21, 2012

Published at CounterPunch.

In an era of defeat and decline for the labor movement, pathbreaking organizing victories are rare. Union activity in these times is more likely to revolve around defensive battles than conquering new territory or reclaiming ground that was lost decades ago.

Earlier this month, a rare election victory by port truck drivers at the Port of Los Angeles signaled a big step forward in the fight to organize a deregulated industry that is rife with worker abuse.

The 46-to-15 vote by Toll Group drivers in favor of joining the Teamsters was the first of its kind in nearly 30 years. And Toll, an $8.8 billion Australia-based logistics company, fought the workers every step of the way. 

But the workers’ historic victory has given new hope to other drivers throughout the industry. Read the rest of this entry