Category Archives: Immigrant Rights

Low-Wage Movement Strikes Food Processing at Taylor Farms

Turning a New Leaf for Worker Justice

Published at CounterPunch.IMG_0164

It was still dark as Julian Camacho flagged down workers driving in for their shift. One by one, he handed them a leaflet while dozens of picketers crisscrossed the parking lot entrance, chanting in the morning chill before the sun rose over Tracy, California.

Julian knows these people. He used to work alongside them – cutting, washing, packaging, and loading salads and other food for Taylor Farms, the largest supplier of fresh-cut produce in the country.

But when Julian became involved in a campaign to organize a union at his plant, the company fired him.

“I was fired after four years of working at Taylor Farms,” he said. “We have the right to stand up and organize for better working conditions, but Taylor Farms clearly does not respect that and it doesn’t respect its workers – they just want to silence us.”

Julian isn’t alone. He joined hundreds of other workers and supporters for a one-day strike against unfair labor practices on December 19. Like Julian, two other workers have been terminated for their union support. Among the workers at the company’s two plants in Tracy, a large majority have signed union cards. They say they deserve more than poverty wages and the mistreatment that management inflicts on its workforce. Read the rest of this entry

Labor Needs a Different Kind of “Ground Game”

November 20, 2012

Published at Common Dreams and CounterPunch.

After suffering almost two years of ramped up union-busting, the labor movement came out swinging in the recent elections. It swung its hardest in swing states like Ohio, delivering the 2012 presidential election to President Obama and propelling other labor-endorsed candidates to office.

Labor’s decisive role in reelecting Obama and boosting dozens of other Democrats in key races was acknowledged in the national press. And it was acknowledged by labor. 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

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

Workers’ Power from Puget Sound to Goose Island

February 29, 2012

[SubDisp Exclusive]

For anyone wondering where I’ve been lately, I apologize for my literary absence at Subterranean Dispatches. A combination of day-job work, organizing in the local Occupy movement and other preoccupations have prevented me from finding sufficient time to write a solid dispatch column worthy of publication here or elsewhere. February has been a busy month.

But it’s also been a busy month for organized labor and workers’ struggle in general. The following articles are highly-recommended essential reading on two crucial battles in labor in the month of February – one that may set the stage for a larger union rights struggle in an industry that desperately needs it; and the other, a swift and salient reminder of the possibilities that exist when workers come together and take bold action. The first article discusses the two-week strike among 500 non-union port truck drivers in Seattle. The second chronicles a factory occupation last week led by the same workers at the same facility who occupied their Republic Windows and Doors plant back in 2008. In their own terms, workers were victorious in both cases, though their long-term battles continue. In an era in which workers are under the gun, from teachers in public education to manufacturing workers across the board, the lessons from these two recent struggles are profound. Read the rest of this entry