Posts Tagged: Unions

How Can Unions Win?

Kevin Bacon’s new video imploring millennials to raise their 80s awareness did not mention Billy Bragg’s 1986 song “There Is Power in a Union,” but the idea that there is any power in a union probably seems as remote to many millennials as parachute pants or the White Pages. Actually, this is probably true of anyone born after about 1965. It’s been a long time since we have thought that most workers can realistically be something other than lone and lonely individuals forced to accept whatever terms of employment they can find and hope not to get fired.

Strike for America: Chicago Teachers Against Austerity [...]

It's a Miracle of Self-Restraint that Times Employees Haven't Gone on Strike

Congratulations to the 592 current and former New York Times employees, from the dudes in security to customer service representatives to a few brave news assistants to web producers to editors to critcs, who signed the open letter to Arthur Sulzberger Jr. at the behest of their Guild. It is now 19 months since the Guild's contract expired at the paper. Yesterday, the Times dismissed a Guild offer and—this is a good one!—the Proskauer lawyer who represents the Times suggested to the union that they "waive collective bargaining rights." The session was scheduled for four hours and lasted 30 minutes. So that's going well! As we know, [...]


As Goes Wisconsin, So Goes Hell

"Peterson said he believed it was human excrement."

A padded envelope filled with human feces is a Rorschach test, representing either: a state in democratic revolt against the overreaches of a berserker Republican legislature and governor; a Petri dish for the pushback against corporate ownership of government; or the last doomed charge of organized labor bashing its soft skull against the stone walls of a new era of "it's working" conservative austerity.

Wisconsin has become a place where arguments begin with John Adams' "Facts are stubborn things" and then follow with "The Bible tells us…" It's also a place where a leader who disbands collective bargaining is [...]


"The idea that a professional musician, after a pretty bloody rehearsal, would be most concerned with whether or not the composer recorded it on a cellphone is a misprioritization on every level."

"Somebody from the music office said she wanted to talk to me. Oh, I thought, maybe they’re going to apologize for that not-great showing. Not so much. Apparently one of the musicians in the orchestra had made something akin to a formal complaint that I had recorded the rehearsal! Evidently, he thought that he had heard a noise coming from my iPhone that sounded as if I had been playing back what they had just played? Ooooooooooooooooooooh girrrrrrrrrrrllllllllll. It was at that time that I lost my mind." —My secret boyfriend, composer Nico Muhly, explains the maddening situation of how composers can't get recordings of rehearsals and performances.


"Tennessee is not Wisconsin": It's Maybe Even Worse

"Troopers have forcibly carried out seven union supporters from the Tennessee Capitol after their protest disrupted a Senate committee hearing." —Yes, Tennessee too. The Senate Speaker would like to make it clear that Tennessee is not Wisconsin. Yes, in Tennessee, they're actually going to outlaw teachers' collective bargaining entirely.


Wisconsequences: What Happened This Week and What's Next (Up First: the Voter ID Bill)

On Wednesday night, Wisconsin's state senate amended Governor Scott Walker's budget bill and speedily voted it through, using a loophole that made a quorum unnecessary. Just 24 hours later, after a couple hours of "discussions" that turned the assembly chamber into a straw man carnival and included a motion to remove the majority speaker on the grounds of "impaired judgment," the Assembly voted to pass the bill. Walker will sign off, after some legal questions are answered. There will be lawsuits, and consequences.

"Elections have consequences" was the hammer used to drive the spike that has now severed union employees from collective bargaining. So that is now the call [...]


In Madison: Scott Walker Packed His Budget Address With Ringers

Wisconsin governor Scott Walker's budget address was delivered beneath a dead and stuffed eagle. His address made commitments to a better educated Wisconsin, even while offering almost guaranteed decreased funding of the state's schools. He criticized the state's wasteful use of "our tobacco settlement," and then minutes later praised, for his "bold new ideas and strong leadership," former Republican Tommy Thompson—the state's key architect of that tobacco settlement spending.

He twice passed into reverence for "our state's constitution," even while it was being broken two floors below him: the Capitol's doors were still locked.

One possible reason for why the doors remained locked to Wisconsin citizens [...]


First They Fired The Nurses And Librarians, Then They Fired The Guidance Counselors

Photo of kids in Southwest Philadelphia in the last days of this summer before school, by Paul Sableman.

Last week, as the 2013 school year officially began, Philadelphia's schools faced a $304 million budget shortfall. Also: the teachers’ union contract has expired, 24 schools closed over the summer, and—to boot!—more than 2,100 school employees were laid off. And then it was time for approximately 134,000 students to go back to school.

Students at 115 of the district’s 212 public schools will not have access to a full-time guidance counselor this year. Many won’t have a full-time nurse. Some will have workbooks only if their teachers are [...]


Bankrupt American Airlines Fails to Completely Alienate Pilots

In a rare victory for common sense, a federal bankruptcy court has temporarily prevented American Airlines from ditching its contracts with its pilots' union during its bankruptcy planning. (The flight attendants' union is currently voting on its own latest offer.) American will now make a new offer and then also try again to cancel their agreement with the pilots' union. It's safe to describe American's workers as "extremely pissed off" about this attempt to kick them to the curb. (Also? Kinda hard to turnaround an airline without, like, people to fly the planes.)


The Strand Union Negotiations

Here is The Strand bookstore's union negotiation process expressed in comic panel form. Five days ago, The Strand's union declined the management's latest contract offer. The bookstore has about 140 union employees (somehow).


Maine Governor Creates Jobs! (Painting Over Pro-Worker Mural)

"Maine Gov. Paul LePage has ordered the removal of a 36-foot mural depicting the state's labor history from the lobby of the Department of Labor headquarters building in Augusta…. Don Berry, President of the Maine AFL-CIO, issued a statement… 'It's a spiteful, mean-spirited move by the Governor that does nothing to create jobs or improve the Maine economy.'" —Incorrect! Somebody's gotta paint over that mural. Now that's job creation we can believe in!


A Wisconsin Teacher on Teaching After Unions

Last week Wisconsin legislators voted to eliminate collective bargaining for public employees, including teachers. I spoke with one 20-something Wisconsin teacher about the new public service landscape and what it now means to be a teacher. Given how Governor Walker's uninvited use of teacher Megan Sampson's story made her a chit to be exploited in the public debate, Kathryn has asked her last name not be used. The answers are unedited.

The Awl: What do you teach?

Kathryn: High School English.

The Awl: How long have you been teaching?

Kathryn: 6 years. The Awl: How does the loss of union rights make you feel [...]


A Blueprint for a Takeover: Wisconsin Republicans Lied While the Kochs Schemed

The simple rhetoric of the Wisconsin budget battle is that the Democrats are just "thug" unions—and that Republicans are carrying water for wealthy corporate sleaze. It's more complicated than that. For one, several teachers' unions endorsed Wisconsin Republicans last year—unions are hardly the unthinking automatons of the left they're now depicted to be. Why would they do that? Quite simply, those Republicans looked into the face of their constituents… and lied.

As the marquee battle over unions and Walker's bill is happening in Madison, the true fight over changes to the state is happening elsewhere. The ransacking of Wisconsin cannot be done from Madison alone. Governor Scott [...]


Madison Capitol Already on Semi-Lockdown for Tomorrow's Budget Address

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RT @ddayen: Crowds outside capitol begin massive chant of "let them in" as Capitol Police block access to the building #wiunionMon Feb 28 15:52:29 via HootSuiteWEACWEAC

Confusing situation happening at the Madison Capitol this morning. Protestors who slept in the building last night are still inside; people wanting to come in are being prevented from doing so. Tomorrow is Governor Scott Walker's budget address, you see! As we know first-hand, the protests in Madison have been peaceful, clean, well-organized and friendly, despite whatever lies [...]


Stupid Striking BART Union Doesn't "Get" Silicon Valley Values

Had to literally get up and walk away from my computer at the second Sarah Lacy quote.

— Kevin Roose (@kevinroose) July 8, 2013

It was fun yesterday watching these quotes from Pando's Sarah Lacy spread across Twitter last night, each person discovering it afresh, so that every time I checked Twitter, there was always someone having a bad feeling. Sarah Lacy, founder of tech news site Pando Daily, which is based in San Francisco, said “If I had more friends who were BART drivers, I would probably be very sympathetic to their cause, and if they had more friends who were building companies they [...]


Andrew Leonard's Fire Story

"In Berkeley, we are addicted to high taxes—in the 25 years I’ve lived here, I can’t even count how many times I and my fellow citizens have said a resounding yes to yet another tax hike or bond measure. Two weeks ago, I got my money’s worth."


American Airlines' Bankruptcy as Union Negotiating Strategy

While there's lots of noise today about American Airlines finally filing for bankruptcy, as an extension of its 2009 turnaround plan (oh, and its $30 BILLION in debt), there's a lot less noise about how Chapter 11 is also a strategy for its ongoing union negotiations.

American has an extremely heavy payroll load, essentially. It keeps more than 22 maintenance employees per plane, for instance; compare that to Delta's 12 or JetBlue's 3.4 or Northwest's .8. (Eek, .8?) And American's maintenance is significantly less outsourced than other airlines. American actually employs nearly 15,000 maintenance people; JetBlue employs 471.


Is the Wisconsin Budget Like Obama's Health Care Reform? Well, Kinda!

"Now maybe the Liberals know how the Conservatives felt last year when the Democrat Congress rammed Obamacare through (without even reading it)."

That comment, by "JamVee" on a Reuters story about last Saturday's near-100,000-strong protest crowd in Madison, perfectly sums up what has become the predominant arguing position of pro-Walker conservatives. This "shoe on the other foot" defense of Governor Scott Walker's budget bill stinks of revenge, not reason. But while there are many more solid reasons that the two bills are different, there really are ways in which the two pieces of legislation are the same—and, in one sense, they're exactly the same.


After Wisconsin, Government Won't Negotiate Anything with Any Unions

Of the 16 Wisconsin senators eligible for recall elections, half are Republicans and half are Democrats. The difference between them, however, is that, for the Democrats, "the only group trying to recall them so far is Americans Against Immigration Amnesty, a little-known Utah organization," which is actually the American Patriot Recall Coalition, which has no board members in Wisconsin. Also they have no board members with last names. Ha! Who knows who's funding them? There can be no recall challenge to an elected politician in Wisconsin until he's been in office a year; but, with at least 100,000 people demonstrating in Madison on Saturday, there should [...]


Ohio Likely to Ban Strikes by All Public Workers

"An Ohio state Senate panel voted on Wednesday to strip public sector unions of some collective bargaining rights and end their right to strike." —This bill goes before the Republican-controlled Ohio Senate this week; it should pass. It's nasty, too! "The Ohio proposal also eliminates binding arbitration of contract disputes by a neutral third party."