Category Archives: Labor

How a group of Starbucks workers emerged victorious in their union fight

It is hugely significant that even one café out of thousands in the iconic Starbucks coffee chain has beaten back the company’s union-busting tactics to choose collective power in the workplace.

The iconic American coffee chain, Starbucks, employs hundreds of thousands of people in nearly 9,000 cafés nationwide. And yet, the news that a handful of Starbucks employees at one café in Buffalo, New York, recently voted to join Workers United—an affiliate of SEIU—made headlines nationally. The New York Times called it a “big symbolic win for labor,” while the Washington Post hailed it as a “watershed union vote.” Social media feeds were replete with joyous posts celebrating the vote. The café, located on Elmwood Avenue, was the only one out of three union-voting Starbucks locations in Buffalo that successfully chose to unionize. Continue reading

Rare unionizing opportunity in big box and retail chains

This is the most opportune time for millions of workers in Big Box retail stores and fast-food outlets to form unions. McDonald’s, Walmart, Amazon, Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Burger King, and other giant chains are having trouble finding enough workers. Some of these companies are even paying signing bonuses and upping low pay. Continue reading

Rethinking work—and life

Americans are quitting bad jobs in record numbers because they’re rethinking what matters.

As a writer, I get stuck every so often straining for the right words to tell my story. Over the years, though, I’ve learned when to quit tying myself into mental knots over sentence construction. Instead, I step back and rethink where my story is going. Continue reading

Starbucks Workers United scores first-ever union win at big coffee chain

BUFFALO, N.Y.—Starbucks Workers United broke a significant barrier on December 9 with the first-ever worker win at the big retail coffee chain. Workers at the Elmwood store in Buffalo voted 19-8 to unionize with Starbucks Workers United, the National Labor Relations Board officer announced. The union also won 15-9 at a second store, but there are seven challenged ballots, and the NLRB will have to decide whether and how many of them to count. Continue reading

First Amazon, now Starbucks: Workers demanding unions at low-paying firms

BUFFALO —First it was—and still is—Amazon in Alabama. Now it’s Starbucks in Buffalo. Continue reading

Why Amazon is terrified of its U.S. workers unionizing

With a second union vote at its Alabama warehouse coming at a time of rising worker disaffection, Amazon is clearly worried that American workers will go the way of Europe: toward collective bargaining for their labor rights.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has just ruled that a historic union vote held earlier this year among Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer, Alabama, by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) was not valid. The highly publicized vote, which took place over several weeks in February and March 2021, resulted in a resounding defeat for the union, with more than 70 percent of those voting choosing against union membership. Continue reading

NYC taxi drivers took on predatory lenders—and won

This worker-driven organizing victory could pave the way for future debt relief.

After a two-week hunger strike and two months of sit-ins, dozens of taxi drivers in New York City hosted a long-awaited celebration outside City Hall on November 10. Continue reading

Rediscovering the power of unions

Better wages and health care may always face headwinds in Washington, but unions are striking to win them directly.

It was called “Striketober.” While politicians in Washington bickered over infrastructure, jobs, and the social safety net, unionized workers across the heartland went on strike to get their fair share directly. Continue reading

Don’t believe corporate America’s “labor shortage” bullshit

This is an unofficial general strike.

For the first time in years, American workers have enough bargaining leverage to demand better working conditions and higher wages—and are refusing to work until they get them. Continue reading

In final speech, Trumka said labor’s fighting for democracy under siege

LAS VEGAS (PAI)—In what turned out to be his final address to a union crowd, the late AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka declared organized labor is fighting not just for itself, but for “democracy, which has been under siege.” Continue reading

The untimely tragic death of labor’s best friend

The first time I met Rich Trumka, the president of the AFL-CIO who suddenly died this past Thursday, was in early 2008. I had only been president of the Writers Guild of America, East, an AFL-CIO union, for a short time, and he was then the labor federation’s secretary-treasurer. Continue reading

There is no labor shortage, only labor exploitation

Conservatives and corporate employers are weaving an insidious web of myths, lies and exaggerations to justify maintaining low-wage jobs.

For the past few months, Republicans have been waging a ferocious political battle to end federal unemployment benefits, based upon stated desires of saving the U.S. economy from a serious labor shortage. The logic, in the words of Republican politicians like Iowa Senator Joni Ernst, goes like this: “the government pays folks more to stay home than to go to work,” and therefore, “[p]aying people not to work is not helpful.” The conservative Wall Street Journal has been beating the drum for the same argument, saying recently that it was a “terrible blunder” to pay jobless benefits to unemployed workers. Continue reading

There’s no ‘labor shortage.’ There’s a wage shortage.

To find workers, there’s a free-enterprise solution right at employers’ fingertips: raise pay, improve conditions, and show respect.

At a recent congressional hearing on America’s so-called “labor shortage,” megabanker Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase, offered this insight: “People actually have a lot of money, and they don’t particularly feel like going back to work.” Continue reading

Pay a living wage or ‘flip your own damn burgers’: Progressives blast right-wing narrative on jobs

"If one in four recipients are making more off unemployment than they did working, that's not an indictment of $300 a week in UI benefits. It's an indictment of corporations paying starvation wages."

Pushing back on the right-wing narrative about the reason for real or perceived labor shortages in some markets nationwide, progressives on Friday told corporations that if they want to hire more people, they’ll need to start paying better wages. Continue reading

Big biz answer to low April job numbers: End unemployment benefits!

The Chamber of Commerce and the Republicans are seizing on what they say is a poor April jobs report to call for ending unemployment benefits they say are too generous. Their idea is that by heaping more pain and suffering on U.S. workers they will be forced to go back to work even if only to jobs that pay sub-human wages. The logical conclusion that this would be a good time for corporations and businesses to finally increase pay to living wage levels is one they want to avoid coming to at all costs. Continue reading

Migrant women farmworkers: An invisible essential labor force

The Biden administration must address the industry’s long-standing gender discrimination and systemic inequalities, which have become even more severe during the pandemic.

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been an outpouring of public support for essential workers. But this national discourse has largely excluded migrant women farmworkers, despite their vital role in keeping food on American families’ tables. Continue reading

If Joe Biden is truly a ‘union guy’ he must strike dead the Taft-Hartley monster

The PRO Act alone is simply not going to get the job done for U.S. workers.

President Joe Biden likes to say, “I’m a union guy.” Unfortunately, as Vice President from 2009 to 2017, his boss, Barack Obama wouldn’t let him be a “union guy.” Even with large Democratic majorities in Congress and control of the White House, worker needs went unmet. Continue reading

Amazon union vote shows why we need the PRO Act

In the face of intimidation by one of the largest companies in the world, Alabama workers bravely spoke out about the need for greater labor protections.

Following one of the most high-profile union votes in history, workers at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama—led by Black organizers—ultimately rejected efforts to form a union by 71 percent, according to the National Labor Relations Board. Continue reading

Don’t be fooled: The official unemployment numbers are a lie

A dive into the murky waters of unemployment to see the designed failings of a system that purposefully miscounts, disaggregates and excludes millions of people

The official unemployment rate now stands at 6.7%. But that doesn’t feel right, does it? Unless you live in a gated community, the reality on the ground feels more dire and more destitute. Behind that cheery 6.7% stand millions of uncounted people—uncounted by design. Continue reading

Workers need paid sick leave ASAP

Congress let mandatory paid leave end on Dec. 31. Lawmakers—and employers—need to restore them immediately.

Late last year, Congress allowed federal mandatory emergency paid leave benefits to expire. That left millions of American workers more vulnerable to catching—and spreading—COVID-19. Continue reading

Working class heroes get death as their reward

We are a nation that loves its heroes, even if most fade unknown to their deaths, protecting capital in a laissez faire system. When we flip a light switch, we take it for granted that the room will be illuminated, without understanding that people die for that to take place. Continue reading

A holiday comeback for Toys ‘R’ Us?

Retail workers are organizing to make sure private equity firms can’t make money by putting people out of work.

For many years, Giovanna De La Rosa enjoyed working at Toys ‘R’ Us—especially during the holiday shopping season. “I loved bringing joy to families and to children,” she shared at a recent congressional hearing. “I watched so many of the local kids grow up over the years while shopping in our store.” Continue reading

Waiting on the wealthy

Low-wage jobs catering to the wealthiest Americans are now growing twice as fast as other jobs.

Are you there yet? Continue reading

Workers stuck ‘paying the ultimate price’ as GE freezes pensions for 20,000 employees

‘GE hired a new CEO last year with a pay package worth up to $300 million.’

Workers are stuck “paying the ultimate price for executives’ poorly-timed deals,” said Our Revolution on Monday after General Electric announced it was freezing the pensions of roughly 20,000 employees with salaried benefits. Continue reading

Red states cut worker pay by $1.5 billion

If you’re a minimum wage worker in a conservative state, your state lawmakers may have cut your paycheck by over $4,000.

Last month, the House voted to incrementally raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Continue reading

A tire that should inspire fear in the heart of workers

This sad story is as old as NAFTA.

Mickey Ray Williams keeps a Goodyear tire in his Gadsden, Alabama, conference room. Made in Mexico and imported to Gadsden, that tire induces fear. Continue reading

More fake happy news about jobs

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the US economy created 148,000 new private sector jobs during July. The jobs number does not translate into employed people as increasingly Americans hold two or more jobs. For example, the BLS reports that from June to July the number of multiple job holders rose by 233,000 which is 85,000 more than the 148,000 new private sector jobs. What we are seeing is not more people employed, but more multiple job holders. Since May the number of multiple job holders has increased by 534,000. Continue reading

The gig is up

Uber just filed its first quarterly report as a publicly traded company. Although it lost $1bn, investors may still do well because the losses appear to be declining. Continue reading

Why unions matter to you

As I travel around the country, I tell people: if you have a job, join a union. And if you don’t have a union, start one. Continue reading

Public workers’ trump

Air traffic controllers hold the trump card (pardon the expression) in upcoming negotiations between Donald Trump and congressional Democrats over border security. Continue reading

The latest job report is another fiction

There were not 312,000 new jobs created in December. Continue reading

More jobs fictions

According to Friday’s payroll jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the economy created 200,000 new jobs in August. These jobs, assuming that they exist, are reported to be in low paid domestic service jobs such as transporting and selling goods, ambulatory health care services, and waiting tables and mixing drinks. There are none in manufacturing or in the “high tech clean fingernail” jobs that neoliberal economists promised the American work force in exchange for letting the industrial and manufacturing jobs go to Asia. Continue reading