The issue that led West Virginia teachers to walk out may be boiling over elsewhere as states neglect workers’ benefits, sometimes causing financial and medical hardship for public servants.
West Virginia’s historic wildcat strike has the potential to change everything. ….
…. The Great West Virginia Wildcat is the single most important labor victory in the US since at least the early 1970s. Though the 1997 UPS strike and the 2012 Chicago teachers’ strike also captured the country’s attention, there’s something different about West Virginia. This strike was statewide, it was illegal, it went wildcat, and it seems to be spreading. ….
Walking off the job for the first time in nearly thirty years, West Virginia teachers are channeling the spirit of their state’s historic, militant labor movement.
Source: Stuff You Missed in History Class, Podcast, February 7, 2018 (audio)
Memphis sanitation workers stayed off the job starting January 12, 1968 in a strike that lasted for nine weeks. This was the strike that brought Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to Memphis, Tennessee, where he was assassinated on April 4 of that year.
Tracy’s Research: ….
Strikes are labor’s most powerful weapon. But last year they fell to nearly an all-time low.
Source: Paul F. Lipold and Larry W. Isaac, International Union Rights, Vol. 24 No. 2, 2017
Dead men tell no tales; that is, until the living give them voice. From 1870 to 1970, a veritable victims’ chorus of no fewer than 1160 fatalities was amassed during labour dispute confrontations within the United States of America. Each was simultaneously an expression of and catalyst within the dialectical evolution of US labour-management relations. …. Between 1877 to 1947, the US labour movement experienced the most violent and bloody era of and Western industrialized nation: strikers, organisers, and their sympathizers comprised nearly two-thirds of the classifiable victims. ….
Source: Mark Stelzner, Industrial Relations Journal, Early View, First published: 27 June 2017
From the abstract:
How have changes in labour law affected income inequality in the United States over the last half century? Curiously, even though employers have increased the degree to which they break labour law, workers have decreased their utilisation of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the strike. How do we understand the unwillingness of labour to utilise the NLRB and the strike when under increasing attack? To answer these interrelated questions, I analyse three central changes in federal labour law and norms from the middle of the 20th century to present: the usage of permanent replacement workers, adjudication of the main federal labour law—the National Labor Relations Act—and change in administration of the NLRB—the body charged with overseeing the National Labor Relations Act.
After close to three years of negotiations, stickers and leaflets weren’t getting the boss any closer to a fair agreement. The master contract covering 10,000 nursing home workers in Illinois had been expired for two years and extended several times.
Management was insisting on a wage freeze until Illinois overcame its budget impasse and increased Medicaid reimbursements. Long-term workers were languishing at minimum wage, even when their employers had begun offering higher wages to entice new hires.
Meanwhile, staffing was dangerously short. Often a certified nursing assistant was forced to care for 20 or more residents in an eight-hour shift—bathing, feeding, and assisting them at a furious pace. On top of keeping the nursing home clean, a housekeeper had to collect meal trays for hundreds of residents because there weren’t enough dietary aides.
To win a new agreement, it was clear that workers would need to be prepared to strike.
But their local, Service Employees (SEIU) Healthcare Illinois-Indiana (HCII), hadn’t ever waged a strike over its master nursing home contract. In fact, the last time there was a nursing home strike at any of these facilities was in 1979. The local’s previous contract campaigns had been lackluster. Mobilization had been limited to stickers, petitions, and a practice picket.
And giving each nursing home the organizing attention it needed now was a huge challenge. The bargaining unit covers 28 different employers and 103 facilities statewide…..
Unions are being strangled by laws that block workers from organizing, striking, and acting in solidarity. Becoming a rights-based movement is the only way to save labor.
Thousands of people are expected to take to the streets in cities across America and across the world on Monday in May Day demonstrations. Considered by many a celebration of spring days to some, others look at May 1 as a day to protest everything from worker’s rights to oppressive policies to immigration reform. Here’s a look at the history of May Day and why some people choose it as a day of protest….
May Day Marchers Around The World Celebrate Workers, Immigrants
Source: Camila Domonoske, NPR, May 1, 2017
May Day Strikes Hit Cities Around The Country
Source: Dave Jamieson, Huffington Post, May 1, 2017
Workers all over the country are protesting Trump’s immigration crackdown.
May Labour Day: What is International Workers’ Day?
Source: Al Jazeera News, April 2017
We examine the history of May Day and ask what kind of protests and commemorations can be expected this year.
Q&A: What is May Day?
Taylor Mirfendereski, KING-TV, PDT May 1, 2017
The Bloody Story of How May Day Became a Holiday for Workers
Source: Lily Rothman, Time, May 1, 2015