Workers Are Fed Up: The Working People Weekly List

Working People Weekly List

Every week, we bring you a roundup of the top news and commentary about issues and events important to working families. Here’s the latest edition of the Working People Weekly List.

Workers are Fed Up, and That’s a Good Sign for Unions, National Labor Leader Says in Pittsburgh: “‘Workers are fed up. They're fired up. They're exhausted. They're frustrated. And for many of them, the pandemic was the tipping point. They're tired of risking their health and safety for a crappy job, AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler said. She addressed a ballroom full of union delegates, who collectively represent 700,000 workers across Pennsylvania. The delegates are meeting this week at the Omni William Penn Hotel in downtown Pittsburgh for a convention that the state’s AFL-CIO chapter hosts every other year.

Homecoming for Liz Shuler: “After graduating from University of Oregon, Liz Shuler went to work in 1993 at Portland-based IBEW Local 125, her father’s local. Today, 51, she’s America’s top union leader, AFL-CIO president. Back in Portland March 19 for an address at the Oregon AFL-CIO convention, she sat down for a conversation with the Northwest Labor Press. Liz Shuler: The AFL-CIO has a role to play in capturing the country’s imagination and connecting the dots. But we need more local unions organizing. We have 57 affiliate unions. All have different approaches. We as the federation can create new tools, new strategies, and provide the space for unions to come together and help each other across sector. We have great examples in the last couple of years with our Presidents Organizing Initiative, in which we’ve gone deep in three cities to test the waters. So in Seattle, for example, we have a staff person working with our Central Labor Council and state federation. They formed a digital hiring hall, finding ways for stadium workers to be integrated into our labor movement before they’re even union members.’”

U.S. Graduate Students Protest Against Low Pay While Universities Profit from Their Work: “Thousands of graduate student workers around the U.S. at private and public universities have gone on strike over the past few years, from Ivy League institutions like Harvard University and Columbia University to public state universities in California. Graduate workers at even more colleges have organized unions in spite of staunch opposition from their administrations. Among the most pressing unifying themes among graduate student workers organizing unions and holding protest actions and strikes is the low pay, an issue plaguing graduate student workers around the U.S. In the U.S., graduate workers take on jobs such as helping teach courses, assisting with research projects and performing often vital clerical tasks that help run academic institutions.

Southern California Grocery Workers Vote to Authorize Strike: “Contract negotiations are scheduled to resume Wednesday after thousands of grocery workers across Southern California voted to authorize their union to call a strike against the owners of stores including Ralphs and Vons/Pavilions/Albertsons. The yes vote does not automatically result in a strike—it only authorizes the union to call one if no progress is made in labor negotiations. Roughly 47,000 workers represented by seven United Food and Commercial Workers locals between Central California and the Mexico border were eligible to cast ballots. The membership covers workers at more than 500 stores.

Google Fiber Contractors in Kansas City Are First to Unionize Under Alphabet Worker Union: “Google Fiber contractors in Kansas City, Missouri voted to unionize Friday, becoming the first workers with bargaining rights under the Alphabet Workers Union. The group of 10 full-time workers are employed by BDS Connected Solutions through Alphabet and work in a retail store for Google Fiber, the project that provides high-speed internet access to 19 U.S. markets. The National Labors Relations Board counted and approved March votes on Friday. The 9 to 1 vote marks the first location of Google workers to unionize under the Alphabet Workers Union, which was created a year ago alongside the Communications Workers of America (CWA) amid increased tensions between workers and Google leadership. The Alphabet Workers Union now has more than 800 members in various locations across the company, but otherwise operates through a minority union” model, meaning it doesn’t have bargaining rights with leadership.

Minneapolis Educators Approve Contract, Classes Set to Resume Tuesday: “Minneapolis teachers and education support professionals have approved a new contract, the district said Sunday night. Over the weekend as members voted, the union and district agreed to a plan to to bring educators back on Monday as a transition day, with students returning on Tuesday. The Minneapolis Federation of Teachers confirmed members ratified the agreement and hailed the improvements to wages, mental health supports for students and job protections. We will return to our schools on Monday more united with our students, our communities, and each other, said Greta Callahan, president of the teachers chapter in a statement Sunday.

‘I Feel Very Unsafe’: Union Alleges Unsafe Conditions at Alabama Amazon Facility: “Workers at an Alabama Amazon facility were allegedly told to keep working Friday as potentially vaporized oil spread throughout a series of floors. The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which is seeking to represent workers the facility, made the allegations known about the Bessemer facility in a statement issued Saturday afternoon.