Reinvigorating the Labor Movement: 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.

Rail Unions Hail Biden’s Two-Person Crew Mandate: “The nation’s rail unions and the AFL-CIO’s Transportation Trades Department are hailing the Biden administration’s final rule mandating two-person crews on all but a few of the nation’s freight trains. The rule, strenuously opposed by the nation’s freight railroads, orders a minimum two-person crew—the engineer and the conductor—on all freight trains, especially those miles-long trains the nation’s big Class I railroads run. The unions have lobbied for two-person crews, both at the Transportation Department, the parent agency of the FRA, and on Capitol Hill, for years, but the rail lobby has always blocked congressional action. And it convinced the GOP Trump regime’s FRA to allow one-person crews, as a money-saver.”

Austin Pets Alive Workers File to Become Nation’s Largest Animal Shelter Union: “On Thursday, Austin Pets Alive! (APA) animal shelter employees filed to become the largest animal shelter union in the country, according to a news release. The release said APA employees filed a representation petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) requesting recognition of their union, Austin Pets Allied Workers (APAW). The release said the majority of approximately 200 APA workers signed union cards with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, along with support from the National Veterinary Professionals Union.”

Harvard Law School Academic Workers Vote 62-3 to Unionize: “Harvard Law School clinical workers voted 62-3 on Wednesday in favor of unionizing under Harvard Academic Workers-United Auto Workers. Out of 110 eligible voters in the unit, 80 percent showed up to the polls at Roscoe Pound Hall, despite the rainy weather. After the votes were certified with the National Labor Relations Board Wednesday evening, HAW-UAW Clinical can move forward in negotiations with Harvard. In addition to the 65 official votes cast, 12 workers also voted under challenge.”

IATSE Sees Fears and Promise of Artificial Intelligence: ‘We Want the Spoils’: “When the Writers Guild of America went on strike last May, union leaders argued that artificial intelligence posed an existential threat to writers, painting a picture of a dystopian future in which TV shows might be crafted by one writer and a machine. Ten months later, the tone in Hollywood labor circles has shifted significantly. At a March 3 rally in Los Angeles, Matthew Loeb, international president of IATSE, argued that AI has the potential to make union members’ jobs easier. ‘We want some of the spoils of artificial intelligence,‘ Loeb said.”

Philly College Adjuncts Fight for Stability: “To draw attention to the struggles of adjunct or ‘contingent‘ faculty, instructors from Temple, University of the Arts, Community College of Philadelphia and several other schools will hold a rally outside City Hall on Friday with state Sen. Nikil Saval, state Rep. Rick Krajewski, and other supporters. ‘We’re keeping the focus on how the most vulnerable faculty are not only experiencing all of the instability and the political pressures that have been leveled at higher ed, but they’re also the ones bearing the brunt of these unnecessary cuts,‘ said Bradley Philbert, an adjunct at UArts and an officer with the United Academics of Philadelphia, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers union.”

MAGA House Republicans Attack Workers Again: “The Republican House majority on the Education and the Workforce Committee—ideologues for whom ‘Labor‘ in its title was a dirty word so they removed it–attacked workers again. This time, they approved House Joint Resolution 116, the equivalent of a law if a president signs it, would abolish the Biden Administration Labor Department’s new rule that makes it much tougher for shady businesses to misclassify their workers as ‘independent contractors.‘ The committee OK’d it on a party-line vote on March 21, just before lawmakers skipped town for another of their many two-week recesses. In its place: A Trump-era rule which gives those bosses a much freer hand, and lets them deprive workers of the right to organize, while cutting ‘labor costs‘ for the crooks in half, one estimate says. HJRes 116 would enshrine the anti-worker Trump rule forever. Trump’s ‘rule unfairly tipped the scales toward businesses rather than the workers DOL is supposed to protect,‘ the unions and their allies retorted in a joint letter to House and Senate legislative leaders, anticipating floor fights on this Republican brainstorm.”

East Bank Redevelopment Project Update: Master Developer, Labor Union Strike Deal: “This memorandum of understanding between Fallon and Laborers' International Union of North America Local 386, also known as LIUNA, strengthens worker pay and security protections, said Ethan Link, vice president of LIUNA Local 386. The Madison-based union represents construction workers and Vanderbilt University service workers. Workforce development apprenticeship programs are key to the union's efforts to keep job sites active with limited labor supply.”

How a Union Battle Could Decide Who Wins the U.S. Senate: “Tim Burga, president of the Ohio branch of the AFL-CIO—America's largest federation of unions—told Newsweek that once organized labor mobilizes around a candidate, unions can tap into their extensive networks and existing infrastructure, to spread political messages. Through worksite outreach campaigns, door-to-door volunteers, and manpower to deploy traditional campaign mailers, unions can play a pivotal part in turning out voters. With Brown's robust labor record, Burga expects him to garner support across the board, saying, ‘I couldn't even quantify. It's really strong.‘”

Barnes & Noble Workers Plan Union Drive at Largest U.S. Bookstore Chain: “Workers at America’s largest chain of bookstores are gearing up for a nationwide union drive after six Barnes & Noble outlets voted to organize over the past year. ‘Many more‘ stores will unionize, according to booksellers demanding better pay and conditions. At locations that already have, employees accuse the chain’s management of dragging their heels during contract negotiations. James Daunt, the CEO, is said to have embarked upon a months-long campaign to dissuade employees from voting in favor.”

Liz Shuler Wants AI to Reinvigorate the Labor Movement: “Liz Shuler was standing inside a university lab one day a few years ago when she saw the future of everything—in a cutting board. At the time Shuler was secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, one of America’s most storied labor organizations, and she’d come to Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University with a delegation that included members of Unite Here, the union representing hundreds of thousands of workers in the hospitality industry. Their mission: to get a glimpse at how technology might impact the workplace in the years ahead. It didn’t take long before that impact became clear, at least in the kitchen. One of the professors at CMU, a school known for its prowess in technology and design, was demonstrating a cutting-edge cutting board that was able to measure how fast someone sliced vegetables, as well as the quality of their motion.”

Major Nebraska Labor Federation Backs U.S. Senate Candidate Dan Osborn: “Independent U.S. Senate candidate Dan Osborn has announced significant endorsements from major Nebraska unions for his campaign, along with the achievement of collecting enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot. Osborn, a U.S. Navy and Nebraska Army National Guard veteran and steamfitter from Omaha, was joined by local union leaders/members at the Steamfitters & Plumbers Local Union #464 in Omaha on his lunch break to make the announcement Thursday. At the event, the Nebraska State AFL-CIO—the state chapter representing the federation of labor unions in the United States—announced their support for Osborn in the U.S. Senate race, challenging incumbent Senator Deb Fischer. ‘…because we know he will be a champion for working people,‘ said Lori J. Meyers, Communications Director/Mobilization Coordinator for the Nebraska State AFL-CIO. ‘Osborn has proven that he will fight to ensure that workers have a voice in the workplace, protect, and strengthen labor standards and expand employment protections. Our affiliates believe that Dan Osborn is the right person to represent working people in the U.S. Senate.‘”

‘The Right to Organize Is on the Line,’ Casey Says as He Picks Up Labor Endorsement: “Shortly after thanking dozens of trade union members and leaders for endorsing his reelection bid, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., stood near a wall-size mural of an overalls-clad working man gazing past the Pittsburgh skyline and concluded the 2024 election cycle could be summed up in one word: rights. ‘If you and I were having this conversation, say, 15-20 years ago, and you were saying this election would be about women’s rights, workers’ rights and voting rights, I’d have said, ‘Well, that’s not where the election’s going to be because those rights are settled,’ Casey said. ‘But now those three rights are on the line, in this election. His specific focus on this day: workers’ rights. Dressed in jeans and a gray pullover, Casey made his argument to a friendly crowd—he was visiting the Plumbers Union Local 27 headquarters in North Fayette, a suburb west of Pittsburgh, to receive the endorsement of the Pittsburgh Regional Building Trades Council. The council supports 33 local unions representing a broad swath of workers, from carpenters to plasterers to electrical workers to bricklayers.”