Labor Notes #460

Postal unions, like all federal employee unions, are open shop. That means workers can get the benefits of union representation while opting out of paying dues.

Yet the postal unions generally maintain high rates of voluntary union membership—and Letter Carriers Branch 82 in Portland, Oregon, does even better than most. From 90 percent membership five years ago, it has “slowly up-ticked,” says Organizing Chair Willie Groshell, to around 95 percent of the 1,200 represented carriers.

“Retail workers are basically told their entire lives that they’re never going to have any power in any way, in any facet of their lives,” says Will Blum, who works at an AT&T Mobility store in Boston.

But tens of thousands of cell-phone retail workers proved otherwise in May when they walked out on strike for three days, fighting for new contracts with the tenth-largest company in the U.S.

When students and faculty at Pennsylvania’s Kutztown University returned to campus in January after winter break, Lytle Hall became the building to avoid. It stunk. The moment you entered the main doors of the building, you were greeted by the overwhelming stench of a rotting animal.

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