Chris Brooks

Swept Up in France's Yellow Vest Protests

I’ve never been tear gassed before. The smell is similar to fireworks and the effect is explosive—and effective. I immediately wanted to get as far away as I could from the noxious source of burning eyes and throat.

I was in Paris when France’s “yellow vest” (gilet jaune) movement shut down the center of the city.

There were thousands of demonstrators, all wearing the bright yellow safety vests drivers are required by law to have in their cars.

University workers across California hit the streets October 23-25 in their latest strike aimed at confronting racism in the state’s higher education system.

A longer strike could be ahead. “Like Malcolm X said, by any means necessary,” said bargaining committee member Luster Howard, a truck driver at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

The University of California is the state’s third-largest employer, and AFSCME Local 3299 is its largest union, representing 24,000 patient care and service workers across 10 campuses and five university hospitals.

Massachusetts nurses suffered a devastating defeat at the polls yesterday as a union-led ballot initiative, Question 1, lost by more than 2 to 1.

Question 1 would have improved hospital care by limiting the number of patients that bedside nurses could legally be assigned.

The ballot question was shepherded by the Massachusetts Nurses Association, which represents nurses at 70 percent of the hospitals in the state, including 47 private and five public hospitals.

Labor's Real Innovators Will Come from the Ranks, Not the Corporate World

“Put your faith in the rank and file” was the advice that famed longshore union organizer Harry Bridges used to give. But instead of turning to union members for the bold ideas we need, some labor leaders are taking cues from the corporate world.

Take the Service Employees (SEIU), which recently posted a job for an “Innovation Specialist.”

This summer, the scrappy union representing 21,000 taxi and for-hire vehicle drivers in New York City scored two groundbreaking victories against the world’s most valuable start-up company.

If Uber was looking for a fight, it found one in the Taxi Workers Alliance.

Missouri Voters Overwhelmingly Reject ‘Right to Work’

Unions in Missouri are declaring victory after voters shot down a Republican-backed “right-to-work” law by a hefty 2 to 1.

The final vote count was 937,241 against the legislation to 452,075 in favor.

Missouri became the 28th state with a right-to-work law on the books in February 2017, when Republican Governor Eric Greitens signed the law at a ceremony in an abandoned factory.

The brutal and wildly unpopular Trump administration policy that separated thousands of children from their immigrant parents triggered widespread protests.

It also provoked resistance from workers whose jobs are crucial to carrying it out.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) don’t operate in a vacuum. They depend on a host of products and services—including technology produced by software engineers and travel assisted by flight attendants.

Viewpoint: Boss Can’t Be Janus Fix

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s Janus decision, a new approach to financing unions called “direct reimbursement” is gaining traction with Democratic politicians, academics, and even the New York Times editorial board.

It boils down to this: rather than public sector workers paying dues, their government employer would pay an equivalent amount directly to the union.

Strikes are won by workers—often with a little help from their friends.

During their two-week strike, West Virginia’s salaried classroom teachers still got paid, because superintendents closed schools. The days missed were treated like snow days to be made up later. But workers paid by the hour or day—such as substitute teachers, teaching aides, bus drivers, and cafeteria workers—weren’t getting paychecks. Few had much savings to fall back on.

Before It All Melts Away

Will this spring’s wave of teacher strikes lead to stronger unions? Not if their unions return to business as usual.

The motor force behind the strikes in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Arizona, Colorado, and North Carolina is teachers’ deep frustration. Educators are feeling the pinch from decades of funding cuts that their unions have been unable to stop.

Pages