Labor Notes #371, February 2010

The age-old goal of unions has been to “take wages out of competition.” But after a 30-year employer onslaught, national pattern bargaining has been largely devastated or has become a top-down conduit for concessions.

A few unions are forcing new types of pattern bargaining onto the table. While service sector unions usually have limited themselves to setting standards within local labor markets, UNITE HERE is using its Hotel Workers Rising campaign to push for a sort of pattern in the major chains it has organized.

Class war in Northern Mexico, being fought in the Cananea copper mine, could soon turn much bloodier. The Mexican government is going after 13,000 striking miners determined to hold their ground—and their mines.

Grievances, while necessary tools, can make workplace problems seem like individual problems rather than collective ones that can be solved through collective action. As the campaign organizer, your goal is not just to help members solve their workplace problems but to help them build collective self-confidence and power. Learn how.

GM can’t live without parts supplier Delphi but can’t live with union wages. The United Auto Workers is trying to break Delphi's master agreement, but didn’t anticipate rank-and-file anger, which has halted its concessions locomotive.

The Restaurant Opportunities Center has launched workplace justice campaigns in four cities aimed at flipping the low-wage, high-discrimination industry.

Hospital work is thought to be recession-proof. No matter what the economy, people get sick and need care. The work is there, but at a cost: hospital workers and researchers say some hospitals are churning through a round of reorganization, strapping on more work, skimping on training, and trying to stuff contract concessions through.

Four hundred education activists joined the Caucus of Rank and File Educators in January to map strategy for battling the next round of school closures in Chicago. CORE's also vying for control of the Chicago Teachers Union this spring.

Seizing on outrage over the Gaza bombardment and siege, a small but growing band of U.S. unionists are mobilizing behind a global call to pressure Israel with a boycott, divestment, and sanctions.

Most union workers laid off in the economic crisis had recall rights—a promise they’d get called back before their employer could hire new workers along with the ability to maintain seniority. But millions of workers simply lost their jobs. That’s what happened to nearly 200 workers at the Cummins engine plant in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, in March last year. . . .

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