Labor Notes # 491

A cartoon Norma Rae holds up a sign with a broken heart, instead of the "Union" sign she holds up in the movie.

If you’re a union member, unfortunately the chances are good that you’ve had, or will have, your heart broken at least once by one of your own leaders.

Maybe it happened when you first tried to get active in your union, but found that leaders didn’t welcome you into their inner circle. You wondered whether there was some special skill you lacked, and you ended up confused and self-doubting. Maybe you just gave up.

The late Teamsters president Jimmy Hoffa talking on the phone in a car.

Martin Scorsese’s movie The Irishman—up for best picture at the Oscars this weekend—is sparking interest in union president Jimmy Hoffa, 45 years after he disappeared.

Few have embodied the tough “labor boss” more than Hoffa, who headed the Teamsters from 1958 to 1967, when he went to federal prison for bribery and jury tampering.

There’s something to admire about Hoffa, who improved the lives of millions through strong contracts and solid benefits. Compared to an empty suit like disgraced former Auto Workers President Gary Jones, he looks pretty good.

A white man and a Black man hold signs: "On Strike for Our Students; UTLA"

One year ago, Los Angeles teachers on strike were demanding an end to random searches where students were yanked out of class to be frisked. By the time they walked back into work, they had won a partial victory.

Now these searches are coming to an end districtwide—landing a blow against racism in the schools.

Brookline paraeducators with signs lining hallway of school.

Teachers around the country have been schooling us all with their strike wave. But schools depend on more than just classroom teachers. Recently paraeducators, a vital—and criminally underpaid—part of the public school workforce, are starting to rise up too.

Paraeducators assist individual students with a range of learning issues, including physical disabilities, problems focusing, and difficulties managing emotions. They aid classroom teachers and are often called on to provide support in managing the day-to-day of school life for these students.

Subscribe to Labor Notes # 491