Alexandra Bradbury

This year’s Labor Notes Conference (June 17-19, Chicago) will be one for the record books. About 4,000 people are coming—more than ever before—after a long wait.

There’s plenty to celebrate this year, starting with phenomenal new organizing wins at Starbucks and Amazon. Dozens of shop floor organizers from both companies will be there, including plenary speakers Amazon Labor Union President Chris Smalls (“We want to thank Jeff Bezos for going to space, because while he was up there we were organizing a union”) and Michelle Eisen of Starbucks Workers United.

Take Heart, and Take Risks

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Nobody predicted this—we sure didn’t. What Amazon workers in New York pulled off was supposed to be impossible.

An independent union relying almost entirely on volunteer organizers beat one of the world’s biggest and most fiercely anti-union companies.

They did it with an eclectic mix of classic methods and throwing out the rulebook. Instead of organizing an underground campaign, they put up a recruitment tent right outside the warehouse.

Mike Parker, the author of four Labor Notes books and a close supporter and key strategist throughout our 43-year history, died January 15 of pancreatic cancer. He will be hugely missed—remembered as a brilliant thinker, a humble and dedicated movement-builder, and a moral compass and mentor to generations of activists.

UPS Drivers Stage a Walk-in to Defend a Fired Co-Worker

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To protest the unfair firing of a co-worker, on the morning of Tuesday, December 21 150 UPS drivers in Chicago took a simple action: they didn’t go into work early.

Instead, they gathered outside with an inflatable fat cat. They grilled food, played music, and then walked in together, right on time.

This departure from routine was enough to throw their management into a panic.

2021 reminds me of a riddle: What’s worse than finding a worm in your apple? Finding half a worm in your apple. What’s scarier than a year of pandemic? A second year of pandemic.

We’re on new terrain, but labor is finding its footing. This was the year of a sudden “labor shortage,” the year everyone learned the phrase “supply chain problems”—and also the year that many who had been called “essential” saw how quickly they went, in the words of Kellogg’s striker Trevor Bidelman, “from heroes to zeros.”

Supply Chain Snafus Give Santa's Elves New Leverage

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A new spirit of defiance is spreading on the wind that whips through the North Pole workshop complex. Elves are chafing against long hours and discovering their increased leverage—both resulting from a labor shortage that has jammed up critical points in the supply chain.

Polar warehouses are stacked to the rafters with gingerbread men no one has frosted and headless nutcrackers awaiting a delayed shipment from the parts plant.

This article was updated November 19 to reflect the final election results.

A new administration will soon take the helm of the 1.3 million-member Teamsters union. The Teamsters United slate swept to victory in this week's vote count, beating out their rivals 2 to 1.

It’s the first time in almost a quarter-century that a coalition backed by Teamsters for a Democratic Union has taken the driver’s seat in the international union.

Once upon a time, a nip in the air and the crunch of leaves underfoot meant peak season for shipping—an annual onslaught of catalogs and Christmas cards and online shopping. Those were the old days; since Covid hit, peak season never stops.

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