Alexandra Bradbury

Every year, workers at the Postal Service and UPS expect to work long hours between Thanksgiving and Christmas. “This is like our Super Bowl,” said Kimberly Karol, president of the Iowa Postal Workers (APWU). “Employees really do rally together.”

But this year has been like no other. Workers were still catching their breath from last year’s holiday peak when the pandemic struck and online ordering ratcheted up. It was like Christmas all over again—and it never stopped.

North Pole Elf Sickouts Score Masks from Santa

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Holiday toy production season got off to a chaotic start this year. Santa Claus at first resisted the elves’ demands for COVID safety measures—prompting a wave of sickouts around the toy workshop.

Many elves joined the sickouts, especially in candy striping and wrapping and ribbons, despite frantic efforts by Elves, Reindeer, and Candy Stripers Local 1224 President Zack Keebler to tamp down the risky resistance. The crisis peaked when a batch of candy canes was shipped out unstriped—an error unprecedented in polar history.

The push to reopen schools and campuses is hitting educators with a brutal fact: your employer will place you in deadly danger for the sake of the economy.

You knew this already if you worked in a meatpacking plant, an Amazon warehouse, or a construction site. But until 2020 you didn’t think a school or university job might kill you.

We Need a Disability New Deal, Too

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The subway is something I’ve always loved about New York City life. But my family can’t ride it together, because my daughter has cerebral palsy and 3 out of 4 stations have no elevator.

One in seven U.S. adults has serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs or can’t do so at all. People with disabilities generally, including vision and hearing impairments and intellectual disabilities, make up 1 in 4 adults: that’s a huge minority.

A looming presidential election and a pandemic-fueled demand for vote-by-mail have trained a sudden spotlight on new Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and his sabotage of the U.S. Postal Service.

Clearly feeling the heat, “DeLay DeMail” DeJoy announced yesterday that he would pause operational changes till after November’s election. But it wasn’t immediately clear whether that meant undoing the outrageous changes he has already made—or just postponing further damage till the media scrutiny recedes.

Farewell, Chris

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Goodbyes are the worst. Labor Notes writer-organizer Chris Brooks is leaving our staff this month to become the mobilization director for the New York NewsGuild.

Chris joined the staff in 2016, in the run-up to that year’s conference. His first day in the office, as I recall, he helped proof the final manuscript of Secrets of a Successful Organizer. Then he plunged right into devising a system to schedule hundreds of volunteers into jobs and shifts.

Farewell, Samantha

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This month’s magazine is bittersweet; it’s the last one with Samantha Winslow’s name on the masthead, as she leaves the staff.

It’s hard for me to imagine Labor Notes without Samantha. We started working here at almost the same time, eight years ago. Over those years Labor Notes and I have benefited enormously from her organizing knowhow; her excellent political judgment and insights; her keen mind and creativity; and her warm good humor.

Update, June 18: Last night in a roll call vote, the Martin Luther King County Labor Council expelled the Seattle Police Officers Guild. Delegates' votes are weighted by the number of members for whom their unions pay per capita fees to the labor council; the vote was 45,435 yes, 36,760 no. Hundreds of supporters of the expulsion rallied last night awaiting the results of the virtual meeting.

The marches are sweeping every state. Hundreds of thousands of people have braved the pandemic to protest the murder of an unarmed Black man, George Floyd, by Minneapolis police.

Like the teacher strike waves of 2018 and 2019, today’s protests against police violence have the support of a majority of Americans. A Monmouth poll showed 78 percent think protesters’ anger about the killing of George Floyd is wholly or partially justified.

The U.S. Postal Service is in deep trouble. The postal Board of Governors has asked Congress for $75 billion to keep the agency afloat; without it, the outgoing Postmaster General said, USPS could “run out of cash” by September.

A big drop in letters during the emergency shutdown has intensified the budget crunch, but the underlying crisis predates the pandemic. The good news is, the problem is mostly artificial—Congress created it with the stroke of a pen, and could fix it the same way. If it wanted to.

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