Alexandra Bradbury

This pandemic creates openings for privatizers and budget-choppers to make their plays. But it also creates some new openings for workers to build power.

At the same time that we’re all sprinting to meet the urgent challenges of the present, workers and unions should take time to analyze the new threats and opportunities that our workplace movements will be facing in the coming months.

Can I Get Fired for Talking about Virus Risks?

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Many workers still on the job during this pandemic are upset about their working conditions. But can you get in trouble for talking about your concerns—to your co-workers, on social media, or to the newspaper?

In a word: no. Not legally, anyway.

Below is a short run-down of your legal right to organize around wages, hours, and working conditions, even if you don’t have a union—and if you do have a union, your additional protection under your contract.

Why We Throw Stones

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Everyone loves a good story about an Amazon walkout. But when Labor Notes wades into more controversial waters—the pros and cons of a contract, for instance, or a race for union office—we can expect some angry letters.

“Let’s not criticize each other,” is a common refrain. “We get enough attacks from the boss! Airing disagreements gives ammo to union-busters.”

Harlan County, Kentucky, is probably best known for the hard-fought strikes in its coal mines in the 1930s and 1970s. Today the remaining mines are nonunion. But evidently the local spirit of militancy and solidarity is still kicking.

For three days now, miners and their families have occupied a railroad track, blocking a train that’s loaded up with coal that these workers dug out of the earth and never got paid for.

A flagging union has found new hope in a flurry of organizing victories. Now in the union’s presidential election, members are mulling what’s the best way to keep growing—stick with the incumbent, or replace him with a young leader from last year’s biggest organizing drive?

Jon Schleuss, 31-year-old challenger to head the 20,000-member NewsGuild, led the 2018 drive at the Los Angeles Times. The landslide there was a breakthrough for the union, kicking off a banner year of growth.

VIDEO: 40 Years of Troublemaking in the Labor Movement

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Since 1979, Labor Notes has been home to the troublemaking wing of the labor movement. The pages of our magazine are filled with the stories of workers who are working to transform their unions, to take on the boss, to fight for racial justice.

We believe that working people's best bet is on ourselves. That's why our trainings, and national conference, focus on connecting workers to one another across unions and industries and provide rank-and-file organizers with the tools they need to get the job done themselves.

“The straw that broke the camel’s back for me,” said Chicago Teamsters leader Juan Campos, “was seeing the international shoving the UPS contract down the members’ throats.”

That’s why he has joined an opposition slate to challenge the union’s top officers in 2021.

Campos announced January 31 that he will run for an at-large vice president seat, on the ticket with Sean O’Brien of Boston for president and Fred Zuckerman of Louisville for secretary-treasurer.

Reformers Take Back the Reins in New York City UPS Teamsters Local

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The biggest UPS local in the Northeast is back in the hands of reformers.

Teamsters in New York City’s Local 804 elected the Experience Matters slate far and away the winner in a four-way race December 20.

President-Elect Vincent Perrone, a 25-year UPS worker and former business agent, won with 1,269 votes to incumbent President Danny Montalvo’s 794.

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