Dan DiMaggio

As the coronavirus spreads, more and more workers who are still on the job are taking action to defend their health and safety and demand hazard pay. Here's a round-up. (For an earlier round-up, see “Organizing for Pandemic Time-Off,” Labor Notes, March 16, 2020.)

We Need More of Bernie's Spirit in Our Unions

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There’s only one living member of Congress who’s ever been invited to speak at a Labor Notes Conference (or for that matter, subscribed to this magazine), and he’s currently leading the polls for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Then-Congressman Bernie Sanders opened the 1993 Labor Notes Conference with his proposed “Workers’ Bill of Rights” to raise the minimum wage, shorten working hours with no loss in pay, divert military spending to create civilian jobs, facilitate union organizing, and create a single-payer health care system.

2018 could have been a tough act to follow. It’s not every year that a grassroots movement of teachers captures the nation’s attention.

But workers across the country rose to the occasion, making 2019 one of the most exciting years for the labor movement in recent memory.

TEACHERS KEPT AT IT

In terms of the number of workers who went on strike, 2019 is on pace to match 2018.

A Busy Year for Labor Notes!

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Labor Notes has been at it for 40 years. But 2019 will go down as one of our busiest and most productive yet.

In addition to putting out our monthly magazine, we crisscrossed the country joining picket lines, organizing Troublemakers Schools, and meeting with workers to help them chart a path forward in their unions and workplaces.

UE Faces Down Two-Tier in Erie

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Members of Electrical Workers (UE) Locals 506 and 618 rallied with supporters May 17 in Pittsburgh outside the Wabtec shareholders’ meeting. Wabtec, which completed its acquisition of GE Transportation in February, is still demanding a two-tier contract that would slash the average wage by $12 an hour.

A Month of Troublemaking

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Labor Notes has been busy across the country, organizing four big Troublemakers Schools already this spring, with more to come. These schools are unique opportunities for workplace activists from various unions and sectors to build organizing skills and swap strategies.

Two hundred hospital workers, school staffers, farmworkers, and baristas packed the Plumbers Local 267 hall in Ithaca, New York, on March 23 for our first Troublemakers School of the year.

This article has been updated since the original version, first published March 1.

At a sprawling locomotive manufacturing complex a mile long and a mile wide in Erie, Pennsylvania, 1,700 workers struck for nine days and fended off their new employer’s efforts to impose a raft of concessions, including two-tier wages.

Temperatures were below freezing. Strikers stood on a dozen picket lines ringing the plant, feeding wood into burn barrels and making life difficult for any non-union employees who tried to drive through the gates.

Meanwhile, Elsewhere in the Teacher Uprising...

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Who will pay for a 5 percent raise, smaller classes, and more nurses, librarians, and counselors for the Chicago public schools? “Rich people,” Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Stacy Gates told the press.

Their contract expires in June. Meanwhile, fresh off the first charter school strike in history, the union set a February 5 strike date at another Chicago charter network.

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