Chris Brooks

Volkswagen Jump-Starts Anti-Union Campaign


“The anti-union campaign has begun,” said a Volkswagen worker, who asked to not be identified due to fear of being targeted by management.

Before each shift, the 1,700 workers at the company’s Chattanooga, Tennessee factory attend mandatory meetings where they do stretches while supervisors read updates from the company’s “JumpStart” newsletter.

This morning, the supervisors read something new: anti-union talking points.

For the third time in five years, auto workers will vote on whether to form a union at the country’s sole Volkswagen plant, located in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

On Tuesday, the United Auto Workers (UAW) filed for an election to represent all 1,709 of the plant’s hourly employees, requesting that the election be held on April 29 and 30.

The union’s first attempt in 2014 failed after a slim majority of workers voted no, following a barrage of threats by politicians and business-backed anti-union groups.

'It's Different Here' Is No Excuse


I talk with labor activists all across the country. Plenty are inspired by strikes that happen elsewhere. But over and over I hear the same excuse for why they can’t make big demands or go on strike themselves: “It’s different here.”

How is it different? Pick your poison: It’s the South. It’s the public sector. It’s illegal. Our union leaders would never support us. Everyone is too scared. Too apathetic.

This year, the teacher union movement is supplying the best reply to “It’s different here.” Here’s what we’ve seen in 2019 so far:

Here's Why Los Angeles Parents Are Standing with Striking Teachers against Billionaire-Backed Charters


Yesterday for the second day in a row, 50,000 people rallied in support of the striking teachers of Los Angeles.

This time our target was the California Charter School Association, the lobbying arm behind the rapid expansion of unregulated charter schools in Los Angeles. It’s funded by billionaires like Eli Broad and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.

The CCSA has pursued a plan to move one million students from public schools into charter schools by 2022.

Employers are always looking for sources of leverage. One way they may hit a union in the wallet is by targeting dues checkoff—an agreement that requires the employer to deduct dues from union members’ paychecks.

Anti-union politicians have already banned dues checkoff for public sector union members in Wisconsin and for teachers in Alabama and Michigan—and have threatened to do so in many more states, including Indiana, Tennessee, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania. Their goal is to make the administration of the union as cumbersome as possible, sapping time and energy.

Rising suicide rates. The opioid epidemic. Mass shootings.

The United States is facing multiple public health crises, partly rooted in a lack of access to meaningful mental health care.

For the past decade, mental health clinicians in California represented by the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW) have been leading an offensive campaign to increase patients’ access to timely care.

Last week saw the latest development, as 4,000 mental health clinicians went on a five-day strike against Kaiser, the state’s largest HMO.

Swept Up in France's Yellow Vest Protests


I’ve never been tear gassed before. The smell is similar to fireworks and the effect is explosive—and effective. I immediately wanted to get as far away as I could from the noxious source of burning eyes and throat.

I was in Paris when France’s “yellow vest” (gilet jaune) movement shut down the center of the city.

There were thousands of demonstrators, all wearing the bright yellow safety vests drivers are required by law to have in their cars.

University workers across California hit the streets October 23-25 in their latest strike aimed at confronting racism in the state’s higher education system.

A longer strike could be ahead. “Like Malcolm X said, by any means necessary,” said bargaining committee member Luster Howard, a truck driver at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

The University of California is the state’s third-largest employer, and AFSCME Local 3299 is its largest union, representing 24,000 patient care and service workers across 10 campuses and five university hospitals.