Massive Strikes Hit France: More Than One Million People Join 200 Protest Marches

Countercurrents | January 20, 2023

A massive strike has hit France on Thursday. Workers and other earners joined hands in protesting pension reform. Trade union sources said the number of people joining more than 200 protest marches was 2 million. Police had to use tear gas to contain the protesters in Paris.

Teachers, railway workers and public sector employees abandoned joined the protest marches to oppose a planned increase in the retirement age

Citing France’s interior ministry, media reports said:

About 1.12 million people took part in protests across France.

Of the about 1.12 million people who joined the protests, 80,000 were in Paris alone, BFMTV said.

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Union Organizing Surged in 2022: Let’s Push for a Radical Labor Movement in 2023

More workers are forming independent unions, untethered from the AFL-CIO and other established labor groups.

Michael D. Yates

Truthout | December 29, 2022

Chris Smalls, a leader of the Amazon Labor Union, leads a march of Starbucks and Amazon workers and their allies to the homes of their CEOs to protest union busting on Labor Day, September 5, 2022, in New York City, New York.

The year 2022 saw a significant increase in working-class unrest in the United States. Millions of workers quit their jobs in 2021, and this trend has continued in 2022. Most moved on to different employment, while others continued their education or retired. Recently, many Twitter employees quit in response to the severe force reduction and intensification of work effort engineered by new owner Elon Musk. For those working, there has been a wave of what the media has dubbed “quiet quitting,” but which is really an old-fashioned labor strategy known as “working to rule,” or doing no more than what you have been ordered or contractually required to do. Those working from home have shown a reluctance to return to the office, an indication that, despite the problems of laboring where you live, offices are seen as worse.

Union organizing is on the rise, reflecting both the widespread disgust with workplace conditions and the now evidently positive public view of labor unions. The purchasing power of wages has stagnated for decades in the United States, while labor’s productivity has risen considerably. Unfortunately, the latter is partly the result of employer-initiated speed-ups, meaning that fewer workers must take up the slack created by a smaller workforce — again, management-created. According to Gallup, 71 percent of Americans now approve of unions, the highest favorable rating since 1965. This may help explain the surge in union recognition efforts. Between October 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022 (fiscal year 2022), union certification petitions at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) were up 58 percent over the previous year. No doubt there were other such efforts, those that simply petitioned employers to bargain with a union or where workers struck to win bargaining rights. Because employers regularly violate the law by committing unfair labor practices (ULPs) such as firing union supporters, the NLRB has faced a heavy caseload of ULPs, which rose 16 percent over the same period.

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India: Workers of Bhagwati Products and Zydus Wellness protest illegal retrenchment

Harsh Thakor

Countercurrents | January 08, 2023

Workers of Bhagwati Products based in Sidkul Pant Nagar and Zydus Wellness located in Sitarganj, Uttarakhand launched a rally and demonstrated at the district collectorate under the leadership of Shramik United Morcha Udham Singh Nagar with regard to resumption of work and other problems. On the conclusion of the rally, the workers of both the companies submitted a 6-point collective memorandum to SDM Rudrapur in the absence of the District Magistrate.

Apart from this, on December 27, the workers of Micromax celebrated black day by tying black ribbon outside the labour office Rudrapur Udham Singh Nagar on completion of four years of struggle due to illegal retrenchment by the management.

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United we are stronger in the anti-imperialist struggle

The 22nd International Meeting of Communist and Workers Parties presented a plan of action to develop until the next event.

Granma | November 11, 2022

Communist and workers’ parties, and their related social organizations, agreed in Havana to achieve a better articulation and strengthening of international anti-imperialist organizations. Photo: Juvenal Balán

The international meeting, which ran for three days in Havana and gathered 145 delegates from 78 parties of communist and workers’ affiliation from 60 countries, took place in crucial moments for the world, when humanity is debating between the war promoted by the centers of world capitalism and the aspiration for peace and development to which our peoples have the right.

The meeting generated a space for reflection, exchange, unity and collaboration; for agreement on common positions and actions; and for international solidarity with the cause of the workers’ struggle, with the Cuban Revolution and the peoples facing imperialist and fascist aggression.

Plan of Action of the 22nd International Meeting of Communist

and Workers’ Parties, Havana, Cuba

The 22nd International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties

held on October 27-29, 2022 in Havana, Cuba defined the following main guidelines and actions to be developed ahead of the next Meeting:

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U.S.: College workers ride the national wave of union organizing

Mark Gruenberg

People’s World | December 14, 2022

Graduate student workers at Boston University are only a few of the many college workers across the country riding a tsunami wave of unionization sweeping across the country. | BU Graduate Workers United

NEW YORK and BOSTON —Exploited college workers—part-time faculty at New York’s New School and grad student workers at Boston University—are using unionization to achieve, or seek, gains on the job. Next month, grad student workers at Yale may join them.

All three groups—the 2,600 part-timers at the New School and 1,400 at the allied Parsons School of Design, the 3,200 grad student workers at Boston University and the 4,000 teaching assistants at most departments at Yale—are part of the growing movement of exploited, underpaid and overworked college workers nationwide.

Like colleagues in other occupations, at other universities and at other firms, including warehouse workers, retail workers, Amazon workers, Starbucks baristas and port truckers—the three campus groups are youthful, fed up with corporate and capitalist exploitation of their labor and respond by one of two ways: Unionizing, or leaving for other jobs.

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‘Ministers must act now to fix broken Britain’

Morning Star | December 14, 2022

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham speaks to her members on a picket line at one of the entrances to the Port of Felixstowe in Suffolk, Britain’s biggest and busiest container port, after backing industrial action by 9-1 in a dispute over pay. Picture date: Wednesday August 24, 2022.

MINISTERS must act now on pay, trade union leaders warned yesterday as latest official figures showed that wage increases are continuing to be outstripped by inflation rises.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that regular wages, excluding bonuses, rose by 6.1 per cent in the three months to October — a record level outside of the pandemic.

But the ONS found that wages continued to be outstripped by rising prices, falling by 3.9 per cent after consumer prices index (CPI) inflation is taken into account.

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Ten Years Ago, Chicago Teachers Gave Us All a Jolt of Hope

Alexandra Bradbury

Labor Notes | September 10, 2022

Chicago teachers marched in a mass rally on May 23, 2012, part of the ramp-up to their big strike that fall. Photo: Sarah Ji, loveandstrugglephotos.com.

On the tenth anniversary of the Chicago Teachers Union’s groundbreaking strike, we’re reissuing our award-winning book How to Jump-Start Your Union: Lessons from the Chicago Teachers. This is the new introduction.

If you feel like your union needs a jump-start—whether you’re a longtime shop steward or just started your first union job—this book is for you.

The impulse you have (“This union could be stronger and better, and I want to help change it”) makes you part of a long tradition—what we at Labor Notes affectionately call the trouble-making wing of the labor movement.

One basic principle unites us troublemakers. We believe democracy, meaning broad member participation at every level of the union, is the heart of union power.

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Mexican Auto Parts Workers Win a Union of Their Own, Defeating Company Attempts to Impose One

Luis Feliz Leon, Dan DiMaggio

Labor Notes | September 01, 2022

“It’s important to emphasize that companies don’t have the right to decide for workers their union; it’s the worker who makes that decision,” said VU Manufacturing worker Jovanna García, who backed an independent union, the Mexican Workers’ League, in the election at an auto parts plant in Piedras Negras. League supporters and organizers posed for a photo during their campaign.

Three miles from the U.S.-Mexico border, auto parts workers in Piedras Negras, Coahuila, voted yesterday to join an independent union, defeating company attempts to usher in an employer-friendly, politically connected union.

The independent Mexican Workers’ League (la Liga Sindical Obrera Mexicana) won 186 votes, while a union with ties to the powerful Confederation of Mexican Workers (CTM) received 101.

The 350 workers at Michigan-based auto parts maker VU Manufacturing produce interior car parts including arm rests and door upholstery for Nissan, Tesla, and other carmakers.

In June, the League and a local organization, the Border Workers Committee (el Comité Fronterizo de Obrer@s, or CFO), filed a petition under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement’s rapid-response mechanism. The complaint alleged that the company was interfering with VU workers’ right to free association by pushing them to affiliate with the CTM, a union notorious for signing contracts behind workers’ backs, locking in low wages and poor working conditions, and preventing workers from forming genuine unions.

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US: Rail Workers Reject Contract Recommendations, Say They’re Ready to Strike

Joe DeManuelle-Hall

Labor Notes | September 01, 2022

A national rail shutdown, which has not occurred since the early 1990s, would have a major economic impact. Photo: Jim Hamilton, CC BY 2.0.

Railroad unions continue their slow creep along the path to a settlement—or strike—in contract negotiations covering 115,000 workers. On August 16, the Presidential Emergency Board convened by President Biden issued its recommendations for a settlement. Many rail workers say they fall short and are prepared to strike to win more.

The PEB recommended 22 percent raises over the course of the five-year contract (dating back to 2020), which would be the highest wage increases rail unions have seen in decades. But they are offset by increases in health care costs—and come in the midst of high inflation.

The PEB also refused to touch almost any of the unions’ demands on work rules and conditions, either denying them outright or suggesting that the unions return to the slow negotiation and arbitration process they have already languished in since November 2019. Unions have been demanding a sick leave policy—rail workers have no sick days—and the PEB refused them. The PEB also refused to take a position on the strict attendance policies have infuriated many rail workers.

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US: How Zoomers Organized the First Chipotle Union

Jonah Furman

Labor Notes | August 31, 2022

None of the members of the organizing committee at the Lansing Chipotle have any direct union experience. They relied on friends who had organized at Starbucks and at a local library for advice on their campaign. Photo: Atulya Dora-Laskey

Chipotle workers in Lansing, Michigan, formed the fast food chain’s first recognized union in the U.S., voting 11-3 on August 25 to join Teamsters Local 243. It’s the latest in a string of new organizing breakthroughs at prominent national brands, from Starbucks to Apple to Trader Joe’s to REI.

Of all the employers that have seen union drives over the past year, Chipotle—with 100,000 employees across 3,000 stores, and long-term plans to double its footprint in North America—is the most similar to Starbucks. They’re both outliers in fast food: their stores are primarily corporate-owned, rather than franchised out to smaller operators.

Though chains like Subway and McDonald’s have more total locations, Starbucks and Chipotle are two of just four fast food chains with more than 1,000 company-operated locations. (The others are Panda Express and Arby’s.)

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