2022 Labor Notes: ‘A Special Moment for the Labor Movement’

Angela Bunay

Labor Notes | July 21, 2022

“The stage of the Labor Notes conference tonight is arguably the epicenter of the U.S. labor movement,” tweeted New York Times labor reporter Noam Scheiber during the Friday night plenary, which included Chicago Teachers Union President Stacy Davis Gates, Nolan Tabb of the UAW at John Deere, Michelle Eisen from Starbucks Workers United, Teamsters President Sean O’Brien, and Amazon Labor Union President Christian Smalls. Photo: Jim West, jimwestphoto.com

Despite nationwide flight cancellations due to weather conditions and labor shortages, the 2022 Labor Notes Conference drew a huge and diverse crowd of more than 4,000 workers from across the globe.

They heard daring tales of organizing, learned strategies for getting a first contract, and joined a joyous Juneteenth celebration. Many workshops were packed, standing room only.

“We are in many ways living through a very hard time, and yet the outlook for working people is hopeful,” said Alexandra Bradbury, editor of Labor Notes, at the Friday night main session. “The terrain has shifted, and there’s a new spirit of resistance. We all feel it. There’s hope in the air.”

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Strike Shuts Down Rail Network Across Britain In Workers’ Battle To Protect Jobs, Pay And Safety

Countercurrents | June 22, 2022

The biggest rail strike in a generation in the UK went under way after last-ditch talks failed to reach agreement. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has rejected demands for a pay rise of at least seven per cent

Entire cities and towns were cut off from the train network as strike action closes half of Britain’s rail lines.

Huge swathes of Britain were without any rail services on Tuesday, with further strikes also taking place on Thursday and Saturday, as 40,000 RMT members walked out in a dispute over pay and jobs. Network Rail confirmed on Wednesday that about 80 per cent of services would have to be scrapped.

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Workers solidarity: Greek Railway Workers Reportedly Refuse to Transport NATO Tanks Toward Ukraine

One of the many reasons the fascist imperialists always go after organised workers and especially communists—those with the highest awareness.

The Greek working class has intensified protests against the country’s involvement in the imperialist maneuvers of the US and NATO alliance in Europe

Trade unions in the Greek city of Thessaloniki united in support of employees of private railway company TrainOSE after management attempted to clamp down on workers who refused to take part in the transfer of US and NATO military equipment from Alexandropoulos to Eastern Europe, the news portal of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) has reported.

TrainOSE reportedly threatened workers from the Thessaloniki Electric Locomotive Department, who refused to travel to Alexandropoulos to provide technical servicing of trains involved in transporting NATO military equipment out of the port city, with punitive action, pointing to their obligations under signed contracts.

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As Inflation Hits US Workers Hard, do Argentina and Venezuela Provide a Heterodox Toolbox to Confront It? (Part I)

Dakotah Lilly

Orinoco Tribune | March 30, 2022

Part I: Introduction
Inflation is currently a problem in the United States. It is not a problem in the classical sense that inflation has been weaponized as in the past; as a trojan horse against popular, socialist, or nationalist governments in favor of neoliberal adjustment plans. Instead, inflation is a problem in the United States because it exemplifies a ramping up of an aspect of a class based warfare tactic by the oligarchic establishment in order to continue raking in huge profits and an ever increasing share of the capital-labor pie. How do we know this? Well, we know there is general inflation that is further squeezing the wallets of the average working family because every single wage earning member of a family that is not of privilege will be the first to tell you that their wage is not going nearly as far as it was 1, 2, or 3 years ago. Not only this, but the US Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers for the Consumer Price Index puts inflation at its highest numbers in 40 years.

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Book Review

Work Without the Worker: Labour in the Age of Platform Capitalism

Phil Jones

Verso, London, 2021. 144 pp., £10.99 hb
ISBN 9781839760433

Reviewed by Katjo Buissink

Imagine a factory, employing hundreds or even thousands of workers, suddenly disappearing overnight. Its employees would find themselves without their next expected pay cheque and with zero right of appeal to a manager or HR representative. Even the most malfeasant industrialist would struggle to accomplish this. Yet for those working within the platform economy, completing many small digital tasks for often anonymised companies in exchange for subsistence level piece wages, the disappearance of an ‘employer’ along with promised wages is not as fantastic. It simply requires the corporation to delete their account on the platform within which a worker was hired.

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WFTU NEW YEAR 2022 MESSAGE

World Federation of Trade Unions | December 27, 2021

Dear colleagues,

Another year is coming to an end. Another year is added to the history of the WFTU and the world class-oriented movement. Another year made us cry and laugh, without losing not even for a moment our optimism for the best days to come for our class, thanks to our struggle and our firm political perception.

Making a brief assessment, as is usual at the end of each year, we will see that some things are repeated monotonously, but also new things are born, filling us with optimism for the future of the working class and popular strata.

In 2021, the inadequacy of this system to provide a solution to vital issues of humanity was revealed even more strongly. It was revealed that no matter how tearful the speeches of the political servants of the great multinationals are, they are not at all interested in the life and prosperity of the poor, the workers and the peasants, the women and the youth.

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Dispossessed: Origins of the Working Class

Deprived of land and common rights, the English poor were forced into wage-labor

CAPITAL VERSUS COMMONS, 4

Ian Angus

Climate and Capitalism | December 12, 2021

Articles in this series:

  1. Commons and classes before capitalism
  2. ‘Systematic theft of communal property’
  3. Against Enclosure: The Commonwealth Men
  4. Dispossessed: Origins of the Working Class

Who built the seven gates of Thebes?
The books are filled with names of kings.
Was it the kings who hauled the craggy blocks of stone?
—Bertolt Brecht, “A Worker Reads History”

Much academic debate about the origin of capitalism has actually been about the origin of capitalists. Were they originally aristocrats, or gentry, or merchants, or successful farmers? Far less attention has been paid to Brecht’s penetrating question: who did the actual work?

The answer is simple and of world-historic importance. Capitalism depends on the availability of large numbers of non-capitalists, people who are, as Marx said, “free in the double sense.” Free to work for others because they are not legally tied to a landlord or master, and free to starve if they don’t sell their labor-power, because they own no land or other means of production. “The possessor of labor-power, instead of being able to sell commodities in which his labor has been objectified … [is] compelled to offer for sale as a commodity that very labor-power which exists only in his living body.”[1]

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Environment, human rights and class power

Farooque Chowdhury

MR Online | March 12, 2021

| Earth man | MR Online

Environment is human right, said and resolved a recent UN meet. It’s a reiteration of an already discussed issue–essential to all of the human society. It’s a much important issue to the peoples in countries facing forces ravaging environment; and, ravaging of environment is an act against people as the act denies people’s right to life and existence.

Reiterating and implementing the environment right empowers people, created/widens people’s space for a democratic life, as environment itself is an area for democracy, for people’s participation. There’s no scope for individualism, neither for person nor for capital–irrespective of capital’s power–in the area of environment. The reasons:

[1] No individual or a coterie of individuals create/can create livable environment at no level. Having a livable environment is collective contribution.

[2] No capital or an alliance of capitals create/can create livable environment with its own power. Without labor, capital is lame, useless–incapable of moving a single grain of sand a millimeter.

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U.S.: Over 10,000 John Deere Employees Strike

POLITSTURM | October 13, 2021

Over 10,000 John Deere Employees Strike

Over 10,000 John Deere union employees are going on strike after failing to conclude a collective bargaining agreement. UAW is stating the the company would not come to an agreement over pay, retirement benefits, and improvements in working conditions for the workers. 

“Our members at John Deere strike for the ability to earn a decent living, retire with dignity and establish fair work rules,” said Chuck Browning, Vice President of UAW Agricultural Implement Department.

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U.S.: Workers Are Striking Against the Two-Tier System

As Striketober continues to grow, unions are taking up the fight against the two-tier wage system. To put an end to the divisions between generations of workers and ensure equal pay for equal work, it is essential that unions continue this fight until they win.

Sou Mi

Left Voice | October 16, 2021

Photo: Luigi Morris

At the picket lines of striking Kellogg’s workers, sign after sign read the same slogan: “equal pay for equal work.” It is a sentiment a number of workers described to us when we asked them what they’re fighting for. They stressed that they’re fighting against a two-tier system that has divided workers since their last contract was implemented six years ago. They spoke of how unfair it is that more recently hired workers doing the same work alongside older workers on the production line make significantly less in wages and benefits. While senior Tier 1 workers get to choose whether or not they do overtime, overtime hours are forced upon Tier 2 workers in chronically understaffed facilities, many of whom are forced to work 16-hour days, seven days a week. At a rally at the Lancaster ticket in Pennsylvania on Saturday, October 9, a worker, Andrew Johnson, described how Kellogg’s hired new workers with the promise of higher pay and the same benefits that Tier 1 workers get. Yet, after joining, they soon saw how empty those promises were, as there were little to no opportunities for Tier 2 workers to advance. Now, faced with new contract negotiations, Kellogg’s workers are emphatically declaring their solidarity with their more junior coworkers and their right to earn equal pay for equal work. It is a fight they all see as their own.

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