The law firm Simpson, Thacher, and Bartlett has represented just about every major company in the US at one time or another including Facebook, GM, and Google. Now one of their recently retired partners, Jamie Gamble, has had a brainstorm. Mr. Gamble has come to the conclusion that corporate executives are “legally obligated to act like sociopaths.” His words, not mine. Although they’re probably yours too. And likely also belong to anyone that has given the actions of US corporations anything more than a cursory glance.
Just because Mr. Gamble made his discovery embarrassingly late in life doesn’t mean he isn’t going to do something about it. His solution: Fighting to require corporations to adopt ethics rules, so they can be sued by shareholders if they violate them. One wonders if Mr. Gamble will ever figure out that sociopathic capitalists trying to moderate the abuses of other sociopathic capitalists by swinging around legal hammers are more likely to squash us than squash each other. The only way to protect ourselves from the corporations is to get organized.
Saudi Arabia has been waging a genocidal siege war in Yemen for years. The United Nations has declared, “The humanitarian crisis in Yemen remains the worst in the world.” Many governments around the world have been actively supporting the bloodbath, including the United States, United Kingdom, Egypt, France, Canada, and others. People are finally standing up against the massacre, but they aren’t members of any government.
Dockworkers in Le Harve, France; Genoa, Italy; and Marseille, France have gone on strike and refused to load the weapons coming from western war profiteers and destined for Saudi Arabia. While these actions haven’t halted the war, they have certain impeded it, and they bring much-needed public attention to the situation.
Despite the usual anti-union tactics taken by management, the security workers at the Frye Art Museum on First Hill recently voted to form the independent Art Workers Union. Because of management shenanigans, only six people were allowed to vote, but they voted unanimously.
Let this be a lesson to all you workers in tiny companies: There is no group of workers too small to organize and you don’t need the big business unions to help you.
The United Steelworkers did something so awesome, I’ll just let them say it themselves: “When legal immigrant Ernesto “Tito” Ochoa of Local 6787 was detained by ICE on his way to work, thrown in federal jail and threatened with deportation, he used his one call to phone his union. We had his back and fought to free him. That’s what #USWUnity is about.”
Solidarity forever, Steelworkers!
In Glenview, Illinois, Thomas Keenan, VP of Keenan Transit Co. (I’m sure nepotism played no part in him getting that position) is suing Teamsters Local 705 for inflicting emotional distress upon him by displaying near his property everyone’s favorite giant inflatable rat: Scabby. What isn’t mentioned in his lawsuit is the emotional distress Keenan Transit is no doubt causing to the Teamsters by messing around with their pension fund, actions for which the Teamsters have filed a legal complaint.
The capitalists have no shame. Keep exposing them, Scabby. You’ve gotta be my favorite 15 foot rodent.
It’s a sad day in Portland. Last Spring, an IWW campaign at Little Big Burger in Portland went public. The bosses immediately launched an intense, and highly illegal, union busting campaign, which included firing no fewer than seven workers, which is nearly 7% of union-eligible workers. All this resulted in the workers losing their recent union election. They are not done fighting however. They have filed several complaints against management with the NLRB.
The nurses at St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma had been negotiating with management in sessions that have lasted up to 17 hours at a time. Nearly exhausted, they were about to vote on whether to authorize a strike when the negotiations finally came to an end. The WSNA called the final deal “a major victory.” The nurses won an immediate 6.5% pay increase with a 3.5% increase next year, a retroactive pay increase, and more. It all goes to show, sometimes you don’t even have to vote to strike; the boss just has to believe you are seriously not backing down.
Cascade Public Media (formed through a merger with Crosscut and TV station KCTS) has declined to increase their employee’s pay enough to keep up with the rising cost of living in Seattle. Furthermore, management has resisted offering a lot of other benefits like vacation.
The employees of Cascade Public Media have finally had enough. They recently announced their intention to unionize with the NewsGuild, part of the Communication Workers of America. As is often the case, the allegedly liberal news outlet has declined to voluntarily recognize the union. A vote will no doubt be forthcoming.
In July, the NLRB issued a ruling in a case involving Johnson Controls, Inc. and the United Auto Workers. The NLRB ruling overturns established precedent and makes it easier for businesses to refuse to recognize their employees’ union when the union’s contract is about to expire. Any workers that find themselves in this situation will now be forced to hold another union election once their contract ends if they have any hope of bringing company management back to the bargaining table. The most bizzare thing about the ruling: Johnson Controls didn’t even ask for a rules change. So the current NLRB is officially more pro-capitalist than the capitalists that are trying to screw their workers.
And if the Johnson Controls ruling isn’t evidence enough of the NLRB’s pro-business bias, consider this: Since 2017 they have overturned established precedent no fewer than 10 times without giving notice they plan to do so, without soliciting public comments on the matter, and without being asked to do so by either side in the case under consideration (not even the capitalist side). Prior NLRBs have rarely if ever overturned precedent without doing all three things. I probably don’t have to tell you that all 10 rulings were in favor of the capitalists and against the workers. It’s safe to say, the NLRB has been breaking new ground in recent years. And by that I mean digging the grave they want to force the labor movement into.
The US Centers for Disease Control recently issued a study showing that life expectancy in the US has declined… AGAIN. This marks the third straight year of life expectancy decline in the US. Among the reasons for the decline: An increase in deaths due to opioid overdoses.
For those of you not up on pharmacology, opioids are kind of like opium, but instead of being manufactured and sold by drug dealers, they are manufactured and sold by capitalists. And the difference between drug dealers and capitalists? Capitalists make more money, employ more lobbyists, and have better lawyers.
Labor secretary R. Alexander Acosta, the man who has been quietly working to strip overtime pay from millions of workers, has been forced to resign because he doesn’t think running a child sex slavery ring is a terrible enough crime to bother prosecuting. At least, not when the perpetrator is a well-connected billionaire like Jeffrey Epstein. Acosta will be replaced by Deputy Secretary Patrick Pizzella.
If you thought Pizzella couldn’t possibly be more sleazy than Acosta, you might want to think again. Pizzella’s claim to fame: Working with corporate lobbyist and convicted felon (I’ll leave it to you to decide which is worse) Jack Abramoff to deny workers in the Northern Mariana Islands (a US territory) a minimum wage.
Ten years ago when it should have been easy to pass a federal minimum wage increase, the House of Representatives decided not to. Now that there is no chance of a minimum wage increase being signed into law, the House of Representatives has decided to pass it. So I guess that’s progress… Kind of.
The power of a well-organized labor movement has been on full display in Sudan this year. Despite brutal repression of labor unions by the government, the Sudanese Professionals Association, an umbrella group of several Sudanese labor unions, has taken a leading role in a series of protests and civil disobedience. Last spring, these actions succeeded in overthrowing the dictator of 30 years, Omar al-Bashir. And they did it without so much as a single act of violence. That is, not by the SPA. The government was not so kind.
Among the SPA’s demands are the establishment of a democratic government, social and economic welfare for the Sudanese people, and the advancement of women’s rights. Sudan was under Sharia law until last spring, and women (some of whom are leaders in the uprising) weren’t even allowed to wear pants in public.
Unfortunately, the military, backed by foreign money, has been trying their best to establish another dictatorship. Not to be daunted, the SPA organized a general strike followed by a series of peaceful occupations and protests. Again, peaceful on the part of labor. The military murdered over 100 people and injured many more. Even so, it looks like the SPA has won this round. The military has signed a power sharing agreement that will be in effect until a new, democratic government is created. The SPA is promising another general strike should the military not stick to agreement.
Workers take note: If unions in Europe can disrupt the imperial war plans of the most powerful countries on the planet, and unions in Sudan can overthrow a violent, thirty-year dictator through concerted, direct action, surely the working people of our country can get what they need using the same tactics. If you want to control the government, organize, and take control of your workplaces.