Weekly Update: My work has value and we will win

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Upcoming Events 🗓

Recently won union recognition or in the process of organizing your union now? Want to learn the fundamentals of what to do next? Come to the New Union Academy! In this 6 week online class, you’ll meet fellow union activists from across the US, learn from top Rutgers labor educators, and get the knowledge and power you need to win that first contract and beyond! 

Learn more here.

Join us for the return of the Socialism Conference this Labor Day weekend in Chicago! EWOC will be hosting a panel about our organizing and the revival of the American labor movement, and will be joining a DSA panel on Rank and File power in the labor movement today! We’ll also be hosting a workplace organizing training on Saturday at 5:00pm during the meet up sessions for conference attendees. If you’d like to volunteer that weekend with us please sign up here for a tabling shift or join us at the training.

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On August 15, 2022 Starbucks Workers United organizer Tyler Keeling said the company announced benefit improvements such as pay raises, sick time accrual, and mental health days, but only implemented them at stores that had not yet unionized.  A group of workers formed a picket line in front of the Lakewood store off Candlewood Street that morning, chanting the phrase “no contract, no coffee.” More than 30 employees voted unanimously to strike.

This is only one example of workers standing up against union busting and retaliation. Workers at Starbucks have held over 55 different strikes in at least 17 states in the US in recent months over the company’s aggressive opposition to a wave of unionization, including one indefinite strike in Boston, the first in Starbucks Workers United’s history.

“It’s really powerful seeing how much we control as partners. Because without us, they’re not a company; we’re the reason why they’re a company,” says Adrianna Ross, a barista trainer at a Watertown location that is one of the five stores on strike. “If the company doesn’t want to work with us, they don’t get money.”

This movement began one year ago with 50 baristas at one store in Buffalo. The wave has now spread to over 220 stores and thousands of workers, with new union wins almost every day. These workers have stood up for themselves and sent a clear message to the company: and said “My work is valuable, I am valuable, and we will win.” They’re taking on one of the richest and most powerful corporations in America, and winning historic and important victories. Support them in their fight by donating to the solidarity fund here and join the Solidarity is Brewing campaign here.

Image: Starbucks workers and supporters on strike at the store at 874 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, Massachusetts, on August 7, 2022. (Boston Starbucks Workers United / Twitter)

World of Work 🌍

CA – National Union of Healthcare Workers employed by Kaiser Permanente in Northern California remain on strike for now the second week, in an effort to end the disparity in work conditions between physical and mental health workers. The strike comprises around 2000 workers, making it the largest in the country. Kaiser has been at odds with its workers for some time, and narrowly avoided a strike last November.

NY – Around 400 Amazon workers in Albany are unionizing with Amazon Labor Union. The workers filed with the NLRB last week, despite an anti union campaign that’s been aggressive even by Amazon’s standards. If successful, the warehouse will become the second unionized Amazon center in the country.

CA – Communications Workers of America members at Frontier Communications in California are on a ULP strike, the fourth one in the past year. Approximately 2000 workers walked off the job to protest the company’s subcontracting of work, in violation of the collective bargaining agreement. The strike also follows several months of tension over safety violations and refusal to share information with the union.

New From Our Blog 📧

All across the country, workers at Starbucks are organizing to build power in the workplace, forging formidable solidarity while facing down brutal corporate opposition. On the EWOC blog, read our conversation with Kylah Clay, a tireless SBWU organizer helping lead organizing in Massachusetts and nationwide.

Week in Labor History 📚

This Week in Labor History 📖

August 19, 1892 – Tennessee Governor John Buchanan dispatches a special outfit of 600 militiamen under the command of an ex-general to Grundy County, seeking to return territory seized by Eastern Tennessee coal miners to ownership interests and restart mining operations. Roughly 300 coal miners are arrested in the coming days, in the culmination of the “Coal Creek Wars.” 

The conflict originated in response to illegal “company scrip” schemes (in which wages are paid in a secondary “company” currency, from which living necessities are deducted at inflated prices) and the use of “convict-lease” labor. Over more than a year, miners worked together to repeatedly seize mining operations and liberate stockades where companies kept hundreds of convicts “leased” by the state to work the mines. Though the conflict ended with the return of facilities to ownership and the roundup of most miners, Tennessee coal interests abandoned convict-leasing, and the state banned the practice later in the decade.

Solidarity,

Team EWOC

EWOC is a collaboration between the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE). We depend on small-dollar donations to provide frontline workers with the support they need to fight for protections during COVID-19. Click here to make a contribution that will help fund our work.

 
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