EWOC Newsletter: Through successes and setbacks, we will organize

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Upcoming Events đź—“

Book Discussion: Labor Power and Strategy

April 27, 2023, at 8:00 PM EDT, join EWOC for a discussion of the timely new book Labor Power and Strategy, a rich reflection on how the working class can exercise its mighty power in various industries and sectors. Author John Womack, a renowned labor historian, proposes that unions focus on organizing workers in the strategic “choke points” within the economy that create maximum potential leverage and power. The book also features responses from 10 of the most thoughtful organizers and scholars in the labor movement, who offer a diverse range of ideas on ways forward for labor. Read a review of the book (by an EWOC volunteer!) here.

This discussion will feature Professor Womack, book editor Peter Olney, and respondents Melissa Shetler and Gene Bruskin. The event will be 90 minutes to allow for plenty of time. Register now! 

Building a Fighting Labor Movement

Join us on May 3, 2023, 8-9pm EDT for a panel discussion on how to win contract battles and build a fighting labor movement, followed by an audience Q&A period, 9:00-9:30 PM.

The Teamsters’ UPS contract, expiring July 31, is the largest private sector union contract in the US, covering 340,000 Teamsters. The union aims to eliminate their two-tier wage structure. The United Auto Workers (UAW) Big Three contracts, expiring September 14, cover 150,000 UAW members at Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis. Workers hope to eliminate the tiered wage structure and extended temporary status of new members. Both the Teamsters and UAW presidents are members of grassroots caucuses working to rebuild rank-and-file union power: Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU) is a 47-year-old organization, and Unite All Workers for Democracy (UAWD) formed in 2019.

Our four panelists are: Scott Houldieson, UAWD chair; Shunte Sanders-Beasley, UAWD member and VP of UAW Local 869 at Stellantis’ Warren Stamping Plant; Antonio Rosario, a long-time TDU activist and Lead Organizer with IBT; and Carey Dall, Organizing Director for the Teamsters’ BMWED for seven years, now back at ILWU.

Register now for this lively and important discussion!

May Foundational Training Series

May is a big month in the history of the labor movement, and a great time to join it! EWOC’s Foundational Training Series is a perfect place to start. Sessions run weekly on Thursdays from May 4th until May 25!

If you want to organize your workplace but don’t know where to start, or if you would like to support others organizing their workplaces, this training is for you. In four 90 minute sessions, we will discuss how workers can unite to address issues at their workplaces, and how to begin the process of unionization. You will learn how to approach coworkers, build a team of organizers among them, and develop a campaign.

You will meet other workers who are organizing. You will learn helpful tools, practices, and principles for winning workplace improvements and a voice in your workplace. You will learn how to prepare yourself and your coworkers to take collective action. The course covers how you can build, from scratch, a democratic organization of coworkers that can negotiate with the boss over working conditions.

Space is limited to 200 participants–so sign up now! Register here.

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Everywhere we organize, we strive to create potent, durable coalitions— big and broad enough to exercise power, and strong enough to weather resistance. The bosses have the same goals, and no doubt, when and where the owning classes exert paramount control, it’s because they’ve achieved dominance in our institutions— and the most severe attacks on workers follow.

 

In Florida— a state in the vice-grip of a virulent reactionary bloc— worker power, and many other targets, are in the crosshairs. Currently, a bill passed by the Florida State Senate (SB 256/HB 1445) poses a threat to the basic rights to form a union and collect union dues. The legislation continues efforts to decimate public schools— and teacher’s unions— while exempting police and corrections unions (as well as firefighters). Patronage and punishment are among its goals. 

 

The bosses and the politicians they own maintain power ruthlessly, through constant aggression. But workers in Florida are fighting back, and examples of successful resistance are close by. In Michigan, a state with a rich history of labor struggle, workers are stringing together victories. 

 

Just a few weeks ago, Michigan became the first state in decades to repeal its right-to-work law, passed in 2012. Then, at the very end of March, 2,300 graduate student workers at University of Michigan went on strike, defying the terms of their expiring contract, and possibly state law. They have so far been rewarded for their militance after a county judge refused to grant the university an injunction. The strike continues, and will soon enter its fourth week.

 

Fighting on the defensive in Florida and on the offensive in Michigan: these dueling setbacks and successes demonstrate the perpetual ebb and flow of our movements. Battles come and go, but the war between bosses and workers never ends, which is why we never stop organizing.

World of Work 🌍

NJ – Rutgers Academic Workers Union has a tentative agreement, after a strike was launched by faculty last week. The TA will now go to a vote from membership, who will decide whether to accept the deal or remain on strike.

NY – Trader Joe’s workers in New York City rallied yesterday ahead of a union election vote to be held today and tomorrow. Workers are seeking to win the first Trader Joe’s union in NYC.

NC – REI workers in Durham have filed for union recognition with RWDSU. They are now the seventh REI location to unionize.

Week in Labor History đź“š

April 18, 1941 – New York City Transit Authority agrees to hire 200 black bus drivers, after a four week boycott by Harlem residents led by Adam Clayton Powell Jr. The success of the boycott set a precedent which allowed more black workers to get jobs in New York, and also served as a model for the famous Montgomery bus boycott 15 years later.

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 what they deserve. Click here to make a contribution that will help fund our work.

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