Welcome to This Week in Employer Conquests, where we recap the week’s union-busting wins and cheer profiteering oligarchs around the country. (Happy April Fools' Day)! Okay, now let’s get into it.
Staten Island Amazon workers win a union: The vote total was not close: 2,654 yes votes to 2,131 no votes, according to Bloomberg's count. Those workers will form the first union in the belly of this e-commerce beast, and let's hope it won't be the last. In a statement, MLK Labor Executive Secretary-Treasurer Katie Garrow congratulated the workers on their "monumental achievement" and encouraged us all "to stand with them until they reach their first contract," which will likely be a hardwon. According to the Huffington Post, the company spent $4.3 million on union busting activities last year. With this win, that number will probably go up.
Things aren't looking so good down south: The Amazon workers in the Bessemer, AL warehouse will likely not win a union, according to WVTM 13.
Crossroads sweeps vote: Workers at the Crossroads Trading Co. location on Broadway and Harrison are celebrating after winning their union vote unanimously, 9-0.
Emma Mudd, one of the Crossroads organizers, tells me:
Everyone has been amazed by how much the community has shown up for workers at Crossroads, whether it’s stopping in to say congrats or sending emails to our CEO to tell him to stop union busting.
The truth is the challenges that motivated us to unionize are pretty similar to what the hundreds of other Crossroads workers in this country face. We are one of 35 stores, and those workers don’t make a living wage either and face the same challenges we do. We hope this will be just the beginning for unionizing Crossroads Trading Company so we can make it a workplace people want to stay at.
A lot of people might not know that when you win a union, even though it takes time to negotiate a contract, you immediately gain Weingarten rights, which can save someone’s job, so even though we’ve got a long way to go, this is a huge win.
Activists spoil scab jobs: This week, with 48,000 grocery workers on strike, Kroger attempted to use an online job portal to hire scab workers. Not so fast, said Elise Joshi, Gen Z activist and ops director at Gen Z for Change. With the help of a master coder (who goes by @SeanDaBlack on Twitter), Gen Z for Change wrote and circulated code to flood these scab job portals with fake applications. After over 27,000 fake applications, Kroger took down the posts.
Ralph’s is hiring scabs after 48,000 workers across SoCal went on strike. Use the code linked in my bio to send false job applications while binging shows, doing homework, taking zoom classes, etc. Solidarity forever. pic.twitter.com/MpOd0l3zrZ
— Elise Joshi (@EliseJoshi) March 29, 2022
Starbucks union drive not slowing down: Starbucks locations around the country continue to organize, with that More Perfect Union tracker now up to 184 locations. That includes three PNW locations who filed this week, including stores in Tumwater, Portland, and right here in Seattle at 1600 E Olive Way.
A steaming cup of Schultz: Big Brain Guy Howie Schultz is reportedly preparing to announce that he will be expanding worker benefits in an attempt to keep more Starbucks stores from unionizing. Yeah, good luck with that.
Come out and show your support for Starbucks workers on April 23:
The COVID-to-union pipeline: On Tuesday CNBC detailed how the COVID pandemic helped fuel this huge labor movement.
Are you doing your part? Internet Hippo is.
I'm not looking for a job but I send out applications periodically just so I can ask about the salary range and tell them it's too low no matter what it is. Doing my part to get the rest of you paid
— internethimbo on twitch (@InternetHippo) March 27, 2022
Applebee’s workers force out heartless exec: As VICE reported on Tuesday, a leaked email from an Applebee’s executive quickly made the internet rounds, and, folks, this is one you have to read for yourselves. In these emails, Wayne Pankratz is practically salivating over how screwed the company’s employees are and how they will soon be desperate for hours. The outcry included a walkout at an Applebee’s store in Lawrence, KS, where a hero printed and handed out copies of the emails around the restaurant before leaving. Pankratz was canned, but many workers report they have no plans to return. Smell ya later, Applebee’s! Hopefully these folks land someplace better.
Wayne Pankratz of @Applebees says that higher gas prices are great for business because most employees live check to check and hopefully they can start lowering wages. pic.twitter.com/BiRfeSmsYX
— Rob Gill 🇨🇦❤️🇺🇦 (@vote4robgill) March 23, 2022
Teamsters new prez announced opposition to WA ride-hail bill: Yesterday, Bloomberg reported that new Teamster president Sean O’Brien, whose name evokes the rolling green hills of the Emerald Isle, asked Governor Inslee to veto the ride-hailing bill passed by the Washington State Legislature, as it provides protections for drivers but fails to classify them as employees. “This will be the model that sets the tone for the entire country,” said O’Brien, who was sworn in as international president of the Teamsters Union last week. “We’ve got to make sure we do it right.” Inslee signed it anyway.
Washington Governor Inslee just signed a bill forged by Uber, Lyft, and local Teamsters that extends drivers benefits while deeming them non-employees, hours after the Teamsters' and AFL-CIO's top national leaders announced their opposition https://t.co/UsGO1qLZ0w @JournoChrisATL https://t.co/2BlRPmspX0
— Josh Eidelson (@josheidelson) April 1, 2022
$1 million pledge for striking concrete workers: O’Brien also came to town last Friday with General Secretary-Treasurer Fred Zuckerman to support Seattle’s striking concrete truck drivers and pledged $1,000,000 to help striking workers and their families.
This strong show of support is crucial, as workers have had to face extreme opposition, including scabs intentionally driving into picket lines, according to FOX 13. On Tuesday, The Daily Herald reported that management’s unwillingness to offer even an extension of the current contract is now threatening progress on light rail work in Lynnwood.
Organizing all over the media world: The Daily Beast reported Tuesday that BuzzFeed workers are going on strike; The Washington Post reported Condé Nast workers are unionizing; and More Perfect Union released a video explaining why animators are fighting for better conditions as well:
NEW: Animators who make hit shows for Netflix, Disney and Cartoon Network are taking on the Hollywood giants.
Workers on animated content are paid far less than on live action films for no good reason.
Now the @animationguild is calling for a New Deal for animation workers. pic.twitter.com/3foyfULV1S
— More Perfect Union (@MorePerfectUS) March 30, 2022
Speaking of media, Alan McLeod of MintPress News showed the way corporate media outlets spin labor news, this time in the form of a misleading headline in an article sponsored by Seattle’s own Gates Foundation:
"50 million join protests"
This is what can happen when a whole section of your newspaper is sponsored by Bill Gates. pic.twitter.com/2x50i9tBsv
— Alan MacLeod (@AlanRMacLeod) March 30, 2022
Looking for a summer project? The Department of Labor is giving out grants to researchers interested in identifying gaps in federal labor policies.
BREAKING: Corporate suit lies: The president of BlackRock, whose company is contributing to the U.S. housing crisis, told Bloomberg on Tuesday that the problem with the economy is that people are too entitled these days. Oh, that’s what’s going on? Meanwhile, according to Axios, corporate profits hit a record high last year, with companies reporting a 25% increase while gaslighting us and blaming high prices on Nobody Wants to Work Anymore. Somebody needs to start wheeling out the guillotines (for decorating purposes only!!!). Speaking of which…
billionaire: "I have a joke: If the rest of the world learns what it's like to live on a yacht like this, they're gonna bring back the guillotine."
Heh. That's a good 'joke' pic.twitter.com/2JonSAUHl5
— Gritty is the Way (@Gritty20202) March 31, 2022
Thanks to all you wonderful readers passing along tips and compliments! If you’ve got something to share, then send it here.
And now, this is where I leave you with another banger. Have a great weekend, celebrating whatever you’re celebrating.