Folks, we’re a week into May and it’s still raining like March. COVID rages on, and yet our institutions insist it’s all over. Speaking of those institutions, they failed us again this week, and our leaders’ responses have basically been shrugs. But the labor movement continues to provide some glimmer of hope, so, once again, let’s get into it.
Labor leaders head to the Capitol: On Thursday Amazon Labor Union President Christian Smalls and Teamsters President Sean O’Brien “teamed” up again (sorry) and testified in front of the Senate Budget Committee. Watch the full video here. The hearing was perfectly titled: “Should Taxpayer Dollars Go to Companies that Violate Labor Laws?” The issue at hand: Amazon and other union-busting companies getting federal contracts even as they continue to exploit workers, something A Certain Somebody said would no longer happen. Wow, remember Candidate Biden?
Christian Smalls wore an Eat the Rich jacket in the Oval Office: Must have been very exciting for Biden to pose with our current president, who also delivered strong testimony during the hearing. After Sen. Lindsey Graham went on a tirade about unionization efforts “demonizing” businesses, Smalls looked him in the eye and said, “The people are the ones who make these corporations go, it’s not the other way around.”
Today, I met with grassroots worker organizers to thank them for their leadership in organizing unions. From the Amazon Labor Union to IATSE at Titmouse Productions, these folks are inspiring a movement of workers across the country to fight for the pay and benefits they deserve. pic.twitter.com/QZwdUEX3Xp
— President Biden (@POTUS) May 5, 2022
Amazon breaks lobbying record to stop unions: This D.C. visit came only days after news broke that Amazon had set another record for
bribing lobbying members of Congress, according to More Perfect Union. The union-busting company spent $5 million in the first quarter of 2022 to issue a clear directive to our civil servants: If you want money to get reelected, you must stop these working-class people from gaining any power.
Minnesota Amazon workers go on strike: The workers are demanding a $3/hour wage increase and time off for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr. The Daily Dot has more, including the viral TikTok video of the walkout. Here is a video of one of the organizers explaining the situation:
Last night, Minnesota Amazon workers WALKED OUT.
They are demanding that Amazon:
1. Bring back wage increases
2. Give time off for the upcoming Muslim holiday of Eid, the end of Ramadan
Here’s what Tyler Hamilton, a current Amazon worker, told the crowd:
— The Awood Center (@AwoodMpls) April 30, 2022
No abortion protection for Amazon contractors: In another edition of Of Course They Did, VICE reports that Amazon made sure their PR-friendly $4,000 reimbursement for workers who have to travel for medical procedures (abortions) would not extend to their delivery drivers and other “contractors” who rely on the company for employment. So, condolences to anybody who still gets fooled by PR stunts from nefarious corporations.
The GOP is the party of the people! With labor folks in D.C. this week talking to Congress and the President, it’s important to remember that Republicans are really the party of regular hard-working people like you and me, and I’m sure they are totally in favor of us making enough money to feed our families. Right? In These Times answers that question.
Starbucks union drive still in the fast lane, refuses to pull over: Three more Starbucks stores in the Northwest filed for union elections this week, including stores in Madison Park and SODO. That More Perfect Union map tracker is now up to 254 Starbucks stores organizing nationwide.
Howard Schultz calls his workers “adversaries”: More Perfect Union posted a leaked video from this Wednesday of Howard Schultz, you know the guy, doing a weird wishy-washy speech wherein he basically calls his company a big happy family that is being attacked by…other members of the family. Watch his neoliberal nonsense fall apart in real time:
SCOOP: Howard Schultz insulted unionizing workers in a leaked internal meeting today.
He called the union “an adversary that’s threatening the very essence of what you believe to be true.”
The billionaire CEO has repeatedly attacked his own workers as menacing outsiders. pic.twitter.com/2ATNegKGut
— More Perfect Union (@MorePerfectUS) May 4, 2022
This is how little Howie cares about his family: A Starbucks supervisor sexually assaulted a barista in Virginia, but then she was fired after missing shifts because she was terrified to see her attacker. The company kept the attacker employed even after he PLED GUILTY TO DOING IT. VICE has more, if you want to get riled up. Understandable if you don’t! Only consume what you want!
Howie threatens unionized employees: Oh, and Howie also announced that workers at unionized stores would not be eligible for the same benefits as their co-workers. That policy is illegal, and it will not stop this union drive, but, since the NLRB has been weakened so much, the move will likely only get him a slap on the wrist. Bloomberg has more.
Oregon high school students study Starbucks union-busting: NW Labor Press reports that high school seniors in Oregon studied Starbucks’ union-busting tactics for a class project and found, unsurprisingly, that they are illegal. Three firm handshakes for these buckos, and a knowing nod to their teacher.
WSU workers unionize: In a second edition of The Kids Are in Fact Good, 1,600 student workers at Washington State University’s campuses and extension centers filed a petition to be recognized by the Public Employment Relations Commission. This isn’t so much putting WSU on the cutting-edge as it is catching them up with other universities, as WSU is currently the only major public research institution on the west coast without a union for its student employees. Find out more here, and check out this sweet photo collage of Cougs organizing across four Washington campuses:
Long COVID is a nightmare: Last week, Buzzfeed reported on the horrible disease affecting up to 30% of people who’ve contracted COVID-19. Are you suffering from it? The DOL can help.
If you have long COVID, you may be entitled to workplace accommodations. We’ve got answers to common questions: https://t.co/EcIcZHfdVi
— U.S. Department of Labor (@USDOL) May 3, 2022
More local organizing: The union bug isn’t just biting workers at Amazon and Starbucks. Local folks at Virginia Mason in Seattle, Starline Windows in Seattle, and a Fred Meyer store in Tumwater filed for an election this week.
Apple workers joining the push: And, as the Washington Post reported Tuesday, workers at Apple stores across the country are starting to join up as well.
Send us your tips! Sound off in the comments! And now, finally, what you’ve all been waiting for: The song of the week. In times like these, we look to our leaders for strength. So let’s hear it for Mr. Worldwide featuring, for some reason, Zac Brown Band.
Have a great weekend, folks.