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         Jeremy Wade writes at Talking Union

At both the K-12 and post-secondary levels, public education in Kansas has come under attack in the past year. This should come as no surprise; Kansas is the home of Koch Industries, whose owners fund neoliberal projects across the country, and the state has long been stumbling down an increasingly conservative path. The reaction to these attacks, however, have been both surprising and inspiring, and the fact that they have occurred in Kansas should give hope that a democratic movement to build a better future for all is possible.

At the K-12 level, conservatives in the state legislature attached several policy amendments to a school funding bill that only made it through the legislative process by the use of strong-arm tactics, such as delaying votes until 3 AM, and secretive, possibly illegal meetings.

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Paul Garver writes on the Talking Union blog:

The international coordinated actions of fast food workers on May 15th represent a new and unprecedented level of global labor solidarity.

Activists have long called for international labor solidarity to confront global corporations. The global fast food industry presents an excellent example of an industry dominated by a few giant corporations like McDonalds whose chief executives receive 1200 times higher pay than their fast food workers. The industry takes in over $200 billion annually, while employing tens of millions of low paid workers in hundreds of countries.

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                                                                                 by Dave Anderson

If you’ve had an early morning flight from DIA, you might have gotten a ride to the airport with SuperShuttle. Everything seemed normal. The driver came to your door and was helpful and friendly. What you didn’t know is that, for five years, the drivers have been in a fierce fight against a humiliating system of indentured servitude.

In 2009, 94 drivers began organizing for a union after Denver SuperShuttle brought on many new employees, a move that reduced the take-home pay across the unit. Drivers had to work 60-hour weeks and six to seven days each week to compensate. They joined Communication Workers of America (CWA). Al Kogler, the CWA organizing coordinator, notes that it took two years before the workers could vote. In the meantime, he says the company fired union leaders without cause, instituted harsh disciplinary actions, manipulated the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) procedures, made unilateral changes to the conditions of employment and tripled driver fees.

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                                                                                    by Chaz Bolte

The NLRB has issued a “Notice and Invitation to File Briefs”  [PDF] in the Purple Communications, Inc. case which could overturn the precedent concerning organizing activities on company email systems set by the board’s ruling in the Register-Guard case during the Bush Administration.

Using the Register-Guard decision as precedent, companies can currently enforce policies which prohibit company email from being used for anything but business purposes.  But the current NLRB appears interested in reversing that decision partially due to the increased importance of email in organizing since the Bush era. Another goal is to align the ruling with other recent rulings that helped streamline the union election process.  

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Joe Burns.  author of Reviving the Strike:  How Working People Can Regain Power and Transform America writes on Talking Union

The end of the year labor summations are coming in and it is generally a mixed bag, with the perspectives dependent on how much weight one gives to the success of right wing political efforts. Those focusingmore on the political efforts, see a 2012 as a bad year. Others focusing more on the fight backare more hopeful.

Indeed, if one only looks at the immediate wins and losses, the column for this year would clearly stack up on the side of the employers. Employers used the weak economy and low union density as means to aggressively press their advantage on the bargaining and political front. With the employer lockouts at record levels, labor continues to be on the bargaining defensive, even in remaining union strongholds, such as long shore.

The combativeness and courage of workers continued to be inspiring in 2012. Workers in a variety of industries endured lockouts or strikes to defend retiree health benefits and resist other concessions. In one particularly bitter struggle, locked out Crystal Sugar workers in Fargo North Dakota rejected for the fourth time their employer’s concessionary demand.

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Joe Burns, author of Reviving the Strike, writes on the Talking Union blog.

To some the passage of the right to work for less legislation in the union stronghold of Michigan signals the strength of labor’s enemies. Sure enough, the passage of the right to work for less bill in Michigan represents the power of money and influence. Even though they lost in the election, the right wing continues its relentless attack against what remains of the labor movement. But that is nothing new.

To others, the passage signals union weakness. Certainly this was the main message of the mainstream news, with NPR and the New York Times running pieces discussing how the passage demonstrated union weakness. Again, that is too obvious to be our takeaway. With lockouts at record levels and employer-provoked strikes successfully garnering concessions, that we are getting our asses kicked should be readily apparent.

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Warehouse Workers United released this today

Workers Call for an End to Chilling Retaliation at Warehouse that Moves Walmart Goods

 RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Warehouse workers vowed to walk off the job this week if retaliation at a Walmart-contracted warehouse does not end. They plan to hold a rally and picket line Thursday morning in Mira Loma, California.

“I was fired for trying to make the warehouse where I worked safer,” said David Garcia, a warehouse worker. “It’s been tough. My kids need food, school supplies and an apartment to sleep at night, but right now it is difficult to provide them these basic things.”

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Julius Getman professor of Law at the University of Texas, writes on Talking Union

For over three years UNITE HERE, the union that represents hotel workers, and Hyatt Corp. have been engaged in a fierce escalating struggle. The union has recently called for a boycott of Hyatt.

The confrontation between Hyatt and UNITE HERE is part of the world wide struggle for basic human rights, particularly for immigrant workers. It is important that liberals, progressives, workers, and those who believe in economic fairness support the boycottand let Hyatt know of it.

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Fri Sep 02, 2011 at 02:21 PM PDT

Nurses demand- Tax Wall Street

by Talking Union

By Duane Campbell. Sacramento.
Some 80 Nurses and their union supporters boldly marched into the offices of Congressman Dan Lungren ( R. Sacramento) asking that he sign a pledge to support a Wall Street Transaction Tax on Sept.1, at his Gold River, California offices.  Speakers from California Nurses Association, from Retired RNs, and from the Sacramento Central Labor council asserted that they were united by the harm being done to our society by the Great Recession, and demanded a response from the Congressman who was not in his office and could not be located.

On Sept 1, 10,000 nurses and community participants  joined   actions in 21 states Thursday demanding action on the economic crisis to heal America. They called  on senators and Congress members in their local district offices  around the nation on Thursday  to pledge to “support a Wall Street transaction tax that will raise sufficient revenue to make Wall Street pay for the devastation it has caused on Main Street.” National Nurses United, the largest U.S. union of nurses,  sponsored  the actions.  Unions, labor councils, DSA, Jobs with Justice and other groups joined in solidarity with the nurses union.

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Mike Elk examines Steve Jobs' record on workers' rights

Progressives and conservatives alike praised Jobs as someone who had revolutionized industry with Apple’s innovative computer designs. “Thanks Steve for pushing for designs that have humans at the center,” blogger Ario Jafarzadeh tweeted.

While Jobs’ designs for computers may have put humans at their center, working conditions for Apple’s workers put profits at their center. Jobs did indeed revolutionize the computer industry, but in a way that was negative for American workers, who for decades have seen manufacturing job prospects dwindle as jobs go to workers overseas, who in turn often labor in brutal sweatshop conditions.

Many people may find it distasteful to critique the life’s work of a man in poor health, but I think it’s necessary to critique Job’s labor practices: I’m certain most profiles of Jobs’ tenure will completely avoid mentioning systematic labor rights violations that occur at Apple.

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Sam Pizzigati writes on Talking Union

Corporate America, advises one of the nation’s most prestigious management consulting companies, needs to wake up and stop rewarding employee loyalty and performance. With one exception.

You work hard. You do good work. You loyally stick with your employer through good times and bad. Do you have a right to a paycheck that rises over time?

Analysts from one of America’s top management consulting firms, Booz & Co., have an answer that the Harvard Business School last week sentreverberating through Corporate America’s upper echelons. That blunt answer: No.

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“One in every five low-wage workers in El Paso receives under minimum wage.” This is just one of the many disturbing findings presented by from Paso del Norte Civil Rights Project, Border Network for Human Rights, the Labor Justice Committee, Dr. Cristina Morales, and Eric Murillo who unveiled their report on wage theft and labor violations in the El Paso area  at the local office of the Border Network for Human Rights.

This groundbreaking report uncovers an epidemic of wage and hour violations running rampant in the El Paso area, and the impunity with which employers are able to violate their employees’ rights.

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