Last week, workers at a Manhattan REI store filed for a union representation election, seeking what would be the first union at the outdoor equipment retailer. It didn’t take REI management long to start churning out anti-union messaging, including anti-union statements read by managers at captive audience meetings and workers being pulled into one-on-one meetings with managers.
“One thing I keep coming back to is the fact that REI prides itself on being a great workplace, a leader of the outdoors, but why is it that none of us are making a living wage?” one of the workers, Kate Dedend, told Motherboard’s Lauren Kaori Gurley. “Why do you have to work 40 hours a week for 12 months to get health benefits? Why is there no guarantee of hours after the holiday season? These are very basic things that REI has gotten away with not doing, despite this facade of being a progressive, liberal company.”
REI is structured as a customer co-op and has worked hard for a progressive image. One question here is how much blowback its anti-union campaign will draw from co-op members. If you are one, you might reach out to the company to let it know you support—and expect it to support—its workers’ right to organize.
● Gabe Ortíz reports on some great news: New York City food delivery workers win fight for bathroom access, greater tip transparency.
● School bus drivers went on strike in Jefferson Davis County, Mississippi (really), after emergency drivers were offered around twice as much hourly pay. This must be one of the most successful strikes of recent decades: An hour later, they were offered a raise of $5 an hour.
● A bold new flavor of Tennessee whiskey: union-made. Kim Kelly writes:
In Kentucky, workers at many of the bourbon distilleries that manufacture popular brands like Jim Beam, Buffalo Trace, Heaven Hill, and Wild Turkey are union members, and are represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW)’s Distillery and Winery division. Until now, none of their Tennessee counterparts could say the same. But in December, workers at Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery in Nashville went public with their desire to organize a union, taking the name United Distillery Workers of Tennessee. They face an uphill battle by trying to unionize in a “right to work” state like Tennessee, whose Republican governor, Bill Lee, is so virulently anti-union that he’s personally led captive audience meetings, but they’re standing firm. The United Distillery Workers of Tennessee’s distillery union drive is a first for their state, and, as one of the worker-organizers told me last week, is an essential move to protect themselves and their livelihoods.
● The bogus claim that school closures will doom Democrats, by Rachel Cohen.
● It's nice that this ridiculous injunction was lifted, but horrific that it was ever put in place to begin with. Just appalling.
● At Labor Notes, Sarah Hughes has a look back at one of last year's longest-running strikes.