AT&T Workers Prepare to Strike

If they haven’t won a contract by 3pm today, 40,000 AT&T workers will go on strike. Coming on the heels of last year’s Verizon strike, this marks another potentially historic action for the Communications Workers of America (CWA) — and the workers have much cause for grievance. From David Bacon at In These Times:

In California and Nevada, around 17,000 AT&T workers who provide phone, landline and cable services have been working without a contract for more than a year. Last year, they voted to authorize a strike with more than 95 percent support. And in February, an estimated 21,000 AT&T Mobility workers in 36 states voted to strike as well, with 93 percent in favor.

Workers have issued an ultimatum, giving company executives until 3 p.m. ET on Friday to present serious proposals—or the workers will walk.

It wouldn’t be the first strike at AT&T. Some 17,000 workers in California and Nevada walked off the job in late March to protest company changes in their working conditions in violation of federal law. After a one-day strike, AT&T agreed not to require technicians to perform work assignments outside of their expertise. Nevertheless, the biggest issues for workers remained unresolved.

Bacon continues:

AT&T is the largest telecommunications company in the country with $164 billion in sales and 135 million wireless customers nationwide. It has eliminated 12,000 call center jobs in the United States since 2011, representing more than 30 percent of its call center employees, and closed more than 30 call centers. Meanwhile, the company has outsourced the operation of more than 60 percent of its wireless retail stores to operators who pay much less than the union wage, according to CWA.

Read the full article at In These Times.

Featured photo by Mike Mozart via flickr (CC-BY).

Event: Building Bridges Across the Generation Gap (5/19)

Date: May 19th, 2017
Time: 4:30pm-7:30pm
Location: Murphy Institute, 25 W. 43rd St., 18th Floor

REGISTER HERE

Believe it or not, Millennials and Baby Boomers have much in common, especially when it comes to the changing U.S. political economy. Join us for an intergenerational happy hour discussion unpacking the impact of America’s fractured social safety net across generations.

It’s no secret that today’s young adult generation faces unprecedented financial insecurity. Compared to when Baby Boomers were young, Millennials (born 1980 and after) have lower incomes, less savings, and lower net worth. They are also disproportionately likely to be uninsured, underemployed, or unemployed, and many are saddled with unprecedented levels of student debt. Continue reading Event: Building Bridges Across the Generation Gap (5/19)

New Labor Forum Highlights: May 15, 2017

The New Labor Forum has launched a bi-weekly newsletter on current topics in labor, curated by the some of the most insightful scholars and activists in the labor world today. Check out some highlights from the latest edition below.

One of the enduring conversations of the 2016 election is the significance of the white working- class Trump vote. According to some pundits, this vote drew much of its impetus from economic decline characteristic of the rust belt. New Labor Forum’s Michael Zweig writes about White Working-Class Voters and the Future of Progressive Politics. One major issue he raises is the difficulty of identifying precisely what we mean by ‘working-class,’ as well as the extent to which class anxiety versus racial animosity motivated their support for Trump. An excellent data-filled companion piece is the PRRI/The Atlantic report on the WWC. Using large data sets and prominent academic researchers, this report indicates that economic fatalism predicted support for Trump, while economic hardship predicted Clinton support. Greg Sargent of the Washington Post focuses on a specific demographic: the swing voters who moved from Obama to Trump. This group played an outsize role in the 2016 elections. What are they telling Democrats?

The economic nationalism and xenophobia that motivated some working-class Trump supporters has found distinct articulations throughout Europe. The failure of European center and center-left parties to take a stand against the ravages of neo-liberalism has buoyed right-wing populism. Edouard Louis has written a moving essay about the recent French elections describing the feelings of neglect many working-class voters have experienced at the hands of the governing Socialist Party and expect under Macron’s centrist banner En Marche!. This fact, he contends, lead many of them, like his working-class father, who sense their own invisibility to vote for Marine Le Pen.

Table of Contents

  1. White Working-Class Voters and the Future of Progressive Politics / Michael Zweig, New Labor Forum
  2.  Beyond Economics: Fears of Cultural Displacement Pushed the White Working Class to Trump / Daniel Cox, Rachel Lienesch, Robert P. Jones / PRRI, The Atlantic
  3. Why Did Trump Win? New Research by Democrats Offers Worrisome Answer / Greg Sargent, New York Times
  4. Why My Father Votes for Le Pen / Edouard Louis, New York Times

Photo by Lorie Shaull via flickr (CC-BY-SA)

Event: Immigration Politics in the Trump Era (5/11)

Date: May 11th, 2017
Time: 10am-6pm
Location: Murphy Institute, 25 W. 43rd St., 18th Floor

RSVP HERE

Co-sponsored by the Scholars Strategy Network and Murphy Institute

This all-day conference will assess the unfolding immigration crisis, highlighting the perspectives of labor unions, worker centers, community organizations, and local government. The Trump administration’s efforts to restrict immigration, expand deportations, thwart sanctuary cities, and intensify border enforcement mark dramatic shifts in immigration politics and policies. This event convenes a range of national and local experts and leaders to explore the implications of these national shifts, especially for local immigrant communities and the possibilities for resistance.

Program

10:00am: Introductions and coffee

10:30am-12:00pm: Background and Context

Speakers:

  • Muzaffar Chishti – Migration Policy Institute, Director of MPI’s office at NYU School of Law
  • Mae Ngai – Columbia University, Professor of History and Lung Family Professor of Asian American Studies

Moderator: Ruth Milkman, CUNY Graduate Center & Murphy Institute

12:00-1:00pm: Lunch (Provided)

1:00-2:30pm: Labor Responses

Speakers:

  • Esther Lopez – United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, International Secretary-Treasurer
  • Eliseo Medina – Service Employees International Union, Former International Secretary-Treasurer
  • Gonzalo Mercado – National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), New York City Regional Coordinator, and Executive Director at La Colmena – Staten Island Community Job Center
  • Javaid Tariq – New York Taxi Workers Alliance, Co-Founder and Senior Staff
  • Modesta Toribio – Make the Road New York, Senior Organizer

Moderator: Ed Ott, Murphy Institute/CUNY, Distinguished Lecturer of Labor Studies

2:30-3:00pm: Break

3:00-4:30pm: Community and Local Government Responses

Speakers:

  • 
Anu Joshi – NY State Immigrant Action Fund, Deputy Director
  • Abraham Paulos – Families for Freedom, former Executive Director
  • Donna Schaper – Judson Memorial Church, Senior Minister
  • Monica Sibri – CUNY DREAMers, Founder, and New York Fellow at IGNITE National

Moderator: Els de Graauw, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Baruch College-CUNY

4:30-6:00pm: Closing Reception

Excelsior: Free Tuition for Whom?

By Steve Brier

If you’ve at all been confused about or even impressed by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s widely touted Excelsior Scholarship program that was just voted into law by the New York State legislature, a good place to start to deal with your questions and concerns is Lauren Gurley’s article in the May issue of The Indypendent, “Free Higher Ed for a Few.”

Gurley’s piece reveals the ways Excelsior serves as a giveaway to NY State’s middle class taxpayers — especially those who would like to send their kids to SUNY schools — while denying real and much-needed support to CUNY’s working-class and poor students who will hardly benefit from Excelsior, given the scholarship’s extremely restrictive terms. Cuomo is trying to burnish his progressive credential in anticipation for his 2020 run for the Democratic Party’s nomination for president.

Gurley interviewed me at length for the piece and I’m quoted a few times, including the final statement:

“We made a commitment as a nation in the post-World War II period that public education would be free and available to everyone who was interested in pursuing it. And we created institutions like city colleges, junior colleges and state colleges […] It was a different world. And that is the world, I would argue, that we should go back to.”

For the full article, visit The Indypendent.

You can also listen to Lauren Gurley´s article on iTunes or Soundcloud as part of a the new Indy Audio podcast, where you can listen to articles from The Indypendent.

 

Photo by MTA via flickr (CC-BY)

 

Tom Cat Workers Resist

This article was originally featured at the Indypendent.

By Astha Rajvanshi

Workers at Tom Cat Bakery start kneading the day’s first loaves inside a Queens factory at 6 a.m. Soon after, the industrial-scale bakery begins delivering 400 varieties of baked goods to hotels, supermarkets, food chains and Starbucks locations across New York City.

One of the bakers, Sabino Milian, a 40-year-old Guatemalan native, came to New York 17 years ago looking for work. Hurricane Mitch struck Milian’s hometown in 1998, leaving his parents helpless and vulnerable. He needed to support them financially. New York presented a land of opportunities, Milian told The Indypendent through a Spanish interpreter. He began working for Tom Cat in 2006 and never had any problems with his bosses.

In March, however, a manager called Milian into his office and told him the company was subject to an ongoing audit by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Milian, along with 30 other workers, were given 10 days to prove they possessed proper documentation to legally work in the country. If they failed to do so, they would be fired. Continue reading Tom Cat Workers Resist

A conversation about workers, communities and social justice

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