After 45 days on strike, nearly 40,000 Verizon workers have agreed to head back to work. Having reached a tentative agreement with the communications giant, the workers state that they have achieved their goals: raising working families’ standard of living, creating over 1,300 new union jobs and achieving a first contract for retail store workers.
The largest strike in recent history, this Communications Workers of America (CWA) action marks a significant display of the strength of collective action.
During the strike, the company scrambled to fill positions with non-unionized and non-specialized personnel. Workers and their allies engaged in frequent rallies and demonstrations, holding space and making their position known. In the end, it more than paid off: besides winning the workers a raise, reversing cutbacks and creating jobs, the successful strike asserted the importance of workers in making communications infrastructure work, and re-asserted the role that organized labor can play in securing rights for workers.
Before the settlement was announced, CWA Local 1101 member, Verizon Striker and Murphy Alum (Cornell-CUNY Labor Relations Certificate, 2014) Christopher Vilardo shared this statement with the blog:
The Fight for 15 movement claimed its biggest victories to date last week, with both New York and California passing major minimum-wage increases.
California’s rate, currently one of the highest in the country at $10 dollars per hour, will rise incrementally and reach $15 dollars by 2022. In New York, the wage floor will go up according to business size and location: larger New York City employers (ten or more employees) must pay at least $15 by the end of 2018, while smaller employers in the city (fewer than ten employees) will have until the end of 2019 to meet that mark.
Westchester County and suburban Long Island wages will hit $15 by 2022. And upstate New York employers will have to pay employees at least $12.50 by the end of 2020, after which the state will determine how to get to $15.
It’s disappointing that the $15 requirement won’t cover all of New York state for some time, and that upstate New York workers won’t see a $15 minimum for several years at least. Unlike California, New York also still allows tipped workers to be paid a lower wage. But considering the trajectory of the US minimum wage over the past four decades, these are enormous wins. Simply put, the US has never seen an increase this large. Continue reading And a Union: Minimum-Wage Victories & the Fight for Worker Power→
Over the past few years, we have been lying down on the pavements of New York.In Grand Central Station, in front of Barclay’s Center, in the middle of streets in Brooklyn, near Union Square, in Harlem and in the Bronx.We have been asked to lie down — to Die In — in order to demand recognition of Black Lives, to condemn violence against and killing of people of color, many of whose names are by now familiar in a tragic way: Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin…and on and on.
Many times, everyone has been asked to die in, to lie down.Other times, white allies have been asked to stand in silence.Either way, the impacted communities have been calling the shots and leading the way.
At times, the die-ins have been done by “other groups,” including the Fight-for-15, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ), and others, marching in solidarity with the Movement for Black Lives and calling out the intersection between racial and economic violence.Each time, no matter what intersections have been highlighted, the violence against people of color has been the primary concern of the actions.Continue reading On Escalation, Dying-In and the Fight to Fund CUNY→
If you’ve been around Murphy recently, you’ve probably heard rumblings about the PSC contract battle. As a labor school, Murphy Institute faculty, students and staff study and put into practice the fight for labor rights. Now, as members of the Professional Staff Congress-CUNY and AFSCME District Council 37, Murphy community members are in a fight for fair labor conditions all our own. To give a bit of context, we’ve assembled an explainer. Read on to learn how we got here — and where things might be headed.
What’s going on with CUNY?
Since 2010 CUNY workers, faculty and staff, have been without a contract. Our union, the Professional Staff Congress, has been working the regular routes to a contract: members have written countless petitions and letters, endorsed a pro-labor mayor, endorsed the governor, lobbied for a new, labor-friendly chancellor, held mass meetings and rallies, got arrested and lobbied tirelessly in Albany.
In the meantime, Gov. Cuomo and the legislature has underfunded CUNY to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, and is threatening something much more drastic this spring. Continue reading CUNY On Strike?→
As millions of Americans broke bread this past Thanksgiving, an important labor victory almost fell through the cracks. Last Wednesday, Temple University’s 1,400 adjunct professors voted 609-266 in favor a proposal to join the Temple Association of University Professionals, the American Federation of Teachers’ faculty affiliate at the school.
With this vote, the local union will double in size, and the negotiations for work terms will commence, pending official certification by the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board.
Temple University’s adjuncts are only the latest adjunct faculty cohorts to unionize. Adjuncts at Tufts, Georgetown, America, Northeastern, Seattle have all issued similar votes in the past couple years, while, closer to home, Barnard contingent faculty members voted to unionize this past summer, and, as of now, adjunct faculty members at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering are moving forward on a union vote as well.
I am a passionate member of the PSC and will be part of the (hopefully) packed house at Cooper Union on November 19th when we continue our path to a new contract. I’ve had quite a few really positive experiences with the union that have stuck with me and make me want to fight for the contract that we deserve.
My first interaction with the PSC-CUNY was 14 years ago as a student at Hunter College when the PSC was a significant part of the NYC anti-Iraq war movement. The Union sponsored buses to go down to DC for large national marches calling on the government to reverse its momentum toward war, asking lawmakers to redirect public funds to education: “Books not bombs.” Remembering the mass protests on the Mall, I can only echo the prophetic intention behind that chant. Now, as a PSC member, and six years into our fight for a new contract, I see that just a small fraction of those funds squandered in war would grant us the contract we deserve. Continue reading Padraig O’Donoghue: Reflections on Labor→
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