Today I’ve got baseball back from the dead, big swings at corporate BS, and strikes around the country. Time to catch up on what’s going on in labor news.
MLB lockout ends: The MLB and MLBPA agreed to terms yesterday, ending the three-month lockout of the players perpetuated by the billionaire owners. Throughout the lockout, social media users roasted the owners, which, according to The Washington Post, had a serious impact on the negotiations. The new Collective Bargaining Agreement includes changes to make the league more competitive and to ensure young players get paid more fairly. John Trupin at the Mariners blog, Lookout Landing, has more on the details.
Masks off in Seattle schools: Starting Monday, masks will be optional in Seattle Public Schools, going against the wishes of the teachers’ union. The union made its displeasure known on Wednesday:
U may have received notice from SPS they’re making masks optional Mon, Mar 14. SPS unilaterally implemented this change in masking policy. We’re deeply disappointed SPS violated our collective agreement to bargain the change. This causes chaos and confusion for staff and families
— SeattleEdAssoc (@SeattleEdAssoc) March 9, 2022
Legislative workers get some help: HB 2124, a bill giving legislative workers the right to organize, has finally passed and now heads to the Governor’s desk. As Rich covered extensively here, the path to passage was long and winding, involving a 100+ person sickout. But in a real twist, after that show of solidarity, lawmakers brought the bill back from the dead and put it on a path to passage. Just two weeks later, it has.
Let’s give Matthew Hepner from IBEW the final word: “The passage of 2124 is a big victory for all workers who are under-appreciated and overworked. It was pretty close to a miracle... but the iron will of the workers and some true champions in the Legislature made it happen, and solidarity carried the day.”
Companies shamed on International Women’s Day: An absolute hero running the Twitter account Gender Pay Gap Bot wreaked havoc this week by quote-tweeting companies who posted about International Women’s Day and reporting their wage disparity.
Disney employees call out secret anti-gay agenda: After the “Don’t Say Gay” bill passed the Florida Senate, Disney employees took to social media to voice their disappointment that the company they work for donated to supporters of the bill. CNN reported the backlash prompted Disney CEO Bob Chapek to condemn the bill, and he says he is now planning to meet with Florida Governor Rick DeSantis and donate $5 million to LGBTQ+ foundations. But, as we’ve seen with pledges like this in the past, it’s tough to know if that money will ever show up. Keep the pressure on.
Amazon drops $350,000 to keep serfs down: On Tuesday, The Coalition to Defend Amazon Workers released a DOL report that shows Amazon paid over $350,000 to professional union-busters to break the union forming in Bessemer, Alabama last year. Because it’s either that or pay workers fairly!
Prime bribes: Over the past two weeks, Good Jobs First has been updating a scathing Twitter thread detailing the outrageous business practices Amazon has enacted over the years, which include securing huge amounts in tax subsidies and almost always reneging on its side of the deal. In one instance, here detailed by Oregon Live, Amazon got “hundreds of millions” worth of energy tax credits to build data centers in eastern Oregon and hire local workers. They hired…10 people.
Amazon referred to the DOJ: Because the company refuses to cooperate with an investigation into its dealings with third-party vendors on its platform, Amazon has been referred to the Department of Justice for criminal obstruction. Dana Mattioli of the Wall Street Journal has the details here as well as more on the core issue: Amazon taking ideas from its vendors.
Construction strike continues: Teamsters 174 released a statement Wednesday that recounts the first meeting between management and workers that took place this week, and the “shockingly regressive proposal” management offered. The statement says, “If there was any doubt to the Union’s claim this strike was a blatant attempt at ‘union busting’ from the onset, those fears were made abundantly clear today.” Thank a construction executive the next time you hit a pothole.
Kroger execs are scared: The Motley Fool released a transcript of Kroger’s “Q4 Earnings Call” from March 3, and the company's execs spent a great deal of time talking about how worried they were about more strikes. Their CFO did drop a vague threat, though, saying, “If negotiations do become contentious, we have contingency plans in place to continue to support our communities.”
More Perfect Union posted a video that might give insight to those “contingency plans”:
NEW: Corporations are weaponizing local police and judges to crush workers.
Cops have been hired by corporations to defeat labor strikes. Judges have sided with corporations like John Deere, Warrior Met, and Kroger to limit or bar workers from picketing.@GrimKim reports. pic.twitter.com/OJtB8PkBog
— More Perfect Union (@MorePerfectUS) March 9, 2022
Local union election filings and national wins: The Seattle Art Museum Visitor Service Officers Union filed for an election with NLRB Wednesday, as did a Verizon store in Everett. The New York Times reports that Starbucks went 3-for-3 in Buffalo-area elections. (PS: The tracker is up to 132 Starbucks stores unionizing nationwide.) The GMG Union, representing workers at Gizmodo, Jalopnik, Jezebel, Kotaku, Lifehacker, and The Root, hit the picket line and earned themselves a shiny new contract:
Minnesota public defenders strike: Think you’re overworked? Check out this big news from Minnesota yesterday. The roughly 100 public defenders in Minnesota’s Hennepin County report they have 12,000 open cases between them. TWELVE. THOUSAND. The Minnesota Reformer reports they’re going on strike, a first in Minnesota state history for public defenders, and you simply canNOT blame ‘em.
This guy is onto something:
@calm.simon Drill remixes only in the morning🥱 #homingfromwork #getreadywithme ♬ original sound - Calm Simon
Office workers fed up: But unlike Calm Simon, remote workers appear to be firmly against going back into the office.
Folks, it’s time to admit Garfield had it right.
man… mondays suck and lasagna rocks… that big ass cat had it so right
— Cat Elgarrista (@cat_elg) March 7, 2022
Bring back cash: You know who doesn’t have it, right? People who are trying to make cash a thing of the past. The Washington Post reported Wednesday on workers who are seeing their income disappear because of the elimination of cash tips. This week The Seattle Times ran a thoughtful op-ed on the issue.
If you’re struggling with long COVID, you may be entitled to workplace accommodations:
If you have long COVID, you may be entitled to workplace accommodations. We’ve got answers to common questions: https://t.co/EcIcZHwOMQ pic.twitter.com/MFLIrYuLX4
— U.S. Department of Labor (@USDOL) March 8, 2022
Nice job, New York: The New York Times reports the state’s first 100 marijuana retail licenses will go to individuals and family members of those convicted for marijuana-related offenses. Pretty cool!
Some nice words: This week, the U.S. Department of the Treasury released a report condemning anti-labor practices and making a series of recommendations including, “increasing antitrust enforcement in labor markets, raising the minimum wage, and making it easier for workers to organize, that would revitalize competition in the labor market and strengthen workers’ bargaining power so that workers can get their fair share of the economy’s proceeds.”
Good to see the government swinging the pendulum back to the people’s side, especially since it appears unions just saved the USPS. Members of the American Postal Workers Union placed “more than 12,000 calls to the Senate, demanding the bill’s passage.” The pressure works, baby!
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And, yeah, I DID get Dolly stuck in my head again after reading that McSweeney’s piece. But, hey, that’s a pretty good problem to have! Cheers to the weekend. Boos to the rain.