Spring has sprung, the birds have sung, let’s recap what this week has brung. (Please call me an ambulance.)
Amazon Labor Union organizers meet with Teamsters: In a crossover episode that resulted in the photo of the week, Christian Smalls and Derrick Palmer from Amazon Labor Union met with Sean O’Brien, the new Teamsters General President, to discuss how Amazon workers can win their first contracts from the company.
These two kings seem to have a lot in common: Right down to the quality of their sound clips. After the big ALU win, ALU President Christian Smalls told reporters, “We want to thank Jeff Bezos for going into space, because when he was up there, we were signing people up.” And Sean O’Brien recently told The Guardian: “I commend anybody who tries to take on a schoolyard bully like Amazon.”
Want to learn more about how ALU did it? Check out this virtual event on Monday:
Do you want to learn how Amazon workers achieved a historic union win? And consider how you could organize your own workplace? On Monday, April 11 at 8pm ET, we're hosting a conversation with @amazonlabor & @jacobin. Tune in! RSVP: https://t.co/fbm7xSU4kU pic.twitter.com/3v5gHSWktw
— Emergency Workplace Organizing (@organizeworkers) April 6, 2022
Amazon is developing a dystopian chat app: The cracks are growing at Amazon, as they can’t even keep their culty stuff from leaking anymore. On Monday, The Intercept reported that the company is planning to launch an internal chat app that automatically blocks words that relate to worker organizing. Check out this list:
In a statement, a company spokesperson backtracked hard, because of course they did. Shout out to the whistleblowers! And please send us tips if you have juicy Orwellian Amazon goss.
Biden calls out Amazon: In an unprecedented move by a sitting president, on Wednesday Joe Biden challenged Amazon over its union-busting efforts, saying, “That’s what unions are about in my view, providing dignity and respect to people who bust their neck. That’s why I created the White House Task Force on Worker Organization and Empowerment, to ensure the choice to join a union belongs to workers alone. And, by the way: Amazon, here we come.”
"By the way, Amazon here we come."
— President Biden promotes workers' right to unionize while speaking to the North America’s Building Trade Unions pic.twitter.com/BaMtywgN3b
— The Recount (@therecount) April 6, 2022
House oversight committee investigating Amazon: The House Committee on Oversight and Reform formally announced last Friday they’re investigating Amazon’s labor practices, especially as they relate to the six workers who died at an Illinois warehouse in December. More Perfect Union released a video on Monday to give you the context on this avoidable and infuriating tragedy.
EXCLUSIVE: New evidence reveals Amazon’s culpability for the deaths of 6 workers in a warehouse collapse last year.
Building support beams weren’t anchored to the ground, a violation of international building code.
Employees were forced to work despite severe weather warnings. pic.twitter.com/N1GT3ZGLXI
— More Perfect Union (@MorePerfectUS) April 4, 2022
MSNBC is not here for all this labor talk: The Intercept's Ken Klippenstein pointed out an LOL moment when MSNBC scrambled to cut away from Biden’s speech the exact moment he pivoted from the war in Russia to the labor movement happening right here at home. Makes you go hmm!
NLRB cracking down on captive-audience meetings: Know who is here for the movement? Jennifer Abruzzo. The new General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board knows organizing may be the only way to end this New Gilded Age, and she is moving quickly to turn the tide. Yesterday, she released a memo calling on the Board to reclassify captive meetings as NLRB violations subject to penalty.
Speaking of captive-audience meetings: Despite management’s best bustin’ efforts, Crossroads Trading Co. at 325 Broadway Ave E in The Great Neighborhood of Capitol Hill is now officially a unionized store.
NLRB petitions up 57%: Abruzzo also expressed her support for Biden’s new budget, which would increase funding for the NLRB by 16%, crucially important since the NLRB is getting so many new cases that the office can’t keep up with them (!). Union election petitions rose 57% in the past fiscal year, along with a 14% increase in unfair labor practice charges.
Starbucks claims to be “assaulted” by unions: Moving on from real violence to the made-up kind: After firing its top lawyer, presumably for letting the serfs get a sniff of freedom, on Monday new/old Starbucks CEO Howie Schultz, most widely known for arguably stealing a public park in Seattle, said with a straight face that the company was “being assaulted by the threat of unionization.” That’s right, folks, the billionaire and failed presidential candidate who sold our Sonics sees his own workers organizing for decent pay and stable schedules as an “assault.” See it for yourselves:
BREAKING: In a town hall meeting, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz just told workers that Starbucks is “being assaulted in many ways by the threat of unionization.”
Schultz also referred to @SBWorkersUnited as an “outside organization trying to take our people.” pic.twitter.com/oYMP01gKP2
— More Perfect Union (@MorePerfectUS) April 4, 2022
About an hour later, Starbucks fired a union leader in Phoenix, AZ. Jacobin has details on the many organizers the company has targeted, harassed, and fired in recent months amid the nationwide union effort. (BTW, the Starbucks union tracker is up to 199.)
Want to support Starbucks partners against Howie’s union bustin’? Join DSA this Sunday for some tablin’ and posterin’:
We're tabling & postering in support of Starbucks workers this Sunday, April 10th. Find a kiosk near you! @VentiSolidarity
Ballard | 10am-Noon
First Hill | 11am-1pm
Hillman City | 12:30pm-1:30pm
— Seattle DSA🌹 (@SeattleDSA) April 7, 2022
SEIU prez drops new catchphrase: Mary Kay Henry, the president of the Service Employees’ International Union, appeared on CNBC Monday to represent her two million members and discuss the labor movement happening now. In her words: “We’re witnessing The Great Resignation of workers turned into The Great Reckoning, by workers deciding not to quit their job but by joining together and demanding unions.”
In Portland and looking to chat labor tonight?
TOMORROW, Friday April 8th:
Philadelphia & Portland, come meet workplace and union activists & get pumped for the Labor Notes Conference!
PHILLY, PA: 6pm @ Gojjo Bar
PORTLAND, OR: 5pm @ Lucky Labrador Brew Pub
— Jonah Furman (@JonahFurman) April 7, 2022
More congressional staffers organize: Both U.S. Congressional staffers and Massachusetts state legislative staffers are organizing to improve the brutal working conditions familiar to those of us who have worked in government. Good on ya.
Activision called out for two-faced move: This week, Activision Blizzard made headlines for converting its part-time and temporary game testers to full-time employees with a $20 minimum hourly wage. Yay! Then, after some digging, The Verge called them out for not including in the wage bump for their existing full-time workers whose union they refuse to recognize. Boo! Boo this company!
And boo this one, too: Social media users are tomahawk-dunking upon the faces of IGN, the video game news and reviews site, for advertising some truly abysmal freelance contributor rates, starting with a $20 base rate for stories. Twenty dollars, you know, the amount of money that doesn’t even buy a video game? Thomas Violence, a good Twitter account to follow, pondered the connection between pay rates like this and why so many articles on the internet are absolute ass.
Except this one, right? Right? Say it back.
Okay folks, you know what time it is. Jingle your tips in our little email jar, and ride this banger into the weekend.