Hell of a hard week, folks. I’m grateful you’re here and have decided to spend a few of your minutes reading this. What else is there to say? Here’s some hope.
Celebrating Homer Simpson, working-class hero: On Sunday, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich joined The Simpsons to explain how Homer Simpson’s life in the long-running cartoon is impossible to achieve in the U.S. today because the rich are at war with us. The Simpsons’ viewership in Season 1,000 is down from its peak, of course, but around a million people watched that episode live and got a lesson on labor. Pretty cool. Have a look:
For 30+ years, Homer Simpson has supported his family on a single income union job with a high school education. For millions, that life isn’t actually attainable, thanks to corporate greed and rising inequality.
Tune in to @TheSimpsons tonight for a look into how we got here. https://t.co/e2R5Zrk0NS
— Robert Reich (@RBReich) May 22, 2022
Class-consciousness is growing: People are starting to get it. On Monday, NW Labor Press reported that more people are considering themselves working class: 35% in 2022 as compared to only 28% in 2003. The same is true about “lower class,” as 11% of those polled now consider themselves in that group as opposed to 7% in ‘03. The curtain has been pulled back. So what now?
Google workers refuse to return to the office: Workers at Cognizant Technology Solutions, a Google contractor in Bothell, were told they would have to return to the office starting June 6. In response, they started and circulated a petition refusing to do so. With their pay at only $16 to $28 per hour, gas at $5 per gallon, and A DAMN PANDEMIC STILL GOING ON, 60% of their 200 workers signed the petition to keep working from home. More from The New York Times here.
Amazon got greedy: Staying in tech, Bloomberg reported this week that Amazon is looking to maneuver out of warehouse leases, as they gobbled up too many during the pandemic when prices were low and online sales were up. Too bad!
About TIME: My President, Chris Smalls, was featured with Derrick Palmer as a part of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People, with a great write-up from Bernie. And the SAME DAY, my guy tweeted this at them. You absolutely have to love it. Well, at least I do:
It is absurd that @TIME has been stalling contract talks with workers for nearly 3 years. I stand in solidarity with @timemagunion in their struggle for fair wages and decent working conditions.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) May 23, 2022
More trouble in New York for Amazon: A couple is suing (with pro bono representation from Amazon Labor Union’s lawyer) after Amazon allegedly fired Jason Main for discussing unions. They also claim the company forced Main's partner, Ashley Mercer, to pick up garbage for an entire ten-hour shift in 80-degree heat despite her being six months pregnant. CNY Central has more.
Sour Apple: This seems to be a common tactic these days. Companies such as Apple, and before them Starbucks, capture headlines by promising to boost pay for workers. But then the bastards say, “Oh, by the way, we’re not sure if you’ll get this pay bump if you’re in one of those, uh, what’s-the-word.” More Perfect Union has more, and, as always, shoutout to the leakers:
BREAKING: Apple's head of retail Deirdre O'Brien sent an anti-union video to all of Apple's retail stores in the U.S. on Tuesday.
In the leaked video, she falsely claims that if workers unionize, Apple may not be able to provide "immediate, widespread" benefits going forward. pic.twitter.com/lqREw5kZcJ
— More Perfect Union (@MorePerfectUS) May 25, 2022
Westlake Starbucks goes on strike: Speaking of Starbucks, on Monday workers at the Westlake Starbucks near MOHAI went on strike to protest the company’s union-busting BS. Management showed up, sat inside for a while, and then left. Right on.
🚨CALL TO ACTION🚨
Baristas at 1200 Westlake Ave N are Picketing starting NOW, 7am PST!
Come support workers protesting intimidating union busting tactics, such as illegal firings, denial of benefits, and threats of termination! ✊ pic.twitter.com/GnQarQHL5A
— SB Workers United Seattle (@SeattleSBWU) May 23, 2022
Downtown Starbucks wins: Today the workers at the Starbucks on 505 Union voted 6 to 3 to unionize. At a store in Eastlake, workers won a shut-out — 12 to 0 — becoming the 100th win for Starbucks Workers United. Hoorah.
Union-bust disgust much? More major outlets are writing about Starbucks’ union-busting. This week: The Guardian. And More Perfect Union. And The Hill. This thing is spiraling out of control for Howie and the Gang. Good.
Want to help out? Join the Snohomish County DSA on Sunday at 11 am to support the Everett Starbucks workers. Contribute to the SB Workers United Seattle’s GoFundMe, which has raised over $36,000 in the past two months, and chip in a buck here.
Bust-spotting: 🎶Play a little bingo, listen to a little pod, get down tonight.🎶 VICE posted a funny union-busting bingo card for you to use. If you follow the link, then you’ll find they did a whole dang pod on it!
Is your boss trying to stop you from forming a union? Are you sure? This week on VICE News Reports: The VICE Guide to Spotting Union Busting.
Here’s your bingo card to play along.https://t.co/zi9zC9Ravy pic.twitter.com/Bfz0UGR65a
— VICE News (@VICENews) May 26, 2022
Alaska Airlines pilots authorize strike: As the Seattle Times reported, Alaska Airlines pilots authorized a strike this week if they can’t come to a deal after mediation. And then, hilariously, Alaska released a statement to say their pilots definitely are not striking NOW, but only if they continue to refuse to give the workers a decent contract.
Teamsters in WA: New Teamsters prez Sean O’Brien popped in to speak to the folks from Teamsters 117 and 174 on Thursday.
#Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien met with members of @teamsters117 and 174 at Waste Management early Thursday morning in Woodinville, Washington.
O’Brien has made meeting with rank-and-file members his top priority as he charts a course for the union’s future. #1u pic.twitter.com/CNacAz7Dut
— Teamsters (@Teamsters) May 26, 2022
The next step for unions: Last week, Hamilton Nolan wrote a compelling piece for In These Times about what unions should do in order to succeed … in these times (please clap). In his words, arguing about which union should represent which workers is silly: “It is, in essence, a bunch of drivers arguing over a single parking space in one corner of a vast, empty parking lot. While an asteroid is approaching.” Hell of a line. Worth a read!
LA strippers unionizing: Weeks like this can feel horrifying and hopeless. Frustration meets futility. But this story is not that. More Perfect Union has more:
NEW: Strippers in LA are trying to form America’s only unionized strip club.
Dancers at Star Garden started organizing after two workers were fired for voicing safety concerns about customers.
“I want to exploit the system that seeks to exploit me,” a lead organizer told us. pic.twitter.com/U9gpwVYAw4
— More Perfect Union (@MorePerfectUS) May 23, 2022
The work week is changing: Are we worker, or are we human? This week, various outlets considered the role of work in The New Normal (sarcastic air quotes). ZDNet reported on a London company’s experience moving to a four-day work week, and Computer Weekly covered 4 Day Week Global, a trial that will see 60 companies in the U.K. shift to a four-day work week starting next month and lasting through the end of 2022. Even the World Economic Forum chimed in to say, yep, this is where we’re headed. All that’s good, considering how many people have substituted work for a social life, a purpose, and even a religion. The New York Times has more on that.
Want to chat about this and other labor stuff? Check out this event happening next month:
Summer Institute for Union Women registration now open https://t.co/lcOkqfcyVv#SIUW is June 23-25 online, and includes core courses, social halls, workshops, plenaries, arts, culture and more! Registration is $50, scholarships, childcare stipends and interpretation available pic.twitter.com/pP03h3u9j9
— Washington Labor Education and Research Center (@WALaborCenter) May 26, 2022
New union election filings just dropped: This week? Oh, just two more Starbucks stores in Oregon and 27 dump truck drivers at Gary Merlino Construction (you know the one).
And if you didn’t know, Phoebe Bridgers is a real one:
— traitor joe (@phoebe_bridgers) May 26, 2022
Be a real one, too, and send us your tips, your comments, and your compliments.
Our song of the week? “That’s Life” by Mr. Frank Sinatra. The narrator is bitter as hell, but he’s not giving up. No, he’s getting back up on his feet to punch life in the jaw. He brings that energy. And the way Sinatra comes in way too hot cracks me up. I do a bit where, when it’s dead silent, I’ll yell-sing to my partner, “THAT’S LIFE!” She thinks it’s funny, I think. Maybe it’s funny to you, too, if you can imagine my dumb ass doing that. So there you go. Enjoy the much-needed long weekend. Hang on.