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Chipotle closes first store to unionize
Last month, workers at a Chipotle site in Augusta, Maine, launched the company’s first-ever union. Now the company is permanently closing that location, saying it is unable to staff the location.
Chipotle United denounced the decision as union busting.
“This is union busting 101 and there is nothing that motivates us to fight harder than this underhanded attempt to shut down the labor movement in their stores,” said Chipotle United organizer Brandi McNease in a statement. “They’re scared because they know how powerful we are and if we catch fire like the organizing effort at Starbucks, they won’t be able to stop us.”
For more, see Nation’s Restaurant News
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300 healthcare workers on strike at California’s Sequoia Hospital
In Redwood City, Calif., more than 300 healthcare workers, members of AFSCME, are on strike over low pay, health insurance increases and unsafe staffing ratios. The workers, who voted by a 95% margin to strike, say they plan to stay on strike until the issues are resolved.
“How can I safely treat 32 patients? It’s humanly impossible,” said Aretha Martins, a certified practical nurse in the Sequoia Cardiac Monitoring Unit. “I went to the toilet several times to cry but had to swallow and come back because there was so much to do. It’s awful. We need safe staff ratios now.
For more information, visit the AFSCME website
9,000 Columbus teachers could go on strike
In Columbus, Ohio, more than 9,000 teachers are threatening to strike on the first day of school in late August unless some major issues are resolved. The union says its main concern is the shortage of staff caused by the high turnover rate in schools during the pandemic, when many teachers retired prematurely or left the profession altogether.
“This idea that teachers are like machines that if your co-worker doesn’t show up for work, for all the right reasons, you can take a primary school teacher, you can take their charge of 14 more kids on top of your 32 who you already have in your classroom and still have a productive lesson that day. It’s an impossible task,” Regina Fuentes, spokeswoman for the Columbus Education Association, told WBNS.
For more information, see WBNS
Korean BBQ Restaurant Syndicates in Los Angeles – Could Korean Supermarkets Be Next?
Last month, Genwa, a Korean barbecue in Los Angeles, became the first Korean restaurant to win a union contract, securing a $20/hour minimum wage, reimbursement of health costs and seniority rights.
The union campaign in Genwa begins discussions in the city’s Asian-American community about unionizing other companies. According to a report by the Asian Americans Advancing Justice coalition, the majority of Asian American workers in Los Angeles earn less than $15 an hour. Experts cite the tight-knit and protective culture of many immigrant communities for keeping wages low.
“They have this co-ethnic employee-employer relationship that often undermines the ability of workers to air grievances and report abuse,” Chanchanit Martorell, executive director of the Thai Community Development Center told the LA Times.
For more on organizing Asian American workers, check out the LA Times
David Moberg in his own words – Rest in Power
Yesterday it was announced that veteran Labor journalist David Moberg had died of Parkinson’s disease aged 79. Many people have shared moving thoughts about him.
“David Moberg, who died at 79, reported on workers and unions at a time when most media had abandoned the labor beat. He was a friend, a comrade and one of my greatest teachers,” wrote The Nation’s John Nichols on Twitter. “Love and solidarity to a great journalist and his rich heritage”
Veteran New York Times labor reporter Steven Greenhouse, while paying tribute to his longtime friend David Moberg on Twitter, shared a moving autobiographical essay by David Moberg:
Neither a “red diaper” nor a “blue-collar baby,” I came in a roundabout way to be one of the original writers for In These Times, covering the work. I grew up on a farm in western Illinois, where my young role models for alternatives to capitalism owed less to Marx—whom I didn’t seriously study until college—and more to collective labor. harvesting hay with neighboring farmers and the traditions cooperative of the agricultural supply company run by my father.
My first minor experience of working-class struggle came in high school, in the grueling labor of pulling seed corn tassels. I led a strike of colleagues who shared my resistance to walking through a muddy field rather than waiting for the ground to dry. We didn’t win anything, but we felt good.
As a “radical” early ’60s student, I scored a few victories in the modest realm of campus politics – and also a one-week expulsion for publishing an “alternative newspaper.” This led to my first full-time job after college, working for Newsweek in Los Angeles. I had the chance to cover the beginnings of the United Farm Workers’ organizing campaign under Cesar Chavez and learned important lessons about solidarity, perseverance and the very faults of the saints of the labor movement.
A few years later, I entered graduate school in anthropology at the University of Chicago. Inspired by Marx to see work as central to the creation of human culture, I did my fieldwork for my thesis not in the usual exotic locations but in eastern Ohio, among young engaged workers in high-profile disputes with General Motors over a new plant in Lordtown. Contrary to popular belief, workers there were even more interested in controlling their work than in increasing their wages.
For more, check out the full essay on In These Times
News and strikes happening elsewhere
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