In this regular interview series, American Rights at Work spends some time off the clock with notable workers’ rights leaders, supporters, experts, and organizers.
Are unions punk rock? We think so, and so does Mike McColgan, the lead singer of the popular punk band the Street Dogs. Mike’s work as a union firefighter and pressman have shaped the riveting working class anthems he’s written and performed in bands like the Dropkick Murphys, and now with the Street Dogs. We’ve been blown away by their music for years and will see them on Monday in concert in D.C. at the Black Cat. You can also catch the Street Dogs live on their Wreck the Halls tour, pick up one of their many recordings, or watch them in action performing in Madison as part of the historic protests against collective bargaining attacks in Wisconsin. Read our interview with Mike to learn more about what inspires his passionate political stances, powerful lyrics, and lifelong fight to champion unions… Read more »
Next Tuesday, voters in four states—Arizona, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Utah—will be facing anti-worker initiatives that would amend each state’s constitution to require so-called secret ballots in union elections. At first glance, these measures appear to be about worker protection. But underneath the friendly exterior, it’s clear the far-right organizations funding these measures are not looking out for workers’ best interests.
Last week, Forbes named Xerox CEO Ursula Burns one of the most powerful women in the world. But what the magazine failed to mention is that her company is doing everything it can to keep unions out of the workplace.
In addition to making photocopiers, Xerox also runs the call centers for E-ZPass, the automatic tollbooth system in New York state. And when E-ZPass workers in Staten Island, NY voted to join the Communications Workers of America, Xerox retaliated by telling 19 employees that they had to transfer or leave the company. Read more »
The 2010 midterm elections are right around the corner, and the assault on workers and their unions has never been louder—or better funded. The anti-union network is pumping unprecedented funds into races around the country to oppose pro-worker candidates and policies. These are the same big money extremists that fought hard against the Employee Free Choice Act, raising the minimum wage, and even equal pay for women.
It’s time to stop them—and their undisclosed donors—before they do any more damage. So we’ve put together a report that provides background info on the most nefarious of these groups: American Crossroads, Americans for Job Security, Americans for Prosperity, The Club for Growth, Freedom Works, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Read more »
With the economic recovery and job growth stagnating despite record profits on Wall Street, CEOs in this country could use a wake-up call. But instead of a wake up call, the second season of CBS’ “Undercover Boss” is more like a thiny-veiled public relations campaign for featured companies.
Choice Hotels CEO Steve Joyce, who has publicly opposed the Employee Free Choice Act, was the focus of last night’s premiere episode. Joyce got a first hand look at how his hotels operate from the perspective of Choice employees, and was surprised at just how demanding work in the hotel industry can be—both physically and mentally. And as Joyce quickly realized, these workers aren’t just numbers on a payroll statement. They are real people, with individual struggles, families, and career aspirations of their own. Read more »
There are few things that can bring Americans from all walks of life together. Today, as baseball fans across the country gear up for the 81st All-Star Game, it’s clear that baseball is one of them. And, despite lining their roster with some of baseball’s biggest names, it’s been over a decade since the National League won the Midsummer Classic.
The players who will take the field in Anaheim tonight are outstanding athletes—household names and heroes to fans worldwide. But many big-league players aren’t just champions in the baseball world. Off the field, they’re also champions of workers’ rights.
In fact, four of the players selected for tonight’s game—Heath Bell, Torii Hunter, Justin Verlander, and Adam Wainwright—have recently come out swinging for labor law reform. Read more »
It was sad to see another editorial board regurgitate the same tired misinformation about labor law reform, disingenuously cloaked in the rhetoric of worker protection.
The truth is that anyone who cares about protecting workers’ rights, and particularly their right to choose a union without coercion from either side, should support employees having the choice to form unions through majority sign-up. Studies show that majority sign-up is more democratic and invites less pressure — from management and from peers — than the current National Labor Relations Board election system. There’s no such thing as anonymity when unscrupulous employers have the right to interrogate employees about their support for a union — and then get away with threatening or firing anyone who does.
So if you’re going to oppose workers having a decent chance at getting ahead, do it honestly. Admit that you want a status quo in which workers have effectively few rights and corporations can flout the law without penalty. I won’t agree with you, but at least we’ll know where we stand.
In case anyone is wondering if labor law reform is really needed, the case of Blackstone Hotel in Chicago provides an answer. Workers there formed a union in 2008, but have since faced an onslaught of federal law violations by the hotel. And now, after a year and a half of negotiation, they still don’t have a contract.
Last week, an NLRB administrative law judge ruled that the hotel illegally tried to get employees to decertify the union, and laid off workers and changed employee health plans without involving the union. As Crain’s Chicago Business reports:
I’m glad the NLRB is holding the hotel accountable. But despite this victory, the workers are still waiting for a contract. Read more »
Can your boss fire you for what you write about in your personal blog? Can you be pink-slipped over a bumper sticker? Can your employer dismiss you for having a beer after work?
Yes. Yes. And, horrifyingly, yes.
Few Americans are truly aware of what happens to their legal rights once they punch the clock. That’s why Lewis Maltby, president and founder of the National Workrights Institute, wrote Can They Do That: Retaking Our Fundamental Rights in the Workplace.
Were you ever bullied at school? Ever get your lunch money stolen? I bet you thought that behavior would stop once you grew up.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case when you’re a worker trying to form a union. Here’s a statistic that’ll get your blood boiling: 78 percent of workers are forced to attend closed-door meetings with management during union organizing drives. And how much can employers be fined by the National Labor Relations Board for illegally threatening, intimidating, or firing their workers? A whopping zero dollars and zero cents.
Watch this video from the IBEW (featuring actors from the acclaimed HBO series The Wire), showing exactly how such a closed-door meeting might go: