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IN THIS ISSUE:

  • Painters Union Fights to Free Member from Immigration Jail
  • Memphis Riders and Drivers Team Up to Win Back Historic Bus Route
  • Solidarity's No Heavy Lift, Say Fitness Workers
  • Kicking Out Freeloaders? Think Again
  • Hot off the press: Secretos de un organizador exitoso, our new Spanish book!
Painters Union Fights to Free Member from Immigration Jail

Imagine being arrested and detained for months just for showing up to work.

That’s what happened to construction workers Hugo Mejia and Rodrigo Nuñez on May 3, when their company sent them to work on a hospital inside Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, California. ICE has held Mejia ever since. Nuñez, a member of the Carpenters, was deported in early August.

In response, Mejia’s union, the Painters, launched a national “Free Hugo” campaign, calling on ICE to release him from detention so he can be with his family while his asylum petition is heard.

“These two union members were only detained because they showed up for work,” said IUPAT General President Kenneth Rigmaiden. “We will not allow the act of showing up to work to be criminalized.”

READ MORE.

Memphis Riders and Drivers Team Up to Win Back Historic Bus Route

When the Memphis Bus Riders Union (MBRU) was just a year old and growing, the transit authority announced the biggest service cut since the 1980s.

On the chopping block was a 40-year-old residential route, the 31 Crosstown, that connected two historically Black and impoverished areas known as North and South Memphis.

Through canvassing on buses and at bus stops, MBRU mobilized hundreds of riders who packed public hearings in hopes of saving their only mode of transportation. Bus operators who'd received pink slips used their intercoms to urge riders to attend public meetings. Riders lined up in community centers across the city to testify how eliminating the 31 would rob them of access to large employers, schools, grocery stores, and hospitals.

READ MORE.

Solidarity's No Heavy Lift, Say Fitness Workers

Last year personal trainers at Canada’s largest chain of gyms became the first fitness workers in North America to unionize, joining Workers United.

Since then, 650 trainers at GoodLife Fitness in Toronto and two nearby cities have been fighting for a first contract, and waging fights for better conditions club by club.

GoodLife boasts that it’s the fourth largest fitness company in the world, with 385 clubs and 1,400,000 members. Its motto is “helping to transform the health and wellness of Canadians every day.” But its employee practices mirror conditions in other low-wage sales and service jobs.

READ MORE.

And for more on the campaign, see an interview with a GoodLife trainer and union activist, "Stickering Up for Paid Sick Days."

Kicking Out Freeloaders? Think Again

What would it look like if unions no longer had exclusive representation and multiple organizations representing workers could be at the table to negotiate a contract? 

It would look like Tennessee, where state labor law reforms made in 2011 by the newly elected Republican majority resulted in the creation of multi-organizational bargaining: eliminating exclusive representation and creating a negotiating process between teachers and local school boards that allowed for multiple organizations, including a “yellow” union—one that claims to represent teachers while advancing broader corporate interests— to represent teachers simultaneously at the bargaining table.

Now, the radical right is promoting similar legislation ("Workers Choice" legislation) in states across the country in the hopes that it will further divide workers on the job and undermine the power of unions in the public sector. In fact, this legislation is a major piece of the nationally coordinated "Employee Freedom Week" campaign that is being promoted by ALEC, the State Policy Network and multiple yellow teachers unions across the country this week.

READ MORE in this piece by Chris Brooks of Labor Notes in New Labor Forum.

KEEP IN TOUCH!

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Download free handouts from the book for study groups or trainings.

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