Labor Roundup | September 2018

News Guild reminds locals, bosses that media firms must address security. Facing increasing violence against reporters and President Donald Trump’s hateful rhetoric and threats, News Guild President Bernie Lunzer is reminding both his locals and employers that firms must protect their workers.

“Workplace safety is a mandatory subject of bargaining,” Lunzer said. “It can also be a subject for the grievance procedure, depending on whether your collective bargaining agreement includes health and safety language and on the wording of the grievance.”

Trump has escalated his war on media at his hate-filled rallies, where reporters are penned in, literally, often right in the middle of the angry crowd. He routinely points at the press, yells about “fake news!” and calls reporters “the enemy of the people.” He incites crowds against journalists doing their jobs.

That, plus the murder of five people by a gunman with a grudge at the Annapolis (Md.) Capital-Gazette a month before, prompted Lunzer’s reminder.

“Even in the absence of contract language addressing workplace safety, employers have a statutory obligation to maintain a safe workplace under the Occupational Safety and Health Act,” Lunzer said.

Trump’s demonization of the press isn’t new. He did it in the 2016 campaign, and a white-on-black T-shirt, sold online, at Wal-Mart, and at his rallies, shows a tree with a noose on the front, with the back reading, “Rope. Tree. Journalist. SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED.”

Elsewhere, journalist Hamilton Nolan of Splinter News wrote, “Violent threats against members of the media are on the rise. Most of these threats are bullshit, trash talk, empty venting by angry people who would never imagine doing anything in real life. But not all. As with all types of threats, some small percentage of them will be backed up by serious intent, and as the frequency of threats grows, so too does the likelihood that one or more of them becomes reality.

“An American journalist is going to get murdered as a direct result of our current political climate,” he wrote. “Hating reporters, of course, is nothing new. But neither is political assassination.”

Professor plans to teach classes despite ICE threat. An Augsburg University professor, Mzenga Wanyama, has been facing deportation since March, but this summer he said he’s committed to teaching this fall at the Minneapolis-based university despite ongoing threats from Trump’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service (ICE) to deport him.

“I will do my job for the sake of the students, my department, my discipline and my community,” he said. “Refugees and immigrants, including many of our students, are facing great difficulty existing in the U.S. in this historical moment. I stand with my students and community.”

Wanyama, a native of Kenya, is a University of Minnesota Ph.D. graduate who previously taught at St. Cloud State University. He has lived in the Midwest for 26 years. Wanyama lives with his wife and has three sons in Minnesota. One son is a U.S. citizen.

Trump Labor Dept. lets union-busters loose. The anti-worker Trump Labor Department has freed union-busters from requirements to disclose who they work for and how much they spend to “persuade”workers from unionizing. DOL said it’s eliminating an Obama administration reform mandating disclosure and permitting union-busters to keep activities secret.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups fought the rule and found a judge in rural Texas to issue a nationwide injunction against the rule before it started.

“The Department of Labor is siding with corporate CEOs against good government and transparency,” AFL-CIO spokesman Josh Goldstein said. “They have thrown a dark veil over the shady groups employers hire to take away the freedoms of working people.”

AFL-CIO president Trumka defends Dodd-Frank. “For eight years, the Dodd–Frank legislation has worked to help protect consumers and prevent Wall Street greed from ruining our economy, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka said last month. “At the same time, corporate CEOs and their allies have tried to gut it at every turn and go back to the shady practices that led to the financial crisis.

“This watchdog agency has protected working people from dangerous financial products and returned more than $12 billion to ripped-off consumers,” he continued. “This money is what Wall Street bankers want back in their own pockets and why we cannot let them succeed.

“Attacks in the mission to undo protections for working people are coming from all directions,” he added. “At the center of attacks is the egregious effort to dismantle the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, highlighted by the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who has vehemently opposed it.

“The labor movement fought hard to win these protections for working people. We need more people who enjoy secure investments and fewer bankers who rip us off. We need more people whose financial decisions are protected and fewer hedge fund managers who gamble with our lives. That’s why we will continue to fight to hold financial institutions accountable and build a stronger safety net for all working people.”

News briefs courtesy of The Labor Paper

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