Labor Roundup | November 2019

Illinois-based Railway Workers United urges united front. A rank-and-file group spanning all rail crafts, unions and carriers is petitioning leaders of all 13 U.S. rail unions to coordinate bargaining as a united front in the next round of talks with the nation’s largest railroads. Railway Workers United, based in southern Illinois, says, “For nearly 150 years, organized rail labor has been divided into craft unions. This cumbersome and divisive quagmire of rail labor has often been one of ineffectual bargaining, sellouts, back stabbing, and even union scabbing.
“We need to overcome these obstacles and forge ahead, building a complete coalition of rail labor,” the RWU adds. “No union settles until all settle.”

BlueGreen Alliance: “We shouldn’t have to choose” between jobs, environment. Jason Smith, the new director of the BlueGreen Alliance (BGA) of unions and environmentalists, says workers shouldn’t face an either-or choice.

“We should not have to choose between good jobs and a clean environment,” he said.

Smith said the whole point of the BGA is to bring labor and environmentalists together, and that its co-founders, the Steel Workers and the Sierra Club, have worked closely.

A BGA survey of 1,400 workers plus focus groups and town-hall meetings were revealing, he said.

“People told us they believe climate change is real and they want to see action against it – but they don’t want to be presented with a binary choice [of jobs versus the environment].”

So BGA adjusted the Green New Deal with a “holistic plan” to address job and green issues, and “at the end of the day, everyone from the Sierra Club to the Plumbers and Pipefitters signed on.

Thousands rally to demand regime change in the U.S. Overlooked by most media, the day after millions of students worldwide struck to demand politicians act to reverse catastrophic climate change (and weeks before the House launched its impeachment inquiry), some 10,000 pro-democracy and anti-fascist demonstrators at the U.S. Capitol rallied to demand President Trump’s ouster.

The “We The People” protests, also held in Chicago and throughout the country, denounced Trump, his Republican enablers, and his foreign allies. Intervention is necessary to save U.S. democracy from further depredations by Trump, and to undo the damage he’s already caused, from aid to the Saudi war in Yemen to attacks on LGBTQ rights to his concentration camps for asylum seekers and migrants.

“We are on the precipice of losing our democracy,” said march organizer Amy Siskind as the crowd started marching down Pennsylvania Avenue. “If we get to 2020 and we’ve been doing nothing, we will not have a fair election,” she warned. “If you think you can wait [until Election Day] and then get up the next morning [having defeated Trump], you are kidding yourselves.”

In media, a legacy magazine is laying off almost one-third of its workers, and staffers at Arizona’s dominant daily are unionizing. Sports Illustrated last month announced that it’s cutting 40 out of 140 jobs at the 65-year-old periodical, replacing their work with “independent contractors.” Managed by the Maven company after Meredith Corp. bought the magazine from Time Inc., and then sold it to Authentic Brands Group (ABG), which owns apparel, athletics and entertainment brands and contracts other companies to license and merchandise them.

New York’s News Guild issued a statement saying, “We call on Meredith and ABG to drop Maven and save Sports Illustrated.”

Meanwhile, employees at Phoenix-based Arizona Republic are organizing with the News Guild in anticipation of declining jobs and quality if a $1.4 billion merger goes through with its owner, Gannett, selling to GateHouse, which also owns the Journal Star and most area newspapers. The staff already has been cut from 425 to 130.

The Republic’s management responded with attempted intimidation. Editor Greg Burton sent staff an e-mail comparing union supporters to “mob bosses and child molesters,” and human resources demanded reporter Rebekah Sanders, an organizer, relinquish her work cellphone.

“How am I going to do my job without my phone?” she asked, and in the closed-door, one-on-one meeting human resources relied, “You won’t.”

“This is why colleagues and I are organizing,” Sanders said. “At unionized publications, employees have substantial protection from these tactics.”

Film exposes Right-wing voter suppression. A new documentary, “Rigged,” showcases many tactics the Right wing uses to suppress the vote from unionists and other workers, the elderly, minorities, women and students. In 2016, millions of Americans were turned away from polls on technicalities or intimidated into not voting, “Rigged” documents. For instance, in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan and maybe Florida, Ohio and North Carolina, people denied the right to vote exceeded Donald Trump’s margin of victory.

Those states were key to Trump’s Electoral College win.

In Georgia alone, the Republican GOP Secretary of State threw 750,000 people off the rolls for years before running for governor in 2018, when he beat Democrat Stacey Abrams by about 55,000 votes.

“Are they really trying to steal an entire election, rig the outcome in so many states that they can steal the presidency?” a white retired Air Force colonel asks. The film answers: “Yes.”

Information about “Rigged” is at

News briefs courtesy of The Labor Paper. “Like” The Labor Paper on Facebook.

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