Labor Roundup | November 2020

Voter intimidation anticipated from “Army for Trump.” Unions are marshalling members at polling places and in court in anticipation of attempts to intimidate voters by the so-called “Army for Trump.” Headed, at least on its website, by Don Trump Jr., its goal is to discourage people from casting ballots, intimidate voters and create doubt about the results of the Nov. 3 election.

Physical interference from Trumpites — such as the militia terrorists arrested Oct. 8 for allegedly planning to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, D-Mich., and trying her for “treason” – is just one threat to a peaceful transfer of power. Others range from Trump campaign lawsuits and the president’s tampering with the U.S. Postal Service to impede absentee ballots.

The AFL-CIO isn’t accepting such threats, hosting a dedicated website on voting –– –– and joining with allies including the ACLU, the NAACP, the Brennan Center for Law and Justice, the Lawyers Committee, the Leadership Conference for Civil Rights and Common Cause. Plus, the Biden campaign budgeted millions of dollars and recruited hundreds of lawyers to protect voters.

Unions prevail in statewide hospital strikes. Two forced strikes at the University of Illinois Hospital system – one by 1,300 Registered Nurses and the other by 4,000 support staff – wrapped up with union victories, according to the Illinois Nurses Association and Service Employees Local 73.

All SEIU 73 workers in Peoria, Rockford, Urbana and Chicago will get personal protective equipment (PPE) from the state, at least the $15 hourly pay that SEIU has demanded for years, and a ban on outsourcing jobs. A contract vote date was not announced.

INA’s 1,300 RNs at the University of Illinois Chicago Hospital agreed to a four-year pact addressing their issues – safe staffing in key areas like intensive care and emergency rooms – when the employer agreed to permanently hire 160 RNs.

INA was forced into a week-long strike in September, but hospital bosses got an injunction prohibiting RNs in key areas from striking and brought in out-of-state strikebreakers, which failed.

Out a few days longer were clerical and professional workers, janitors and techs represented by SEIU.

“I’m elated with everything that we’ve accomplished. We won in so many ways,” said Local 73 bargaining committee member Lavitta Steward. “The university did not, prior to this contract, have any respect for our union. The university did not expect for us to unite. The university tried to divide us. But what they did unified us.”

Unions praise Justice Ginsburg. Labor leaders joined the chorus of progressive voices praising pioneering Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Sept. 18.

“Justice Ginsburg is an icon,” said American Federations of Teachers’ president Randi Weingarten. “She leaves behind a legacy as a brilliant, hardworking jurist and a trailblazing feminist. Her loss is incalculable.”
Ginsburg “broke barriers most never even dreamed to approach,” Weingarten continued. “Her unfailing sense of justice reminded us of its awesome power, and her unbending sense of duty reminded us to remain committed to protecting our democracy, our Constitution and the rule of law. But it was her personal courage and resilience, especially in the face of illness, that reminded us just how much strength one single person can have.”

National Education Association President Becky Pringle added, “We should celebrate her life, vote in a fair and free election, and then the next president can consider who should attempt to fill her unfillable shoes. Our nation is being pulled apart at the seams. She understood that the people must be heard in the election and any consideration of replacing her should wait. We should heed her wish — and her sage advice.”

Pandemic exposed Trump as a ‘fraud,’ CWA prez says. Before the recorded revelations of Trump conceding the dangers of COVID-19, Communications Workers President Chris Shelton said Trump’s refusal to combat the virus was already revealing.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed Donald Trump as a total fraud,” Shelton said. “Trump has absolutely no moral compass, no compassion for people who are struggling, and no interest in actually rolling up his sleeves to solve the problems.”

In Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bob Woodward’s new book “Rage” and the audio evidence of Trump’s incompetence, the President said, “You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed,” Trump said in February. “And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flu. This is deadly stuff.”

Of course, for months afterwards, Trump publicly compared the coronavirus to the common cold and predicted it would go away of its own accord. His regime also did little planning or assisting states, which were left to essentially compete for scarce tests and supplies. Woodward’s ex-partner at the Watergate-era Washington Post, Carl Berntsein, described Trump’s performance as “homicidal negligence.”

News briefs courtesy of The Labor Paper

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