Good News, Bad News

January 14, 2013

In the midst of the recent setback to labor organizing in Michigan, it's great to know that the real struggle keeps moving forward. The UFCW just announced that more than 60 retail workers at notoriously anti-union H & M stores, here in NYC, have just signed union contracts with their employers - for the first time.

In a city where many thousands of students, new workers just out of school, older workers down-sized into part-time retail jobs and formerly full-time retail workers, cut back to part-time jobs - this is fantastic news. The Retail Action Project - RAP - a worker center backed by the RWDSU - The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Workers Union, has been aggressively organizing these workers at Abercrombie & Fitch and other upscale NYC retailers. While the common sense of the past was that these workers were so temporary, so part-time and so likely to leave right in the middle of a union drive - the newer outreach by labor has paid off - realizing that these jobs are no longer the result of choice, but rather the necessary step for those downized or otherwise blocked from a full-time job.

The only road to stability for these workers - all workers in fact - is to unionize and fight for fair wages and benefits from these mega-retailers. These multi-national mega-stores suck many millions out of our city and country in cash, while aiming to pay their employees the lowest wages possible and make their lives chaotic by unfair part-time scheduling. Workers who once saw little or no value in joining a union have woken up to the new reality: no -union= crappy pay, no benefits, no sick days and no say at all in your workplace environment.

Bravo to RAP and the UFCW for breaking open these non-union workplaces and showing that a unionized workforce makes for stabler, happier employees. And an extra loud shut-out to OUR Walmart - backed by the UFCW for their courageous efforts to give voice to the frustrations and demands of Walmart employees nationally.

On the bad news front - once again our NYC Mayor, Mike Bloomberg, after showing some courageous leadership on gun control, reminds us that he really is just another wealthy business guy looking to bust more unions. NYC school bus drivers, who have responsibly transported tens thousands of students for over 30 years with a union contract protected by EPP (Employment Protection Provision) are due to go out on strike tomorrow. This is happening after NYC sent out bids for the new contracts - for the first time in 30 years - to private companies excluding this provision. While NYC claims this exclusion of the EPP would save the city money - the reason the EPP exists is to insure that the most senior and experienced drivers drive the most difficult routes - such as transporting special needs children. The removal of EPP would actually put thousands of the city's most vulnerable children at risk to the whims of bottom-line profit ahead of safety style bus companies. Not a good idea.

See the full artical here and please add your name to the petition demanding that the Mayor and the Board of Ed return to the bargaining table with these drivers.

The battle never ends, brothers and sisters. Stay vigilant!