News from the Daily Kos Labor
- This Supreme Court also hates worker power, this week in the war on workers
June, 25 2022
This week, the Supreme Court gutted abortion rights. This is a workers’ issue, in a country where many struggle to afford an abortion and lack the paid leave needed to take multiple days off work to travel out of state for abortion access as state bans go into effect. The Economic Policy Institute’s Heidi Shierholz points out research showing that people who want but cannot get an abortion experience long-term financial consequences and increased poverty. Also highlighted here: The states where abortion bans are most likely are also states where wages and worker power are low.
The Supreme Court also essentially nullified states’ rights to limit permits to carry firearms, sending a signal that it would become more and more extremist on guns. This, too, is a workers’ issue, in a country where workplace shootings are all too common.
But make no mistake that this Supreme Court is also specifically opposed to workers’ rights and efforts to build worker power. Justice Samuel Alito may end his career most remembered for his spiteful opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, but he also has a long and equally spiteful track record of anti-union activism. As Jenny Hunter wrote at Balls and Strikes in 2021, “Alito’s ‘impartiality’ in cases about unions can not only ‘reasonably be questioned’; it simply does not exist. There is no doubt he will rule to limit workers’ collective power at every opportunity. The only question is how quickly he’ll upend the law in order to engineer his desired result.”
This month, the court gutted an important California workplace enforcement rule. Because, of course, Alito has company in his basic anti-worker stance. A lot of company on this Trump-packed court. Workers around the country are showing renewed interest in unions, but they will encounter a hostile Supreme Court for a generation or more, unless Democrats expand the court.
- Microsoft pledges labor neutrality at Activision Blizzard, this week in the war on workers
June, 18 2022
Microsoft entered a neutrality agreement with the Communications Workers of America, saying it would not get in the way of Activision Blizzard workers’ union rights if it acquires the video game company. This is believed to be the first such neutrality agreement in the tech industry, and it is a major one, affecting most of Activision Blizzard’s nearly 7,000 U.S. workers.
“In practical terms, [the neutrality deal] means that we’re not going to try to jump in and put a thumb on the scale,” Microsoft President Brad Smith said in The New York Times. “We will respect the fact that our employees are capable of making decisions for themselves and they have a right to do that.” Imagine that! Respecting your workers’ ability and rights to make decisions for themselves! It seems so basic, but it’s an enormous departure from typical corporate practice when faced with the possibility of workers organizing, as we’ve seen recently in the abuses that Starbucks and Amazon have heaped on their unionizing workers.
As some Activision workers have protested sexual harassment at the company and some have sought to unionize, the company has engaged in some of those same union-busting tactics, so a Microsoft acquisition would mean a significant shift.
- Starbucks CEO vowed to violate labor law live on video
June, 13 2022
Starbucks is continuing its vicious anti-union campaign, even as the failure of that campaign to keep workers from voting to unionize becomes more clear by the day. Speaking to The New York Times’ Andrew Ross Sorkin late last week, Starbucks interim CEO Howard Schultz made clear that, under his leadership, the company will not bargain in good faith with its union.
Asked if he could imagine “embracing the union,” Schultz simply said “No,” in a “why are you asking me this ridiculous question” tone. Starbucks Workers United has filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board over that statement, which is in direct conflict with the company’s claim that “We will bargain in good faith for those seeking third-party representation.” In fact, Starbucks is required by law to bargain in good faith. If the NLRB finds merit to the charge (and Schultz is on video here), it will try to get Starbucks to settle, and if the company refuses, the NLRB can take the charge to court.
That’s not all, though.
- Starbucks workers storm past 100 unionized stores and keep going, this week in the war on workers
June, 4 2022
The 100th Starbucks store went union on May 27, and the momentum has not let up. On May 31, the union won votes in South Carolina, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania—the first of those unanimously. On June 1, the union won three stores in Maryland. June 2 saw another unanimous win in South Carolina and three wins in Oregon. June 3, it was four unanimous votes at four Massachusetts stores, along with the first Starbucks union win in Texas.
Dozens more stores have union votes scheduled in the weeks to come.
Meanwhile, the anti-union campaign rages on:x
NEW: Starbucks is firing union leaders during elections for increasingly preposterous reasons.
One union leader was fired for showing up to work too early. Another was terminated after her co-worker refused to return from lunch.
The reasons only get more absurd from there. pic.twitter.com/R0gowlMPFA
— More Perfect Union (@MorePerfectUS) June 2, 2022
- Labor official wants an unusual remedy for Starbucks’ union-busting, this week in the war on workers
May, 21 2022
How nasty has Starbucks’ anti-union campaign been? So nasty that a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) official says that one of the union’s few losses was so tainted by Starbucks’ illegal actions that a do-over election wouldn’t be enough to fix it. Instead, management should have to bargain with the workers as if the union won the vote to begin with.
After listing a series of threats from management to workers at the Camp Road store in Hamburg, New York—including losses of various benefits—Linda Leslie, a regional director for the NLRB, argues, “The serious and substantial unfair labor practice conduct described above … is such that there is only a slight possibility of traditional remedies erasing their effects and conducting a fair election. Therefore, on balance, the employees’ sentiments regarding representation, having been expressed through authorization cards, would be protected better by issuance of a bargaining order for the Camp Road store.”
This is not a common remedy for the NLRB to propose, and speaks to just how strenuously Starbucks has fought the will of its workers. Nonetheless, the union has won more than 75 elections so far. An administrative law judge will hear the NLRB complaint in a process that will not be over anytime soon.
There are no upcoming events.