News from the Daily Kos Labor
- Kickstarter employees vote to unionize, this week in the war on workers
February, 22 2020
The meteoric growth of the tech industry has, with few exceptions, created a new no-unions zone in the U.S. economy. Those exceptions, such as a group of Google contractors or Facebook’s bus drivers, have largely been contract workers rather than direct employees of tech companies. So the successful unionization vote at Kickstarter is something of a first.
During the organizing drive, Kickstarter fired two union supporters and hired an anti-union law firm. The workers and their union, the Office and Professional Employees International Union, have alleged retaliation and filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board. The vote was close—46 to 37—and Kickstarter is a comparatively small company. There remain big questions about whether tech can be unionized to any significant degree. But progress is progress, and wins are to be celebrated.
- 2018 and 2019 hit a 35-year high for major strikes, this week in the war on workers
February, 15 2020
Large work stoppages, aka large strikes, had been on the decline for years. That turned around in 2018—going from 25,300 workers involved in major strikes in 2017 to 485,200 in 2018—and stayed relatively high in 2019, the Economic Policy Institute reports.
“Through 2017, the general trend was downward, but there was a substantial upsurge in workers involved in major work stoppages in 2018,” Heidi Shierholz and Margaret Poydock write. “On average, in 2018 and 2019, 455,400 workers annually were involved in major work stoppages—the largest two-year pooled annual average in 35 years, since 1983 and 1984.” A significant number of them—10 in 2019—were really large strikes, involving at least 20,000 workers.
- Trump stops bragging about the economy long enough to propose cap on federal worker raises
February, 11 2020
Donald Trump, February 2020: “BEST USA ECONOMY IN HISTORY!” Also Donald Trump, February 2020: “The years of economic decay are over […] I am thrilled to report to you tonight that our economy is the best it has ever been.”
Donald Trump, yet again in February 2020, justified a move to cap federal worker raises at 1% in 2021 by claiming “national emergency or serious economic conditions.” A raise over 1%, he said, would be “inappropriate.” The raise needs to be limited to “maintain efforts to put our Nation on a fiscally sustainable course.” You know, the “fiscally sustainable course” that Republicans cared not one bit about when they were slashing taxes for corporations and the wealthy, but that’s suddenly a big freaking deal when the question is whether to give federal workers a decent raise.
- House Democrats pass pro-worker, pro-organizing labor bill, this week in the war on workers
February, 8 2020
The House voted Thursday to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, a bill to protect workers trying to unionize, increase penalties on employers who break labor laws to prevent workers from unionizing, and weaken some state-level anti-union laws.
“Good labor laws do more than just right the wrongs waged against unions and their members. Good labor laws help ensure people are safe at work and have a shot at decent wages, health care, and a secure retirement,” wrote Sara Nelson and Randi Weingarten, presidents of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA and the American Federation of Teachers. “Good labor laws lift up every working person, even those not in a union, because when workers in unionized companies win better wages and working conditions than their peers in non-union companies, those peers may seek to unionize, too—and pressure employers to better their lot. Good labor laws set a standard for how working people should be treated in an economy where there are countless laws already on the books to protect the rich and powerful.” And, they say, the PRO Act is a good start at better labor law—even though it wouldn’t most directly affect their unions’ members.
- Trump attacks public education and pushes school privatization in State of the Union
February, 5 2020
Donald Trump continued the campaign against public education as a public good in his State of the Union address, with a reference to “failing government schools” and a push for a federal education privatization plan in the form of “Education Freedom Scholarships.” That’s a giant voucher program that would give tax credits to people who give money for scholarships at private and religious schools—schools that may discriminate against LGBTQ kids or exclude kids with disabilities and special needs, for starters.
“Tonight, Donald Trump once again put the agenda of Betsy DeVos, the least qualified Secretary of Education in U.S. history, front and center in his State of the Union by renewing his push to divert scarce funding from the public schools that 90 percent of students attend into private school voucher programs,” National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen García said in a statement.