Resistance to Trump

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First fast food union wins national recognition in the United States

In a major win for workers’ rights, workers at a United States fast-food chain, Burgerville, in Portland, Oregon, have overwhelmingly voted for a federally-recognised union. This will make it the first fast food union in the country.

“Today workers at 92nd and Powell overwhelmingly voted yes, making the the only formally recognized fast food union in the country,” the Burgerville Workers Union, said on its Facebook page after the vote on April 23.

“For a long time, people have dismissed fast food as unorganizable, saying that turnover is too high, or the workers are too spread out. Today Burgerville workers proved them wrong.”

eta: 5.5 min video

The Burgerville Workers Union

..it's an iww organization. awesome!

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Our Vision

We want Burgerville to do right by their workers. We want:

  1. A $5.00 raise for all hourly Burgerville workers
  2. Affordable, quality healthcare
  3. A safe and healthy workplace
  4. Fair and consistent scheduling with ample notice
  5. A supportive, sustainable workplace including paid maternity/paternity leave, free childcare and transportation stipends
  6. An independent organization for and by Burgerville workers

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The Burgerville Workers Union is affiliated with the Portland general membership branch of the IWW and endorsed by:

  • ILWU Local 5
  • IATSE Local 28
  • SEIU 49
  • Portland Association of Teachers
  • OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon
  • PDX Solidarity
  • Jobs With Justice
  • Blue Heron Collective (Reed College)
  • Portland Central America Solidarity Committee
  • Alberta Co-op Collective Management
  • Marilyn Buck Abolitionist Collective
  • People’s Food Co-op
  • Cascadia Collective Hood and Duct
  • Portland State University Student Union (PSUSU)
  • PSU Student Labor Action Project (SLAP)
  • Right to Survive/Right to Dream Too
  • Oregon Federation of Nurses & Health Professionals (OFN & HP)

 

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Union Benefits

The BVWU is excited to announce the start of the Union Benefits Program! Food boxes, discount bus passes, and monthly free babysitting services are now available to Union members, and a grievance hotline and GED tutoring are available to all Burgerville workers. This just goes to show what the Union can accomplish when workers and community members come together in solidarity.

If the all-volunteer Union can serve Burgerville workers with this much love, a multimillion dollar corporation certainly can afford to. Until Burgerville agrees to negotiate, though, the Union will continue to support its workers in their struggle for fair treatment and a living wage. We will hold each other up as we fight for the respect that we deserve.

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Teacher strike wave in America: What’s next for Kentucky?

Some 5,000 Kentucky students, unionists, social justice activists and others rallied at the state Capitol building in Frankfort on April 13 to stand up for public education.

Shutting down schools in 30 counties, teachers led the way as hundreds filled the inside of the Capitol. When state troopers tried to enforce limits on how many could enter, a deafening chant of “Let us in!” rose up from the crowd.

Thousands more people covered the statehouse grounds, carrying placards with slogans like: “Fund our future,” “We are not a math problem: You cannot divide us” and–referring to notorious Tea Party Gov. Matt Bevin–“Students, students what do you see? We see Bevin taking our money!”

The rally was a powerful demonstration of teachers’ voices and commitment and a day for other unions, students and activists to show solidarity.

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Since then, the militancy of the movement has been dampened by the unwillingness of the official leadership of the teachers’ union to forge ahead in the face of a legislative impasse.

On April 9, Bevin vetoed Republican-sponsored bills that imposed an anti-worker budget and tax “reform.” But Bevin’s vetoes came from the right–he demanded that the legislature consider deeper spending cuts and bigger tax breaks for the rich.

In the fight between the Republican governor and Republican legislators, the Kentucky Education Association (KEA) threw its weight behind the legislature, supporting the successful effort to override Bevin’s vetoes.

In the process, teachers’ growing anger and resolve was demobilized after April 2, with union officials speaking out against further walkouts and school shutdowns and in favor of a lobbying and electoral strategy.

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But the problem goes beyond Bevin. The entire strategy of seeing legislative policy as the ground upon which teachers have to struggle leaves them at the mercy of the whims of politicians.

After all, these are the same Republican legislators who underhandedly passed a Bevin-supported proposal to restructure pensions–leaving public employees’ retirement savings at the mercy of the financial markets–by sneaking into a sewer construction bill considered late in the evening on March 29.

These are the same Republican legislators who passed HB 169 on April 14, a racist anti-gang bill that the social justice group Kentuckians for the Commonwealth calls the “Youth Incarceration Bill.”

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In fact, the April 13 rally showed that teachers and many others recognize the deep social crisis impacting everyone–and they want to widen and deepen the struggle.

The rally was led by non-teacher groups like Save Our Schools Kentucky and co-sponsored by dozens of others. They raised slogans about defending public education–but also against the regressive tax bill, against cuts to higher education in the budget bill and against the racist anti-gang bill.

Participants included student activists who had clearly been radicalized by the Black Lives Matter movement and the fight against gun violence. These young students of color got on bullhorns and chanted: “West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona and Kentucky,” “Don’t cut it, fund it” and “Black Lives Matter!”

In fact, some of these students said they had attended rallies organized by teachers at their own schools the day before the Frankfort protests–a clear sign of a growing effort by teachers to build wider solidarity.

Socialists from the International Socialist Organization and Democratic Socialists of America coordinated their efforts and spent the protest days talking to teachers and activists about conditions in schools, their motivation to keep agitating and how they understand the forces arrayed against them.

Teachers and supporters told us that in the wake of a decade of statewide cuts to education, local counties are trying to increase property, utility and business taxes to fill in the funding gaps. The poorer parts of the state haven’t been able to raise as much from these taxes, and their schools have crumbled as a result.

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Teachers In Arizona, Colorado Stage Mass Walkout For Better Pay

Encouraged by similar protests in West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kentucky, organizers said the action would send a message to political leaders about their dissatisfaction.

Tens of thousands of teachers in Arizona and Colorado walked out of public school classrooms on Thursday to demand better pay and more education funding, in the latest revolt by educators that has spread to the U.S. West.

At least 50,000 teachers and their supporters wearing red T-shirts streamed down city streets in Arizona’s capital of Phoenix, carrying placards reading ’35 is a Speed Limit NOT a Class Size’ and ‘The Future of Arizona is in my Classroom.’

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Why Young People Are Joining Unions Again

At the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C., rays of sunlight break through an unseasonably cold March, through the ordered, brutalist buildings that line Pennsylvania Avenue. Hundreds of thousands of people crowd the avenue, just as they have been crowding legislators’ phone lines and email inboxes in recent weeks. On a stage strategically positioned in line with the Capitol building, 17-year-old Cameron Kasky, a Parkland shooting survivor, delivers this proclamation:

To the leaders, skeptics, and cynics who told us to sit down and stay silent, wait your turn: Welcome to the revolution. It is a powerful and peaceful one because it is of, by, and for the young people of this country. Since this movement began some people have asked me, do you think any change is going to come from this? Look around, we are the change. Our voices are powerful, and our votes matter. We hereby promise to fix the broken system we’ve been forced into and to create a better world for the generations to come. Don’t worry, we’ve got this.

Kasky’s statement was, of course, about guns. Seventeen of his classmates and teachers had been taken from him, and from their families, friends, and their own futures, five weeks earlier by a gunman who used an automatic weapon to kill 17 people in 6 minutes and 20 seconds. But they were also taken by a system—a political system wherein a vast majority of Americans, and particularly young Americans, support policies to clamp down on gun deaths but politicians, bought off by the NRA, do not listen.

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For the first time in decades, union membership is on the rise among young people. Historically, younger people have not been unionized, and their rates of union membership trail older adults by wide margins. But, just like the gun laws that are already being amended, that too is beginning to change.

According to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), in 2017, there were 262,000 new union members in the United States. Seventy-five percent of this increase came from young people (which EPI considers those aged 34 and under, but for the purposes of this article, broadly refers to the older subset of Generation Z and most Millennials, ages 16 to 35). Young people also hold the most favorable attitudes towards labor of any generation, and their support for political parties skews heavily towards those that support pro-worker policies (like standing against “right-to-work” laws), including the Democrats and, increasingly, the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).

But for some reason, unlike previous generations, young people’s workplace organizing isn’t seen as an integral part of their organizing, writ large. While plenty of people are documenting the rise of young people’s union membership and plenty more describing young people’s leadership in activist spaces, what’s missing is the idea that these two phenomena are actually one: Young people are turning to outside outlets that allow them to exercise their politics in the wake of a political system that, by and large, does not.

In a piece for Jacobin Magazine, Micah Uetricht sketches out the ebbing relationship between democracy inside and outside the workplace, and, relatedly, the relationship between economic and political democracy. To Uetricht—a sociology graduate student who focuses on labor, member of the DSA, and associate editor at Jacobin—activism is activism, whether it takes place at the workplace or outside of it. “It’s a relatively recent development that we think of what happens at work as some kind of separate sphere of our lives in general,” he says. He adds: “Young people understand that and don’t like living in a dictatorship in the place where they spend 8 or 10 hours of their day.”

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..this pic from the #58 piece

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May Day in Puerto Rico: Police Attack Anti-Austerity Protesters with Pepper Spray & Tear Gas

In Puerto Rico, thousands marked May Day by joining a general strike in the capital of San Juan to protest austerity measures, from the closing of public schools to increases in university tuition. When protesters tried to converge on the building where the federal oversight board has its offices, police fired tear gas and pepper spray. The board has called for the implementation of 10 percent pension cuts, eliminating mandatory Christmas bonuses, reducing required vacation and sick time, and allowing businesses to fire employees without having to first prove a just cause. This comes as at least 30,000 people still lack power almost eight months since Hurricane Maria devastated the island. Last month, an excavator downed a transmission line, blacking out the entire electrical grid. We air a report from the streets of San Juan filed by Democracy Now! correspondent Juan Carlos Dávila.

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Making People’s History in Arizona: Educators Rise Up

My house has recently become muddled with protest signs, event flyers, red T-shirts, and simply, chaos. How it came to this point resides in the story of how I decided to volunteer to be a liaison for the #RedForEd grassroots movement in Arizona.

I decided to move to Arizona from British Columbia, Canada, 18 years ago to teach. My decision would take me on a journey of unforeseeable experiences that entailed teaching on Native American reservations, in charter schools, in public schools, and having a second job as an adjunct professor for Northern Arizona University.

I eventually found myself involved in a powerful, historic, educator-led grassroots movement that has revolutionary possibilities....

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The Outcome in Arizona

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Before Red for Ed, we weren’t going to see anything from the governor. Then he started talking about a 2 percent pay raise, $65 million dollars. We kept on mobilizing. Then the governor started talking about a 20 percent raise eventually — 10 percent immediately — to try to prevent us from walking out.

But people need to remember that before the walkout, the governor’s plan was still up in the air, nobody was sure whether it’d happen or not because the legislature initially didn’t support it. Now we’re looking at over $400 million in total additional educational funding — that’s huge.

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More than 1 million students to miss school as teacher revolt sweeping nation heads to new state

A wave of teacher revolts sweeping the nation is set to hit North Carolina on Wednesday as thousands of educators are expected to swarm the state's capital in a quest for higher pay and more money for education.

The scheduled one-day walkout has prompted school districts across the state to cancel classes for Wednesday, leaving more than 1 million students with an unexpected day off.

The labor action is the latest in a string of teacher uprisings across the country this year that have prompted strikes in West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Arizona. Educators in Kentucky and Colorado have also taken action, staging walkouts and sick-outs in hopes of pressuring lawmakers to stop a decade of cuts in education funding the teachers say have hurt students.

In Puerto Rico, thousands of teachers walked out of classes in March to protest the cash-strapped government's plan to shut down more than 300 schools this year as the unincorporated U.S. territory struggles to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Maria in September.

Mark Jewell, president of the North Carolina Association of Educators, said up to 15,000 teachers are expected to march and rally at the state Capitol in Raleigh on Wednesday morning.

The teachers will be marching "to let our General Assembly know and our elected policymakers that this is really about accountability," he said.

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Oklahoma City teacher rally

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