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Friday, August 05, 2005

American Rights at Work: July 2005 Case

"Big Brother Nixes Happy Hour NLRB Green Lights Ban on Off-Duty Fraternizing Among Co-Workers

It is a regular pastime for co-workers to chat during a coffee break, at a union hall, or over a beer about workplace issues, good grilling recipes, and celebrity gossip. Yet a recent ruling by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) allows employers to ban off-duty fraternizing among co-workers, severely weakening the rights of free association and speech, and violating basic standards of privacy for America's workers."

Monday, June 20, 2005

Using safety strategically in organizing

Safety and health are core union issues. The history of workplace safety -- aka working conditions -- is that nothing improves without worker struggle. Legal 'right', government agencies, the goodwill of employers... none of these things improve working conditions. Workers, and unions, are what improve working conditions.

SEMCOSH and the Michigan AFL-CIO offer a training for organizers on using safety and health strategically in organizing the unorganized.

At the UAW Mexican Industries organizing campaign in Detroit several years ago safety and health made a critical difference in the victory.

Shop floor organizers smuggled chemical labels out of the plant, analyzed the effects on co-workers, and joined with those co-workers to refuse to use unsafe chemicals. The stories of workers hurt and made sick on the job were told in a newsletter released in the community and on the shop floor ten days before the Board election. It made a huge difference in the victory.

We invite organizers and workers to share stories of using safety and health issues strategically in organizing.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

US Labor Anniversary Year
This summer the IWW is 100, the merged AFL-CIO is 50, and the UAW is 70. The Wobs are celebrating with concerts, conferences, newly published books, and art shows. The AFL-CIO is experiencing a messy split and the UAW faces some tough struggles.

The important question isn't whether Andy Stern (SEIU prez) gets his new federation or whether John Sweeney gets another term... but what do we do down here in the trenches.

At the COSH in Detroit a long (slow) move towards being more of a 'workers center' has been propelled by the increasing number of immigrant workers approaching us with employment law problems - don't get paid, don't receive all the wages earned - and an increasing desire to return to the frequent free & open workshops of a couple of years ago.

Our central question: what should a small, non-profit, trilingual (English, Spanish, Arabic) union support organization do to strengthen workers, unions and the working class. We'll be posting some answers, but mostl we want to hear what others are thinking.

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