Closing Time at Fresh & Easy

Daniel Paredes

After spending more than $1.6 billion, Tesco, the world’s third- largest food retailer, has finally thrown in the towel and announced the closure of its Fresh & Easy stores. This move brings closure to the British company’s effort to establish a foothold in California’s highly competitive grocery industry. Many analysts believe this decision has been a long time coming, with Fresh & Easy stores never seeing the kind of market penetration that the U.K.-based giant expected from the chain. Investors cheered the December 5 announcement, but U.S. workers have reason to celebrate too — this marks the end of a five-year struggle with Tesco.

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A New Year and New Leadership at the South Bay Labor Council

Stacey Hendler Ross

The South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council announced the election of Ben Field as the organization’s new Executive Officer.  Field will succeed Cindy Chavez, who led the labor organization starting in 2008.  Chavez is leaving the position to focus on her duties as Executive Director of Working Partnerships USA, a non-profit public policy think-tank.

Serving as Chief of Staff for the past three and a half years, Field has been responsible for running the largest, most sophisticated, grassroots political campaign operation in the South Bay. He oversees political campaign work carried out by the Committee on Political Education (COPE) advocating for candidates and public policies that are good for working families.

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Out With Outsourcing: How Clerical Workers Achieved Victory at SoCal Ports

Craig Merrilees

Four hundred and fifty ILWU office clerical workers ended their one-week strike on December 4th after securing new protections against the outsourcing for good jobs that support working families in the Southern California harbor community.

The tentative agreement – subject to membership ratification – includes significant new protections that will make it much harder for jobs to be outsourced to Texas, Taiwan and other locations around the globe.  

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The Shadowy Trail from the Koch Brothers to ‘Right to Work’ for Less in Michigan

Kenneth Quinnell

Michigan is poised to become the latest state to pass “right to work” for less legislation, a mislabeled policy that is designed to weaken the rights and wages of working families. As is often the case in recent years, extreme anti-worker legislation, like the law in Michigan, can be traced back to Americans for Prosperity (AFP) and the group's founders Charles and David Koch, the billionaire brothers who fund a host of extreme right-wing organizations.

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Job Trek: The Next Generation

Steve Band

I’m going to be frank – I’d do just about anything for a good union job. But as a twenty-something worker with limited job experience who’s been seeking permanent, full-time employment for nearly a year, I’d be willing to take just about any job.

But I’d really like a union job.

Not just for the job stability, solid wages and good benefits (don’t get me wrong, those are huge selling points), but because I want to be part of the historic and ground-breaking Movement that’s responsible for creating, growing and maintaining America’s middle class.

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The Fiscal Cliff Can’t Be Solved by Throwing Seniors Over the Cliff

Special guest column by Rep. John Garamendi

I want to vote for a comprehensive bipartisan plan to address the fiscal cliff. I’m willing to take a tough vote. I’m willing to make sacrifices. I’m willing to feel the heat. But I’m not willing to solve the fiscal cliff by throwing seniors over the cliff. I draw the line at cutting benefits in Medicare and Social Security.

This week, House Republicans unveiled their fiscal cliff counterproposal. While they continue to call for an extension of the Bush tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, they propose offsetting this cost by gutting Medicare benefits, including raising the age of Medicare eligibility to 67. I won’t go there. As California’s Insurance Commissioner for eight years, I know this would be horrible policy, throwing millions of seniors into the rapacious hands of an insurance industry interested only in profits for its shareholders.

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Striking SoCal Port Clerical Workers Win Outsourcing Controls in Tentative Pact

) Local 63—are back on the job this morning in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif., after the ILWU and port employers reached a tentative agreement Tuesday night that will prevent the outsourcing of jobs. 

ILWU International President Robert McEllrath said the unity and solidarity of the workers, members, their families and thousands of community supporters played a major role in the workers’ win. When the workers struck Nov. 27, ILWU dockworkers and other port workers refused to cross the picket lines.

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Who’s Responsible for the Fire That Killed 112 Garment Workers in Bangladesh?

David Bacon

The day after Black Friday demonstrations of workers and supporters in front of hundreds of Walmart stores across the US., a fire killed 112 workers making clothes for Walmart at the Tazreen Fashions factory in Bangladesh.  This was the most recent of several such factory fires, leading to the deaths of another 500 young women.

These fires are industrial homicides.  They can be avoided.  The fact that they're not is a consequence of a production system that places the profits of multinational clothing manufacturers and their contractors above the lives of people.  The same profit-at-any-cost philosophy is leading to growing protest among workers who sell those garments in U.S. stores over their own wages and conditions, especially at Walmart.

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Supersize Our Wages — Give Us a Union!

Matthew McDermott

Last week, Walmart, this week, MacDonald’s. A coordinated strike of fast food workers at several New York City restaurants on Thursday marked the public debut of the largest effort to organize fast food workers ever.

The campaign enjoys the support of clergy and several community groups, and is being spearheaded by New York Communities for Change (NYCC), a group responsible for unionizing NYC grocery stores and carwashes.

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