Nationwide Fast-Food Strike Set for Aug. 29

 for fast-food and other low-wage workers will reach another milestone next week with a nationwide strike set for Aug. 29. Following the success and public support of a walkout in eight cities earlier this month, those workers and the community, faith and labor groups that back them are calling on fast-food and low-wage retail workers across the nation to join them in the fight for $15 an hour and the right to form a union without retaliation.

The strike is set for the day after the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. One of the historic march’s demands was to “give all Americans a decent standard of living,” and it called for a minimum wage of $2 per hour. Adjusted for inflation, that would equal $15.26 an hour today.

Read More

Walmart Should Look in the Mirror for the Cause of Its Declining Sales

Mike Hall

Walmart reported last week that sales at its U.S. stores had unexpectedly declined. Walmart tried to explain its shrinking sales away by citing outside factors such as higher gas prices and payroll taxes.

But, say many market observers, the real cause lies within Walmart itself—the largest private-sector employer in the United States and the poster child for low-wages.   

Daniel Gross at The Daily Beast says, “This isn’t complicated. Or, rather, it shouldn’t be complicated.”

Read More

Tell Congress: Don’t Fast-Track “NAFTA on Steroids”

Lance Simmens

The Citizens Trade Campaign is coordinating efforts with labor, environmental organizations, health organizations and others to help persuade Congressional representatives of the need to opposed fast track authority for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, which would cover 40 percent of the global economy between 12 nations, and is currently being negotiated in virtual secrecy.

Since negotiations began in 2008, none of the negotiating documents have been officially released for public review. However, approximately 600 corporate lobbyists have been named as official advisors which entitle them to access to both the negotiating texts and the negotiators.

Read More

Fast Food Workers Standing Up for Themselves — And For Us

Dennis Raj

Fifty years after hundreds of thousands of Americans marched on Washington for “jobs and freedom,” they’re still trying to reach that goal.

Now, fast food workers around the country are walking out, bringing their fight for fair wages and benefits to the forefront of political discourse on workers' rights. In the process, the McStrikers are highlighting the difficulties faced by low-wage workers around the country trying to make a living in the new economy. These challenges include a median wage of http://www.bls.gov/ooh/food-preparation-and-serving/food-and-beverage-serving-and-related-workers.htm#tab-1)” target=”_blank”>$18,130 a year, rising cost of living, and few (if any) benefits. To top it off, the fast food industry has alarmingly high rates of wage theft and other schemes that disadvantage workers, as highlighted by the debit card fiasco

But these workers are not alone — they have the backing of organized labor — and their movement is growing.

Read More

Interpreter Bill Would Help Save Lives Lost in Translation

Gary Cohn

Maria Guevara had been trying to get pregnant for three years when she saw a doctor at Los Angeles County General hospital in 2008. She was understandably thrilled, then, to learn she was indeed three months pregnant at the time of her visit. As Guevara later recalled, when the doctor asked her in English if she wanted to keep the baby, “without hesitation I replied ‘yes’ to his question. Before leaving the hospital, the doctor prescribed me medication that I thought was prenatal care. That lack of communication between the doctor and me has changed my life forever.”

Guevara took the prescribed medication, and experienced violent pain and bleeding. She returned to the hospital, where another doctor told her the bleeding was the result of a miscarriage.

Read More

50 Years After the March on Washington, Labor Still Leading MLK’s Dream

Ben Field

As we approach the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, we must ask ourselves, how far have we come? We have worked hard and achieved some important victories, but the honest answer is: not far enough.

Racial inequality persists, and yet across the nation voting rights are under attack. Income inequality is on the rise, and yet state and national government balk. It is a frustrating time to be a progressive.We feel the spirit of Martin Luther King watching with disappointment.

Read More

SF Chronicle Op-ed Scapegoats BART Workers, Ignores Real Problem

Steve Smith

I’ve seen some pretty outrageous anti-worker opinion pieces written about the contract negotiations at Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) over the last two months. But nothing I’ve read is as infuriating as today’s San Francisco Chronicle op-ed from Chuck and Barbara McFadden.

In short, the McFaddens assert that workers like those at BART are not deserving of the middle-class wage their unions negotiate.  To make their point, they use an argument that’s all too common today — private sector workers are suffering so public sector workers should too. What’s so absurd about this logic is that the very reason so many private sector workers are struggling is because most don’t have the ability to bargain with their employer for a decent wage in return for a hard day’s work.

Read More

Living Wages: Good for Business, Good for L.A.

Ed Gutierrez

Through the years, the centerpiece of living wage campaigns has generally been a focus on fairness and economic justice for workers. And rightly so. Successful living wage campaigns have resulted in critical gains for workers and their families, bringing everything from increased economic security to improved access to quality health care. These material gains have meant a world of difference for real people and have helped lift thousands out of poverty to achieve a decent standard of living – something we all deserve, regardless of the work we do. But a living wage is not just about improving the quality of life for individual workers — it can also be a powerful mechanism for stimulating local economies, boosting local businesses and confronting the growing problem of poverty in our communities.

Read More

Thousands Converge on Rep. McCarthy’s Office to Demand Vote on Immigration Reform

Josh Anijar

Early in the morning in the middle of August, in cities across the state of California, alarms went off, coffee was made, and bags were packed as families left their homes to travel to Bakersfield for a massive mobilization in support of comprehensive immigration reform and a road map to citizenship.  

Some activists came in vans and some came in cars, motorcycles, and even a giant Teamsters bus, but together thousands spoke in one voice to send a clear message to Rep.. Kevin McCarthy: We demand a vote on comprehensive immigration reform that contains a pathway to citizenship!

Read More

Dancers’ Alliance Launches Massive Campaign to Unionize Tours

Jackie Tortora

What's choreographer Marty Kudelka's favorite part of being on tour? He doesn't have to make his bed every morning. Kudelka, who has worked with Mariah Carey and Justin Timberlake, is part of a group of performers, including singers, dancers and choreographers, who regularly tour with big name acts as part of their jobs. While many performers have a voice on the job when they work in music videos or on TV and film, they do not have the union contract for their tour work. This affects everything, from access to health insurance to retirement benefits and safety on the job.

Read More