Greetings from the Burgh, where I am wrapping up several days of intensive legal work as part of a sexual misconduct whistleblower case. (We will have a significant announcement on this later this weekend.)
Our apologies for not being around as much this week, but a lot happened that we need to review.
Is Labor Changing on Palestine?
While the Israeli Defense Force prepares to invade Gaza as they have ordered the evacuation of 1 million Palestinians from Gaza, the American labor movement has been largely silent on the massive human.
Indeed, some in labor have cheered on the Israeli Defense Forces. Earlier this week, the Jewish Labor Committee announced, “We recognize the State of Israel’s unequivocal right to defend itself and those who live within its borders, and extend our support for that country’s defense force.”
This contrasts sharply with the international labor community, which has denounced Israeli war crimes and attacks on civilians.
“The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) expresses deep alarm at the escalation of violence in Gaza and Israel and condemns the targeting of civilians on both sides by Hamas and Israeli forces,” said the union federation in a statement
Although, there is evidence that the labor movement may be changing in Israel.
Earlier this week, Workers United, which represents Starbucks workers, retweeted the Jewish Labor Committee statement supporting the Israeli war machine. However, after facing backlash from Starbucks workers online, Workers United deleted their tweet.
“Standing with an apartheid state that is currently committing the same and worse war crimes as Hamas isn’t very solidarity of you,” tweeted Boston Starbucks Workers United.
SAG-AFTRA Accuses Studios of Bully Tactics
Late last month, the Writers Guild of America settled a five-month-long strike with the studio association AMPTP, where 160,000 members of SAG-AFTRA would soon settle their strike.
Yesterday, though, SAG-AFTRA accused the studios of using “bully tactics” and stalling negotiations by putting out misleading information about the costs of their proposed contract.
“The companies are using the same failed strategy they tried to inflict on the WGA — putting out misleading information in an attempt to fool our members into abandoning our Solidarity and putting pressure on our negotiators. But, just like the writers, our members are smarter than that and will not be fooled,” SAG-AFTRA said in a statement yesterday.
Las Vegas Teachers Push to Overturn Strike Ban
Teachers have been engaging in “sick out” strikes and other job actions for the past few months as they push for a new contract. Now, the union has filed a lawsuit in state court to have the anti- teachers strike laws in the state overturned. From the Nevada Current:
In their complaint, filed Monday, CCEA argues Nevada’s decades-old law prohibiting public employees from striking “impermissibly impinges upon the fundamental rights of speech and association of CCEA and its members, is overbroad, void for vagueness, and is not narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling state interest.”
The anti-strike law also “lacks specific enforcement standards, and encourages, authorizes, and fails to prevent arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement,” the filing argues.
The new legal effort comes roughly a month after District Judge Crystal Eller ruled that a series of coordinated teacher sickouts within CCSD in early September amounted to an illegal strike. Eller granted an injunction requested by the school district.
CCEA has appealed that injunction to the Nevada Supreme Court. That case is still pending.
Union Democracy Fight within the Farm Labor Organizing Committee
Finally, the great reporter Tina Vazquez has a long-piece look at the fight for union democracy within the Farm Labor Organizing Committee. From the Assembly:
Despite the support of hundreds of FLOC members, Zavala had little chance of winning the election. Velásquez planned the vote in Toledo, Ohio, during the height of North Carolina’s tobacco harvest—ensuring that most members could not attend. They also could not vote virtually, and FLOC only provided transportation to those who could attend both days of the convention—though most farmworkers can only afford to miss one day of work or risk termination.
Ahead of the vote, Velásquez also launched a membership campaign that allowed people who have never worked in agriculture to become “associate members” for $30 and cast ballots as “delegates.” Velásquez defeated Zavala, 135-21.
But discontent manifested well before the election. Workers said it had been years since Velásquez visited their farms or connected directly with members in North Carolina. Many said they feel Velásquez is more concerned with maintaining control of FLOC than ensuring the union’s response to the needs of workers. The union’s six-person leadership team was handpicked by Velásquez and it includes his daughter, Christiana Wagner, in the role of secretary-treasurer.
Others say Velásquez has grown too close to the North Carolina Growers Association, the single largest H-2A employer in the U.S. The Growers Association’s founder, Stan Eury, pioneered the use of the H-2A program. He was later convicted on dozens of charges related to conspiracy, immigration fraud, and money laundering—though as BuzzFeed reported, despite being “the root of Eury’s enterprise,” the Growers Association was not accused of any crimes.
Alright folks, I gotta run to an event for the Pittsburgh Latino Labor Council, but I’ll see yinz later this weekend. Keep sending tips, story ideas, and comments to [email protected]
Love & Solidarity,