Seattle Drag Queens Unionize – How TikTok Fuels Retail Worker Rebellion – Apple Workers Speak Out Against Return-to-Work Policies

Drag Queens protest (Getty Images)

Folks, 

Greetings from the Burgh, where we are getting ready for a great weekend series against the Mets. 

Seattle Drag Queens Launch Union Drive 

Washington State has proven to be a hotbed of organizing for drag queens lately. 

Earlier this month, 20 drag queens in Spokane quit en-masse after their bar cut their pay. Now, with fewer places to work and many places offering wages lower than before the pandemic, 30 drag queens in Seattle have come together to form the first Drag Queen union. 

“We didn’t have options,” organizer Jacob Almaza told KIRO. “A lot of queens in a matter of days, lost all of their bookings in 2020. Establishments that were closed didn’t come back.” 

For more, check out KIRO. 

Donate to Help us Cover the Retail Worker Rebellion 

Every day we receive new reports of retail workers organizing across the country from Starbucks in Austin to Burger Kings in Nebraska to barbers on military bases in Virginia. 

Donate today to help us track this incredible worker uprising. 

Or, become one of our 600 recurring donors so we can focus on covering workers instead of fundraising. 

HuffPost Has a Long Look at How TikTok Is Driving Retail Worker Rebellion 

Across the country, we are seeing a massive uprising of retail workers rebelling. HuffPost’s Monica Torres reports on how TikTok is helping to drive these spontaneous walk-offs, particularly among communities of color:

Shana Blackwell, a Walmart night stocker who quit in October 2020 after more than a year on the job, used her store’s intercom system to broadcast her exit to everyone in the building.

Blackwell, then 19, had reached a breaking point with her draining, physically demanding job at a store in Lubbock, Texas. She had taken complaints to Walmart, she said, but nothing came of it. She was initially prepared to quit calmly to a manager, but none were unavailable to have a conversation. A truck shipment had come late, and managers were yelling at the team “as if it was our fault,” she said.

“I was angered. That day, it gave me PTSD of the whole year and a half I had spent there. So not only was that day making me mad and frustrated and all these emotions, I was reminiscing on the past and how that manager was yelling at me now, and two months ago he was yelling at me, the day that I got hired he was yelling at me, and it’s been hell ever since I got here,” Blackwell told HuffPost. “I guess that’s what led me to going to one of those phones and dialing the number to make my voice heard all over the store.”

“Attention all Walmart shoppers, associates, and managers,” she announced before proceeding to call out co-workers by name for being “racist,” “stinky,” and “lazy.” She referred to employees in one section of the store as “perverts” she hopes don’t “talk to your daughters the way you talk to me.” She thanked another colleague for getting her the job when she needed it, and ended with a resounding “Fuck the managers, fuck this company, fuck this position … I fucking quit.”

For more, go to HuffPost. 

One-Third of Apple Employees Concerned About Return to Work Plans 

It’s not just retail workers that are rising up, but workers across industries. Plans to force employees to return to work at Apple have prompted many workers to protest. Verge has the story: 

In a survey on remote work conducted by employees in June, 36.7 percent of respondents said they were worried they’d have to leave Apple due to the lack of flexibility (1,735 people answered the question).

The return-to-work plan has already been a flashpoint at Apple, where employees wrote a letter in June asking Apple CEO Tim Cook to reevaluate the hybrid model. Deirdre O’Brien, senior vice president of retail and people, sent a video in response saying that in-person collaboration was “essential” and noting the company would not be backing away from its current approach.

While Apple’s corporate employees certainly have more flexibility than the retail staff, some say it’s out of step with other big tech companies in Silicon Valley. Twitter and Facebook have already announced a permanent work-from-home policy, and Apple employees say they’ve been flooded with recruiting messages from other tech organizations eyeing a potential opportunity.

For more, go to Verge. 

Missouri Tractor Trailer Workers Win Strike 

After a 12-Day Strike at Highway Trailer Sales in Kansas City, the Machinist Union is declaring victory this week after winning a significantly better contract. 

“This unit was successful in their fight and returned to work July 13 after accepting an offer with 100 percent approval. The amount of support from other labor unions, elected state and city representatives, retirees and other workers showing support on the strike line and making donations definitely played a major role in the owner getting back to the table,” said Machinists Local 778 Business Representative Scott Brown in a statement. 

For more, go to the Machinists website. 

News Happening Elsewhere 

Hear about a strike or walkout or just want to share some comments? Drop us a line at [email protected]

If you can, donate today to help us cover the growing “Retail Worker Rebellion.” 

Or, sign up as one of our 600 recurring donors today. 

Love & Solidarity, 

Melk

About the Author

Mike Elk
A protege of the late Bill Greider, Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter who covered the drug war in Brasil and spent years covering union organizing in the South for The Guardian. In 2016, he used his $70,000 NLRB settlement from being fired in the union drive at Politico to start the crowd-funded Payday Report. The son of United Electrical Workers (UE) Director of Organization Gene Elk, he lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh. Email: [email protected]

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