Summer Lee on AFL-CIO Chapter’s Poor Electoral Record – 3 Million French Workers Strike – French-owned Company Unionbusts Va. Bus Drivers

Summer Lee mocked the local AFL-CIO in Pittsburgh following their endorsements of a pro-fracking candidate with ties to the Republican Party (AP)

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Summer Lee Mocks AFl-CIO Branch 

Over the weekend, the Pittsburgh-based Allegheny County Labor Council voted to endorse pro-fracking John Weinstein for election this May as Allegheny County Executive. 

With 2/3rd of the Labor Council voting in favor of Weinstein, they passed over anti-fracking progressive challenger State Representative Sara Innamorato, who has won the backing of unions such as SEIU, UE, and UFCW as well as Congresswoman Summer Lee and Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey. 

Additionally, they passed over Pittsburgh City Controller Michael Lamb, the uncle of former Congressman Conor Lamb, who has traditionally won labor’s backing in his race for City Controller, criticized the decision of both the labor council and the Democratic Committee to endorse Weinstein.

“I am disappointed that our Democratic Committee has endorsed a candidate whose campaign is propped up by a handful of Republican donors & is led by consultants who work for far right election deniers,” Lamb wrote on twitter.

Summer Lee, who is backing Innamorato and has never won the backing of the local AFL-CIO in any of her races, took to Twitter to mock the local labor council. 

“The non endorsed are in pretty good company, some would say,” tweeted Lee regarding the labor council’s endorsements of candidates in this spring’s election.

Retired UE News Editor Al Hart, whose union has endorsed Innamorato, pointed out how the endorsement shows the political impotency of the local labor council.

“This is my 50th year in the labor movement, and I’m so glad my union is not part of the reactionary crap that unfortunately still dominates “organized labor” in this town!,” said Hart. “We’ve beaten their asses the past six years and we’ll do it again.”

(Full Disclosure: Summer Lee and I attended Woodland Hills high school together in the early 2000s)

3 Million French Workers Strike 

More than 3 million French workers are on strike in France over Macron’s proposal to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64. Workers say that they will continue to escalate if they don’t sit down and negotiate. 

“The silence of the president constitutes a grave democratic problem that inevitably leads to a situation that could become explosive,” unions said in a joint statement.

For more photos and updates from around the country, check out live updates from France 24. 

French company continues Union Busting of Virginia Bus Drivers. 

In Virginia’s Loudoun County, bus drivers employed by a French-owned company, Keolis, a contractor of the DC-area transit authority, have been on strike for eight weeks. The workers are fighting for a first contractor. However, Keolis has refused to agree to a first contract. 

Workers are calling on the Democrat-controlled Loudoun County to intervene and force Keolis to settle a first contract or face fines. 

“They were hired to perform a service,” Barry Wilson, the union’s recording secretary, told DC News Now. “They’re not putting forth the service.”

For more, check out DC News Now. 

While Biden Admin Moves to Block Spirit-JetBlue Merger, Flight Attendant Union Pushes It 

Today, the Biden Administration announced that the Department of Justice would sue to block the proposed merger of JetBlue & Spirit. 

“We allege that if allowed to proceed, this merger will limit choices and drive up ticket prices for passengers across the country,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said at the news conference announcing the lawsuit. “And we further allege that the impact of this merger will be particularly harmful for travelers who rely on what are known as ultra low cost carriers in order to fly.”

However, Flight Attendants Union President Sara Nelson is pushing the merger, claiming that it is pro-union. Dave Dayen at the American Prospect has more

Under Nelson, the Association of Flight Attendants endorsed the merger after winning several key items for their members. (AFA represents Spirit flight attendants, while TWU represents attendants at JetBlue.) This includes an immediate raise for flight attendants of between 10 and 27 percent and more wage increases over the next two years; no furloughs for AFA members and integrated seniority into the merged company; a guarantee against a “two-tier” wage system; and reconfigured seating to the JetBlue model (meaning better seat pitch rather than the worst-in-class sardine-can model of Spirit), which AFA says will reduce passenger anger and abuse of flight attendants.

“We agree with skeptics that consolidation has accrued extraordinary power to a few airlines,” Nelson said in a statement. “However, this merger will help to correct that,” she added, citing the alleged ability for the new company to compete with the dominant carriers.

As Matt Stoller explained, this was a transaction. Nelson accepts the argument that the merger will in fact improve airline competition in exchange for a better deal for her members. Just a couple of weeks ago, Nelson appeared at the Open Markets Institute’s daylong conference on concentration, saying that “the more mergers and acquisitions concentrate power into a few hands, the more power they’re able to wield in the public sphere … there is only one effective check on organized money, and that’s organized workers.”

For more, check out the American Prospect 

Minor Leaguers to Be Paid for Spring Training This Year 

After years of organizing, minor league baseball players will finally be paid for spring training, which in previous years, minor leaguers were expected to work unpaid. The change comes as 5,000 minor league baseball players unionized last year and are negotiating their first contract. Kelly Candaele and Peter Drier have a long article at the Nation looking at how the organizing happened: 

Trevor Hildenberger is a 32-year-old pitcher for a minor league affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. He was used to spending his days thinking about balls, strikes, and fielding errors, but helping organize a union with his fellow ballplayers taught him a lot about political psychology.

“When I started to talk to players about how collective action could make things better for us, I had those conversations during batting practice, on the buses, or in the clubhouse,” Hildenberger remembers. “I always spoke loud enough so that it didn’t seem like I was whispering secrets to them, as if I was afraid that what I was asking them to do was dangerous.”

For more, check out the Nation. 

Strikes & News Happening Elsewhere 

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About the Author

Mike Elk
Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter and alumni of the Guardian. In addition to filing nearly 2,000 stories from 46 states, Elk traveled with Lula from Sáo Bernando do Campos all the way to the Oval Office in the White House. Credited by the Washington Post for being the first reporter to track the strike wave systematically, Elk started Payday Report using his NLRB settlement from being illegally fired for union organizing in 2015. He lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh and works frequently in Rio de Janeiro, where he attended college at PUC-Rio. He speaks both Portuguese and Pittsburghese fluently. His email is [email protected]

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