Working In These Times

Thursday, Sep 20, 2018, 9:58 pm  ·  By Michael Arria

In Crosshairs of Right-to-Work, Kentucky Bourbon Makers Go On Strike

View of Four Roses bourbon on display during Rooftop 'Chopped' during the Food Network & Cooking Channel New York City Wine & Food Festival presented by Coca-Cola at Pier 92 on October 15, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for NYCWFF)  

More than 50 workers in Kentucky are on strike due to a contract dispute with Four Roses, a bourbon maker with a distillery in Lawrenceburg and a bottling plant in Cox's Creek. Workers say Four Roses is attempting to adopt a two-tier system that would reduce the benefits for new employees of the company. Members of three different unions walked off their jobs at these sites on September 7.


Wednesday, Sep 19, 2018, 1:54 pm  ·  By Rachel M. Cohen

Don’t Trust Jeff Bezos’ Preschool Philanthropy Scheme

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos wants children to be "the customer." That's not a good sign. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)  

The CEO of Amazon and the world’s richest man declared this month that he’ll be wading into the waters of philanthropy. In a high-profile announcement, Jeff Bezos described his vision for a “Day One Fund”—a $2 billion investment in organizations that provide homelessness assistance, and a new network of nonprofit preschools in low-income communities. This charitable gift will amount to just 1.2 percent of his net worth.


Tuesday, Sep 18, 2018, 2:15 pm  ·  By David Dayen

The Washington Post Tried to Penalize a Writer for Criticizing Jeff Bezos. He Fought Back—And Won. founder and CEO Jeff Bezos pictured on June 18, 2014 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)  

Fredrick Kunkle was upset. A staff writer for the Washington Post’s Metro desk, he noticed Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, the owner of his newspaper, musing on Twitter about what to do with his money, which happens to be more than any human being has ever accumulated in modern history. Kunkle had an idea for the funds: reversing the hits Bezos had forced upon Post workers in successive contract negotiations.


Tuesday, Sep 18, 2018, 1:13 pm  ·  By Rachel Johnson

#MeToo Hits Fast Food: Why McDonald’s Workers Are Out on a Historic Strike Today

McDonald's workers are on strike in 10 cities to protest sexual harassment on the job. (JOSHUA LOTT/AFP/Getty Images)  

Workers at McDonald’s are set to walk out of work today in ten U.S. cities: Chicago, St. Louis, Durham, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Orlando and San Francisco.


Tuesday, Sep 18, 2018, 12:10 pm  ·  By Heather Gies

2,000 Striking York University Staff Forced Back To Work Without a Contract

Contract professors join graduate teaching and research assistants and their children from York and University of Toronto at a "stroller rally" on March 11 in Toronto, Ontario. University workers went on strike for several months in favor of better wages and job security. (Photo by Vince Talotta/Getty Images)  

The workers said neoliberal policies had made their jobs more precarious. Ontario’s new right-wing government didn’t care.

Classes are starting at Toronto’s York University after Canada’s longest-ever post-secondary strike came to an abrupt end this summer without a new agreement in place for 2,000 contract teaching and research staff who walked off the job five months ago.

The newly-elected right-wing government in the province of Ontario passed back-to-work legislation at the end July that forced the employees whose collective agreement expired last August to pack up the picket lines and return to work.

While many undergraduate students are relieved to get their academic schedules back on track, union members are left in a lurch as the concerns that prompted the strike remain unaddressed.

Demands for better graduate funding, job security and workplace accessibility in the workplace were central to the strike. The union also raised alarm over increasingly precarious employment for contract teachers and researchers, one symptom of universities doubling down on a neoliberal business model.


Tuesday, Sep 18, 2018, 11:28 am  ·  By Sarah Lahm

Here’s Why Thousands of Steelworkers Just Voted to Authorize a Strike

A worker cuts through a glowing 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit 'billet' at the TAMCO steel mini mill on October 4, 2002 in Rancho Cucamonga, California. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)  

​U.S. Steel is poised to rake in close to $2 billion in profits this year, and the workers who helped make that happen want their fair share of the wealth—as well as a way to shore up rapidly rising healthcare costs. That’s part of what prompted thousands of United Steelworkers to vote to authorize a strike vote, announced September 10, while engaged in contract negotiations with U.S. Steel at the company’s Pittsburgh offices. United Steelworkers represents over 16,000 employees who work at U.S. Steel plants in a handful of states from Pennsylvania to Texas.


Tuesday, Sep 18, 2018, 9:21 am  ·  By Michael Arria

Fast Food Restaurant Says Union Employees Can’t Wear “Abolish ICE” Buttons to Work

Burgerville workers are demanding the right to wear political buttons on the job. (BVWU/Facebook)  

The Burgerville Workers Union says that the fast-food chain succumbed to right-wing backlash when, earlier this month, it banned its employees from wearing buttons. The ban was enacted after 10 employees were sent home at a Portland, Oregon location last month for refusing to take off pins that read "Abolish ICE" and "No One is Illegal.”


Friday, Sep 14, 2018, 4:44 pm  ·  By David Dayen

Retrospectives of the Financial Crisis Are Leaving Out the Most Important Part—Its Victims

10 years ago, Lehman Brothers failed. (John Stillwell/PA Images via Getty Images)  

Because I’m a masochist, I’ve read as many retrospectives as I could about the 10th anniversary of the fateful failure of Lehman Brothers, the emblematic event of the financial crisis. And I can’t help but notice a gaping hole in the narratives.


Friday, Sep 14, 2018, 2:37 pm  ·  By Phil Wilmot

Why Ugandan Farmers Staged a Month-Long Occupation of a UN Office

Local NGOs and market vendors delivered relief items to the occupiers after their initial supply ran low. (Waging Nonviolence)  

After 37 days of occupying a United Nations office in Gulu, Uganda, 234 farmers, youth, mothers with young babies and elderly men packed their gear into trucks and returned to their homes in Apaa — an area of rich farmland and forest in the north of the country. Far from being a quiet and somber event, their departure was marked by an explosion of song and ululation. It was part collective exhale — following a month of cramped conditions, an overflowing pit latrine and daily hostilities from their reluctant “hosts” — and part cry of triumph and hope.


Thursday, Sep 13, 2018, 2:08 pm  ·  By Bryce Covert

Why Labor Is Holding Its Applause for Michigan’s Latest “Workers’ Rights” Measures

A person walks past the remains of the Packard Motor Car Company, which ceased production in the late 1950`s, November 19, 2008 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)  

On September 5, the Michigan legislature seemed to take bold steps toward improving working conditions for its constituents: It passed legislation that would guarantee workers the right to earn paid sick leave, as well as a minimum wage increase to $12 an hour that mandates the same base wage for both tipped workers and non-tipped workers alike. These measures make the state the 11th in the nation to mandate paid sick days and the eighth to require that tipped workers be paid the same wage as all others.