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Happy May Day, everyone! On International Workers Day, as today is also referred to, we are devoting this entire newsletter to labor coverage from the OptOut news network.

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Your May Day News Roundup

The Workers Movement Takes Off

In Labor Notes, three NewsGuild organizers write about how they organized their newsrooms and how this unionization is replicating.

Learn It, Do It, Teach It: Member Organizers Turn the Moment into a Movement
Over the last five years, in big pro-union cities and small Southern towns, more than 7,000 workers in 145 shops have organized with the NewsGuild, a sector of the Communications Workers (CWA). After years of layoffs, buyouts, and pay cuts, workers across an entire industry seemed ready to organize.…
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The American Prospect explains how working conditions in the pandemic spurred labor organizing at Starbucks.

As the pandemic went on, restrictions were eased, and more people became comfortable being around others again, the distress pay faded as mobile ordering remained, increasing the workload. In addition, Johnson noted, “we simply do not have the people to keep up with the demand.”
The Hidden Reason for Starbucks Worker Organizing
Pandemic changes exacerbated long-standing tensions between the company and its workforce.
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The CT Mirror reports that Connecticut will become the second U.S. state with a ban "captive audience" meetings, which employers use to intimidate workers and discourage them from organizing.

Unions win final passage of ‘captive audience’ ban
A bill on its way to Gov. Ned Lamont would make Connecticut the second state with a law banning “captive-audience” meetings in the workplace.
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In New Haven, the city's second tenant union recently formed, reports New Haven Independent.

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The Rational National shows us that people's attitudes are changing—for the better. In 2021, Americans supported labor unions at the highest rate since 1965. Now, the Amazon, Starbucks, and other unions drives are surely influencing the national image of labor organizing. 75% of Americans back the Amazon union push—including 71% of Trump voters aged 18-34.

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Threats to Workers

While the labor movement is picking up speed in the U.S., workers are still fighting for an eight-hour work day, the same thing they wanted when they founded May Day nearly 140 years ago.

Jacobin's Alex Press writes about the original May Day and today's ongoing struggles.

On May 3, police attacked and killed locked-out steelworkers at the McCormick Reaper Works plant — labor leaders called for a protest against the violence the following day in the city’s Haymarket Square. When a bomb was thrown into that crowd, police opened fire. The events provided a pretext for the arrest of eight anarchists, who were then convicted of murder, with four of them hanged on November 11, 1887. The Haymarket affair transformed the date into a class holiday: International Workers’ Day.
On International Workers’ Day, We’re Still Fighting for the Eight-Hour Day
In 1886, workers came together on the original May Day to demand an eight-hour day. Today, from Starbucks stores to Amazon warehouses, that struggle continues.
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As with much of his agenda, President Joe Biden has slept on his promise to protect workers from union busting. As the president ignores Amazon's blatant union-busting tactics, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is calling on him to step it up, The Humanist Report documents.

Thursday's episode of Means Morning News featured labor issues, including Amazon escaping punishment after a deadly tornado, Bernie pushing Biden to take on union busters, and inflation's influence on meatpackers.

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Subscribe to Means TV for video episodes.

Meanwhile in Queens, New York, a Chipotle worker says the company fired her for her union organizing, and the SEIU has filed a complaint on her behalf with the National Labor Relations Board, reports The City.

Queens Chipotle Worker Claims She Was Fired for Leading Union Effort
Complaint filed with National Labor Relations Board alleges termination of Brenda Garcia interfered in SEIU fast food labor drive, while city case alleging scheduling law violations continues. Chipotle claims Garcia was never terminated.
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Capital & Main reports on the plight of essential immigrant workers in California.

‘Essential’ Immigrant Workers Are Going Hungry in California
Will Gov. Gavin Newsom expand food aid to help those he touted during the pandemic?
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Also in the West, firefighters' poor pay and benefits are causing an exodus from the field. In Source New Mexico:

Poor pay and benefits deplete U.S. firefighting workforce - Source New Mexico
The bulk of the federal wildland firefighters lack benefits like retirement and access to affordable, reliable health care. A wildland firefighter says many end up living in their cars when there aren’t crew quarters.
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The American right has been working to crush unions for decades, and until now the Koch-funded movement has been largely successful. Many conservatives are openly hostile to workers, and even faux-populists like GOP Sen. Josh Hawley have been "noticeably silent," reports In These Times.

Where Are All the “Pro-Worker” Republicans Now?
While employees at Amazon and Starbucks win historic unionization campaigns, the “populist” wing of the GOP has been noticeably silent.
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The Citations Needed podcast delves into corporate personality testing and its anti-worker aims. Listen here.

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Moving Forward

As organizers continue their work, there are many lessons to be learned from the public sector labor protests in Wisconsin in the early 2010s. The Real News and In These Times collaborated on this project.

‘You’ve got to shut it down’: Lessons from Wisconsin’s 2011 worker uprising
The 2011 statewide protests in Wisconsin were among the largest in US history, but they didn’t stop the passage of Act 10. One decade later, we ask: How can the labor movement recover?
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Socialist Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant joins Status Coup to discuss how different progressive movements are responding to the successful unionization at Amazon.

The Laura Flanders Show has a segment on a labor movement in impoverished McDowell County, West Virginia, led by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).

Drawing on some of the labor movement’s earliest traditions, could this partnership between local drive and national commitment provide a model for the future?

On The Nomiki Show, independent labor reporter Kim Kelly discusses her new book, "Fight Like Hell," and the untold history of American labor.

Thanks as always for keeping up with the OptOut news network! See you soon.

The OptOut Media Foundation (EIN: 85-2348079) is a nonprofit charity with a mission to educate the public about current events and help sustain a diverse media ecosystem by promoting and assisting independent news outlets and, in doing so, advance democracy and social justice.

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