International unions

USA: the unions and the cops

Certain small US unions which are traditionally on the left, like the ILWU and the United Electrical Workers, have taken very strong positions — and in the case of the ILWU actually shut down the West coast ports. On the East coast the ILA docks union did nine minutes of silence, in agreement with employers. The Amalgamated Transit Union, which has a large black membership, has also taken a strong stance, and many of its locals have organised action, including refusing to cooperate with police. The national AFL-CIO has had a number of requests from affiliates to kick out the police unions that...

US dockers strike for Black Lives Matter

On 9 June, on the West Coast of the USA, members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) stopped work for an eight minute, forty-six second moment of silence (the length of time the cop had his knee on Floyd’s neck). On 19 June the ILWU will organise another Black Lives Matter strike, for a full eight hours. They picked that day because “Juneteenth” is the date slavery was abolished in Texas at the end of the US Civil War, and now a major commemoration and celebration. To get round anti-union legislation, they are also striking as part of their ongoing fight against...

A shorter working week with no pay cut!

Janet Burstall argues the case from an Australian perspective. The same basic ideas are applicable in Britain and elsewhere. The most optimistic assessment by the Reserve Bank is that it will take a “few years” to reverse “much” (i.e. not all) of the increase in unemployment from the Covid-19 lockdown. The wages vs jobs trade-off debate is back with a vengeance. Unionists are arguing that keeping up incomes will stimulate demand and economic growth, while employer voices argue that they cannot afford a 4% rise in the minimum wage, and many will cut employment or go out of business. The system...

The USA in the pandemic

As the US currently leads the world with nearly one million cases, the death rate is particularly high in New York and New Jersey, and cities like Seattle, where the population is more concentrated and the culture is more cosmopolitan. The virus has come to rural states, like mine in Vermont, later. The majority of deaths in Vermont have come in nursing homes. The staff in those homes, in this state anyway, are entirely non-union and very low-paid. There are also a lot of deaths in the prisons, and in the meatpacking plants, where the workers are primarily low-income and undocumented. 26...

Covid-19: Bernie Sanders' six point plan

Bernie Sanders has drafted a six point plan for dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and the looming economic crisis – and the strange thing is that he doesn’t mention the presidential election nor the name of America’s current president, Donald Trump. While Joe Biden tries to make his voice heard from his basement studio in Delaware, Sanders remains an active member of the US Senate, fighting to get things done without waiting for the Democratic party primary season to end – and without waiting for Trump to be replaced in office either. “Congress must pass, in the very near future, the...

Two communiques from France

Photo by Fran Boloni on Unsplash We reproduce the Ile-de-France union regions (URIF) communiqué of March 23, 2020; and the declaration issued by the national coordination of strikers of 28 March. Document 1 (23 March) A common position along these lines should be taken at the national level. Cross-union unity shouldn't be dissolved in the state of emergency Communiqué of URIFS CGT, FO, FSU, Solidaires, UNEF, UNL The trade union regional bodies of Ile-de-France (URIF) of the unions CGT, FO, Solidaires, FSU, with [student unons] UNEF and UNL, reject the law declaring a "state of health emergency...

US West Coast dockers' union under threat

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), arguably one of the most militant unions in the U.S., has been hit with a union-busting $93.6 million dollar court-imposed fine for a secondary boycott deemed illegal under the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act.

Hong Kong: “Resist tyranny, join a union”

A notable feature so far of the eight-month political protest in Hong Kong has been the absence of industrial action. However, the five day strike by health workers at the start of February promises to dramatically change that perception. The strike was not about wages or job cuts. At first glance it appeared to be xenophobic, as its main demand was shutting Hong Kong’s borders with China to keep out carriers of the new coronavirus from the mainland. Strikers however saw themselves as trying to protect their working conditions and to save Hong Kong and its under-resourced health service from...

Solidarity with the strikes in France

Labour for a Socialist Europe organised a demonstration at the French Embassy in London on 8 January in solidarity with the strikes against pension cuts in France.

“No retreat, no truce!” say French strikers

As we go to press, 7 January, the French government is sitting down with the various union federations to discuss the ongoing dispute over its pension “reforms”. The government hopes that a few limited or even cosmetic concessions will be enough to peel away some unions and begin to the mass strikes and protests that have swept France since early December. It is standing firm on its central policy of changing how the level of public-sector pensions is calculated and introducing disadvantages for those who won’t retire later (64, as against 62 now). Many private sector pensions are also tied to...

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