"It's time to reinvent the strike—the strike as guerrilla warfare," according to Stephen Lerner, organizer of the SEIU's successful Justice for Janitors campaign. Similarly, Jonathan Westin, executive director of New York Communities for Change, a community organization that is organizing low-wage workers in New York City, says:
"It's about constantly pressuring employers from as many angles as possible. It's leveraging not only NLRB elections but back wage claims to pressure the employers, leveraging community pressure, boycotts, strikes. We did a strike at the car wash in the Bronx and they came to the table. That's the lesson, it's not just any one strategy, you have to come at them at every different angle."Like Westin, labor scholar Ruth Milkman urges a focus on low-wage workers; Bill Fletcher, Jr., Jane McAlevey, and Eric Robertson and Ben Speight offer suggestions for internal union organizing, strengthening how unions relate to their existing members and from there to the community at large.
Corporations have the political power from the top, and the day to day power over workers' lives. They have the money. They have the fear factor. But increasingly we're seeing signs that workers are ready and willing to fight, and that fear won't be as much of a barrier anymore. With creative organizing and lots of struggle, could 2013 be the year the balance starts to shift back toward workers?
A fair day's wage
- Just $100 a month:
According to findings from the Center for Responsible Lending's newest report, The State of Lending in America and Its Impact on US Households (State of Lending), the typical household has just $100 left each month after paying for basic expenses and debt payments. After controlling for inflation, the typical household had less annual income at the end of 2010 than it did at the beginning of the decade.. Moreover, as worker productivity increased, the workplace has seldom rewarded them with higher pay.
- More than $2 million in wage theft settlements in New York.
- Last weekend in Chicago:
Workers and supporters with the Fight For 15 movement, along with members of several other groups took to the streets chanting, “@e can’t survive on $8.25” and singing modified Christmas carols highlighting wage disparity between CEOs and rank-and-file workers. The day culminated in 21 arrests during a sit-in at Water Tower Place on Pearson Avenue.
The War on Education
- The Chicago Teachers Union is suing the Chicago Public Schools, alleging that the disproportionate impact of school closings on African American teachers amounts to discrimination.
- What to do about cheating in an age of high-stakes testing?