On the picket line

Unions organize online news media’s workers

“Digital media is growing up, and it’s time our digital reporters received the same benefits and protections as their print media colleagues,” said NewsGuild-Communications Workers President Bernard Lunzer on July 29. U.S. writers and staff for the British online news publication The Guardian voted unanimously that day to unionize with the News Media Guild. (newsguild.org, July 29)

The announcement followed another successful union drive at online media group Gawker, whose editorial staff voted overwhelmingly June 4 to join the Writers Guild of America, East. Since then, editorial staffs at two more online publications, Salon and Vice, won WGA union representation on Aug. 1 and 7, respectively. (newsguild.org, Aug. 1 and 7)

Phony police ‘union’ exposes its true class role

Anybody still unsure of what separates police “unions” from bona fide labor unions need only look as far as a recent announcement made by the Columbia Police Officers Association, the collective bargaining unit representing officers in Columbia, Mo., some 100 miles west of Ferguson. In a post on its Facebook page, the police organization declared Aug. 10 “Darren Wilson Day” in honor of the racist cop who murdered Mike Brown on that day in 2014. (stltoday.com, Aug. 10)

Compare this with such bold acts of class solidarity as the International Longshore Workers Union’s May 1 port shutdown to demand an end to racist police terror. (WW, May 4) Or the endorsement and $1,000 donation made by the Boston School Bus Drivers Union, United Steelworkers Local 8751 to #BlackLivesMatter Boston. (WW, Feb. 2) Or the July 25 resolution passed by the University of California Student Workers Union, United Auto Workers Local 2865, calling on the AFL-CIO to end its affiliation with police “unions” which only serve “the needs of colonialism, racism and capitalism.” (WW, Aug. 7)

When real labor unions like these organize and fight back, they make life better for people both in and outside the workplace. When police organize around their interests, what results is invariably racist, anti-worker depravity that knows no limits.

Northeast Verizon workers continue fight for fair contract

From Maine to Virginia, about 40,000 Verizon workers, represented by the Communication Workers and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, have been working without a contract since theirs expired Aug. 1. But they’re conducting picket lines, rallies and marches to protest the cutback contract the giant telecom company, which makes $1 billion a month in profits, is demanding. “Verigreedy” wants to slash job and retirement security while hiking health care costs by the thousands. “Our members are angry; we took major concessions in 2012 and that’s why [Verizon’s] doing so well now,” CWA Local 2108 President Marilyn Irwin said at a picket outside a Verizon facility in Silver Spring, Md., on Aug. 13. “We feel cheated. And now they want us to pay even more and we say ‘Hell no’.”

The workers are also conducting at-work actions, including wearing camouflage on Militant Mondays, red on Thursdays and black on Fridays. Irwin explained: “We cannot just go to work and act like it’s business as usual; it’s not business as usual. And if we act as though it’s business as usual, we’ll just get these concessions shoved down our throats.” (Union City, Aug. 16)

Nat’l Writers Union calls for treatment for, release of Mumia Abu-Jamal

Mumia Abu-Jamal

Mumia Abu-Jamal

At the national meeting of its Delegate Assembly on Aug. 9, the National Writers Union, United Auto Workers Local 1981, unanimously passed a resolution by acclamation to “Save the Life of Mumia Abu-Jamal from ‘Medical Neglect’.” Abu-Jamal has been an honorary member of the NWU since 1995, when he was facing the death penalty in Pennsylvania. The resolution calls for his release from prison “so he can get the treatment he is entitled to.” The NWU also passed other progressive resolutions, including support for the GM workers with disabilities in Colombia, with a $250 donation, and one from the Civil Rights Committee that included, among many anti-racist planks, solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. At noon that day, the Delegate Assembly was silent for four-and-a-half minutes in memory and honor of Michael Brown, who was murdered in Ferguson, Mo., a year ago, accelerating the national Black Lives Matter movement.