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Today, we bring you a two-part episode on logistics labor. First, we speak with Michelle Valentin Nieves, a member of the workers’ committee of the independent Amazon Labor Union. The ALU shocked the world and became the first stateside union to win an election at Amazon last Friday, and we—like everyone—have lots of questions about how they did it. We then move up the supply chain, continuing our discussion with Laleh Khalili, Professor of International Politics at Queen Mary University of London and the author of Sinews of War and Trade: Shipping and Capitalism in the Arabian Peninsula. We talk about the way colonialism left us with not only the shipping routes and ports that we still use today, but also the racialized labor hierarchy on board ship and at port.
We also check in with Philadelphia Museum of Art workers, who continue to fight for a contract nearly two years after winning their union election, and for “Argh! I wish I’d written that!” we look at the hard work and low pay of touring musicians, and a personal story of deindustrialization hitting home.
With this episode we also celebrate our nine-year anniversary as a podcast. On April 12, 2013, our show was born with an interview with Karen Lewis of the Chicago Teachers Union, and Michelle became a permanent partner in crime shortly thereafter. In that time, we’ve brought you nearly 250 episodes of interviews with workers, organizers, historians, and authors on work and the labor movement. In that time we’ve watched a new generation of young people take up the cause of labor, and win some groundbreaking victories like the one at Amazon last week.
Bringing you this level of journalism has been rewarding, but it isn’t cheap and it isn’t easy. If you’ve ever been considering becoming a Patreon supporter, our ninth anniversary would be a great time to do so. Thanks for all you’ve done since we started: supporting us, sharing us with your friends, and telling us your stories.
Luis Feliz Leon, Amazon Workers in Staten Island Clinch a Historic Victory, Labor Notes
Sarah Lazare, How Workers Used Amazon’s Captive Audience Meetings Against the Company, In These Times
AFSCME Cultural Workers United, @cwuafscme
Laleh Khalili, Professor of International Politics at Queen Mary University of London
Karen Gilchrist, Britain’s P&O Ferries broke the law in laying off 800 staff, boss admits, CNBC
Argh, I wish I’d written that!
Michelle: Lauren Celenza, How Deindustrialization Shaped My Working-Class Family, In These Times
Sarah: Zach Schonfeld, Why Are Musicians Expected To Be Miserable On Tour Just To Break Even?, Stereogum