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Four decades ago, immigrant workers began to organize to demand the right to a fair wage, the right to be free from police harassment, detention, and deportation, and the right to safety and dignity on the job. Those efforts eventually crystallized into the worker center movement. As grassroots labor organizations, worker centers today focus on organizing workers who are typically excluded from labor regulations, disconnected from mainstream unions, or otherwise socially marginalized. This week we talk with each other about our articles for The American Prospect’s series on worker centers, discussing the evolution of the movement, its impact on policy, and the way we think about labor.
In other news, we look at nurses on strike in Massachusetts (with Marie Ritacco, a Post Anesthesia Care Unit nurse, member of the St Vincent Nurses negotiating team and the Vice President at Massachusetts Nurses Association) and labor activists imprisoned in Myanmar (with Bent Gehrt of Worker Rights Consortium), along with some reflections on Amazon workers and the failed union vote in Bessemer. With recommended reading on why New York’s restaurants can’t hire enough workers, and why “just cause” labor protections are having a moment.
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Myanmar military junta arrests prominent trade union leader (The Guardian)
Endings and Beginnings in Bessemer (Strikewave)
The Long Struggle Against Giving Up (In These Times)
The Alt-Labor Chronicles: America’s Worker Centers (The American Prospect)
Michelle: How the Powerless Win Power (The American Prospect)
Sarah: Worker Centers: Where Causes Cohere, and Forge Power (The American Prospect)
Argh, I wish I’d written that!
Sarah: Chris Crowley, NYC’s Restaurants Are Hiring But Struggling to Find Workers (Grub Street)
Michelle: Jeff Schuhrke, The Movement to End At-Will Employment Is Getting Serious (In These Times)