News & Commentary

January 22, 2024

In today’s News and Commentary, faculty members across the California State University system begin a five-day strike, German train drivers announced a six-day strike, and a film about the forming of the Amazon Labor Union had its world premiere at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival on Sunday.

The California State University (CSU) system, the nation’s largest public university system, faces a five-day strike beginning today. The California Faculty Association (CFA) represents some 29,000 CSU professors, lecturers, librarians, counselors, and coaches. Faculty members across all 23 CSU campuses will walk off the job at 8 am to respond to the university system ending negotiations. For nearly eight months, the union has been negotiating with university management to secure a 12% general salary increase for CFA members. CSU reached agreements with five of their other labor unions, which all provided for 5% general salary increases. In 2023, the university approved a 34% student tuition increase over the next five years, and at the same time awarded campus presidents pay raises between 14% to 29%.

The German Train Drivers’ Union announced a six-day strike to demand better pay and working hours from Deutsche Bahn, the state-owned railway operator. The union’s industrial action has ramped up in recent month with a three-day strike at the beginning of the year and two 24-hour warning strikes late last year. The union is seeking a reduction in working hours from 38 to 35 per week and an additional €550. Deutsche Bahn responded to these strikes by seeking but failing to secure court injunctions. Last Friday, the railway operator presented an offer which included up to a 13% wage increase and the possibility for a 37-hour week, but the union rejected it. This strike will be the longest in Deutsche Bahn history and stands to cost the sector approximately 30 million euros a day.

Union, a documentary film about the effort to unionize Staten Island Amazon workers, premiered yesterday at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival. The film, directed by Stephen Maing and Brett Story, follows current and former Amazon workers as they attempt to organize their coworkers. The filmmakers document organizing meetings, elections, and altercations with police, while footage captured by workers’ hidden cell phones inside the warehouse show the company’s attempts to union bust. The film is still seeking distribution and has yet to be picked up by a major streamer. 

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