News & Commentary

February 3, 2017

Leora Smith

Leora Smith is a student at Harvard Law School.

In New York City, Yemeni bodega owners went on strike yesterday, shuttering around 1000 stores from noon to 8 p.m. to protest President Donald Trump’s Executive Order banning entry to the United States for people from seven Muslim-majority countries, and suspending admission of refugees. One bodega owner taped a piece of paper to the glass door at the front of his store that read, “CLOSED. My family is detained at JFK.” Another posted a sign saying “My Family Is Stranded Overseas, We Are Closed.” Store owners of different backgrounds closed in solidarity with the strike and hundreds of supporters joined the bodega owners for a protest in Brooklyn.

Yesterday also brought an unexpected result from another recent strike – Uber CEO, Travis Kalanick resigned from President Trump’s business advisory group following a widespread campaign to boycott the company for their actions during the New York Taxi Workers’ Alliance strike last Saturday. The Taxi Workers refused to pick up or drop off passengers at JFK airport from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m on Saturday, in support of protests at the airport against the Executive Order on immigration and refugees. Shortly after the strike ended, Uber dropped its prices, which was interpreted by some as  an attempt to capitalize on the strike. Uber users also expressed anger at Kalanick’s position on the advisory group. Uber denies that they intended to break the strike, saying instead that their intention was to avoid profiting from higher demand during the protest. Over 200,000 people have deleted their Uber accounts since Saturday, prompting Kalanick’s resignation from the advisory group. Meanwhile, President Trump will be meeting with a different advisory group today – a task force on “women in the workforce” that is led by two men. 

Bloomberg reported yesterday about the very different ways that different unions have responded to President Trump so far, noting some union leaders have expressed concern that the administration’s strategy is to “divide and conquer” the labor movement. On a related note, the American Prospect delves into the specific challenges facing building trades unions, whose leaders met with President Trump on his fourth day in office. Though the leaders have expressed hopefulness about Trump’s promised infrastructure projects, they have to balance that optimism with concerns about protecting the rights of their members – many of whom are immigrants, undocumented, or have family members who are undocumented and  could face persecution under the new administration.

Enjoy OnLabor’s fresh takes on the day’s labor news, right in your inbox.