As Maxwell covered yesterday, workers spanning multiple industries and regions across the U.S. are striking or poised to strike for better working conditions. Workers at Kellogg, John Deere, various entertainment productions, Kaiser Permanente, New York hospitals, Massachusetts hospitals, and more are either currently striking or have authorized a strike if demands aren’t soon met. As Maxwell also noted, this means that in total, 100,000 workers could very well be on strike by the end of the month. Instacart workers are also planning a walk-off tomorrow to win demands like 10% automatic tips, occupational death benefits, and not penalizing Instacart’s shoppers for issues outside of their control.
Here at Harvard, HGSU-UAW (one of the multiple student worker unions on campus) has set a date for a strike if Harvard and the union haven’t agreed to a contract: October 27-29, which is also parents’ weekend. The union’s contract, which represents around 5,000 workers, expired earlier this summer, and the union says negotiations have stalled. The union’s remaining demands focus on raises that keep up with the cost of living, real recourse for survivors on campus, and having a union or closed shop (meaning all the workers who benefit from a union must also contribute dues). Even though the university has barely budged on raises for student workers and tried to lay off dining workers earlier this year, Harvard also just announced massive gains in its endowment over the last year. The school’s endowment increased by $11.3 billion, from $41.9 billion to $53.2 billion, which is an increased of a third.
Finally, a new piece from the Center for Public Integrity illustrates the rampant wage theft issues in the garment industry, which has an outsized impact on immigrants because they make up a large portion of garment workers. In California, Governor Newsom recently signed a bill into law that ends per-piece wages, which was seen as enabling wage theft because employers often didn’t add on to per-piece wages to meet the minimum wage despite being legal obligated to do so (similar to how the tipped minimum wage is supposed to work). The article cites data from the UCLA Labor Center showing that wage theft hits immigrant workers in California especially hard – the Center estimated that low-wage, predominantly immigrant workers in L.A. County lost approximately $2,000 in stolen wages a year, or $26 million each week (as of 2010). The bill Governor Newsom signed also attaches liability for wage theft of garment workers to retailers who work with garment factories, which could create an added layer of pressure on the factories to stop stealing its employees’ wages.