Weekend News & Commentary — November 4-5, 2017

Published November 5th, 2017 -  - 11.05.173


1800 workers in New York City are in their eighth month striking against Charter Communications.  After Charter bought Time Warner Cable in May 2016, Charter sought to substitute its standard contract for the collective bargaining agreement between Time Warner and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 3.  Workers—like Tanisha Smythe who is frequenting food banks to feed herself and her young son during the strike—are sacrificing substantially to preserve their union contract.  The Guardian contextualizes Smythe’s struggle within the general weakening of American unions, and quotes Jake Rosenfeld’s recent OnLabor post about the impact of shrinking unions on national politics.

Workers at Boston radio station WBZ-AM are facing developments that seem ominously similar to those that prompted the strike against Charter Communications.  iHeartMedia, who has just acquired WBZ-AM, announced that they would not honor pre-existing collective bargaining agreements with the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.  iHeartMedia also announced that all staff would have to reapply for their jobs.

The Idaho Statesman reports that local farmers highly value the H-2A and H-2B guest worker programs, even though they find the associated regulations cumbersome.  Violations aren’t punished harshly or often.  And even when a company is disallowed from hiring guest workers because of its misdeeds–which is currently the case for only 33 of several thousand H-2A employers nationwide–substantial federal farm subsidies continue to roll in.

Amid allegations and investigation of workplace harassment, two more leaders within SEIU’s Fight for 15 campaign have left the union.  Kendall Fells, a national organizer on the campaign, resigned, and Mark Raleigh, who headed the Fight for 15 in Detroit, was fired.  Last month Executive Vice President Scott Courtney resigned, and Caleb Jennings, who led the campaign in Chicago, was fired.  In addition to an internal investigation, the union has convened an external advisory group to address this seemingly widespread problem.

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