SLActivist News Winter 2007
WINTER 2007 SLACTIVIST NEWS
- Student Labor Week of Action March 28 - April 4, 2007
- Legislative Update: Employee Free Choice Act (from USSA)
- What is United Students Against Sweatshops up to? (from USAS)
- Did you Hear? (from LWAC)
- It's Grass Roots Baby! (from USSA)
- McDonald's Campaign Escalates (from SFA)
- Save the Date! USSA Legislative Conference & USAS Regional Conferences
- Apply today: Union Research summer School
- Flyer Designing Contest
Imagine a world where everyone who chooses to is able to go to college; a world where workers on our campuses and in our communities have a voice about the conditions in which they work every day; a world where the fruits and vegetables we eat are picked by workers who earn a living wage; a world where we can proudly wear our university apparel, knowing the workers that made our clothing were paid fairly and afforded the basic rights of breaks, safe working conditions and an 8 hour work day. Cesar havez and Martin Luther King, Jr. both imagined a world like this.
Now is the time to turn our dreams for a better world into a reality.
From March 27-April 4, 2007, students and workers join together to celebrate the lives of Cesar Chavez and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and to continue their work to build a better future. Join us as we demand:
- An end to worker intimidation and a fair process for workers to join unions, including passage of the Employee Free Choice Act
- Living wages for all campus employees
- University codes of conduct that support workers' rights both on campus and overseas
- And MUCH MORE!
- Sign up here.
The struggles for equality, access to higher education and for fair and safe working conditions throughout our campuses, fields, and factories have a long and proud history in the US. Organizing by students and workers have brought about much needed changes such as labor laws for farm workers in California, the desegregation of our universities, and the 40-hour work week. It has been only through coming together and demanding change that we have achieved social progress.
Dr. King once said, "Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for freedom. A man can't ride your back unless it is bent."
It is in this tradition that we announce the 8th annual National Student Labor Week of Action. Encompassing both Cesar Chavez Day and the anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr, the National Student Labor Week of Action is a time for students across the country to demonstrate our strength as we demand respect and dignity for working people and affordable, accessible education for everyone.
Working people are struggling to make ends meet. The rising cost of tuition and financial aid cuts are making it harder for people to attend college, and many young people are burdened with mountains of student loan debt. Students and workers of all ages are falling behind as the gap between the rich and the poor widens. Although the best opportunity for working people to get ahead economically is by uniting with co-workers to bargain with their employers for better wages and benefits, our schools and corporations routinely intimidate, harass, coerce and even fire people who try to organize unions.2007 marks the 39 th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers began organizing over 40 years ago. While significant changes have been made since then, there is still much more work to do.
It's important to remember that the best opportunity working men and women have to get ahead economically is by uniting with co-workers to bargain with their employers for better wages and benefits.
- Workers who belong to unions earn 29 percent more than nonunion workers;
- They are 62 percent more likely to have employer-provided health coverage;
- They are four times more likely to have pensions.
More than half of U.S. workers-58 million-say they would join a union right now if they could.
But the current system for forming unions and bargaining is broken. Every day, corporations deny employees the freedom to decide for themselves whether to form unions to bargain for a better life. They routinely intimidate, harass, coerce and even fire people who try to organize unions. Today, the NLRB and federal labor law have been weakened and are inadequate. Often, workers must wait months if not years for a decision from the court that handles worker cases, and companies spend millions of dollars each year to appealing unfavorable rulings.
- 25% of employers illegally fire at least one activist during a union campaign;
- 78% require supervisors to deliver anti-union messages to the workers whose jobs and pay they control;
- Even after workers successfully form a union, in one-third of the instances, employers never negotiate a contract.
Corporations give CEOs contracts that protect their pay and benefits-but they deny employees the same opportunity. As a result, good jobs are vanishing and health care coverage and retirement security are slipping out of reach. Only 38 percent of the public says their families are getting ahead financially and less than a quarter believes the next generation will be better off.
The system has to be changed to give all working people the freedom to make their own choice about whether to have a union and bargain for better wages and benefits. If the law is changed to allow more workers to make their own decision-without management coercion-more of America's workers will be able to ensure fair treatment on the job and improve their standards of living.
A number of responsible major companies such as Cingular Wireless have agreed to recognize a union when a majority of employees signs up. They see that this is a free and fair way to assess workers' choice-and it results in less conflict between employers and employees.
The Employee Free Choice Act, which has bipartisan support in Congress, would level the playing field for employees and employers. It would restore workers' freedom to form unions and bargain by strengthening penalties for companies that coerce or intimidate employees, establishing mediation and binding arbitration when the employer and workers cannot agree on a first contract, and enabling employees to form unions when a majority express their decision to join the union by signing authorization cards.
YOU CAN TAKE ACTION ON THIS LEG WIRE BY:
- Educating students on your campus about the attack on worker's rights
- Lobby your federal legislators at USSA's
Legislative conference (for more information visit www.usstudents.org )
- for more information, visit www.araw.org, www.aflcio.org, or www.jwj.org
Courtesy of United Students Against Sweatshops
Campus Community Solidarity
Campus Community Solidarity (CCSC) has developed a Right to Organize Campaign, which would demand that administrations adopt Campus Labor Code of Conducts. The impetus of this campaign was the lessons of a series of living wage campaigns in which wage gains were won but no real worker voice was established. Recognizing that we do not want to establish a dynamic that depends on students for maintaining worker rights, but rather that workers must be their own representatives, the Right to Organize Campaign was begun.
There are a few main points in the Code: (1) campus workers include all workers on campus, whether direct hire or subcontracted; (2) the university will not commit any resources to anti-union campaigning and will offer no preferential treatment for anti-union workers; (3) union organizers will have access to workers on campus; (4) the university will recognize any legal method of unionization, including NLRB elections and card check; (5) the university agrees to bargain in good faith and expeditiously with the elected union; (6) there are meet-and-confer provisions for Right to Work states.
Schools that are currently running Right to Organize campaigns include Harvard University and William and Mary with many campuses planning to launch their campaigns in the spring.
Ethical Contracting in the process by which student power on campus demands that their university business relationships contain mechanisms for the protection of human, labor, economic, and environmental rights. Thus ethical contracting impacts the workers employed by companies doing business with our schools as well as community members involved in the business. Students have a huge amount of power to force their universities to require these sorts of changes, and, as well, schools have a social responsibility to do so. Therefore it is imperative that schools institutionally recognize, respect, and protect the rights of those workers and communities with which they directly and indirectly do business.
Ethical contracting has tended to be focused on different corporate campaigns in order to use student power and school leverage to force change in specific companies.
Currently, USASers have also been working on a campaign to hold Coca-Cola accountable for its numerous human, labor, and environmental rights abuses all over the world. This campaign has focused on getting schools to cut their contracts with Coke. Campuses that are working on this campaign include Indiana, Fordham, McMaster, University of Minnesota, University of California Berkley, University of Montana, University of Vermont, Stony Brook, and Michigan State University, with the most recent victory at Swarthmore.
USAS is currently in the process of working out the implementation process of the Designated Suppliers Program (DSP) with thirty schools signed on and many students still organizing on their campus to have their university adopt the program. The Designated Suppliers Program would require that brands source from factories that have unions or can demonstrate neutrality, pay a living wage, and would require that brands stay in the factory for three years, avoiding the cut and run technique used by brands. This means that factories that have had worker victories- such as Mexmode in northern Mexico, Lian Thai in Thailand, BJ&B in the Dominican Republic, PT Dada and PT Kolon Langgeng in Indonesia- would be a part of the program. Also, if organizing drives in these factories really are met with little resistance, it is likely that after the three-year phase-in is complete, the DSP factory pool will be overwhelmingly union.
Schools currently working on this campaign include University of Michigan, Penn State, University South Carolina, University of Southern California, Brown University, Purdue University and many more.
An Update from the Living Wage Action Coalition
The Living Wage Action Coalition, a project created after the living wage victories at Georgetown University and Washington University in the spring of 2005, has merged into with Jobs with Justice! The Living Wage Action Coalition (LWAC) worked closely with SLAP and United Students Against Sweatshops to create workshops to help share the stories of successful campus living wage campaigns from across the country with students who were beginning or currently running living wage campaigns. LWAC facilitators, all worker solidarity activists and current students or recent graduates, visited schools to share stories, skills, and advice from their campaigns. Over the past year, LWAC worked with students from USAS and SLAP chapters at over 50 schools in the US and a few in the UK as well.
The merger with JwJ was proposed after many strategy sessions USAS and SLAP discussing the most effective to strengthen the student- labor movement. LWAC has now transfered into the Jobs With Justice national office and is working with JwJ and SLAP to create a plan to incorporate all of the amazing stories and tools that we've learned over the past year into their training curriculum. Through the merger, LWAC will be better able to amplify the stories of successful campaigns and help coordinate student activists to learn from each other. We're very excited about being brought into the JwJ fold - more updates to come as plans develop and we gear up for the 2007 Student Labor Week of Action!
For more information on the campus living wage movement and tools for starting or strengthening a campaign, visit www.livingwageaction.org!
November 2006- On November 1-3 Philly SLAP exercised it's organizing skills by hosting a Grass Roots Organizing Weekend (GROW). During the weekend, dozens of students in attendance got a crash course in direct action organizing where they learned such skills as strategic campaigning, organizational management, effective recruitment, targeting, and coalition building.
The Grass Roots Organizing Weekend is organized by the United States Student Association and is based on the Midwest Academy's five-day direct organizing training. The GROW is premised on youth training youth on how to run campaigns on their campuses and in their communities. The GROW training saw SLAP students from Temple U., University of Pennsylvania, and Penn State University.
The trainers for the Philly GROW were Carmen Berkeley, Legislative liaison for the U.S. Student Association at the University of Pittsburgh, and Bill Shiebler, president of the University of California Student Association, and a students at the University of California - Santa Barbara.
"You can either struggle for a long time to learn to be a serious organizer, or you can get the ball rolling in one weekend", according to John Prisk, one of the organizer of the Philly GROW. For Warith Dean of the University of Pennsylvania the GROW was, "life changing".
Want information on how you can bring a GROW to your campus? Contact email@example.com.
Historic Convergence in April Will Usher in a New Phase in Campaign for Fair Food!
Courtesy of Student/Farmworker Alliance
Jan 2007 - After a whirlwind year of escalating action (see http://www.sfalliance.org), the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and the Student/Farmworker Alliance have announced a major mobilization for farmworker justice, April 13-14, 2007, in the greater Chicago area. Make your plans today to join us for these historic actions!
Nearly two years have passed since Taco Bell and the CIW announced an historic initiative to address the ever-deepening poverty and decades of degradation faced by farmworkers in Florida.
McDonald's, the undisputed leader of the $100 billion fast-food industry, has refused to recognize the seriousness of the exploitation of tomato pickers exposed through the Taco Bell boycott, and refused to work with the CIW to address that exploitation. Instead, it has taken measures that appear aimed at undermining the hard-won advances in wages and working conditions established in the agreement with Taco Bell.
Today, after nearly two years of waiting patiently for McDonald's to join us in addressing the crisis of human rights abuses and sub-poverty wages in its tomato supply chain, we are tired of waiting. We are tired, as Martin Luther King Jr. said, of "relying on the good will and understanding of those who profit by exploiting us."
Students and youth, as the so-called "sweet spot" of McDonald's marketing strategy, have a pivotal role to play in this struggle.
Make plans today to bring members of your organization and community to this pivotal and historic convergence for justice in the Chicago area:
*Major rally outside McDonald's global headquarters in Oak Brook, IL, Friday, April 13, 2007.
*Carnival and Parade for Fair Food, Real Rights, and Dignity - Saturday, April 14, 2007 in downtown
You can help hasten the day when all Florida farmworkers enjoy the fundamental right to a decent wage and fair working conditions. Contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org) today and visit www.sfalliance.org for more information.
Take it to the Hill
USSA's Grassroots Legislative Conference
March 3-6, 2007
USAS Regional Conferences:
The USAS High School Conference will be in Chicago, Illinois on March 30-April 1. It will be an opportunity for High School Students to get together learn and strategize on how to make their campus sweat free. Contact email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org 802-380-8510, email@example.com 708- 383- 4408 for more information.
Union Research Summer School - Registration Deadline is May 9
The AFL-CIO and Cornell University are sponsoring a Strategic Corporate Research Summer School on June 17-27, 2007 in Ithaca, New York. The course (credit or non-credit) is designed for undergrad and grad students who're interested in working as strategic researchers in the labor movement. The registration deadline is May 9. A limited number of scholarships are available. To obtain a registration form and other information, contact Diana Denner at (607) 254-4749 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org