Los Angeles union wants to be exempt from $15 minimum wage it fought for
Union officials argue minimum wage ordinances that omit unionized workforces – which are common in the US – allow for negotiation of better contracts
By Jana Kasperkevic

Largest-Ever Strike Hits Fast Food Industry In 230 Cities

On Wednesday, fast food workers walked off the job in 230 cities, staging the largest-ever strike in their movement aimed at a $15 minimum wage and the right to form a union.

The movement began with a single strike in New York City at the end of 2012 but has grown increasingly larger as the Fight for 15 movement has staged nine other days of coordinated strikes since then. Wednesday’s actions took place in cities on both coasts, the south, and the midwest, and it even went global, with strikes in Italy and New Zealand.

1) Walmart hurts local communities

Of all of Walmart’s egregious practices overtime, this is the one that’s probably the most well-known. For additional evidence, check out the 2005 documentary, Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price. Many people are aware that when Walmart comes to town, the company drives out smaller mom-and-pop businesses, but what not everybody realizes is that the presence of Walmart actually does little to bolster the economy of local communities in the long run either.

2) The company uses foreign labor, including child workers

It’s been estimated that over 50 percent of Walmart goods come from overseas suppliers. This doesn’t just take away American jobs in favor of cutting costs; it also creates a living hell for those forced to meet Walmart’s hefty supply needs. The corporation has been accused of paying off officials in foreign companies in order to keep many of the details silent, but various stories paint a gruesome picture.

3) Walmart underpays women and neglects pregnant workers

Although working at Walmart may not necessarily be great for anybody, it may also be additionally tough for women. Beginning in 2001, the case of Wal-Mart vs. Dukes sought to change that, but unfortunately, the Supreme Court shot it down in 2011, making it harder for female employees at Walmart and everywhere else to break free from being underrepresented and underpaid.

4) The company also discriminates against workers with a disability and elderly employees

Besides women, the other marginalized groups Walmart goes after are the disabled and the elderly. In 2001 alone, the company paid $6 million to settle 13 lawsuits filed by various disabled workers. And in 2014, Walmart was forced to shell out $363,419 to settle a suit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of an employee with an intellectual disability who had been sexually harassed.

5) It isn’t a safe environment for employees

In 2013, Walmart finally agreed to update its safety policies at 2,900 stores after the Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited violations at a store in New York State. The measure covered a multitude of Walmart and Sam’s Club locations, but unfortunately for some, it was too little too late.

6) The company is notorious for wage theft

Besides mistreating their employees, Walmart has, in some ways, literally stole money from them over the years. In one instance, the company forced employees to buy new uniforms—when they could have just bought them new uniforms themselves.

7) Walmart provides poor healthcare for workers

Walmart employees have been found to be sicker on average than most American workers, and it’s no wonder why. Though the company has taken various steps to provide cheaper insurance, the result has simply been to give their workers plans that include less care. Walmart has also used taxpayer subsidies to provide these benefits, without ever addressing the most important question, which is whether or not the company even pays its employees enough for them to afford health care at all. (Spoiler: Walmart doesn’t.)

8) Walmart has a bad track record on animal welfare

If the way Walmart treats people wasn’t enough to turn you against them, then perhaps the way the company treats animals is. Reports show that Walmart is among the worst companies when it comes to ensuring that the animal products its stores sell came from livestock that was well-treated.

9) However, Walmart does care about rich people

In 2013, the Walton family received $8 billion in tax breaks, $6.2 billion of which came from federal taxpayer subsidies handed to them because employee wages are so low. Currently, the company is also hosting $21.4 billion in offshore accounts, which remain untaxed by the U.S. government. And in 2014, as Walmart failed to meet shareholder expectations, the company somehow managed to dig up enough money to give its CEO a $1.5 million bonus for performing poorly at his job.

10) The chain has a deceptive public image

Walmart’s universal reputation as the “bad guys” stings that much more as the company keeps trying to remind us how good it is. Take their OUR Walmart initiative, which attempts to silence dissenters with positive representations of the company, even as workers flood the Internet with their personal horror stories. Or the Walmart Foundation’s initiative to “fight hunger,” while their own employees go hungry, spending $300 million in taxpayer money on food stamps. Or how about its campaign telling you to “buy American,”  even while the company’s new uniforms were made in Jordan.

Read the full article 

36 Reasons Why You Should Thank a Union

  • Weekends
  • All Breaks at Work, including your Lunch Breaks
  • Paid Vacation
  • FMLA
  • Sick Leave
  • Social Security
  • Minimum Wage
  • Civil Rights Act/Title VII (Prohibits Employer Discrimination)
  • 8-Hour Work Day
  • Overtime Pay
  • Child Labor Laws
  • Occupational Safety & Health Act (OSHA)
  • 40 Hour Work Week
  • Worker’s Compensation (Worker’s Comp)
  • Unemployment Insurance
  • Pensions
  • Workplace Safety Standards and Regulations
  • Employer Health Care Insurance
  • Collective Bargaining Rights for Employees
  • Wrongful Termination Laws
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967
  • Whistleblower Protection Laws
  • Employee Polygraph Protect Act (Prohibits Employer from using a lie detector test on an employee)
  • Veteran’s Employment and Training Services (VETS)
  • Compensation increases and Evaluations (Raises)
  • Sexual Harassment Laws
  • Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Holiday Pay
  • Employer Dental, Life, and Vision Insurance
  • Privacy Rights
  • Pregnancy and Parental Leave
  • Military Leave
  • The Right to Strike
  • Public Education for Children
  • Equal Pay Acts of 1963 & 2011 (Requires employers pay men and women equally for the same amount of work)
  • Laws Ending Sweatshops in the United States
Where to take your parents other than the Space Needle

By now, you may have read that the private owners of the Space Needle are pretty awful to the union workers who do important things like run the elevator and make sure people don’t die at the City’s most recognizable icon. 

KIRO is reporting today that the employees, who asked for a raise, instead, got a supremely condescending  presentation about how to “live on less.” The Seattle Times has the story of how the Space Needle, LLC violated labor laws when they discouraged their employees to join the union. 

Photo: Cliff Cooper via Flickr

Oh, and this isn’t the first time the Space Needle has been shitty; complaints of their union-busting ways have been bubbling for years. Plus, they’re just not very good Seattle neighbors; they lobbied against the rezoning in SLU (because THE VIEWS!!!), they’ve dragged their feet on being allies to the LGBT community, claiming that raising the rainbow flag year after year was against the way they do things (tell that to the 12th flag, or the Seafair flag, or any of the flags they’ve raised religiously). 

What makes it even worse is the fact that the Space Needle is owned by one of the wealthiest families in the city, the Wright family, the patriarch of which has donated to such political figures as Dino Rossi. This is a dude who has gotten rich off not paying his employees fairly and running a business that does not represent Seattle’s best interests.

So! What do you do? Well, you do not go to the Space Needle when your parents come to visit. Instead, you do something else. Like, for example:

  • You go to one of our great free museums, like the Frye or the Olympic Sculpture Park, or get a Museum Pass for many other museums, like MOHAI and the aquarium. 
  • You could go get a pretty decent view from the Columbia Tower. You don’t even really need to go into the Starbucks. Just go up there and gaze at the city.
  • You could enjoy one of Seattle’s many privately-owned public open spaces (POPS), which are quite cool. 
  • You could go to the library (duhhhh).
  • You could stroll along (what’s left of) the waterfront.
  • You could go to Kerry Park and get a pretty cool view from up there. Or Harborview. Or Beacon Hill. 
  • You could take one of many downtown/underground/haunted tours. 
  • You could wander around Lake View Cemetery, which is honestly pretty great.
  • While you’re up there, you could hit up the Volunteer Park Conservatory
  • You could visit Magnolia Park for a very different/awesome view.
  • You could, as one reader pointed out, get some picnic fixings at Central Co-Op, who pay their employees a living wage. 

…Or like a million other things that don’t support a company that is shit to their workers. [Update: Here’s a list from our reblogs! It’s good!] 

Oh, and if you own a business, consider poaching some of the talent from the Space Needle. Those people need good, fair-wage jobs. So if you have one of those, maybe see if anyone from the Space Needle would like it. 

UPDATE: One of our readers reminded us that the Chihuly Glass Museum, which is under the Space Needle, is owned by the same people so probably best not to go there. Plus, they were real turds about the KEXP/Seattle Center renovation. 

“In our glorious fight for civil rights, we must guard against being fooled by false slogans, such as ‘right-to-work.’ It provides no 'rights’ and no 'works.’ Its purpose is to destroy labor unions and the freedom of collective bargaining…. We demand this fraud be stopped.” .. (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

Employers - the real welfare queen/king. 

Don’t blame workers who need public assistance because their highly profitable employer chooses to pay them poverty wages.

becja asked:

Hi Geneva, I was wondering if you had any resources to how unionization works for the animation industry in California? Animation unions are a thing that can't even be breathed about up in Canada, but we rely heavily on tax subsidies to keep it together and it's a broken system etc. Anyway if you have any explanations or links that would be great. Thanks for your time.


I don’t know if I’m fully qualified to explain the guild in its entirety. I’m no historian! BUT I am a proud member, and I think that there isn’t enough talk on these parts about the Animation Guild or what it does on tumblr and among people who aren’t working in LA in major union studios. It’s a great thing to ask about! Also, I am super pro-union politically (with a couple exceptions), so I am going to take the opportunity to get on a bit of a soapbox, here.

What is the Guild and who is in it?

The Animation Guild is the USA animation industry’s only thriving union (to my knowledge). Most of the major studios you hear about are obligated to have all their in-house productions be union productions (think Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, WB, Disney, etc.) Sometimes it varies by production (for example I don’t think Starburns is usually a union studio, but recently Rick and Morty became a unionized production thanks to the hard work and bravery of the artists who won the right to be unionized).

Even workers at studios that aren’t union benefit from the unionized productions being nearby. To stay competitive and not lose their workers, companies end up having to live up to a reasonable standard. Animation in LA isn’t perfect, but without the guild’s presence, LA animation’s industry standards could very easily be a race to the bottom, simply because there is so much eager talent out there that can be exploited (I’ll come back to this point).

What does the Guild do?

The union offers medical insurance, a route to a 401k savings account (though studios are not required to match/contribute), gives workers a route to speak up about unfair labor practices (though due to the small size of the industry and how fast reputations travel, people in my experience don’t take that route lightly. That’s another topic, I guess). It also establishes minimum wages for every job in the pipeline and provides transparency for industrial average wages. 

The union makes sure we in the industry are paid living wages and receive benefits that reflect the value we bring the companies we work for! Animation makes a ton of money for studios by providing them with libraries of entertainment, and beloved characters to merchandise. The union sees to it that we are fairly compensated for our valuable work even in an environment that is very competitive. 

What’s the catch?

It’s mandatory for all artists working on a union production (if you can call that a catch). Also, your employer has to file paperwork for you to get in. I think, as evidenced by Rick & Morty’s recent unionization, that if you organize your whole crew and petition a non-union employer to join, you can as well.  

You also have to pay an intitial fee to join (it’s quite substantial– often thousands– and depends on how much money you’re making in your first guild job). It seems like a lot at first, but you pay it down in installments. After that, there are modest quarterly dues. It’s very fair, in my opinion, considering that it covers the health insurance and upholds fair industry standards. With fair industry wages, you can afford to pay it (and to live in Los Angeles, which has a pretty high cost of living).

You can find out more info here!

Not bad! Wait, almost no other industries have this. How did it happen?

Keep reading

Unions And Black Lives Matter Activists Join Forces Against Scott Walker

Activists took to the streets by the thousands in Madison, Wisconsin on Wednesday with a long list of grievances — ranging from the police killing of unarmed 19-year-old Tony Robinson to the impending multi-million dollar cut to the state’s universities, which they say will “devastate Wisconsin for generations to come.”

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In Wisconsin, now that workers aren't FORCED to join unions, nobody's joining unions

A funny thing happens when you outlaw forcibly taking union dues out of people’s paychecks…people suddenly stop wanting to be in labor unions. That’s exactly what has happened in Wisconsin after Scott Walker fought to give people the right to work, regardless of their union membership. 

from Washington Post:

Walker had vowed that union power would shrink, workers would be judged on their merits, and local governments would save money. Unions had warned that workers would lose benefits and be forced to take on second jobs or find new careers.

Many of those changes came to pass, but the once-thriving ­public-sector unions were not just shrunken — they were crippled.

Unions representing teachers, professors, trash collectors and other government employees are struggling to stem plummeting membership rolls and retain relevance in the state where they got their start.

Here in King, Magnant and her fellow AFSCME members, workers at a local veterans home, have been knocking on doors on weekends to persuade former members to rejoin. Community college professors in Moraine Park, home to a technical college, are reducing dues from $59 to $36 each month. And those in Milwaukee are planing a campaign using videos and posters to highlight union principles. The theme: ­“Remember.”

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One union member interviewed in that article actually says, “The money I’d spend on dues is way more valuable to buy groceries for my family.”  He’s exactly right.

If workers want to voluntarily join a union and collectively bargain for better pay and benefits, that’s perfectly fine.  However, forcing people to join unions in order to get government jobs is immoral and just takes bread off of family tables and lines the pockets of corrupt leaders and politicians.