MR Daily Review
Tuesday, September 6th
*Special Labor Edition*
1. Labor Day in the United States, a day off for some, just another Monday for most.
In the United States Labor Day is a federal holiday, more on its origins later, ostensibly to celebrate workers and give them a day off, but that is only reality for a small portion of the working class. The vast majority of workers, particularly in the service sector, are forced to work on Labor Day regardless of who the holiday is meant to celebrate. Some workers get increased holiday pay but for the vast majority it is just another Monday. Some 80% of employers with over 1,000 employees remain open on Labor Day and require their workers to come in, accounting for a significant portion of workers total.
2. Nurses around the country from California to New York are on strike. Starbucks workers around the country from Seattle to Ithaca have started multiple strikes.
In recent memory some of the most radical labor organizing and tactics have come from nurses unions and now thousands of nurses around the country are joining that tradition. Baristas too are showing their propensity for radical labor action as Starbucks Workers United has taken to organizing unions and strikes to win better conditions at the coffee giant. Jonah Furman has compiled the numbers, and over 2,000 mental healthcare workers at Kaiser in Northern California have entered their third week on strike, they’ve been joined by Kaiser mental health care workers in Hawaii and on September 12th some 15,000 members of the Minnesota Nurses Association are set to strike for three days. This is just a fraction of the labor activity in healthcare and across the board workers are tired of the deadly working conditions and pressures the pandemic created.
3. Labor Day was actually created by Grover Cleveland to undermine the labor movement.
Almost every country in the world celebrates labor and almost every country in the world does so on May 1st. That is, with the exception of the United States that celebrates Labor Day on September 5th. There is a very particular reason for that and it’s all politics. May 1st became a symbol for labor all around the world at the end of the 19th century and this was no different in the United States where the day became a locus for radical organizing. May day was taken up in earnest following the Haymarket Affair on May 4th of 1884, where alleged anarchist bombings led to chaos with police killing four civilians and wounding dozens more, which then devolved into a politically motivated show trial that sought to undermine leftist movements particularly Chicago’s anarchists, ultimately executing 4 of them. The birth of May Day was infused with the most radical elements of the labor movement and left politics and it became a rallying cry and focal point. To undermine the symbolism of May Day more conservative labor unions suggested a separate holiday to undermine the energy surrounding May Day. Grover Cleveland ultimately did just that signing a bill making Labor Day a national holiday meant for picnics and marches but only of the sort supported by more conservative unions and his political allies. Ultimately a need to outflank the left is the reason the United States celebrates Labor Day and not International Workers Day on May 1st. If you want to hear some topical content on a true labor hero, check out Millennial Review’s series on Eugene V. Debs.
4. Second Apple Store union in the works in Oklahoma City. Six more Starbucks locations filed for union elections in the last two weeks. Many smaller shops vote to form unions as well.
Not long ago a Maryland Apple Store voted to form a union, the first in the nation to do so. Now a second Apple Store in Oklahoma City are poised to join them as workers filed for a union vote with the NLRB. According to Bloomberg News about 70% of the workers at the location petitioned for union representation. The employees are attempting to organize with the Communications Workers of America, the previous store partnered with the International Association of Machinists. Regardless of the union workers choose to partner with it’s a positive step and hopefully one of many to come for Apple Store workers across the country. It’s only two stores but it’s hard not to be hopeful given some recent retail union success, I’m thinking specifically of Starbucks. Six more locations have filed for union elections hoping to join the already 220 union Starbucks locations and counting. The organizing of Starbucks United is something to behold and it seems as though 6 more stores are all but inevitable. Nothing but solidarity with Starbucks baristas everywhere.
5. NLRB finds the Amazon Labor Union is valid, and is set to force Amazon to negotiate.
After its Staten Island workers voted to join the Amazon Labor Union (ALU), Amazon wasted no time in contesting the results by filing an appeal with the NLRB. After weeks of hearings, the NLRB has said Amazon’s objections should be rejected in their entirety. The baseless nature of Amazon’s case against the union is not surprising – and is just another instance of Amazon’s illegal union busting behavior. Despite the company’s attempts to undermine the unionization efforts, the workers have continued their fight. The recent decision means that the ALU will now be able to begin negotiating with Amazon on behalf of the 8,000 workers that it represents at the NY location.