Friday, January 12, 2018

Labor South Roundup: Organizing in the Big Easy, a pro-union U.S. Senator in Alabama, and a new Poor People's Campaign out of North Carolina

(The Rev. William Barber II of North Carolina during a visit to Selma, Alabama, in 2015)

Looking ahead at 2018 reveals some few hopeful signs on the horizon despite the scary mess in the White House and continuing Republican rule across much of the land.

Organizing in the Big Easy

In New Orleans, workers in the hospitality industry have organized to improve their lives at the workplace, a grassroots effort that is showing some real promise. A recent article in Gambit by Kat Stromquist says members of the New Orleans Hospitality Workers Committee (NOHWC) want to stop “the manager who skims tips from employees” and stop the practice making waitstaff pay “for kitchen mistakes out of their paychecks.”

They’d also like a “guaranteed 40-hour work week and a chance to earn overtime.”

Tourism is a big industry in post-Katrina New Orleans with 10.45 million people going to the Big Easy in 2016 and spending $7.41 billion while there, Stromquist reports.

Yet hospitality workers earn some of the lousiest wages in New Orleans, generally less than $10 an hour.

The NOHWC has proposed a 10-point Work Week Ordinance to give workers more say in their working lives, including input into scheduling and shift assignments.

A year ago this month, approximately 500 workers in the hotel industry joined UNITE HERE Local 2262, which already had representation at Harrahs New Orleans Hotel and Casino, Loew's New Orleans Hotel, the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.

It’s Fair to Hope in Alabama

Democrat Doug Jones’ victory over Neanderthal Roy Moore in the recent U.S. Senate race may be just some kind of quirk to Fox News, but it provides a platform for a proud, much needed pro-union voice in the millionaires’ club known as the Senate.

Jones is the grandson of card-carrying union member steelworkers, and Jones himself was a steelworkers member at US Steel Fairfield Works during his college summers. He boasted of his union ties while on the campaign trail.

An openly pro-union Democrat from the Deep South in Congress? The Clintonistas must be as disgruntled about that as Republicans!

A Poor People’s Campaign coming out of North Carolina

The Rev. William Barber II, leader of North Carolina’s Moral Monday movement and one of the most dynamic social justice advocates in the country today, helped launched a new Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival in December, taking inspiration from the Poor People’s campaign that Martin Luther King Jr. started 50 years earlier in December 1967.

According to Facing South, the campaign has “plans for massive civil disobedience at state legislatures to challenge regressive public policies that hurt the poor.”

Martin Luther King is smiling from heaven.

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