August 14, 2016
BY David Moberg
The start to this weekend’s Fight for $15 convention didn’t go as planned.
As roughly 10,000 conference goers gathered in Richmond, Va., to talk about unions and low-wage work, organizers behind the nationwide campaign demanded a union of their own.
On Friday, Jodi Lynn Fennell, a child care worker organizer from Las Vegas, attempted to deliver a letter from a Fight for $15 organizers asking the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) to acknowledge it was their employer and to give them the right to organize.
A small group of supporters accompanied Fennell as she approached the stage where SEIU President Mary Kay Henry was scheduled to deliver the keynote address. But security guards stopped them from delivering the letter and escorted them away from the stage. Later, according to the Union of Union Representatives (UUR), a supervisor told Fennell and four other organizers they had to fly back to Las Vegas early Saturday morning, at their own expense.
Roughly 75 SEIU organizers and other field staff outside of the union’s national headquarters belong to the UUR. But Fennell and UUR Vice President Nicholas Calderon say that SEIU has told the roughly 100 other Fight for $15 field organizers who might be eligible to join the staff union that it doesn’t employ them.
“As we have said from the beginning, we are strong believers in the Fight for $15 campaign organizers and workers planned yesterday’s action to try to minimize disruption while still having visibility,” Conor Hanlon, UUR president, wrote in a statement to In These Times on Saturday. “We have no interest in stopping the crucial work going on there but do think it important that workers and community allies are aware of how SEIU is treating the Fight for $15.”
Wed, Aug. 10, 2016
Long frustrated in its dealings with the Renault-Nissan Alliance, the UAW is going international in its drive to revive its stalled organizing campaign at Nissan’s assembly complex in Canton, MS.
So far, the UAW has made little headway as it takes on the Mississippi conservative political establishment, which has been hostile to trade unions for decades. “The UAW doesn’t have any support,” says one Nissan official, who asked not to be identified.
Nor has the union attempted to stage a vote at Canton as it did at the Volkswagen plant in neighboring Tennessee, which generally is hostile to unions as well.
However, the UAW and its allies in Europe and South America have succeeded in making life uncomfortable for Nissan and its CEO Carlos Ghosn, who has had to answer questions about Canton while testifying at a French National Assembly committee hearing. The UAW hasn’t forgotten Ghosn’s personal role in defeating a union organizing drive at the Nissan plant in Smyrna, TN.