This week in labor

This is the first in a new series of regular briefs on the happenings of the labor movement – across the country and around the world. If you or your organization have a story or event that should be featured here, contact Roberta Wood.


Labor takes the Pulpit on Labor Day

God linked faith and work together when He spoke to Moses at the burning bush, 100 rank and file union members will be reminding congregations across the Chicago area this Labor Day weekend. The instructions to Moses were to lead the people out of oppressive working conditions, the speakers will point out.

The 500,000-member Chicago Federation joins every year with Arise Chicago, an interfaith coalition, in creating an opportunity for union members to remind congregants of the contributions of the labor movement to our society. They will also be bringing attention to the resonance of the missions of the two largest mass organizations of the American people, labor unions and religious organizations. Arise Chicago describes its mission as striving “to bring a fuller measure of God’s justice to the workplace.”

“We are empowered and humbled by the task to end workplace exploitation and to see ourselves in the eyes of our neighbors,” says a statement by the two organizations.

Las Vegas hotel workers warn Trump Hotel, “Time to make a deal!”

Event planners for meetings scheduled at the Trump International Las Vegas Hotel might find speakers cancelling and attendance plummeting, the union representing the luxury hotel’s 500 workers warned this week. The on-going labor dispute there threatens the success of conferences held at the facility, Culinary Workers Local 226 predicted. The local is urging organizations and individuals to reconsider their plans to patronize the facility, which is co-owned by the Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump.

The employees, who include housekeepers and servers, voted nearly a year ago to unionize. But, the union charges, the Trump management has refused to recognize the results of their employees’ democratic union election.

The National Labor Relations Board has issued three unfair labor practice complaints against Trump Las Vegas for illegally firing, interrogating, intimidating, and suspending union supporters, and for implementing rules that prevent the employees from communicating with each other and the public.

“We recommend relocating your events to a venue free of dispute until workers at the Trump Las Vegas get a fair contract,” said a union statement.

Richard Trumka asks labor supporters to go to social media

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has issued an appeal to labor supporters to go to social media to register their support for Hillary Clinton with a six-point meme contrasting GOP nominee Donald Trump’s positions with hers, including on the right to organize unions and the need for higher wages.

Global Solidarity Network in Action

At the Port of Los Angeles, dockworkers who are employed by Rio Tinto, the world’s largest mining company, are gearing up for a fight for a new contract next year. They’re getting ready by strengthening international bonds of solidarity through the Rio Tinto Global Solidarity Network. The Network brings together the multinational’s thousands of employees from 11 countries. The Rio Tinto corporation is based in Australia and the United Kingdom.

The union Network met earlier this year in Brisbane, Australia to beef up its solidarity agenda. Discussions focused on addressing wages as low as $167 a month for workers in Madagascar, South Africa, and Indonesia, and countering the multi-national’s world-wide policy of using temporary or contract employees to undermine union wage levels.

U.S. boron miners gratefully recalled that in 2010 Australian Rio Tinto dockworkers flew 6,000 miles to join their picket lines during a 15-week lockout in Boron, Calif.

In Brisbane, the Port of Los Angeles workers were represented by their ILWU Local 20 President Rudy Dorame, who told the ILWU Dispatcher, “The camaraderie and support we felt from all the different unions was awesome.”

The Rio Tinto Global Solidarity network also includes unions from France, Iceland, Canada, Namibia, South Africa and Indonesia and other U.S. unions representing Rio Tinto workers including the United Steelworkers.

Organize your own voter registration drive!

The USW website offers concrete tips for members and locals to launch their own registration drives. Stressing that laws differ by state, each with its own unique regulations that must be followed, the website makes the case for the importance of registration.

Eight million potential voters lose out because they haven’t registered before election day. This is easily the margin of victory for pro-working-family candidates. The site lists do’s and don’ts and makes it clear that whether a drive signs up 5 or 500 new voters, it’s an important addition.

Send your comments or items for next week’s Labor Update to

Photo: Solidarity action between faith groups and unions during the strike of Teamsters Local 705 at Golan’s Moving in Skokie, Ill. | Arise Chicago Workers’ Center. 


Roberta Wood
Roberta Wood

Roberta Wood is a retired journeyman instrument mechanic and member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the Coalition of Labor Union Women. Wood was also a steelworker in South Chicago, an officer of Steelworkers Local 65, and founding co-chair of the USWA District 31 Women's Caucus. Roberta Wood es un mecánico de instrumentos jubilado y miembro de la Hermandad Internacional de Trabajadores de la Electricidad y la Coalición de Mujeres Sindicales. Wood también era un trabajador siderúrgico en el sur de Chicago, un oficial de Steelworkers Local 65 y copresidente fundador del Caucus de Mujeres del Distrito 31 de la USWA.