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September 19, 2017
Posted On: Aug 23, 2017

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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

In the upcoming Steward Update newsletter
Why Privatization is a Bad Idea
Privatization—procuring or producing public goods and services from outside the government—may seem like a problem only for government employees and public sector unions, but, in truth, it affects everyone. Stewards, as key communicators of union values like solidarity and the common good, play a crucial role in talking about why contracting out public services is bad for everyone.
     Other articles in the upcoming issue include: Innovative Ways to Bring Union Strength to Black Communities; Lessons from Studying Anti-Union Attacks; Talking About Trade with Solidarity; and a great summary of recent arbitration decisions!

Labor Quote
Dignified Retirement
"A lifetime dedicated to hard work deserves a dignified retirement."
—Former U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez

Labor Cartoon
Randy Glasbergen

Steward Tip

Representing the Anti-Union Worker
If you’re thinking you won’t represent an anti-union worker in a grievance situation, think again! As a result of a 1967 Supreme Court interpretation of the National Labor Relations Act, the union has an obligation to equally and in good faith represent everyone covered by the collective bargaining agreement. It’s called the duty of fair representation, and it applies to members and nonmembers (in open-shop situations or right-to-work states) regardless of whether they like or dislike the union. Almost without exception, it’s the rule in the public sector as well as the private. The duty of fair representation means that when any worker in your recognized bargaining unit brings a possible grievance to you, you must make a thorough investigation. If your investigation determines the complaint is indeed a grievance, you must follow all the procedures the union has established in handling grievances. If your investigation determines it is not a grievance, your reason for not filing one must be based on the merits of the case – not because the worker is an anti-union troublemaker. “But it doesn’t mean I have to give service with a smile,” said one steward in a memorable one-liner. No, you don’t. But you might make this encounter with the anti-union worker an opportunity to change his or her mind. Or, at the very least, defuse the impact of her anti-unionism on the rest of the people in the workplace.
—Excerpted from The Union Steward’s Complete Guide (2nd Edition, Updated)

Today in Labor History

August 23
The U.S. Commission on Industrial Relations is formed by Congress, during a period of great labor and social unrest. After three years, and hearing witnesses ranging from Wobblies to capitalists, it issued an 11-volume report frequently critical of capitalism. The New York Herald characterized the Commission's president, Frank P. Walsh, as "a Mother Jones in trousers" - 1912

Italian immigrants Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, accused of murder and tried unfairly, were executed on this day. The case became an international cause and sparked demonstrations and strikes throughout the world - 1927
Seven merchant seamen crewing the SS Baton Rouge Victory lost their lives when the ship was sunk by Viet Cong action en route to Saigon - 1966
Farm Workers Organizing Committee (to later become United Farm Workers of America) granted a charter by the AFL-CIO - 1966

(Farmworker’s Friend: The story of Cesar Chavez is a thoughtful and moving book about the inspiring life of American hero Cesar Chavez, founder and long-time leader of the United Farm Workers of America. This sympathetic portrayal of Chavez and his life’s work begins with his childhood, starting from the time his family’s store in Arizona failed during the Great Depression and his entire family was forced into the fields to harvest vegetables for a few cents an hour. It traces his growth as a man and as a leader, talking of his pacifism, his courage in the face of great threats and greater odds, his leadership and his view that the union was more than just a union, it was a community—una causa.)

August 24
The Gatling Gun Co.—manufacturers of an early machine gun—writes to B&O Railroad Co. President John W. Garrett during a strike, urging their product be purchased to deal with the "recent riotous disturbances around the country." Says the company: "Four or five men only are required to operate (a gun), and one Gatling ... can clear a street or block and keep it clear" - 1877
United Farm Workers Union begins lettuce strike - 1970
August 25

Birth of Allan Pinkerton, whose strike-breaking detectives ("Pinks") gave us the word "fink" - 1819
Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters founded at a meeting in New York City.  A. Philip Randolph became the union's first organizer - 1925

—Compiled and edited by David Prosten.

Steward Update Weekly is brought to you by your union and Union Communication Services—Worker Institute at Cornell ILR, publisher of the Steward Update print edition newsletter, which provides union stewards with helpful information and advice. We hope the Steward Update Weekly will be a helpful tool in your important work as a steward for your union; if you have questions or suggestions on how the Weekly can be more useful, please email us at

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