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September 19, 2017
Posted On: Sep 06, 2017

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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

In the current Steward Update newsletter
Innovative Ways to Bring Union Strength to Black Communities
Over the last 50 years, unions have been a major force for economic justice for workers, and disproportionately for people of color. Today, unions are reduced to historically low levels of membership and strength. The United States is at a critical moment in the movement for racial justice and at a critical moment for the right to unionize. Shop stewards occupy an important place in the struggle to build both together.

Labor Quote
"When the rich concern themselves with the poor, that’s called charity. When the poor concern themselves with the rich, that’s called revolution."
—William Winpisinger, President, International Association of Machinists, 1981

Labor Cartoon
Eli Stein

Steward Tip

Time Frames and Deadlines on Information Requests
When it comes to providing data requested by the union, employers are not excused from compliance because of the size of the union’s request (although the employer may insist on cost reimbursement). Information requests going back as long as five years have been enforced by the National Labor Relations Board. In terms of answering information requests, there is no uniform deadline. Employers generally must respond promptly but the acceptable time period depends on the amount of information requested and the difficulty in obtaining it. Items such as attendance records should be produced in one or two weeks. Unreasonable delay is just as much a labor law violation as outright refusal.
—Excerpted from The Union Steward’s Complete Guide (2nd Edition, Updated)

Today in Labor History
September 06
One of the worst disasters in the history of U.S. anthracite mining occurred at the Avondale Mine, near Scranton, Pa., when a fire originating from a furnace at the bottom of a 237-foot shaft roared up the shaft, killing 110 miners - 1869
Tony Boyle, former president of the United Mine Workers, is charged with murder in the 1969 deaths of former UMW rival Joseph A. Yablonski and his wife and daughter - 1973

September 07
Federal employees win the right to receive Workers' Compensation insurance coverage - 1916
September 08

Employers give in to the demands of striking miners in McKees Rocks, Pa., agree to improved working conditions, 15-percent hike in wages and elimination of a "pool system" that gave foremen control over each worker’s pay - 1909
Workers give up their Labor Day weekend holidays to keep the munitions factories working to aid in the war effort. Most Labor Day parades are canceled in respect for members of the Armed Services - 1942
United Farm Workers union begins historic national grape boycott and strike, Delano, Calif. - 1965
Some 2,600 Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) workers begin what is to be a successful 6-day strike for higher pay and against a two-tier wage system - 1997

(In this expanded edition of Strike!, you can read about labor-management conflicts that have occurred over the past 140 years. Here you’ll learn much about workers’ struggle to win a degree of justice, from the workers’ point of view. Brecher also examines the ever-shifting roles and configurations of unions, from the Knights of Labor of the 1800s to the AFL-CIO of the 1990s. A new chapter, “Beyond One-Sided Class War,” looks at how modern protest movements, such as the Battle of Seattle and Occupy Wall Street, were ignited and considers the similarities between these challenges to authority and those of labor’s past.)

—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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