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January 23, 2018
STEWARD UPDATE WEEKLY 1/10/18
Posted On: Jan 10, 2018

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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

In the current Steward Update newsletter
Stewards as Cultural Change Agents
With the Harvey Weinstein and subsequent revelations about misconduct by powerful men—including some union leaders—hitting the news week after week, many people are wondering how much sexual harassment and assault might be happening in their communities. Workers in every kind of industry are talking about how to protect themselves and one another.

Labor Quote
Capitalism v. Unionism
"If capitalism is fair then unionism must be. If men have a right to capitalize their ideas and the resources of their country, then that implies the right of men to capitalize their labor."
—Frank Lloyd Wright, architect, writer and educator (1867-1959)

Labor Cartoon
Edouard Blais

Steward Tip

Insubordination
Cases involving suspension or discharge for refusal to follow instructions – insubordination – can be especially difficult for stewards to handle.  However, enough have been brought to arbitration that previous decisions provide some guidelines for how to best deal with this problem. Here are a couple:
Was the employee set up to be insubordinate after the decision was made to discipline him?  It is one thing to warn an employee of impending suspension or discharge, and quite another to provoke the employee into refusing to obey an order in front of a witness.
If the refusal was prompted by a belief that there was risk of danger to the worker or someone else, then discipline may not be upheld in arbitration.  However, if the employee knew about the risk ahead of time, then she had an obligation to report it to the proper person immediately.

—Excerpted from The Union Steward’s Complete Guide (2nd Edition, Updated)

Today in Labor History
January 10
In what is described as the worst industrial disaster in state history, the Pemberton Mill in Lawrence, Mass., collapses, trapping 900 workers, mostly Irish women. More than 100 die, scores more injured in the collapse and ensuing fire. Too much machinery had been crammed into the building - 1860
 
Wobbly organizer and singer Joe Hill allegedly kills two men during a grocery store hold-up in Utah. He ultimately is executed by firing squad (His last word was “Fire!”) for the crime despite much speculation that he was framed - 1914
 
Former AFL-CIO President George Meany dies at age 85. The one-time plumber led the labor federation from the time of the AFL and CIO merger in 1955 until shortly before his death - 1980
 
The Supreme Court lets stand implementation of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) despite the lack of an Environmental Impact Statement - 2004


January 11
The IWW-organized “Bread & Roses” textile strike of 32,000 women and children begins in Lawrence, Mass. It lasted 10 weeks and ended in victory. The first millworkers to walk out were Polish women, who, upon collecting their pay, exclaimed that they had been cheated and promptly abandoned their looms - 1912

(Notice in the Minneapolis Labor Review) “Minneapolis Ice Wagon Drivers’ Union will hold an exceptionally interesting meeting Sunday, at 16 South 5th St.  A Jazz Band, dancing, boxing and good speaking are among the attractions.” - 1918
 
Nearly two weeks into a sit-down strike at GM’s Fisher Body Plant No. 2 in Flint, Mich., workers battle 
police when they try to prevent the strikers from receiving food deliveries from thousands of supporters on the outside.  Sixteen strikers and spectators and 11 police were injured.  Most of the strikers were hit by buckshot fired by police riot guns; the police were injured principally by thrown nuts, bolts, door hinges and other auto parts. The incident became known as the “Battle of the Running Bulls” - 1936
 
National Hockey League owners end a player lockout that had gone for three months and ten days.  A key issue was owner insistence on a salary cap, which they won - 1995
 
Ford Motor Co. announces it will eliminate 35,000 jobs while discontinuing four models and closing five plants - 2002
 

January 12
Novelist Jack London is born. His classic definition of a scab—someone who would cross a picket line and take a striker's job: "After God had finished the rattlesnake, the toad, the vampire, He had some awful substance left with which He made a scab. A scab is a two-legged animal with a cork-screw soul, a water-logged brain, a combination backbone of jelly and glue. Where others have hearts, he carries a tumor of rotten principles" - 1876
 
Seattle Mayor Ole Hanson orders police to raid an open-air mass meeting of shipyard workers in an attempt to prevent a general strike. Workers were brutally beaten. The strike began the following month, with 60,000 workers walking out in solidarity with some 25,000 metal tradesmen - 1919
 
President Roosevelt creates the National War Labor Board to mediate labor disputes during World War II. Despite the fact that 12 million of the nation’s workers were women—to rise to 18 million by war’s end—the panel consisted entirely of men - 1942

—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 ucs@unionist.com.

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