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February 24, 2018
Posted On: Feb 07, 2018

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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

In the current Steward Update newsletter
Union Affinity Groups Build the Movement
While unions do build solidarity to improve the lives of everyone, it’s also true that we workers are a very diverse group, and sometimes our specific identities must be addressed more directly. Several organizations exist to address—and advocate for—greater equality for workers inside and outside their unions.

Labor Quote
Equal Pay for Equal Work
"When we talk about equal pay for equal work, women in the workplace are beginning to catch up. If we keep going at this current rate, we will achieve full equality in about 475 years. I don't know about you, but I can't wait that long."
—Lya Sorano, founder, Women in Business

Labor Cartoon
Randy Glasbergen

Steward Tip
Helping Newer Stewards: Intervene Strongly Only If You Have To
When tempted to intervene with advice to a new steward, stop and think: What is the lowest level of intervention that might work in the situation? Sometimes, though, you have to push harder:
Suggest particular ideas or action.  Don’t do this unless the steward is at a complete loss about what to do next or is extremely discouraged or low-energy. For example, “When I’ve had to deal with a suspension like this, I’ve always made it a point to check out how other workers have been treated who’ve committed the same offense. The personnel office has good records on absenteeism disciplines.” This is a strong intervention that denies the new steward the chance to think through the situation and encourages dependence. Your goal is the opposite: to get the steward functioning independently from you.
Give an explicit direction. This is the most forceful form of intervention and should not be used unless all else has been tried and failed, and when time is short. “Word the grievance like this and file it NOW. The time limit is up at 5:00 pm today!!!” Some people will be relieved when you do this, but they won’t necessarily do it right the next time, either. Others may be angry. Still others may resign.
Your mentoring efforts will pay off when you see new stewards handling their own grievances with confidence and competence. You’ll have helped them reach the potential that was inside them all along, and you’ll have a more manageable workload yourself!

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

Today in Labor History
February 07
Union miners in Cripple Creek, Colo., begin what is to become a five-month strike that started when mine owners cut wages to $2.50 a day, from $3.  The state militia was called out in support of the strikers—the only time in U.S. history that a militia was directed to side with the workers.  The strike ended in victory for the union - 1894

It took 1,231 firefighters 30 hours to put down The Great Baltimore Fire, which started on this day and destroyed 1,500 buildings over an area of some 140 acres - 1904
Hockey players formed the NHL Players Association in New York City after owners refuse to release pension plan financial information.  The union was busted when owners transferred key activists, but it successfully re-formed ten years later – 1957

Thirteen workers are killed, 42 injured in a dust explosion at an Imperial Sugar refinery in Port Wentworth, Georgia.  Investigators found that the company had been aware of dangers for years but had not acted on them - 2008

February 08
Vigilantes beat IWW organizers for exercising free-speech rights, San Diego - 1912
February 09
Wobbly activist Tom Mooney convicted in bombing frame-up orchestrated by Pinkerton Detective Agency. He was pardoned and released 22 years later - 1917
Congress approves legislation allowing for a total of $940 million to be used for Depression-era relief projects. $790 million of this money was intended to be used to fund work relief and flood recovery programs - 1937
U.S. Sen. Joseph McCarthy falsely charged that the State Department was riddled with Communists. It seems that just about everyone else the Wisconsin senator didn’t like was a Communist as well, including scores of unionists. This was the beginning of "McCarthyism." He ultimately was officially condemned by the Senate and died of alcoholism - 1950
President Kennedy asks Congress to approve creation of the Medicare program, financed by an increase in Social Security taxes, to aid 14.2 million Americans aged 65 or older - 1961
Some 19,000 Boeing engineers and technical workers in Washington state and Oregon begin what is to become a 40-day strike over economic issues - 2000

—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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