Britain: Uber Drivers’ Victory Strikes Blow Against Gig Economy

gig economy companiesRather than calibrating and equalizing the desires, preferences and rationales of free human beings, the apps, internet, and computers at society’s fingertips have simply become yet another tool for the exploitation of the working class. Airbnb, Deliveroo, and Uber are but three of the new household names in this latest tech wave known as the “gig economy.”

Chicago Teachers Union Strikes Back

Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) has been in a militant struggle with the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois for several years. Starting with the Republicans’ “No Child Left Behind” legislation, relentless attacks on students and teachers have followed in the past decade and a half. The Democrats’ bill, “Race to the Top,” doubled down on standardized testing, and these have been used by Democratic Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel as justification for closing down 48 schools in the city in 2013, thus allowing for an explosion of charter schools, many of which are for-profit, and very few of which actually perform better than public schools. Now, Republican Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has cut funding for Chicago Public Schools (CPS) in an attempt to push for a state takeover of the district, which would of course mean more cuts. The CTU’s fight back against these attacks has been long and hard. There was a major strike in 2013, many teachers refused to administer standardized tests in 2015, and this year, on April 1, the CTU went on a one-day strike, holding events across the city.

California Faculty Association's "Fight for Five"

CFAStrikeThe California Faculty Association (CFA) has begun the “Fight for Five” campaign in a dispute with the administration of the California State University (CSU) system after seeing faculty wages stagnate for ten years and real wages fall by up to 25% between 2004 and 2013. The CFA is demanding a general salary increase of 5% for fiscal year 2015/2016, whereas the CSU administration has proposed a mere 2% increase. This miserly offer adds insult to injury in the context of the administration’s history of never settling during the mandated mediation process. Over the same period, the average tuition paid by students in the CSU system has increased by over 300%, discrediting the administration’s claim that increasing faculty wages would lead to tuition increases—they have already risen dramatically despite stagnant wages. In light of all this, the CFA has called for a strike authorization vote.

Adjunct Professors Fight for Unions

washington universityIn January of this year, adjunct professors at Washington University in St. Louis voted 138 to 111 in favor of forming a union. Discussions began some two years ago when SEIU Local 1 approached multiple St. Louis-area universities about unionization. This was part of the SEIU’s Adjunct Action campaign, through which they have unionized nearly 20 universities to date. While, as of yet, no contract has been signed with the university, this is an important step forward and gives the adjunct professors a fighting chance to win better conditions.

More Work, Fewer Workers

I’m a Marxist and shop steward in SEIU 1199, working in a nursing home as an occupational therapist in New York City. The CEO has been laying off workers due to supposed “budgetary constraints.” Meanwhile, the nursing home has been upgrading and remodeling the physical plant for years. The work load has been increasing and the demands of the job have become more and more stressful. Staff are expected to pick up the slack, complete their assignments, and care for patients with the decreased numbers of workers. The boss refuses to hire additional staff and overtime pay is severely restricted.

As a result, workers are exhausted and are calling out sick more often. Supervisors have been disciplining workers who call out too much or fall behind in their work; suspensions and terminations have increased. Direct patient care staff, such as nurses and nurses’ aides, have been injured caring for their increased patient load and assignments. Fatigue or exhaustion can have serious consequences, not only for the worker but also for our patients.