organizing to fight sexual harassment

Earlier this month, I attended the convening launch of National COSH’s new Sexual Harassment Action Network, and heard countless stories of women fighting sexual harassment in a variety of industries. It’s good to see that this issue is finally getting the attention it deserves from the national labor movement, and equally good to see a combination of worker center leaders, legal advocates, and union staff joining together to talk about how to fight the kind of harassment that can make workplaces unwelcoming for those who identify as women or non-binary.

Fighting sexual harassment hasn’t always been a top priority for the entire labor movement. Too many women have been told to grin & bear it, for too long. Too many unions have felt that their legal duty, in cases of member-on-member sexual harassment, has been to defend the harasser not the victim. While unions do have a responsibility to make sure that every member’s due process rights are protected, it is not incumbent on the union to defend from appropriate discipline a member who did something wrong.

Presenters at the convening introduced the concept of victim-centered reporting, and talked about the need to press employers to make sure that their workers were safe. SEIU Justice for Janitors members discussed their fight to pass AB 1978, which puts requirements on cleaning companies to do training to prevent sexual harassment & assault, and showed this moving video about their fast, aimed at pressuring Governor Jerry Brown to sign that bill.

Unite HERE also showcased their work to bargain protections for housekeepers, who are often working alone in rooms with men who are strangers, into all their hotel contracts around the country, as well as to protect servers from sexual harassment at the hands of patrons.

COSH is asking folks who are supportive to take the “Our Turn” Pledge, and to commit to changing the power dynamics that allow harassment to thrive.

Just give 5 stars. Don’t quibble.

What’s Going on in the Workforce

Repeat after me: “Any time someone’s boss asks me to rate them (especially using software), I will give them five stars unless I literally feared for my safety.” Caroline O’Donovan has a devastating look at how restaurant iPads are getting servers fired, and enabling discrimination.

Amazon workers in the EU have announced a general strike at Amazon in the second week of July, hoping to maximize their impact by hitting the company’s Prime Day sales.

Care workers in New Zealand just won massive pay increases from the government, based on the fact that women’s work has historically been undervalued.

The Century Foundation takes a deeper look at the new Contingent Work Survey data.

Robot chef cooks hamburgers in San Francisco fast food place.

Geeking Out

I’m not going to lie—this video of robots packing grocery orders looks like it would make a video game that I’d be obsessed by for about a week.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

The ACLU is continuing to demand that Amazon stop selling facial recognition software to police departments and other law enforcement agencies, given the extreme racial inequity in American policing. And Amazon employees have weighed in with the company too.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Founder of the now-defunct Josephine (a service for home-based cooks to sell food) is looking for input on a piece of legislation designed to legalize home-based cooks, including input on how to protect workers’ rights.

Uber is pushing drivers to adopt cleaner vehicles, by offering unspecified financial bonuses & some in-app features specific to those with electric cars.

From Partners

I’m curious about this new push to organize for racial equity at the local level in cities across the US, through policy work. Anyone out there involved in this?

Is it Janus Day?

Did you know that Janus is the Greek god of transitions? Note to self–try to work that into your next “whither the labor movement” take. 

Organizing Theory

Are you constantly hitting ‘refresh’ to see if the Janus decision came out yet? Give your browser a break and read this post about how teachers’ unions in Detroit survived, despite suffering their own mini-Janus six years ago.

Read through the corporate-speak to ask yourself: does my organization have anything like this approach to developing a workplace culture, from Day 1 on? As someone who’s changed jobs a lot, I can tell you that few progressive groups approach on-boarding with anywhere near this level of competency.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

If your city or state wins an Amazon HQ2 bid, workers might be paying their taxes to the boss.

What’s Going on in the Workforce

Amazon games the system of “voluntary time off” to deprive warehouse workers of full-time pay.

Uber drivers went on strike in South Africa earlier this week, protesting the company’s fees as fuel prices skyrocket.

Drones and robots are being used in the construction of a new methane cracking plant in Western PA.

Apologies for the late delivery of Hack the Union. It’s been a week. 

“There is good reason to think that power imbalances play a big part in the rich world’s wage stagnation.”

What’s Going on in the Workforce

“There is good reason to think that power imbalances play a big part in the rich world’s wage stagnation.” Well, yes.

Josh Eidelson talks to Muslim workers who are organizing to get Amazon to respect their right to prayer breaks and other accommodations for Ramadan.

Welcome to China’s first robot bank. As in, a bank staffed by robots (so far, I don’t think they have cash of their own to deposit).

HR managers: AI is coming for (part of) your jobs.

You’ve probably seen that the BLS put out the results of their Contingent Worker Survey last week, triggering many think pieces about the fact that the gig economy isn’t really happening. (I’m a little mystified by that statement, since the release clearly says that they have not yet finished analyzing the data from new questions about app-based work, which won’t be released till the fall.) But here’s a good piece from the Post about it, which manages to quote both an economist AND a gig worker, so they deserve a Pulitzer. And also a helpful piece by Annette Bernhardt from the UC Berkeley Labor Center.

Organizing Theory

The Animators’ Guild had female animators’ backs, during a recent #metoo case. Check out this unusual method of dealing with member-on-member sexual harassment, through a union hearing. (h/t for Nadia Hewka for sending this my way)

On a related note—this post, by Freada Kapor, on how VC firms should create harassment reporting policies and anti-discrimination practices—is applicable to many more institutions than just the VC field.

Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

Honolulu votes to impose caps on ride-sharing surge pricing.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

Future Uber might be using AI to tell your driver that you’re drunk.

“People go to Microsoft or Salesforce for software. People go to Uber or Lyft for a ride.”

What’s Going on in the Workforce

“People go to Microsoft or Salesforce for software. People go to Uber or Lyft for a ride.” The SF City Attorney, on why he subpoenaed 3 years’ worth of driver info from Uber & Lyft, after a recent CA Supreme Court decision made establishing worker misclassification easier.

Are “super jobs” burning out IT professionals?

If you work remotely & can live anywhere, Vermont wants you. And they’ll pay to get you.

Kudos to my friends at OUR Walmart for their work to influence the shareholders of the country’s largest brick & mortar retailer. You know you’re scaring them, when they change the format of their shareholders meeting.

Geeking Out

Y’know…my birthday is coming soon

Organizing Theory

A new Medium team wants to teach organizers the best productivity apps to use in political & community organizing contexts.

From Partners

Moshe Marvit takes a look at the recent Supreme Court decision around forced arbitrations, and concludes that it may make matters worse for workers in other ways, too.

The Aspen Institute launched a Gig Economy Data Hub last week.


Sharing, Solidarity & Sustainability

“…any movement that wants to address economic inequality in this country must have a financial agenda and a political one.” Will the #BankBlack movement help move the needle on racial inequality?

Possibly unprecedented: Bloomberg columnist tells companies to stop whining about skills gap, start raising wages.

We’ve moved pretty firmly into an era where internet access is an economic driver. So why isn’t access to broadband (which millions of Americans lack) an issue in more electoral campaigns?

Some of us talk about the birth lottery on a regular basis—here’s a detailed portrayal of exactly how it works to capture wealth for the top 10% of Americans. h/t to Mustafa Rashed for this one.