• Michael Laxer

Red Review #56 -- International Left and Labour News

With news from India, France, the USA, Colombia and elsewhere.

Marx and Engels statue during the celebrations of Marx's birth, May 5, 2022, Kolkata India


May 3:





Massapequa Starbucks First to Unionize on Long Island, Great Neck Vote Fails


Employees of the Massapequa Starbucks store – at Massapequa Village Square on Merrick Road – have decided in a vote of 19 to 8 to unionize through the Workers United NY/NJ Regional Joint Board. It is the first Starbucks location on Long Island to join the union.


The vote came after Massapequa Starbucks employees sent a petition to unionize in February, joining a movement of more than 250 locations nationwide doing the same, including three others on Long Island.


Union drive underway for employees at Amazon warehouse in Montreal


A unionization campaign is underway at an Amazon warehouse in Montreal as one of North America’s largest employers stares down more labour drives _ with only one successful so far.


The Confederation des syndicats nationaux (CSN) says workers reached out to the union earlier this year and launched an organizing drive on site last month over health and safety issues as well as salary, which hovers around $17 or $18 per hour. Unionized workers in comparable roles typically make $25 to $30 an hour, it said.


May 4:


French Socialist party agrees alliance with far left for June elections


France’s Socialist party and Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s hard-left La France Insoumise (LFI) party have reached an agreement in principle to form an alliance for June’s parliamentary election.


The coalition pact, which the Greens and Communists agreed to earlier this week, is an attempt to deprive Emmanuel Macron of a majority in parliament and block his pro-business agenda after he was re-elected president in April.


“We can and will beat Emmanuel Macron and we can do it with a majority to govern for a radical programme,” the LFI lawmaker Adrien Quatennens told Franceinfo radio.


If the agreement between the LFI and the Socialists is confirmed, the French left will be united for the first time in 20 years.


French Communists, Socialists, Greens, Mélanchon unite on ‘radical program’ for elections


France’s Socialist Party reached an agreement in principle Wednesday with Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s La France Insoumise (France Unbowed) to form an alliance for the legislative elections.


The Communist Party struck a deal with Mélanchon Tuesday night, and the Greens did so earlier this week, meaning the French left could display its greatest unity in decades as it seeks to win a majority in the National Assembly and make Mélanchon, who came a narrow third in the recent presidential election, prime minister.


La France Insoumise MP Adrien Quatennens declared: “We can and will beat [President] Emmanuel Macron and we can do it with a majority to govern for a radical program.”


May 5:




'The System Is Broken,' Amazon Union Leader Tells Congress. 'That's a Fact'


Wearing a jacket that read "Eat the Rich" across the back, Amazon Labor Union President Christian Smalls on Thursday told a Senate committee that the systems meant to protect workers' rights, particularly at large corporations, are "broken" and called on lawmakers to take action to protect people who want to join unions and who demand fair treatment at work.


Smalls testified before the Senate Budget Committee at a hearing titled "Should Taxpayer Dollars Go to Companies That Violate Labor Laws?" in which his former employer, Amazon.com, was the main focus


Gustavo Petro back on the campaign trail with enhanced security after death threats


The frontrunner in Colombia’s upcoming presidential election, Gustavo Petro of the left-wing Historic Pact coalition, resumed his election campaign on Thursday, May 5, after a three-day interruption due to threats against his life by a paramilitary group called La Cordillera. With notably reinforced security, which included bodyguards with shields who stood in front of him on the stage and a visible bulletproof vest, Petro attended a massive rally in Cúcuta city, the capital of Norte de Santander department, bordering Venezuela.


Hundreds of people, carrying flags, banners, posters and wearing t-shirts with symbols of the Historic Pact, welcomed Petro with loud cheers.


South Africa: Another assassination in Durban


Last night, just before 8pm, Nokuthula Mabaso was assassinated at the eKhenana Commune in Cato Manor, Durban. She was shot six times, four times in the back, and died in the arms of her comrades. She is the second leader in the commune to be assassinated. Ayanda Ngila’s life was taken on 8 March.


The attack on the commune has been extraordinarily brazen and vicious, but it is not entirely anomalous. There is a wider context of political violence in Durban. A police officer shot and killed Siyabonga Manqele, an Abahlali baseMjondolo member, in the nearby eNkanini occupation on 11 March. Witnesses say he was unarmed and that a group of masked police officers assaulted his wife, Thandeka Sithunsa, before shooting him at point-blank range. Mfundo Mokoena, a local ANC official, was murdered on 18 April. The killing happened a little more than a week after Zandile Gumede was elected as the party’s regional chairperson. Mokoena had opposed her candidature. What S’bu Zikode, the most significant grassroots activist to have emerged after apartheid, first called “the politic of blood” is ubiquitous.


May 6:



NLRB Complaint Seeks to Reinstate Fired Starbucks Union Organizers


The National Labor Relations Board on Friday filed a complaint against Starbucks locations in Western New York, asserting more than 29 labor practice charges for union-busting efforts, retaliation, unlawful threats, and surveillance.


"This is one of the largest cases in NLRB history, and confirms what Starbucks partners have been reporting from the front lines for months," read a statement from Starbucks Workers United. "Starbucks President of North America Rossann Williams led an army of managers — including the 103 listed in the complaint — from around the country into Buffalo to spy, threaten and interfere with workers' unionizing activity."


The complaint said Starbucks, facing a wave of unionization efforts, has engaged in a pattern of retaliation against workers in Buffalo-area stores. Among more than 200 alleged violations of the National Labor Relations Act, CNBC reported, the complaint claims the coffee giant closed down stores where unionizing gained traction, decreased worker compensation, surveilled and discriminated against unionizing employees, and wrongfully terminated workers.


Starbucks’ nationwide discrimination doesn’t stop workers’ wins


Starbucks’ nationwide discrimination against workers who support unionizing its stores—with Workers United’s help—hasn’t stopped baristas at four out of five stores from voting union in landslide tallies just since May Day, including its first-ever in Florida. And the Boston Globe reported four more Starbucks stores there went union, too.


Ballot tallies at the four stores Workers United listed: 16-1 in Tallahassee, Fla.—the first win in the Sunshine State—12-3 in Farmville, Va., 17-0 at the Ceasar’s Bay Shopping Center store in Brooklyn, N.Y., and 19-8 at the Massapequa Village Square store, marking the union backers’ first victory on Long Island.


At the fifth store, on Great Neck, Long Island, pro-union forces lost 5-6, after 22 instances of company labor law-breaking, formally called unfair labor practices, leading Workers United to file formal charges with the feds.


Amazon's captive staff meetings on unions illegal, labor board official finds


A U.S. labor board official believes Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) violated federal law during mandatory staff meetings it held in New York City to discourage unionizing, a board spokesperson said on Friday, in what could lead to a new legal precedent.


The Amazon Labor Union alleged the retailer forced workers at an Amazon warehouse on Staten Island to attend the so-called captive audience trainings and said staff were threatened with dismissals if they joined the ALU, according to an amended complaint and an audio recording the union shared with Reuters.


Apple Store Workers in Maryland File for Union Election


Workers at an Apple Inc. store near Baltimore have become the second in the nation to file for a union election.


The proposed union would represent 110 workers, according a petition filed with the National Labor Relations Board. Under the law, organizers must show at least 30% support before holding a union election, but organizers told the Washington Post that 65% of the workforce had already signed pro-union cards.


A People’s Alternative for Ontario: Communist Party running 12 candidates in provincial election (theleftchapter.com)


The Communist Party of Canada-Ontario is running 12 candidates in the provincial election that began May 4. Several of these are in Toronto with others in Ottawa, Guelph, Waterloo, Kingston, St. Catharines and Hamilton. Provincial party leader Drew Garvie is representing them in Toronto's Beaches-East York race.


May 8:


Cuba and Mexico Presented a Joint Declaration in Havana


The presidents of Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel, and Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, respectively, presented this Sunday the Joint Declaration between both countries, within the framework of the tour of Central America and the island that the Mexican president is carrying out.


May 9:


Hundreds of day cares are closed today as educators go on strike. Here's why


Hundreds of child care providers in 27 states and Washington, D.C., went on strike Monday to remind policymakers how essential they are, not only to families but to the nation’s economy.


Early childhood professionals – and the parents they serve – said they’re fed up with the lack of progress on policy promises such as better wages and expanded subsidies.


Canada: Construction delays loom as carpenters set to join striking crane operators


Construction projects in Ottawa could be delayed during its busiest season as some 15,000 carpenters across the province in the industrial, commercial and institutional (ICI) sector are set to go on strike.


Members of the Carpenters' District Council of Ontario have voted to reject their employers' last offer, meaning that — unless there's a last-minute agreement — they'll walk off the job on Monday at one minute past midnight.


The carpenters are set to join thousands of crane operators who went on strike last Monday.

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