In 1933, granite workers in the city of Barre, Vermont (VT), United States labored under nation-wide economic distress. The Great Depression was in its fourth year — a monumental stock market crash throughout much of the world in 1929, combined with a massive drought in the US, placed strain on the capitalist system, putting millions out of work and causing wages and job growth across the country to reverse. Granite companies began cutting staff and offering lower pay raises.
In a public announcement, students expressed that “Until the University of Kentucky stops denying students the right to food and housing, we will deny ourselves food […] We have tried rallies, phone zaps, and student assemblies. Nothing has worked. What we are facing is not just resistance to the Basic Needs Campaign. We face a University of Kentucky that puts profit over people. It is time for UK administrators to acknowledge the magnitude of the problem we face and act in proportion.”
On 11 March 2013, SLAM and 70 percent of the approximately 112 nonmanagerial workers at the DoubleTree (housekeepers, banquet servers, front desk agents, van drivers, and Scullers Jazz Club employees) filed a petition stating their desire to be able to decide without the influence of hotel management whether or not to join Unite Here, which already represented Harvard’s dining hall employees.
The St. Albans Cooperative Creamery was a farmer/member-owned milk-processing plant in St. Albans, Vermont (VT) in the United States with a supplying base of 360 farms. Ray Brands owned one of these farms—called Deer Valley Farm—and on 15 May 2014, two immigrant workers at his farm quit due to poor living conditions and Brands’ withholding of paychecks. Earlier that May, another worker quit for the same reasons.
Vermont Migrant Farmworkers picket and march for Ben and Jerry’s to sign pledge for Milk With Dignity
Migrant Justice conducted a survey of Vermont farm workers in June 2014 to find potential areas of concern. The group found that businesses paid 40 percent of workers less than the state minimum wage of $8.73, 40 percent worked every day each week, and 28 percent consistently worked shifts or 7 hours or more without breaks.
On 5 January 2019, Metropolitan Detention Center Brooklyn (MDC Brooklyn), a federal jail in Brooklyn, New York that housed 1,500 incarcerated people, lost power for the first time that year for unknown reasons. Three weeks later, an electrical fire caused the entire building to lose heating capabilities as well. This loss of power and heat took place over some of the coldest days and nights of the 2019 winter in New York City (NYC).
Bangladeshis use art and performance to demand the release of Bangladeshi photographer Shahidul Alam, 2018
The AFL-CIO, the largest federation of unions in the United States, moved to counteract the shrinking union strength and the ever growing corporate power via legislation, the Employee Free Choice Act. Andy Levin and Stewart Acuff, two veteran union organizers, spearheaded the effort. In the summer of 2003, Acuff and Levin agreed on what the act would entail.
South Heidelberg is a rural Pennsylvania community in Berks County with natural gas reserves. On 3 March 2014, the South Heidelberg planning commission gave preliminary approval to a Canadian corporation, EmberClear,to construct a gas-to-liquids (GTL) facility in the town. The facility would primarily harvest natural gas resources from the town.
Although Barnard College was part of Columbia University, the two institutions maintained separate endowments. As a result, BCD split into Columbia Divest for Climate Justice and Divest Barnard in the Fall of 2014. Next semester, in the Spring of 2015, Divest Barnard formally launched their campaign for Barnard College to divest from fossil fuels.
The Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) campus, a satellite campus of the University of Delaware (UD) is located just half a mile from the primary campus in Newark, Delaware. During the efforts to fully develop the STAR campus, UD offered to lease 43 acres of the campus to The Data Center (TDC) to build a 900,000 square foot data center with an attached 279 megawatt natural gas power plant, an amount five times the energy demand of the city of Newark.
On 19 September 1990, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) awarded the city of Atlanta the contract to host the 1996 Summer Olympics. The Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games (ACOG) believed that by hosting the Olympics, Atlanta would be able to reinvent itself as an international city, and investment in the Games would help fuel urban development. The Committee leaned on the city of Atlanta’s strong civil rights history to secure the bid.
Before protests against racial discrimination and harassment began at University of Missouri campuses in 2015, tensions had risen for a number of years. For example, on 26 February 2010, two students spread cotton balls on the fields of the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center as a racist mockery of enslavement. A lack of substantive administrative action in response to such cases of racial discrimination provoked the ire of the university’s Black students.
New York University students sit-in for NYU to change its Labor Code of Conduct (End Deathtraps Campaign, 2013-2014)
The deadliest disaster in the history of the Ready Made Garment (RMG) industry occurred in Bangladesh on 24 April 2013 when a sweatshop, Rana Plaza, collapsed and killed 1,134 people. The day before the collapse an engineer expressed concern over a crack in the building. Unfortunately, the factory remained open to fulfill overdue orders and collapsed when generators restarted after a power blackout.
PT Kizone, an apparel factory in Tangerang, Indonesia, held major contracts with Nike and Adidas. In September of 2010, the factory started to withhold its workers’ severance pay. In January 2011, the factory failed to pay its workers their monthly compensation. At the end of the month, the owner of PT Kizone, Jin Woo Kim, fled to his home country of South Korea. The factory declared bankruptcy and closed on 1 April 2011. PT Kizone fired all its workers, to whom the factory owed $3.4 million in severance compensation.
In 2015, student activists took action against New York University, a prestigious 4-year research university in New York City, United States, to increase the minimum wage of part-time student workers employed by the University. The campaign began on 18 September 2015, when members of the Student Labor Action Movement (SLAM) gathered to conduct a sit-in at 726 Broadway inside the office of Beth Haymaker, the director of NYU’s Global Programs. SLAM members organized the sit-in to protest the mistreatment of Niza Mirza, an international student from Pakistan.
The Lusty Lady was a strip club in San Francisco. Opened since 1976, this North Beach club featured exotic dancers “Lusties” in a peep show on a stage and in individual booths. While being one of the most popular spots for nightlife in the city, the Lusty Lady was infamous among the dancers for its random firings and pay cuts, racist and ambiguous shift policies, and no-sick-day rules. According to Antonia Crane, a former stripper at the Club, “[the Lusty Lady] is playing the notoriously exploitative game in the adult entertainment world.”
Between 1970 and 1976, Russell Bliss used a toxic mixture of motor oil and dioxin to spray the unpaved roads in Times Beach, MO. The community hired Bliss, a career waste disposer, to reduce its dust problem. Unbeknownst to residents of the small town, Independent Petrochemical Corporation (IPC) paid Bliss for the disposal of its hazardous dioxin waste. Under the auspices of Northeastern Pharmaceutical and Chemical Company (NEPACCO), IPC generated dioxin through its production of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.
On 20 November 2014, a New York police officer Peter Liang, joined by his partner, Shaun Landau, entered the Louis H. Pink Houses for a routine patrol of the Brooklyn public housing complex. During the vertical-patrol of the building, Liang drew his weapon as he opened the door to the stairwell. According to Liang’s defense, a loud noise startled him which caused him to accidentally pull the trigger. The bullet ricocheted against the wall and fatally struck Akai Gurley, who had entered the stairwell with his friend, Melissa Butler, a floor below.
In 2009, the Century Aluminum factory in Ravenswood, West Virginia laid off 650 employees. However, the factory promised those laid off and those forced to retire that they would continue to receive their health care benefits. Retirees were shocked in June 2010 when the factory announced they were cutting the healthcare plan for retirees. Karen Gorrell, a leader of the ensuing movement to regain health care, stated, “[When the retirees are] actually beginning to suffer from the exposure [from hazardous chemical exposure], then the company comes in and just pulls out the rug.”
The Taxi Drivers Alliance of Philadelphia (TDAP) and the Philadelphia Limousine Association (PLA), major labor unions in Pennsylvania, United States, represented the majority of taxi and limo drivers in the city of Philadelphia and its surrounding areas. With the rise of ride-sharing services such as UberX and Lyft since 2012, the taxi and limo industry in Philadelphia felt increasingly threatened, as more and more people opted for their cheaper counterparts.
When Rudolph (Rudy) Giuliani took office as New York City’s 107th Mayor on 1 January 1994, the city had a budget deficit of $2.3 billion. The Republican candidate planned to close the city deficit by eliminating 15,000 city jobs. Police, firefighters, and teachers, which made up 60 percent of total city employees, were exempt from the job cuts. With these exemptions, the city administration had to find its staff reductions from less that 40 percent of its 216,000-strong work force.
From 1943 to 1982, Escambia Treating Company (ETC) operated in Pensacola, Florida. Located in an industrial/residential zone, the location of a wood treatment facility threatened the health of Escambia County residents, who were primarily Black. Until the mid-1950s, ETC dumped creosote and pentachlorophenol (PCP) into an uncovered pit. In March 1992, community members founded Citizens Against Toxic Exposure (CATE) and launched a five-year campaign for relocation of the 358 households closest to the Escambia plant.
In 2011, over 12,000 prisoners of California’s corrections system participated in a hunger strike to protest their inhumane conditions of confinement.