In 2012, the United Kingdom (UK) National Health Service (NHS)—the country’s public healthcare provider—proposed changes to healthcare policy in the UK. These changes would raise the retirement age for medical doctors from 60 years of age to 68 years of age, and increase fees on retirement funds above the normal level for public workers. The changes also made it easier for the NHS to subcontract care to private firms. Medical doctors in the public system, led by the British Medical Association (BMA)—their union—proposed a strike.
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.
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.
In 2015, when a number of maquiladora workers in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico took a stand for better working conditions, one of the companies impacted was CommScope, a manufacturer of telecommunications infrastructure. Based in North Carolina, the company employed 3,000 workers in its Ciudad Juárez factory.
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.
Just across the US-Mexico border from El Paso, Texas in the Mexican state of Chihuahua lies Ciudad Juárez, where the wages of workers in the maquiladoras, export-oriented factories run by foreign businesses, are significantly lower than in other parts of the country. Among the many maquiladoras in the city is a 2,800-worker printer-cartridge plant owned by Lexmark, a multinational company based in Lexington, Kentucky.
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.
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.
spersed the protesters via bullets, tear gas, and beatings. This led to rioting and violence between a small minority of protestors and the security forces.
In December 2013, Argentinian police forces throughout the country went on strike to protest low salaries that failed to match rising living costs. Analysts estimated inflation at approximately 25% that year, although the government of Argentina said it was less than half that rate. The strikes provoked looting, robberies, hundreds of injuries, and over a dozen deaths before the governor of Córdoba, José Manuel de la Sota, conceded to the demand and doubled police force salaries. Manuel de la Sota’s decision prompted police departments in other provinces to follow suit.
Torres Strait soldiers stage stay-at-home strikes to demand full pay and an end to discrimination in the army, 1943
South of Papua New Guinea (PNG) lies the Torres Strait. The strait consists of 274 islands, 14 of which are inhabited by a predominantly Melanesian population. Based on the 2016 census, the total population of the Torres Strait is 4,514 compared to an estimated size of 1,800 in 1943. Torres Strait Islanders are an ethnic minority in Australia and, historically, have been discriminated against by the Australian government.
Since gaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Armenia has spent almost two decades as a quasi-authoritarian state with the ruling Republican Party controlling most of its political, economic, and social institutions. Serzh Sargsyan became President in 2008 and under his rule, Armenia endured slow economic growth, high unemployment rates, and corruption.
On 14 October 2015, student protests began at the University of Witwatersrand in response to an announcement by the university board that there would be a 10.5% increase in tuition fees. On 15 October, students barricaded the gates of the university. Over the next two days, both student and staff members held a sit in, causing the eventual lock down of the university as the blockades obstructed lectures and activities. On 17 October, the University of Witwatersrand agreed to suspend and renegotiate the fee increases.
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.
Toronto Taxi Alliance (TTA) is a labor coalition that includes unions such as the United Taxi Workers Association and iTaxi Workers Association and represents the majority of taxi drivers in Toronto, Canada. The formation of this coalition came as a surprise to some in a city where the taxi industry was divided into two camps: those who opposed the unfair, “two-tiered” system where a single taxi company held most of the market and those who fought aggressively to maintain it. What united the opposing groups was a common enemy – UberX.
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.
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.
On 7 June 2013, the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) announced the firing of more than 3,700 employees, as a result of cuts in the school district’s budget. Of the employees laid off, 1,202 were noontime aides, who helped ensure the safety of students: they formed relationships with students and intervened and defused conflict when necessary.
Cambodia’s garment industry, which is responsible for over 80% of the country’s total exports, is notorious for its frequent cases of labor exploitation and worker abuse. Garment workers, of whom 90% are female, are forced to endure intimidation tactics, bribes, and short-term contracts -- all of which work to prevent unionization.