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.
On 14 October 2007, citizens of El Alto, Bolivia demanded that all bars and brothels facilitating sex work be located at least 3,200 feet away from schools, because they believed that the establishments were facilitating crime in the area. They then began a three-day rampage of the bars and brothels in the impoverished red-lights district of El Alto. These El Alto citizens, primarily parents and students, burned or destroyed at least 50 brothels, burned sex workers’ belongings, and beat sex workers.
Tuba Group factory workers in Dhaka, Bangladesh, stood up against
exploitation in the summer of 2014. The company, in which five factories
made products for businesses like Walmart and H&M, had become
notorious in recent years for some of the lowest employee wages in the
world (about US $38 a month) and the 2012 “Tarzeen factory fire” that
killed 112 workers. Since February of 2014, Delwar Hossain, the owner of
the group, had been in jail for the workplace negligence that lead to
the tragedy. However, workers continued to face unfair treatment.
Bangladesh, located to the east of India, is a leading global garment manufacturer, producing clothing for such American companies as Gap, Walmart, and J.C. Penney. The Ready Made Garment (RMG) industry makes up 80% of the country’s exports and employs about 4 million Bangladeshis, 80% of whom are women. A survey published by the Japan External Trade Organization in December 2013 reported that Bangladesh garment workers earn nearly the lowest monthly wage in the world, second only to Myanmar.
On 29 June 2003, the Israeli Ministry of Finance amended the Hok HaHasderim, a bill passed in 1985 in order to combat existing hyperinflation and aid in the creation and development of an austerity program. The late June amendment enormously decreased single mothers’ welfare allowances. Single mothers across the nation, who were already struggling to make ends meet, were both hurt and angered by the amendment. On 2 July 2003, one such woman, a 43-year-old single mother named Vicky Knafo, marched two-hundred and fifty kilometers from her home in Mitzpe Ramon to Jerusalem.
On 18 July 2010, Icelandic pop-singer and cultural icon Bjork called for Iceland’s Parliament to review the sale of Iceland’s geo-thermal company HS Orka to Vancouver-based company Magma Energy Corporation in order to consider the environmental and political implications of such a sale. Bjork argued that the sale of Iceland’s natural resources, like geo-thermal energy, should be decisions made by all Icelanders, and not just those affiliated with the company.
In Brazil in
2000, the Margaridas, or Daisies, formed in honor of Margarida Maria Alves, a
union leader renowned for surmounting the embedded cultural stereotypes and
obstacles for women, especially those working in rural areas. Alves
became the president of the Rural Worker’s Union in her town, but was
reportedly assassinated in 1983, at the age of 50, because of her advocacy for
those working in rural or forested areas.
After her death, she became a feminist icon in the fight for equality
In Dagenham, East London, 54,813 men, and only 187 women worked in Ford’s flagship factory. The women there were classified as “unskilled workers,” though male employees performing the same or similar jobs were classified as “skilled workers.” As a result the men were on a higher pay scale than the women. Female employees of the factory were deeply upset when they learned this fact, and even more enraged when they discovered that teenage boy floor-sweepers were paid higher wages than they were.
The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory is best known for the unique fashion blouse they produced and the horrific fire that killed 146 workers, women who might have lived if the owners had been forced to ensure safety standards in the factory. Historically, the 1911 tragedy defined the Triangle workers as the victims of disaster.
On 16 May 1996, Governor Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania signed Senate Bill 1441 into law. This bill contained a series of welfare reforms, including cuts to medical assistance, a requirement that childless people between ages 21 and 58 work 100 hours a month to receive medical assistance benefits, and a condition that anyone making more than $5100 a year did not qualify for medical assistance. When implemented this legislation would cut 250,000 people off of medical assistance.
At 5 a.m. on Monday, 25 August 1986, a group of 10,000 Ekpan women from the Uvwie clan within Ethiope Local Government Area surrounded the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Petrochemicals Plant, and the Pipelines and Products Marketing Pumpstation. The demonstrating women chanted war songs and displayed banners and posters on which they wrote their grievances, such as, “Give us Social Amenities,” “Review all forms of employment within the Petrochemical,” and “Our sons, daughters and husbands are qualified for key posts within the Petrochemical.”
The Ogharefe people of Nigeria suffered from the effects of oil pollution and oil exploration. The Ogharefe community was afflicted with a number of health issues, ranging from skin rashes to stomach ailments, from the gas flares and release of "oil production water." Additional damage from oil production included heavy metals in the water, the eroding of iron roofs due to corrosive ash from gash flares, and the decline of productive fishing ponds and farming land.
In the early twentieth century, Kansas was the third largest coal producing state in the United States, with more than 8,000 unionized miners concentrated in the two southwestern counties of Crawford and Cherokee. In January 1920, the Kansas legislature had established a board of compulsory arbitration, known as the Kansas Industrial Court, which banned strikes against unfair labor practices and working conditions.
Women market workers in Lagos, an area in western Nigeria, in the 1920s were organized into a powerful group known as the Lagos Market Women Association (LMWA). In 1932, a rumor emerged that the British colonial government was going to begin taxing Lagosian women, which had never been done before, although taxes for men had been introduced in 1927 (in spite of coordinated resistance by different groups). The market women felt that a tax was unfair and that they were already struggling to make a living.
In 1917, the government of Alfredo Gonzalez Flores was overthrown in a coup d'état, wherein Minister of War Federico Tinoco seized power and appointed his brother, Jose Joaquin Tinoco, the new Minister of War. During this time the Tinoco regime severely curtailed civil liberties and the freedom of the press and assembly.
In 1934 it had been a successful year for strikes in Milwaukee, which emboldened retail clerks at Sears, Roebuck and Company, and the Boston Store to demand higher wages. At the time most clerks earned below $14 a week, which they called “starvation wages.”
struggle waged by the KTX Crew Workers’ Branch Union signifies the longest
workers’ rights campaign mobilized by women throughout Korean history. For over
500 days, participants implemented a variety of nonviolent tactics, including
public rallies, marches, sit-ins, tent protests, building occupation, hunger
strikes, classroom lectures, and community outreach efforts.
On March 3, 2006, Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmad Nazif announced that all public-sector manufacturing workers would be given an increase in their annual bonuses. The workers of Mahalla al-Kubra’s Misr Spinning and Weaving Company, the country’s largest public sector textile company employing 27,000 people, were overjoyed at the decree.
In 1956, Shell British Petroleum (now Royal Dutch Shell) discovered oil in what was then the British colony of Nigeria, and by 1958 commercial production had begun. Today, Nigeria has the tenth largest proven oil reserves in the world, is the tenth largest oil producer, and is the eighth largest oil exporter; yet nearly two-thirds of Nigerians live on less than $1.25 a day, 70% live below the national poverty line, and 83% live on less than $2 a day (each of those measurements place Nigeria in the bottom ten out of countries for which data is available).
On February 27, 2010 a magnitude 8.8 earthquake struck Chile and was soon followed by a tsunami. In total, there were as many as 800 deaths and $30 billion in damage because of the earthquake. Following the earthquake, much of Chile was ravaged and thousands of people were left unemployed. In response the Chilean government began instituting employment programs in the Bio Bio, Maule, and O’Higgins regions, where unemployment rates were particularly high. The programs paid residents to help rebuild their communities and to clear rubble from the towns.
The 1977-1978 economic justice and human rights campaign in Bolivia stemmed from tensions that began with the 1952 Bolivian Revolution, which left the Nationalist Revolutionary Movement in power. This group implemented a nationalization of the tin mines, agrarian reforms, and universal franchises. These policies and reforms lasted until 1964, when a military coup led to the regime of General Barrientos. This regime clashed with miners and broke down worker power and cultivated the peasantry.
In 1958 the women farmers of the Kom and Kedjom areas of the Western Grassfields, now part of modern day Cameroon, were angered by a number of changes which they interpreted as systematically decreasing the power of women farmers. These included the increasing frequency of the nomadic Fulani’s cows coming onto their fields and eating their crops, a law stating that they must switch to a new type of farming called contour cultivation, and rumors that that the KNC (the Kamerun National Congress, a political group that had aligned itself with Nigeria and in 1958 had secured nearly comple
As we come marching, marching, we battle too for men,
For they are women's children, and we mother them again.
Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes;
Hearts starve as well as bodies; give us bread, but give us roses!
- James Oppenheim (Used as the rallying cry for the movement)
In Houston, the largest cleaning companies paid their janitors an average of $5.25 per hour and did not provide health benefits. Meanwhile, in other cities the average salary for a janitor position was between $10-20 an hour and family health benefits were provided. The Service Employee’s International Union (SEIU), under the leadership of its president, Stephen Lerner, utilized the Justice for Janitors Campaign, which involved over 200,000 janitors in more than 28 cities across the United States, to fight to improve the working conditions and benefits for these workers.
When the San Francisco Bay based Lucky Sewing Co. filed for bankruptcy in May of 1992, they laid off twelve Chinese immigrant women whom they owed $15,000 in back wages. The company’s attorney claimed that they had few assets and there was no money to pay the seamstresses. Lucky Sewing Co. and other garment contractors imposed terrible conditions on workers who were often paid less than the $4.25 minimum wage.