Sam Oliver, a union shop steward at the Sime Darby Rubber and Oil plantation in Liberia, describes how his union negotiated renovations for workers' company-provided housing which Oliver describes as "deplorable" before workers formed a union. Oliver tells about his experiences improving the lives of working people at the new Solidarity Center Workers’ Equality Forum site, an interactive platform where workers can record their narratives, upload first-person videos or email first-person stories—to connect with each other and convey their workplace realities to a larger public.
Jibril Wallace has been working at the Safeway in Washington, D.C. for 28 years. She has worked much of that time with no paid sick days. “When you were sick, or the kids were sick, you went to work,” the UFCW Local 400 member said. “You found a relative who worked in government and had sick leave if you could. Or I’d do the overnight shift and their dad would stay with them, and I’d be there during the day.” Asked how she managed being sick herself, Wallace said “I’m not quite sure what that is—you still had to go to work.” But since DC’s paid sick days law was expanded to include part-time workers, Wallace has a new peace of mind. “It’s very relieving to know if your kid or you yourself are sick, there will still be hours on your check,” she said.
Adapted from a longer report on the UFCW 400 website.
The first issue of the new open access Journal of Working Class Studies has just been published by the Working Class Studies Association, which promotes the study of working-class people and worker culture. This peer-reviewed online publication aims to fill a conspicuously absent niche of academic writing centered around the global working class and the contributions to this new journal offer an illuminating appraisal of the contributions of working people to society. The first issue includes a look at the evolution of Working Class Studies as viable academic field over the past 20 years; an analysis of changing structure of the American working class; appraisals of narratives which shine a light on the reality of working life; an exploration of the rejection of upper class “respectability” and reviews of recent books including a novel, a poetry collection, and an economic history. Though some of the Journal’s entries can be a bit academic in orientation, the clear focus on the living, working experiences of rank-and-file workers makes it definitely a worth a read.
- reviewed by David Fernández-Barrial, a federal librarian and union steward at AFSCME 2910. His most recent publication is American Labor Isn’t Dead – But Definitely Needs to Wake Up
Short biography on legendary labor leader Eugene V. Debs with text and historical images set to a Scott Joplin ragtime tune.