There are multiple news stories on the labor beat this morning.
Labor power succeeds when workers in huge numbers withhold their labor. The generic term for this is a strike. In France, the unions are not afraid to use this weapon. When the government proposed increasing the retirement age, the unions responded with massive strikes. The inevitable government retreat has started.
From the BBC we learn that French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has written a letter to the unions where he is taking raising the retirement age off the table:
"To demonstrate my confidence in the social partners... I am willing to withdraw from the bill the short-term measure I had proposed" to set a so-called "pivot age" of 64 with effect from 2027, he wrote in his letter to the union leaders.
President Macron described it as "a constructive compromise".
Reactions from the unions:
One of France's largest unions, the CFDT, welcomed the announcement saying it showed a willingness to compromise.
However, the CGT union called the proposal "a smokescreen".
In a statement it said it was "more determined than ever" to stop the reforms.
Industrial action against President Emmanuel Macron's planned pension reform is in its 38th day and has badly disrupted France's transport system - particularly trains.
Protesters again took to the streets of Paris and other cities on Saturday. In the capital, police fired tear gas at some groups of protesters who smashed windows and set light to rubbish bins and billboards.
In France, the unions are not playing.
Back in NYC, not a word from our union, the United Federation of Teachers, on a labor victory where the the Department of Education has finally emailed the Francesco Portelos victory over the DOE to teachers. It was in my wife's email account late Friday afternoon.
From the NY Post:
Francesco Portelos won a long battle to make the DOE notify about 120,000 fellow union members — on bulletin boards in every building and emails to each employee — that it must rescind actions against him for asking questions about his school budget and helping colleagues who alleged workplace bullying.
The DOE defied the order to make the notification for nearly three years.
That they are allowed to defy an order from the Public Employees Relations Board for almost three years with impunity shows again that the DOE basically has no respect for labor law or workers. We have seen this over and over. What got the DOE to finally relent? It wasn't Portelos, the courts or us who convinced the DOE to abide by the court ruling and finally post the settlement and email it to teachers. It looks like it was Post reporter Sue Edelman.
After The Post asked about the notices on Friday, the DOE said it sent out all the emails that day, blaming a “technical error” for the delay.
Where is the UFT on this? Noticeably silent.
The DOE statement on unions in the Post article is laughable:
“NYC is a union town and we are proud to have strong unions representing school employees. The DOE is complying with the current court order by instructing that the PERB notice be posted for 30 days, and by emailing this notice to all teachers.”
My guess is that the decision still hasn't been posted in many schools.
The Post has another story on the DOE. This one is on the DOE not substantiating sexual harassment complaints.
Officials at the Department of Education only sided with victims in fewer than three percent of the more than 200 reported cases of sexual harassment last year, jaw-dropping new figures dumped by City Hall on Friday show.
That means DOE officials uncovered just a tiny fraction of the wrong-doing discovered by their counterparts in other city agencies.
Citywide, 13 percent of harassment complaints were stood up.
DOE officials claimed they found fewer than six confirmed cases of sexual harassment across the city’s biggest agency, which employs 135,000 people full-time.
DOE reported receiving 209 complaints between July 2018 and June 2019, a 12 percent jump from the year before.
The comparatively smaller Parks Department upheld 10 of the 31 complaints received over the same 12 month period; while the Fire Department found probable cause or substantiated 9 of the 15 reports it got.
But, for the second year in a row, DOE did not disclose the actual number of confirmed cases. Instead, the agency only provided a range of fewer than six as all city agencies are required to due under current law.
That means officials could have upheld zero complaints over the last two years.
My guess would be zero or one or two substantiated complaints would most likely be accurate.We hear nothing from the UFT on this subject either. If you want to know how we should respond, some self centered comments here will say that the only thing we can do is to stop paying union dues. They are totally wrong. We don't need an even weaker union with fewer members. French workers have the answer: Withhold labor and take to the streets to protest if the situation calls for it.
We are nowhere near that point where we could successfully do that in NYC but to turn it around, we have to start somewhere. How about eliminating the culture of fear? We can attempt to change that culture now, not by dropping a union which will only make it worse but by organizing. The first step is to tell other UFT members about what is happening around the city and the world. Tell people about the Portelos case. Talk about France. Tell them what is going on around the USA as teachers are fighting back.
Do something but please don't make an anonymous comment saying how you stopped paying union dues. I'm sick of spending energy responding to the same comments over and over. I repeat again that this is a pro-union dissident blog.