Labor organizing in the United States is on the rise. According to the Washington Post, “July was one of the busiest months for strikes in three decades.” But alongside the uptick in union activity is a sharp increase in employer-led retaliations against organizing workers. The Labor Department reports that the number of unfair labor practice charges brought against employers increased by 16% in the first half of the fiscal year. Republican Senator Tim Scott underscored this practice with his recent comment, “You strike, you’re fired.”
A case in point is Amazon, one of the nation’s largest employers, which contracts with thousands of smaller delivery companies. Earlier this year 84 workers with a contractor named Battle-Tested Strategies in Southern California made history by joining the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. In spite of the fact that Amazon had an active contract with the delivery company, the retailer ended the arrangement.
Claudia Magaña, campaigns director for Unemployed Workers United, spoke with YES! Racial Justice Editor Sonali Kolhatkar on YES Presents: Rising Up With Sonali about what is being called a “national worker retaliation crisis,” and how her organization is responding with a new campaign called “Fired Up!”
Sonali Kolhatkar is currently the racial justice editor at YES! Media and a writing fellow with Independent Media Institute. She was previously a weekly columnist for Truthdig.com. She is also the host and creator of Rising Up with Sonali, a nationally syndicated television and radio program airing on Free Speech TV and dozens of independent and community radio stations. Sonali won First Place at the Los Angeles Press Club Annual Awards for Best Election Commentary in 2016. She also won numerous awards including Best TV Anchor from the LA Press Club and has also been nominated as Best Radio Anchor 4 years in a row. She is the author of Bleeding Afghanistan: Washington, Warlords, and the Propaganda of Silence, and the co-director of the nonprofit group, Afghan Women's Mission. Her forthcoming book is Rising Up: The Power of Narrative in Pursuing Racial Justice (City Lights, 2023). She has a Master’s in Astronomy from the University of Hawai’i, and two undergraduate degrees in Physics and Astronomy from the University of Texas at Austin. She reflects on her professional path in her 2014 TEDx talk, “My Journey From Astrophysicist to Radio Host.” She can be reached at sonalikolhatkar.com