Good things are happening! California just passed an important bill banning drilling in residential neighborhoods. Also, young workers just organized Chipotle’s first union, the Amazon Labor Union celebrated another major victory, and thousands of minor league baseball players are starting their own unionization efforts.
All this and much more in this week’s edition of You Love To See It, available below.
California To End Neighborhood Oil Drilling
After decades of organizing to eliminate neighborhood oil drilling, environmental justice communities celebrated the passage of a bill in California phasing out oil and gas wells close to housing and schools.
There are 2.7 million Californians who live within a half mile of wells — and these arrangements disproportionately affect Black, Latino, and low-income communities across the state. The new bill, SB117, will mandate 3,200-foot buffer zones between wells and homes, schools, hospitals, and other places where drilling activities endanger public health.
“This is a victory for every single family and every single frontline community in California that has been fighting Big Oil’s drilling in our backyards for decades and pushing for setbacks for years,” said Kobi Naseck of Voices in Solidarity Against Oil in Neighborhoods in a statement.
Minor League Baseball Players Step To the Plate On Unionizing
The Major League Baseball Players Association sent out authorization cards that will allow more than 5,000 minor league players to vote for a union election.
Compensation and benefits for minor league players are not currently collectively bargained, and their average salaries currently range from $5,000 to $14,000 annually. This potential unionization is the latest action in their efforts for better working conditions and higher pay. Recently, players won housing from teams and a $185-million settlement from the league in an unpaid wages class-action lawsuit. Adding to their momentum is the Senate Judiciary Committee’s indication that they could hold a hearing to explore MLB’s antitrust exemption and its treatment of minor leaguers.
“This generation of minor league players has demonstrated an unprecedented ability to address workplace issues with a collective voice,’’ Harry Marino, director of Advocates for Minor Leaguers, said Monday in a statement. “Joining with the most powerful union in professional sports assures that this voice is heard where it matters most — at the bargaining table.’’
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Amazon’s Objections To Union Victory Get Tossed Out
This Thursday, Federal labor regulators threw out Amazon’s objections to the upstart Amazon Labor Union’s (ALU) victory at the JFK8 location in Staten Island, New York. The Staten Island warehouse was the first location where the Amazon Labor Union won an election. Dismissing Amazon’s objection clears the union’s path for certification, solidifying this historic win.
“While we are pleased with [the] findings, the Amazon workers in the ALU understand that this is just the beginning of a much longer fight,” said the ALU in a statement. “Amazon’s abuse of the legal process is simply a stalling tactic that is meant to delay our negotiation and cause workers to lose faith in the process.”
Credit Card Late Fees Could Get Slashed
“This effort is particularly timely given the [current late fee] rule allows banks to increase their fees based on inflation,” a CFPB official told CNBC. “Many [people] are struggling to make ends meet at the moment and struggling under higher costs.”
CFPB director Rohit Chopra has argued that credit card companies use late fees as a profit center, making them a “core part of their profit model.” Credit card companies charged $12 billion in late fee penalties in 2020 alone. If the CFPB can implement changes, millions of people could see serious savings.
Chipotle Workers Score First Union
In Lansing, Michigan, Chipotle workers formed the chain’s first recognized union, joining the Teamsters Local 243. Harper McNamara, who has worked at the location for two years, told Labor Notes that the reasons to unionize were straightforward: “pay, scheduling, and treatment from managers.”
For some of the workers, the effort to unionize also feels generational. “Zoomers are looking around and we’re like, ‘This shit is over,’” organizing committee member Atulya Dora-Laskey told Labor Notes. “Everything is coming to an end in, like, quite a spectacular fashion. And it really is like, ‘Okay, I might get fired from this job for organizing. Okay.’”
In Other Good News…
• Water For All (People’s Policy Project)
• Bill Aims To End Big Oil’s Tax Funded ‘Climate Misinformation’ Campaigns (East Bay Times)
• Biden Could Expand Overtime for Millions (Capital & Main)
After all the news this week, take a moment to read a Ronald Johnson’s poem about playing with leaves, “What the Leaf Told Me”:
Today I saw the word written on the poplar leaves.
It was ‘dazzle’. The dazzle of the poplars.
As a leaf startles out
from an undifferentiated mass of foliage,
so the word did from a leaf—
A Mirage Of The Delicate Polyglot
inventing itself as cipher. But this, in shifts & gyrations,
grew in brightness, so bright
the massy poplars soon outshone the sun . . .
‘My light—my dew—my breeze—my bloom’. Reflections
In A Wren’s Eye.