Good things are happening! A new report provides important insights on the rise of the four-day workweek. Also, labor organizing in Massachusetts has blocked an Uber-backed ballot measure, coal and fossil fuels take more losses, and St. Louis Mayor bans no-knock search warrants.
All this and much more in this week’s edition of You Love To See It, exclusively for supporting subscribers below.
The Four-Day Workweek is On The Rise
A new National Bureau of Economic Research report shows that a four-day workweek has become more prevalent than at any point in the last 50 years. There are now 8 million more full-time workers on four-day weeks in the United States, and similar growth has taken place in the Netherlands, Germany, and South Korea. Just this month, thousands of workers in the UK have started on a four-day workweek pilot program, with plans to extend the program to other workers in the coming years.
Of course, working less is not a new concept. An immense 92 percent of U.S. employees are in favor of a shorter workweek. Still, this new report indicates that endless work hours are not a social fixture, as many might imagine, but instead something that can be fought against and ultimately changed. With large waves of worker strikes and union organizing developing across the U.S., this report comes as a welcome reminder that workers can seize control of their time.
Workers Stop Uber Ballot Measure
Labor activists score a major win in Massachusetts! The top Massachusetts court unanimously struck down a ballot measure backed by Uber and Lyft that would have defined workers as independent contractors rather than employees. A UC Berkeley Labor Center study found that if the ballot measure had passed, corporations would have been able to use loopholes to reduce guaranteed pay from $18 per hour to $4.82 per hour for a typical 15-hour-a-week driver.
Labor activists asked the court to block the ballot measure in January. “It’s laughable that these companies would falsely try to position themselves as advancing democracy while in the midst of attempting to spend tens of millions of dollars to buy a deceitful law that would do harm not just to our democracy and communities, but also to taxpayers, drivers, and passengers,” argued Wes McEnany, campaign director of the “Massachusetts is not for sale” coalition, in a statement.
In its ruling, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court took issue with the misleading and “obscure” language of the corporate ballot measure. As the justices noted, “Petitions that bury separate policy decisions in obscure language heighten concerns that voters will be confused, misled and deprived of a meaningful choice.”
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has repeatedly stated that the company will continue to back these ballot measures that try to buy laws to crush workers. With similar battles in other states on the horizon, this Massachusetts court decision comes as a much-needed victory.
St. Louis Bans No-Knock Search Warrants
St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones signed an executive order this week banning no-knock search warrants, which allow police officers to breach a property without announcing their presence. St. Louis is the first city in Missouri to completely ban no-knock search warrants after Missouri Democrats attempted to pass a statewide ban last year.
For families in St. Louis, this ban represents only a first step to curbing police power. This ban is the result of the organizing efforts of families who have long criticized the use of militarized policing against St. Louis residents.
Coal’s Troubled Future
Coal companies are facing the music! A report released by the Insure Our Future campaign and Solutions for Our Climate discloses how both new and current coal projects are struggling to get insurance. The report reveals how almost 75 percent of the insurance plans that covered such projects in 2018 have now dissipated.
Fossil-fueled capitalism is a contradictory system; it simultaneously destroys and overheats, while producing products like insurance to maintain its own stability. Financing and insurance coverage allow fossil fuel capitalism to mortgage and manage the risks it produces by destroying the environment. Without insurance, coal companies will be hard-pressed to survive long into the future.
California Moves Closer To Fossil Fuel Divestment
California’s Fossil Fuel Divestment Act passed the state Senate this week, bringing it one step closer to requiring the state’s public pension funds to divest from the fossil fuel industry. The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), two of the largest public pension funds in the U.S., are estimated to have invested $43 billion in fossil fuel companies — and the funds’ refusal to divest from the industry has cost retirees and taxpayers billions.
If the divestment act also passes in California’s assembly, the act would protect the retirement funds of public employees — teachers, health care workers, firefighters — from being used to finance corporations destroying the Californian environment.
France’s Left Wing Forms Powerful Coalition
“The effects will be profound,” writes Lever contributor Cole Stangler in The New York Times about left-wing parties’ major victories during the first round of France’s parliamentary elections last weekend. “In the first place, it’s likely to reorient the terms of the national debate, bringing renewed focus to issues like funding for public services, the fight against climate change and tax justice, and put pressure on Mr. Macron. Yet the left’s advance could do more still. By striking against France’s highly personalized presidential system and the European Union’s commitment to fiscal rectitude, the coalition could shake up politics in the country and across the continent. It is, quietly, an extraordinary development.”
In Other Positive News:
Just this week, Communications Workers of America (CWA) and Microsoft disclosed that they have entered into a labor neutrality agreement. Activision Blizzard workers won their unionization effort just before the company was acquired by Microsoft. The acquisition was expected to make organizing efforts more difficult for workers moving forward — but this new agreement has secured the union’s efforts.
“This agreement provides a pathway for Activision Blizzard workers to exercise their democratic rights to organize and collectively bargain after the close of the Microsoft acquisition and establishes a high road framework for employers in the games industry,” said CWA President Chris Shelton in a statement.
Teen Vogue: So where do you think abolitionists can find hope?
Ruth Wilson Gilmore: Some of the things that have me really excited now: How and to what extent, for example, successes in union organizing might connect with what, in general, is circulating as abolition for people,” said . Because to me, that successful organizing is internationalism from below, with abolitionist tendencies or characteristics. For example, people who are fighting really, really hard over housing crises that are rife throughout so many places, some of whom see that fighting for housing justice — whether for houseless people or for people who are one paycheck away from becoming houseless — has abolition characteristics.
These things are really interesting to me and I feel optimistic when I think about them. It’s different from, ‘Are the Democrats gonna take a thrashing in the midterms?’ Because they are.
After all the news this week, take a moment to read Derek Walcott’s poem on care and time, “Love After Love”:
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.