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Home » Clarion » 2013 » November 2013 » Labor In Brief

Labor In Brief


Teaching Kaplan to ‘Speak Union’

Nearly 100 English as a Second Language teachers at Kaplan International teaching centers in New York City voted to unionize last year, with union supporters carrying two-thirds of the vote. Serious contract negotiations got under way with Kaplan last November, but the teachers are still without a union contract.

“Progress is real slow at each negotiation,” said Paul George Hlava, who has taught ESL classes at Kaplan for the past four years.

The vote last year marked the first time teachers at Kaplan International, a private language school that teaches English language courses to students from around the world, voted to join a union. Union members intend to be persistent about teaching management to “speak union.”

‘Carwasheros’ Tell Boss to Clean Up His Act

Workers at the Webster & ‘Rico Pobre’ car washes in the Bronx walked off their jobs September 28, to protest ongoing harassment and retaliation against union supporters. Joined by members of New York Communities for Change (NYCC), Make the Road NY and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), the “carwasheros” demanded that owner John Lage put a stop to the harassment and address their health and safety concerns.

During the walkout and protest, workers and their community allies handed out flyers urging motorists to take their business elsewhere. The walkout happened “because we are tired of the tyranny and abuse from management,” said Ernesto Salazar, 39. “We are demanding that Lage sit with the union and negotiate a fair contract that will protect our rights.”

Taxi Workers’ Leader Wins AFL-CIO Post

Bhairavi Desai, executive director of New York City’s Taxi Workers’ Alliance (TWA), was elected to the national AFL-CIO’s Executive Council in September. The National Taxi Workers Alliance, which New York City’s TWA helped to found, became the 57th affiliate of the AFL-CIO in 2011.

Taxi drivers in New York and elsewhere are legally classed as independent contractors. They are not covered under federal labor legislation, and Desai’s election to the AFL-CIO leadership was a first for any representative of a non-traditional workers’ organization.

To win basic gains for taxi drivers, “we had demonstrations, work stoppages, and strikes,” Desai said after her election. “And that sense of militancy – we need to set that ablaze throughout all the industries in our country.”

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