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 Building Bridges 
 
 Weekly Program
 
 Ken Nash and Mimi Rosenberg  
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Labor is Raising the Roof in Nashville
with
Chris Brooks, Staff Writer and Organizer with Labor Notes magazine
and
Odessa Kelly, Nashville Organized for Action and Hope and Co-Chair of Stand Up Nashville
and
Anne Barnett, Central Labor Council of Memphis and Co-Chair of Stand Up Nashville

As construction booms in Nashville, workers are finding the power to unionize in the otherwise non-union South. The city is growing, and developers are putting up new corporate headquarters, entertainment venues, and luxury hotels as fast as they possibly can. The Nashville skyline boasts more cranes than New York City.

Construction is intense. But the glitz and glamor of rapid development has produced more than huge profits for real-estate investors. It has also resulted in pain and poverty for construction workers and, correspondingly, an affordable-housing crisis for working-class families. Like many cities across the country, Nashville’s economic growth comes complete with full-throttle inequality. But something else is happening on the ground as well: Craft labor unions, embracing innovative strategies, are starting to grow, and they’re hoping to turn the tables on corporate power. They’re using their power in a tight labor market and an increasingly progressive city to boost both membership and labor standards—the kinds of leverage not available to manufacturing unions that have tried and failed to unionize Southern factories. The South, boasts the highest number of construction firms and the lowest density of workers in labor unions.

And, heavily represented on the lowest rung of the labor ladder are Latino workers, many undocumented, who make up a significant and growing share of the workforce on Nashville construction sites. Their immigration status leaves them particularly vulnerable to employer abuses, since they are less likely to make waves by reporting issues to government officials.

However, while faced with these challenges, there is a new approach to organizing Latino workers in Nashville through worker centers like Alianza Laboral. Like many worker centers, Alianza Laboral has focused on being a community resource, hosting cultural events and safety trainings and providing a space for workers to meet and discuss issues. Workers are recruited as “affiliate members” to the union, paying about half the normal rate for dues. And, then there is Stand Up Nashville, a citywide community-labor coalition that is leading the charge for a more equitable city – working with union and non-union workers from numerous industries, along with community members and churches, they are deploying creative organizing to rein in rising corporate profits that are exacerbating economic inequality and displacement. They’ve petitioned, lobbied, spoken at council, talked with and mobilized their neighborhoods, and are hitting a point where people are starting to run for office. There is power shifting in the city and we’ll find out more about how that’s happening and how Nashville’s construction trades workers are raising the roof against corporate greed
**************************************
Wayfair Workers Protest Furniture Sale to Detention Centers Caging Immigrant Children
with

April Glaser, reporter for Slate and co-host the podcast If Then



Employees at online home furnishings retailer Wayfair walked off the job to protest the company's decision to sell $200,000 worth of furniture to a government contractor that runs a detention center for migrant children in Texas. The protest triggered a broader backlash against the company, with some customers calling for a boycott. Several hundred people joined the protest at a plaza near the company's Boston headquarters, a mix of employees and people from outside the company.

More than 500 employees at the company's Boston headquarters signed a protest letter to executives when they found out about the contract. Wayfair refused to back out of the contract. "Last week, we found out about the sale and that we are profiting from this. And we are not comfortable with that," said Tom Brown, 33, a Wayfair engineer at the protest. "For me personally, there is more to life than profit."

The protest comes amid a new uproar over revelations of terrible conditions at a Border Patrol facility in Clint, Texas, including inadequate food, lack of medical care, no soap, and older children trying to care for toddlers. Emotions were also running high one day after photos published by the Mexican newspaper La Jornada and distributed worldwide by the AP showed the bodies of a migrant father and his young daughter who drowned while trying to cross the Rio Grande from Mexico to enter the United State.
produced by Ken Nash and Mimi Rosenberg
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