Bread & Roses: Workers of the World! Unite and Stay Home!

SNA (Tokyo) — May Day came into this world on May 1, 1886, with a general strike to win “eight hours for work, eight hours for rest, and eight hours for what you will.” Three days later, workers gathered in Haymarket Square, Chicago, and clashed with cops sent in to shut them down. At least four civilians and seven officers died. Four workers were later sentenced to death for conspiracy to riot, despite not a shred of evidence. May Day spread beyond the borders of the United States to Europe and elsewhere. Today, we see the eight-hour workday as a social norm, albeit observed more in the breech. But workers shed blood and tears to bequeath this right to us. We should devote one day a year to recognizing those heroes’ achievement and sacrifice.

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Tozen Union ALTs win WFH in Sagamihara

[2020.4.12] Assistant language teachers (ALTs) in Sagamihara City will work from home beginning Monday 13th April rather than Tuesday 14th, dispatcher Interac KK told Tozen Union. 

The ALT dispatch giant had planned to send Tozen members to school this week, even though the city had already suspended classes. The union demanded its members work from home instead, to help fight the virus and slow the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

During 11th hour virtual negotiations, Interac management agreed to have the teachers work from home beginning Tuesday, after commuting to the workplace one time only on Monday. 

The union welcomed the concession but insisted the ALTs work from home on Monday too. “We are concerned not just for the health and safety of our members, but also anyone they could come into contact during the commute,” said Tozen Senior Organizer Gerome Rothman. Interac agreed to talk to Sagamihara about the demand and later told the school board the ALTs will stay at home.

 “We appreciate Interac management’s attention to the health and safety of its employees,” Rothman said. Tozen Union demands all employers help fight the virus by paying employees full salary to work from home. 

Sagamihara City is a 40-minute train ride from Shinjuku in central Tokyo.
To join our union and the fight-the-virus campaign, contact Case Officer Gerome Rothman at tozen.rothman@gmail.com.  

Bread & Roses: Worker Rights in the Age of Coronavirus

SNA (Tokyo) — Last Friday, the Covid-19 global pandemic passed the horrifying milestone of one million infections and 50,000 fatalities worldwide. There have, as of this writing, been 4,592 confirmed cases and 106 deaths in Japan. Graphs of new cases and deaths trace the left half of steep parabolas as the world’s nations fail to flatten the curve. The global catastrophe and its grim toll traps workers between the closing jaws of infection risk and dire economic straits. As US commentator Krystal Ball noted, “the working class has been shoved into the front lines of this crisis.”

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