Mike Elk

A Sidney Award-winning labor reporter, Mike Elk is the founder of PaydayReport.com and also writes for The Guardian. He can be reached at melk@paydayreport.com

Recent Articles

Exxon Refinery Explosion Another By-Product of Trump Deregulation

The Trump administration is working to roll back a chemical safety disaster rule, putting communities like Baytown, Texas, at risk.

On Wednesday, a massive explosion and fire rocked ExxonMobil’s Baytown plant near Houston, one of the largest oil refineries in the country. The blast sent a gigantic plume of black smoke towering above the plant. Thirty-seven were injured and panic spread throughout the community. Quickly, iPhones began buzzing with a notification warning nearby residents to “shelter in place” or risk exposure to the toxic brew of chemicals in the air. “You feel defenseless,” says lifelong Baytown resident Agustin Loredo, a father of four. “It’s a difficult conversation to tell my kids and tell my family to lock yourself in, turn off the A/C even though it’s hot in Texas, don’t open the windows—just sit there.” Such conversations are routine in Baytown, a city of 85,000 close by Houston’s Ship Channel. In addition to an explosion at Exxon’s plant back in March, two other fires have taken place at chemical plants near the...

Private Equity’s Latest Scheme: Closing Urban Hospitals and Selling Off the Real Estate

Thousands are expected to rally Thursday against the closing of Hahnemann University Hospital, a 171-year-old facility in Center City Philadelphia.

On Thursday, thousands of union workers and community members are expected to rally against the decision of private-equity tycoon Joel Freedman to close Philadelphia’s 171-year-old Hahnemann University Hospital. Workers and community members are accusing Freedman of closing a vital medical center for the poor in order to sell the prime real estate to build luxury condos and hotels. The closure of the hospital means that more than 2,500 union workers will be thrown out of work and tens of thousands of mostly poor Philadelphians, who rely on the hospital for primary care, will see their lives upturned as they search for other options. Nearly half of the residents who use Hahnemann are on Medicaid and two-thirds are black and Latino , according to The Philadelphia Inquirer . The hospital is expected to close in August, but already the decision to close its emergency room has sent panic throughout Philadelphia. “This is nothing short of a public-health emergency. People will...

Pro-UAW TV Ad Mobilizing Community Around Respect Issues at Volkswagen

The UAW is using different tactics to organize a Volkswagen plan in Chattanooga where they lost a union election five years ago.

Outside of Volkswagen’s 3,000-worker auto plant in Chattanooga, where they make the Passat and the Atlas, hundreds of union members from all over the South gather to wave large blue circles with the United Auto Workers symbol, as workers drive off from the afternoon shift. Workers from across the South—construction workers from Nashville, Ford workers from Atlanta, and coal miners from Northern Alabama—have come to Chattanooga to cheer on workers in the closing days of the UAW’s nearly decade-long campaign to unionize Volkswagen. Voting in the election begins on Friday. A union has never won an election at a foreign-owned auto plant in the South in over three decades of trying. Many Southern workers are praying that Chattanooga will finally break the dam of anti-union opposition, opening the floodgates for organizing across the South. “It would really open the door for us to finally unionize the Mercedes plant in Tuscaloosa,” says United Mine...

CWA Crows Over AT&T Deal

In cellular merger, organized labor comes out on top.

(Flickr/Steve Rhodes)
When news of AT&T's acquisition of T-Mobile USA broke on Sunday, the immediate reaction among progressives was one of dismay. "Don't believe the hype: There is nothing about having less competition that will benefit wireless consumers," said S. Derek Turner, research director of the open communications advocacy group Free Press, in a statement. Other progressive consumer groups, including the Consumer Federation of America and the Center for Digital Democracy, were also quick to issue statements denouncing the deal, which, if approved, would create the country's largest cellular carrier. However, one progressive group cheered the merger: the Communication Workers of America, a labor union whose more than 500,000 members include 150,000 AT&T employees. "[Union members] in the U.S. will welcome this news since of all the possible partners, AT&T will mean better employment security and a management record of full neutrality toward union membership and a bargaining voice," CWA...

The Revival of Labor

The standoff in Wisconsin has energized the labor movement. The question is: Now what?

Students sleep outside the state Capitol this week after Wisconsin Department of Administration officials shut the building's doors. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)
After weeks of pitched battle that has clogged the state Capitol with protests and gummed up legislative works, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker hinted in an interview yesterday with the Wisconsin State Journal that he might be willing to make a deal with the public-sector unions. The gesture was a weak one: He suggested that issues like unions' right to collect dues and hold elections are on the table, but he is still unwilling to negotiate on public employees' right to bargain collectively on non-pay issues like benefits. Such a compromise would be unacceptable to most union activists, but it was the first sign that Walker is feeling pressure and willing to make a deal to resolve the massive protests, now more than two weeks old. Whether Walker deals or not, it's clear that the protesters are prepared for the long haul. Walker made his biggest tactical blunder by attempting to kick people out of the Capitol last Sunday, just as the protests were starting to die down. Instead of clearing...

Pages