These are tough times for American workers. But the news in 2014 wasn't all bad. (Steve Rhodes / Flickr)
The mainstream press often files workers’ stories between corporate gossip in the “business” or “money” sections. But the efforts of working people to organize for their common interests—as well as the efforts of the 1 percent to keep a lid on things—frequently made front-page news this year.
Much has been made of the incredibly hostile climate for labor over the past few decades. Yet this past year, workers still organized on shop floors, went out on strike, marched in the street and shuffled into courthouses to hold their employers accountable, and campaigned hard for those who earned (or, often enough, didn’t earn) their vote. Legislators, meanwhile, tarried on with their anti-worker “right-to-work” laws, and union busters busted up unions. But if state legislatures and the U.S. Supreme Court were harsh on workers, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) was refreshingly helpful, passing down several rulings that made organizing easier and wage-theft harder.
Whether it was fast-food and retail workers demanding respect and better pay in record numbers, cities across the country raising their minimum wage under public pressure, or student athletes gaining recognition as employees of their universities, the labor movement has seen some important—and, at times, unexpected—victories this past...