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

Over 49,000 GM Workers Head Out on Strike

The biggest autoworker strike since the financial crisis could serve as a renewal for a union battered by corruption scandals.

ROCHESTER, NEW YORK – Shortly after midnight, the scene outside GM’s Rochester Operations is tense with excitement, as onlookers wait for the plant’s first strike in 35 years to begin. “I am way too wide awake right now,” shouts one General Motors security guard to another. Then, suddenly, hundreds of workers begin to burst out of the front gates, high-fiving and celebrating their decision to walk off the job over General Motors’ demands for concessions. “I think this is long overdue,” says Rachel Drummond, a third-generation African American GM worker. “We come to work every day, we work harder, and we deserve better than what we get.” The workers are part of a group of over 49,000 General Motors workers at 33 manufacturing plants and 22 parts distribution warehouses nationwide who went on strike Sunday night. That includes 46,000 autoworkers and 3,000 union-represented janitors with Aramark, a concession and facilities...

How Immigrant Workers Are Fighting Deportation Raids

Workplace organizing is helping immigrants to understand their rights as ICE and other immigration authorities crack down.

This week, scores of employers throughout the U.S. received “no-match letters” from the Social Security Administration, informing them that workers employed by them have invalid Social Security numbers and may be undocumented immigrants. “People were just so afraid to leave the house that they didn’t go to work,” says Cal Soto, workers’ rights coordinator at the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON). “This is a huge economic hit to the finances of many immigrants and immigrant communities.” This year alone, the Trump administration has already sent over 500,000 no-match letters to employers. Coming on the heels of a massive raid on poultry plants in Mississippi that saw more than 600 immigrants detained, the letters sent shock waves through the immigrant community over fears that raids may be coming soon to their workplaces. “These no-match letters are like a silent raid,” says Soto. “It makes the boss even...

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...