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Strikes

96% Of Freight Rail Workers Want To Strike, Survey Finds

96 percent of freight rail workers still want to strike as soon as they can under federal law, despite a Joe Biden-appointed emergency mediation board recently drawing up terms for a potential compromise contract, according to a survey conducted by a railroad worker group. The survey is the latest indication that the deep, years-long cleavage between workers and management centering on working conditions, pay, and health care benefits at the country’s freight rail lines will not be easily reconciled. “People are pretty furious,” said Railroad Workers United secretary Ron Kaminkow, who conducted the survey. He added there was “nothing really surprising, but it’s always very vindicating when the word on the street and from your co-workers that it’s overwhelming is verified.”

Strikes Across The UK As Regulator Lifts Energy Price Cap By 80%

A new wave of strikes are underway across the UK. From postal workers to barristers, organised labour is turning out on picket lines against the backdrop of looming energy cost hikes. Workers across the UK are fighting back by withdrawing labour, sharing their experiences and, on one occasion, surfing around ports at high speed! The strikes come as Don’t Pay, which is campaigning to encourage people to refuse to pay extortionate energy bills, reported an 80% hike had been nodded through by regulator Ofgem. Don’t Pay’s East London branch also announced a protest at Canary Wharf for Saturday 27 August. Postal workers are striking as part of the Communication Workers Union over pay. Royal Mail bosses have been paying themselves massive bonuses, even as the cost of living crisis has ramped up

Trader Joe’s Union Campaign Takes Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Trader Joe’s workers in Minneapolis won their union in a landslide vote August 12, making theirs the second store to go with the new, independent Trader Joe’s United. The win raises the question of whether the grocer, with its 530 locations and progressive image, could be the next Starbucks. It seems that Trader Joe’s management is considering becoming the next Starbucks in a different sense: closing stores and harassing workers out of union drives. A store in Boulder, Colorado, had a vote lined up for this week, but workers seeking affiliation with Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 7 there withdrew their petition the day after filing charges against the company for coercion and intimidation. The Trader Joe’s drives reflect an emerging theme of recent new organizing: independent versus affiliated unionism.

Nine For-Profit Nursing Homes Pull A Simultaneous Strike

One thousand workers at nine for-profit nursing homes in Western New York held one-day strikes July 12 and 13. It’s the first time that 1199SEIU (United Healthcare Workers East) has held a coordinated strike across different nursing home employers in the region. The nursing homes had a common contract expiration date, April 30, and the workers have common demands. They want a $15 starting wage for food service workers, laundry workers, and housekeepers. “It was about calling on these for-profit owners to meet the wage standards that we have set with the not-for-profit nursing homes in the area,” said Grace Bogdonove, vice president of the union’s Western New York Nursing Home Division. Along with a $15 minimum for these service workers, the union is demanding raises for the caregivers at the bedside: both higher starting rates for new hires and wage scales for experienced caregivers.

Dockers At England’s Largest Cargo Port Strike Against Inflation

Things are heating up in the United Kingdom’s “summer of discontent” — the name that’s been given to the wave of strikes against falling wages resulting from inflation. London’s public transit network is paralyzed, and across the country only one train in five is running. Massive strikes in the transportation sector are playing out as walkouts —sometimes wildcat ones — erupting at refineries and Amazon facilities. Meanwhile, a growing number of unions in other sectors are voting to authorize strikes. The English bourgeois press reports that inflation is 10.1 percent (the same figure the French press reports), but that’s just what the bosses say. It doesn’t account for rent increases; adding rents, one of the key costs for the working class, inflation has hit 12.4 percent in August. And as prices rise, so too does the general combativeness of workers and the will to strike.

Waste Piles Up In Edinburgh, Residents Told To Store Rubbish At Home

Rubbish has started piling up in Edinburgh at the start of an 11-day strike by refuse workers over pay, with city residents being told to store rubbish in their houses and gardens. All bin and recycling collections have been suspended in the Scottish capital for the duration of the strike, which began at 5am on Thursday and will continue until Tuesday 30 August. Street cleaning and the removal of waste from public litter bins has also been cancelled, with all recycling centres also closed and flytipping reports going unanswered. Edinburgh City Council’s official advice to residents is to “stock up on strong black bags” and store their extra rubbish in their gardens, garages or driveways.

Philly Maintenance Workers, School Bus Drivers Vote To Authorize A Strike

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - The union representing 2,000 Philadelphia school bus drivers and maintenance workers authorized a strike Saturday if they don’t have a new contract by the end of the month. Hundreds of representatives of 32BJ SEIU District 1201 took to North Broad Street, chanting and clapping, after members voted overwhelmingly to strike if necessary. The vote does not mean a strike will definitely happen, though — union leaders will make that call. “What do we want? Contract! When do we want it? Now!” the union members said. 32BJ also represents the mechanics, bus attendants, building cleaners and engineers, and trades workers who support Philadelphia’s 215 schools and 114,000 students. Union officials say the two sides are split on matters of pay, safety, and training. Negotiations resume Tuesday.

Britain’s Strike Wave Escalates As Millions Push For Action

More than 40,000 rail workers represented by the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) and Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) will continue national rail strikes on Thursday and Saturday. Around 10,000 RMT members on the London Underground and Overground will strike Friday, alongside 1,600 London United bus workers beginning two days of action. In an action that will massively impact on the UK economy, 1,900 workers at the UK’s Felixstowe port, responsible for half of all container freight, will begin eight days of strike action on Sunday. Over 500 workers have also voted to strike at the Port of Liverpool, Britain’s fourth largest. Close to 115,000 Royal Mail workers in the Communication Workers Union will strike on August 26 and 31 and September 8 and 9.

Wildcat Walkouts Hit UK Oil Refineries And Power Stations

A wave of wildcat strikes by subcontracted workers broke out across refineries and power stations in the UK Wednesday, amid continuing walkouts by Amazon workers. Workers are protesting wages falling massively behind the spiraling cost of living. The sites affected are covered by the National Agreement for the Engineering and Construction Industry (NAECI), concluded by the Unite and GMB unions with the Engineering and Construction Industry Association (ECIA) in August 2021. The “Blue Book” agreement was cheered by Jock Simpson, the chairman of the National Joint Council for the Engineering and Construction Industry, as the “means of managing labor relationships to deliver project completions to time and budget” and as the “key to industrial relations stability”.

Damning Report Shows Unions Have Plenty Of Money To Organize

Many people who are passionate about the labor movement, myself included, have long had the vague but haunting sense that the most powerful institutions in the union world are not doing enough to stem the bleeding that has been sucking power from unions for decades. Well, there’s good news and bad news on that front. The bad news is: that sickening feeling was correct. The good news is: now we can put some numbers on it. A new report from Chris Bohner, who runs the labor research firm Radish Research, has done an amazing service by systematically assembling thousands of financial records from unions over the past decade to assemble a report that gives the most comprehensive picture that I have ever seen of the current financial state of unions in America.

Wars, Inflation, And Strikes: A Summer Of Discontent In Europe?

Are we heading toward a summer of discontent in Europe? Can we foresee a hot autumn on the Continent? It would be hasty to make such statements, but new strike activity is beginning to unfold among sectors of several countries’ working class. Inflation reached 8.8 percent as a European average in May (with higher rates in countries like the UK and Spain). After years of inflation below 1.5 percent, this is a significant change that is causing a fall in the population’s purchasing power, especially among the working class. Many analysts are already talking about the possibility of stagflation: a combination of recession and inflation. This is in addition to the political instability of several governments and a widespread dissatisfaction with the traditional parties. The latter was expressed in France in the last elections, with high abstention and the growth of Marine Le Pen’s far-right party and of the center-left coalition grouped around Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

Labor Notes Conference 2022: It’s Gonna Be Big

This year’s Labor Notes Conference (June 17-19, Chicago) will be one for the record books. About 4,000 people are coming—more than ever before—after a long wait. There’s plenty to celebrate this year, starting with phenomenal new organizing wins at Starbucks and Amazon. Dozens of shop floor organizers from both companies will be there, including plenary speakers Amazon Labor Union President Chris Smalls (“We want to thank Jeff Bezos for going to space, because while he was up there we were organizing a union”) and Michelle Eisen of Starbucks Workers United. Conference-goers will hear firsthand from Amazon and Starbucks workers in many workshops. But they’re coming not only to inspire the rest of us but also to connect with their co-workers across the country and make big plans.

What’s It Like To Strike?

Today Vanessa Krinker, 49, drives the number 45 bus to and from Garden Home in Southwest Portland. She wears a TriMet uniform and is a proud member of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757. But in 1997 she was active with Teamsters Local 63 in Southern California, and took part in one of the greatest strikes of the modern era. Krinker was a part-timer at a small UPS hub in Victorville, California, in the Mojave Desert an hour northeast of LA. She’d grown up nearby and had been at UPS two years. Her job was to load and unload trucks. It was hard work. Part-timers’ wages had been frozen at $8 an hour for 14 years. But under new leadership, Teamsters prepared for a fight with UPS, holding rallies and circulating a petition signed by over 100,000 members.

Who Might Strike In 2022?

2021 saw high-profile strikes and contract battles that put unions in the public spotlight. And 2022 could potentially be more explosive. Workers are already sensing their increased leverage in a tight labor market. They’ll be feeling the squeeze of record inflation while their employers rake in profits. There’s every reason to hold the line against concessions, or to win back what they gave away before. A Bloomberg analysis in November found that nearly 200 large union contracts (covering at least 1,000 workers) would expire between then and the end of 2022. Together these contracts cover 1.3 million workers—and there are hundreds of thousands more covered under the hundreds of smaller contracts that are also expiring.

The Amazon Army And The 1919-1922 Kansas Coal Strikes

The struggle of the miners and the Amazon Army appears in no major labor history book. I decided to leave it out in my first book When Workers Shot Back (Ovetz, 2019) due to the lack of documentary evidence to write an entire chapter on it. This oversight is a mistake. The Amazon Army has much to teach us today about the interconnected struggle between waged and unwaged workers, immigrant and native labor, productive and reproductive labor, industrial unionism and organizing for power on the shopfloor, and the use of labor law and unions as a strategy for managing and suppressing class struggle.
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