Earlier this year, on the Ford stamping line in Buffalo, sewage started pouring onto the floor. Careless managers had shut down a pump to install new equipment and caused a deluge. The workers didn't work meekly through the dizzying stench. They shut down their line, fast. And they did it with so much unity that their manager decided not to fight back. That collective action didn't come out of nowhere. Over the last few years, Auto Workers at Local 897 have built a fighting safety culture. They elected new local officers who turned “militant” into a badge of honor. Members stopped the line when poorly routed forklifts dropped metal sheets near workers.
In the middle of Amazon’s Prime Day promotional sales rush, 60 warehouse workers walked out for more than three hours at its delivery station in Pontiac, Michigan—bringing the facility to the brink of a total shutdown. A delivery station is the last warehouse an Amazon package passes through before it is loaded into a truck or van en route to the customer. This year’s “Prime Day” shopping bonanza July 11 and 12 set a record for the largest sales day in Amazon’s history. The crush of Prime Day puts even more pressure on workers to keep up with conveyor belts overflowing with boxes that can weigh as much as 50 pounds.
More than 300 graduate student workers at Fordham University’s Arts and Sciences school began a three-day walkout this Monday, resulting in hundreds of canceled classes amid growing frustration with the state of their union contract negotiations with the university. On Tuesday morning, about two dozen picketers marched in front of Fordham University’s Rose Hill Campus in The Bronx, while others demonstrated at Lincoln Center Campus in Manhattan. Drivers sped along East Fordham Road toward Webster Avenue and honked their horns in support as the strikers bellowed, “Who’s got the power? We got the power! What kind of power? Union power.”
Twenty years ago, the small school district of Woodburn piloted Oregon’s first K-12 district-wide dual-language program. It became a model for schools nationwide. Yet while the district continues to proudly present itself as bilingual, in reality this program—along with the rest of the system—is failing. Last week the Woodburn Education Association voted to authorize a potential strike, as teachers fight for better pay and caps on class sizes. So did the neighboring Silver Falls Education Association. “We see the most issues with the dual-language program,” said Misha Pfliger, a WEA rep and high school teacher. “It hasn’t been supported or sustained as the district has promised. Lots of teachers are leaving.
For its wide circulation and daily, authoritative journalism of current events, the New York Times has been considered the “newspaper of record” for over a hundred years. But on Thursday, Dec. 8, there was a hole in that record — or, at least, a feeble plug. After 20 months of unsatisfactory contract negotiations with one of the only newspapers that still sees increasing reader subscriptions, Times workers have had enough. As of midnight on Dec. 8, over 1,100 staff made history as they commenced a 24-hour walkout in protest of the Times management’s failure to negotiate a fair contract and meet the demands of their union, the NewsGuild of New York. It is the newsroom’s first walkout of this scale since a multiday strike in September and October of 1965.
Grapevine, Texas - More than 100 Grapevine High School students walked out of class Friday morning in protest of new district policies that limit how teachers talk about race, gender and sexuality, impact which bathrooms transgender students can use and give trustees a greater say over what books are available in libraries. The teenagers left class during third period as a stand against ideas they decry as transphobic and amount to a “gag” on teachers. “We are here to show that the school board cannot get away with treating our education, our lives, as a playground for politics,” one of the organizers, Marceline Temple, said in written remarks. “We will not let this school board treat the existence of minorities as a controversy.”
California - Mental health workers at Kaiser Permanente announced plans Tuesday for an open-ended strike that could lead as many as 2,000 Northern California mental health workers to curtail appointments beginning on Aug. 15. The announcement came in response to frustration with the level of service provided to patients at the nation’s largest nonprofit HMO, which Capital & Main reported on in a recent story. As a result of understaffing, patients who should receive weekly therapy are waiting months to start treatment and as long as two months between appointments in violation of clinical guidelines, according to a statement released by the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), which represents the workers. (Disclosure: NUHW is a financial supporter of this website.)
University of Michigan medical students walked out on a speech Sunday by an antiabortion speaker during their “white coat day” to mark the start of medical school. In the weeks before the speech, students petitioned to have the speaker changed. The speaker was Kristin Collier, an assistant professor at the medical school. She has spoken out many times against abortion. “While we support the rights of freedom of speech and religion, an anti-choice speaker as a representative of the University of Michigan undermines the University’s position on abortion and supports the non-universal, theology-rooted platform to restrict abortion access, an essential part of medical care,” said the petition. “This is not simply a disagreement on personal opinion; through our demand we are standing up in solidarity against groups who are trying to take away human rights and restrict medical care.”
In the predawn hours of Wednesday morning, workers at three Amazon warehouses walked off the job. More than 60 employees at two delivery stations in Queens, New York, and one in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC coordinated the first multistate walkout at US Amazon warehouses and demanded a $3 hourly raise. As high-profile union elections in Bessemer, Alabama, and Staten Island, New York, have captured the world’s attention, an informal union named Amazonians United (AU) has been staging actions at facilities across the country—and winning. The worker-led organization began when a handful of Chicago warehouse workers got together in 2019 to protest the company limiting their water access, according to an interview in Jacobin.
On Wednesday morning, several dozen Amazon workers at two separate Chicago-area delivery stations staged a walkout to demand raises and safer working conditions, making it the first time the tech giant has seen a multi-site work stoppage in the United States. Coming just three days before Christmas to ensure maximum impact, the action caps a year of intense organizing and protest by Amazon warehouse workers who have been on the frontlines of both the Covid-19 pandemic and extreme weather events. Organized by the labor network Amazonians United, the walkouts occurred during the morning shifts at the company’s DIL3 facility in Chicago’s Gage Park neighborhood and at the DLN2 warehouse in the nearby town of Cicero.
Today, a fledgling independent union of pharmacists is launching the first-ever nationwide walkout of these critical health care workers. After being forced to work on the pandemic front lines distributing medicines to millions of sick COVID patients, including hundreds of millions of vaccines, pharmacists have had enough, and are fighting back in unprecedented ways.
Chicago — Food production workers at El Milagro, one of Chicago’s most popular tortilla companies, join with community allies for a Day of the Dead vigil Nov. 2, 2021, in honor of five coworkers who died after contracting Covid-19 on the job. With candles and sugar skulls outside the company’s flagship taqueria in the Little Village neighborhood on the city’s Southwest Side, workers and supporters spoke about their ongoing standoff with management — and their demands for justice on the job. “We’re here to remember our coworkers, friends and loved ones who have passed on from Covid-19,” Guillermo Romero said at the vigil. “We’ll never forget them. But we continue in this fight, for ourselves, for our dignity and to get respect.” Romero has worked at the company for 16 years.
Little Village - An employee-led work stoppage at the El Milagro tortilla factory turned into a lockout Thursday night. The employees at El Milagro tortilla factory partnered with Arise Chicago to stage a two-hour walkout at 2140 S. Western Ave. as they call for safer working conditions and higher wages. But they were locked out with their belongings inside, and they were only allowed to collect their personal items after hours of negotiations with the factory’s leaders. Workers were allowed back in Friday morning to work, but an armed security guard was present. The walkout had been planned beforehand. Workers informed management they would leave the factory at 5 p.m. Thursday and return after two hours.
Allegany, New York — The salon at Walmart was closed Tuesday after the entire staff quit at the same time. The SmartStyle Hair Salon’s doors were locked Tuesday morning with the message “We Out” on a poster hanging in the window. The poster also included the note, “We love our people,” and listed where each of the stylists had moved to. Staff member Dana Roth said the mass exit was inevitable with the way the site’s upper management had disregarded any concerns voiced to them. “The last nine months especially has been fairly taxing with us having had a limited staff and no support from the higher-ups,” Roth told the Times Herald. A manager at Allegany Walmart said there was nothing they could comment on at the store level and to contact the corporate office.
On September 3, 54 school bus drivers in the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System SCCSS) in Georgia began a rolling sickout and staged a protest at the school district offices over pay structure and lack of adequate protections from COVID-19. The sickouts forced the school board to scramble for drivers to transport students. The school relies on about 218 drivers to ferry more than 18,700 students to and from school; the 54 drivers who are protesting represent about 22 percent of the district’s drivers. A school district spokesperson reported that the district had been forced to call upon private coaches and other employees with commercial driver’s licenses (CDL) to make up for the deficit. The school board released a statement on Friday saying that they were already understaffed, and they were trying to hire more drivers.