Auto workers in Atlanta
condemn Ford plant closing
ATLANTAThey just want to get away from paying union wages to workers, said Robert Cobb, 38, a production worker at the Ford assembly plant here in response to the announcement that the company is shutting the factory here, idling 2,100 workers. This closing, coupled with the previously announced shutdown of the General Motors plant in Doraville, Georgia, by 2008, affecting 3,100 workers, leaves the Saturn plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee, as the only UAW-organized auto assembly plant in the South. Fords plan is to shut down seven assembly plants, and 14 factories overall.
Meat workers in New Zealand
strike for higher pay
WELLINGTON, New ZealandNearly 200 workers picketed the Taylor Preston meat works here February 7, the first morning of a three-day strike. Strikers held signs highlighting their low wages to oncoming traffic. Its not a meat works, its a sweatshop read one of the home-made placards.
Last December, union members voted 223 to 1 to reject the companys pay offer of 30 cents to 40 cents hourly raises, adding up to $1.00 to $1.30 in three years time. The union reports that following the vote the company accused Meat Union plant president Tuki Teautama of theft for using the company photocopier to make six copies of the results of the secret ballot to post on noticeboards.
Workers start on temporary contracts at the legal minimum wage of NZ$9.50 (US$6.45). Vailega Nanumea, a cleaner, had finished her overnight shift and then waited at the plant gate until other pickets arrived. Years before, she said, I had been looking for a strike but the union was not strong enough. Now it is.
Ruth Gray and Janet Roth
Catfish workers in Alabama
fight for union
EUTAW, AlabamaSome 60 workers at the Southfresh Farms catfish processing plant here walked off the job December 19 to protest unequal pay for trimmers. The one-day walkout resulted in an immediate raise to $7.25 an hour for all trimmers, workers said, and has given impetus to a broader fight for better pay and working conditions, and for union recognition. We knew we needed a majority of workersif we only had 10 workers walk out, we would have been fired, said Trinesa Davis, 36, who has worked as a trimmer at Southfresh for a year.
A representative from the United Food and Commercial Workers union from Birmingham met with the workers here in Eutaw. A local official of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference opened up an activities center for the meeting. All 60 workers who walked out signed union cards that day. Nearly 100 workers met with the union January 21 to discuss how to move ahead. Most workers at Southfresh get $5.25 an hour and often work less than 30 hours a week.
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