The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 78/No. 32      September 15, 2014

Workers in struggle
join Labor Day actions
(front page)
Trade unionists who circulate the Militant joined fellow workers taking part in Labor Day weekend rallies, marches and other events. Contingents at these actions this year reflected an uptick in resistance to bosses’ attacks and some new efforts to organize unions.

From Chicago, Alyson Kennedy, a production worker at Electromotive Diesel, and Serhii Tereshchenko, a Ukrainian-born college student who worked last summer as a furniture mover, joined several dozen other workers and union members protesting outside the Walmart on the South Side of the city.

“We are here today to represent Walmart workers across this nation who are fighting for higher wages and better conditions,” Charmaine Givens-Thomas, who works in the electrical department at Walmart, told the crowd. “We are standing up to this retailer and we are not backing down.”

“I am here to fight for a living wage,” Linda Haluska, who works at a nearby Walmart, told Kennedy. “I have to work two jobs, at Walmart and as a substitute teacher, just to make enough to support my family.”

Clay Dennison, who works at a wire plant near Seattle, met berry pickers, members of Familia Unidas por la Justicia labor union, at the Labor Day picnic in Seattle. The union has been fighting for better wages and working conditions for more than a year against Sakuma Brothers Farms in Mt. Vernon, Washington. Dennison worked with union members on an article for the Militant on their fight.

“We are fighting for farmworkers rights,” Ramón Torres, president of the union, told those at the picnic. “The company is carrying out reprisals against union supporters. To all the unions who have supported us, thank you.” He told several workers that the Militant has told the truth about the farmworkers’ struggle.

At Labor Day actions, trade unionists who look to the Militant for a fighting perspective and international coverage of workers’ struggles and other political developments found many opportunities to get to know other workers and their struggles. Because of the interest they found in the socialist paper, registered in dozens of new subscribers, the Militant has decided to count all subscriptions sold over the Labor Day weekend toward the seven-week fall circulation campaign that runs through Oct. 28.

George Chalmers, a worker at the Hyundai Rotem railroad car plant in South Philadelphia and member of Transport Workers Union Local 234, helped shop steward Eddie Bengochea talk up the Labor Day march on the job. Several co-workers joined them in the local’s contingent. Their union is currently in contract negotiations with the company. The local also represents bus drivers for Southeast Pennsylvania Transportation Authority who have been working without a contract since March 14.

Chalmers spoke with McDonald’s workers, activists in the Philadelphia Fast Food Forward Organizing Committee who were staffing a table at the end of the march to build support for a strike, rally and speakout Sept. 4.

Shymara Jones, a McDonald’s worker, told Chalmers her hourly wage of $7.75 “is not enough for me and my 7-year-old son. I work two jobs and still can’t provide for my family. So I say enough is enough and I’m going to do whatever it takes to get $15 an hour and a union.”

In Los Angeles Phil Presser took part in the Labor Day parade, rally and picnic in Wilmington, California, a town that is home to many port workers. He met up with a worker he knows in the port truckers’ struggle, and a worker active in the United Food and Commercial Workers union.

Hugo Menendez, a port truck driver, attended to build support for the truckers’ fight for a union and to be recognized as hourly wage workers instead of so-called independent contractors responsible for their own expenses and risks. “We are not going to stop fighting until we have a labor contract,” he said.

Also attending the rally were car washers organizing with the United Steelworkers union. Juliette Ovalle, lead organizer of the car washers campaign, told the rally, “Last year we had three contracts. This year we have 28. There are now 200 union car washers in the L.A. area.”

Militant readers in cities across the United States and in other countries are discussing quotas for the fall campaign. Articles each week will give readers a picture of the skirmishes workers are involved in and why they find the Militant useful.

Nine Pathfinder books are being offered at special prices with a Militant subscription for those who want to delve deeper into revolutionary working-class politics and history. (See ad on this page). Those subscribing for six months can get 50 percent off any two books published by Pathfinder Press. Those subscribing for a year can get four books at half price.

Join us in building solidarity with workers’ struggles and help expand the circulation of the Militant.
Related articles:
Special fall book offers for ‘Militant’ readers
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