The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 78/No. 43      December 1, 2014

On the Picket Line

This column is dedicated to spreading the truth about the labor resistance that is unfolding today. It seeks to give voice to those engaged in battle and help build solidarity. Its success depends on input from readers. If you are involved in a struggle with the bosses or have information on one, please contact me at 306 W. 37th St., 13th Floor, New York, NY 10018; or 212-244-4899; or We’ll work together to ensure your story is told.

— Maggie Trowe

California recycling sorters win substantial pay increase
SAN LEANDRO, Calif. — After a seven-day strike that ended Oct. 30, some 130 sorters at Waste Management’s recycle plant here won a substantial wage increase — $1.48 per hour immediately and subsequent increases that raise hourly pay over the next five years from $12.50 to $20.94 an hour by 2019.

Strikers are members of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 6. Garbage truck drivers in the Teamsters union and mechanics organized by the Machinists did not join the strike, despite appeals by the strikers, who distributed a flyer that said, “Let’s stand together like we did to win in 2007 … by respecting the picket line.” ILWU and IAM members stayed out when Waste Management locked out the Teamsters seven years ago.

Francisco Chavez, a Teamster driver, joined the picket after work, saying, “I’m with them because I’ve seen their working conditions.”

A group of 70 recycling sorters at Alameda County Industries joined the ILWU a few days before the strike.

— Eric Simpson

Nurses strike over inadequate Ebola safety precautions
Members of National Nurses United held strikes and protest actions in 16 states Nov. 12 over a range of issues, including inadequate safety equipment, training and procedures for Ebola treatment to protect nurses and patients.

In California some 18,000 registered nurses and nurse practitioners who are in contract negotiations with Kaiser Permanente struck 86 hospitals and clinics Nov. 11-12.

At Providence Hospital in Washington, D.C., some 400 nurses, who unionized last year and are fighting for a contract, took part in the Nov. 12 strike action demanding reduced patient loads and Ebola safety.

“We are asking for four patients per nurse” instead of seven, Jowita Lyn, an emergency nurse at Providence, told the Militant. She added that basic supplies and personal protection equipment are always in short supply.

At a press conference in Houston, National Nurses United spokesperson Carol Moore, a nurse and a leader of the NAACP there, condemned the treatment of Thomas Duncan, who died of Ebola in Dallas Oct. 8. When someone “comes to a hospital with a 103 degree fever and is turned away for lack of insurance — that’s a crime,” she said.

— Glova Scott and Steve Warshell

Thousands across Quebec fight day care cost increase
MONTREAL — Thousands of day care workers, parents with their young children and others demonstrated here and across Quebec Nov. 9 against increasing child care fees.

Earlier in the week the media reported that Liberal Party Premier Philippe Couillard plans to raise the current fee of $7.30 per child per day to $8 for those who qualify for full subsidies, and to as much as $20 for parents with higher incomes.

The fee was raised on Oct. 1 from $7 — the second increase since subsidized child care was won in 1997 by decades of struggles by unions and women’s rights supporters.

The Quebec Association of Day Care Centers responded by organizing a coalition that included Quebec’s three major union federations to organize protest actions.

Many participants carried homemade signs with slogans such as “Raising day care fees equals women at home.”

— Beverly Bernardo

Minnesota home care workers win union
MINNEAPOLIS — Some 27,000 personal care attendants in Minnesota joined the Service Employees International Union after months of organizing. The workers, who care for disabled people on Medicaid in their homes, receive a median wage of $11.09 per hour and no health benefits.

“We knocked on doors, we began meeting people at work, neighbors, family members,” Emma Woodward, a Certified Nurse’s Assistant and SEIU member, told the Militant.

In July hundreds of health workers and supporters, which included clients and their families, took part in a pro-union rally in St. Paul.

The anti-union National Right to Work Legal Foundation filed lawsuits to try to block the election and contract negotiations, but the court ruled against both. The successful election results were announced Aug. 26.

Helen Meyers

New England communications workers strike, win solidarity
PORTLAND, Maine — “Two weeks into this we’re holding strong,” said Barney McClelland, a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, as he walked the picket line against FairPoint here Nov. 1. Nearly 2,000 members of the IBEW and the Communications Workers of America went on strike Oct. 17 against the North Carolina-based company that provides telephone and Internet service in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

Some 400 unionists and supporters, including Verizon workers from Boston and New York, held a downtown rally here Nov. 8.

Negotiations for a new contract began in April. On Aug. 28 FairPoint bosses unilaterally imposed their terms, which included a two-tier wage system, employee pension freezes, cancellation of retirees’ health insurance and outsourcing jobs.

“We implemented our proposals on the 28th and have always been open to meaningful counterproposals,” FairPoint spokesperson Angelynne Beaudry told the Militant Nov. 12. “So far we haven’t had any.”

On Oct. 31, two weeks into the strike, Fairpoint cut off strikers’ health insurance. “We’ve got collections and food banks going” for the FairPoint strikers, Myles Calvey, a member of the IBEW from Boston, said at the march. “In nine months when our contract with Verizon expires, we’ll be in the same fight.”

Contributions payable to the IBEW-CWA Solidarity Fund can be sent to 21 Gabriel Drive, Augusta, ME 04330.

Kevin Dwire

Related articles:
‘We’re workers, not owners’ say port truckers on strike
As dockworkers press safety at congested ports
Dupont bosses’ toxic leak in Texas kills 4 workers, threatens residents
Calif. Walmart workers rally for $15 an hour
Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home