U.S.: Amazon Warehouse Workers Fight to Form Union

POLITSTURM.COM | October 23, 2021

Amazon Warehouse Workers Fight to Form Union

Amazon workers at the Staten Island, New York Fulfillment Center are preparing to file for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board. As previously reported, workers at this location have already brought a lawsuit against Amazon with respect to working conditions and hazards, which was subsequently dismissed. Now, workers are preparing to unionize at this location. 

Amazon has taken actions to dissuade unionization by reportedly confiscating pro-union literature and distributing anti-union flyers. The company has also slandered an organizer who was fired from the location due to his unionization effort. A leaked memo described organizer and former warehouse employee Christian Smalls as “not smart or articulate”. 

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U.S.: Over 10,000 John Deere Employees Strike

POLITSTURM | October 13, 2021

Over 10,000 John Deere Employees Strike

Over 10,000 John Deere union employees are going on strike after failing to conclude a collective bargaining agreement. UAW is stating the the company would not come to an agreement over pay, retirement benefits, and improvements in working conditions for the workers. 

“Our members at John Deere strike for the ability to earn a decent living, retire with dignity and establish fair work rules,” said Chuck Browning, Vice President of UAW Agricultural Implement Department.

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U.S.: Kellogg Cereal Production Plants Are On Strike

POLITSTURM | October 09, 2021

Kellogg Cereal Production Plants Are On Strike

Kellogg workers across the United States are striking in response to a reduction of benefits and cost-of-living wage increases. The company has also proposed moving production lines from the U.S. to Mexico and implementing a two-tiered employment system.

According to the Bakery and Confectionery Workers International Union of America representing the workers, the proposed system would have new hires making less in wages and would not have the ability to receive a pension. Also, 30% of the current workforce would pay higher costs for healthcare and would lose access to retirement benefits.

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U.S.: Workers Are Striking Against the Two-Tier System

As Striketober continues to grow, unions are taking up the fight against the two-tier wage system. To put an end to the divisions between generations of workers and ensure equal pay for equal work, it is essential that unions continue this fight until they win.

Sou Mi

Left Voice | October 16, 2021

Photo: Luigi Morris

At the picket lines of striking Kellogg’s workers, sign after sign read the same slogan: “equal pay for equal work.” It is a sentiment a number of workers described to us when we asked them what they’re fighting for. They stressed that they’re fighting against a two-tier system that has divided workers since their last contract was implemented six years ago. They spoke of how unfair it is that more recently hired workers doing the same work alongside older workers on the production line make significantly less in wages and benefits. While senior Tier 1 workers get to choose whether or not they do overtime, overtime hours are forced upon Tier 2 workers in chronically understaffed facilities, many of whom are forced to work 16-hour days, seven days a week. At a rally at the Lancaster ticket in Pennsylvania on Saturday, October 9, a worker, Andrew Johnson, described how Kellogg’s hired new workers with the promise of higher pay and the same benefits that Tier 1 workers get. Yet, after joining, they soon saw how empty those promises were, as there were little to no opportunities for Tier 2 workers to advance. Now, faced with new contract negotiations, Kellogg’s workers are emphatically declaring their solidarity with their more junior coworkers and their right to earn equal pay for equal work. It is a fight they all see as their own.

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U.S.: Hundreds of Thousands of Workers Are Quitting Their Jobs. But a “General Strike” Is Something Much More Powerful

Madeleine Freeman

Left Voice | October 16, 2021

The photo depicts the general strike in Myanmar in 2021.

In a recent opinion piece for the Guardian, economist and former secretary of labor Robert Reich posits that the United States is in the midst of an “unofficial strike.” Responding to the bourgeois media and economists’ panic over the U.S. Department of Labor’s September jobs report — which showed the lowest number of jobs added for all of 2021 and an increasing number of workers dropping out of the workforce — Reich explains that the hiring challenges facing many industries results from the fact that more and more workers are “reluctant to return to or remain in their old jobs mostly because they’re burned out” and are holding out for better prospects.

While conservatives wring their hands over how big government spending on benefits is incentivizing people not to return to work now that the bosses and politicians decided the pandemic is over, Reich offers another explanation for the “labor shortage.” Pointing to high numbers of workers quitting their jobs each month, and to the numbers of people “in their prime working years” leaving the workforce entirely, Reich sees these trends as a sign that after a year and a half of pandemic lockdowns, layoffs, lack of childcare, and increased precarity, workers are less willing to accept the low wages, inadequate or nonexistent “benefits,” and long hours their employers offer. This is particularly evident in the tourism and logistics sectors, such as hotel work and trucking, both of which report hiring difficulties and are not rebounding as fast as economists predicted. He writes: 

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U.S.: Unions cheer resurrection of Michigan’s prevailing wage law protecting construction worker pay

Marty Mulchay

People’s World | October 22, 2021

Unions cheer resurrection of Michigan’s prevailing wage law protecting construction worker pay
Construction workers and other building tradespeople rally outside the Michigan Capitol, Jan. 10, 2018, in Lansing, to show opposition to Republican legislation repealing ‘prevailing wage’ pay protections. In a win for unions, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has reversed the GOP’s repeal. | Dale G. Young / Detroit News via AP

LANSING, Mich. (PAI)—And just like that, Michigan’s prevailing wage law made a comeback.

Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Michigan will again require contractors to pay prevailing wage on state-sponsored taxpayer-funded construction projects. Prevailing wage has been the single most important law that governs construction worker wages, but efforts by conservative lawmakers over the years reduced the number of states with it to 24.

The prior Republican regime in Lansing repealed Michigan’s prevailing wage in June 2018. Whitmer’s restoration ensures any construction worker working on a state-sponsored construction project receives a wage that “prevails” in their locality. Her order does not cover locally funded projects.

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USA: Kaiser’s Outrageous Two-Tier Wage Proposal May Provoke a Massive Strike

Jonah Furman & Sarah Hughes

Three women dressed in red hold hand-lettered signs: "Safe Staffing Saves Lives" and "Patients Over Profits"
Kaiser nurses and other health care workers rallied September 28 in Oregon on the eve of the Alliance contract expiration. Photo: OFNHP

At midnight on September 30, the national agreement expired between Kaiser Permanente and the Alliance of Healthcare Unions: 21 locals representing 52,000 workers. Now 35,000 of them have authorized strikes.

The heart of the conflict is a two-tier wage proposal, a rarity in health care. The company wants to create regional wage scales for everyone hired after 2022—meaning a giant cut in pay.

Kaiser isn’t hurting financially; last year it netted $6.4 billion, and it even returned $500 million in CARES Act funding to the federal government.

But the company claims the wage cuts are for you, the customer. According to management, wages are to blame for sky-high health care costs in the U.S.—and Kaiser employees with their hard-won union standards are the worst offenders.

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Workers’ Inquiry and Global Class Struggle: Strategies, Tactics, Objectives

Robert Ovetz (ed)

Pluto Press, London, 2020. 288 pp., £19.99 pb
ISBN 9780745340869

Reviewed by Katjo Buissink

Robert Ovetz begins this edited volume with a frank admission, that there ‘is little doubt that the global working class is on the retreat and has been for a very long time’ (1). Recognition of this might draw, and indeed has drawn significant parts of the left, into an inescapable pessimism about the future potential of class struggle and a militant workers’ movement. Workers’ Inquiry and Global Class Struggle, however, harnesses this sentiment to present a down-to-earth yet optimistic selection of case studies into the contemporary workers’ movement.

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Iran oil workers’ strike: a spectre haunting neoliberalism

People and Nature | July 16, 2021

More than 60,000 Iranian oil workers have joined a strike for better pay and contracts – the biggest such action since the general strike of 1978-79 that helped toppled the Shah’s regime.

The stoppage is supported by teachers, pensioners, and families seeking justice for their relatives killed during the big wave of protests in November 2019.

The protest began on 19 June, the day after the elections won by the conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi, who takes over as president next month.

The Iranian oil industry is dominated by the state-owned National Iranian Oil Company. But in recent years it has employed a host of contractors – many owned and controlled by state officials and their relatives – who have slashed pay levels and undermined working conditions.

Striking workers at a refinery, late June
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2 months of coal workers’ strike in the US

Peoples Dispatch | June 02, 2021

Over 1,100 workers have been on strike since April 1 at Warrior Met Coal plant in Brookwood, Alabama. They are demanding that the company respect workers and reverse some of the anti-worker measures imposed by the company’s new owners in the name of bankruptcy, such as wage cuts, loss of paid sick leave, loss of holidays, increased health care costs and more. Despite intimidation, the workers continue their their brave struggle for dignity.

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