Workers Resistance Bulletin: October 1

Workers’ Resistance Bulletin provides an overview of workers’ resistance, as well as the repression of workers, taking place all across the US, from small workplaces to large factories. The growing wave of workers’ mobilizations makes clear that the general crisis of imperialism will be met with greater struggle from the proletariat. If you have a tip or suggestion for worker coverage, or you are a worker interested in becoming a worker correspondent, please reach out to us at  tribuneofthepeople@protonmail.com.

El Milagro Tortilla Factory Walkout in Chicago

Last Friday, dozens of workers at El Milagro tortilla factories in Chicago staged a walkout and picketed the company’s headquarters. Workers are forced to work seven days a week in extreme heat for low pay. Miserable conditions are pervasive across the company’s facilities: the El Milagro factory in San Marcos, Texas is currently facing $218,000 in OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) fines for putting workers at risk of amputation.

Workers in Chicago have delivered several letters to management asking for raises and improved working conditions, but haven’t received a response. Management has not attempted to meet with workers, and 14 workers were illegally locked out for participation in Friday’s action. Armando Guzman, one of the workers who participated in the walkout, told the Chicago Tribune, “Instead of attempting to keep us, they make us work harder and don’t compensate us for it.”

El Milagro tortilla factory workers in Chicago

Reno Bus Drivers On Strike Again

Leaving only four out of twenty-six bus routes able to operate, city bus drivers in Reno, Nevada went on strike on Monday for the second time this year. Drivers are protesting how shifts are scheduled by Keolis, a private company based in France that operates buses for the Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) of Washoe County.

In an attempt to pit bus riders against the drivers, the city is offering free rides on public transportation services and paying for Uber vouchers and taxi fares. The chair of the RTC board has also issued various statements chastising the drivers for the latest strike. The drivers are represented in negotiations by Teamsters Local 533, who cite their opposition to proposed ‘block bidding’ scheduling which gives drivers less flexibility.

Chicago Auto Mechanics End Strike in Close Vote

Eight weeks after beginning their strike, in a narrow vote, car mechanics represented by Local 701 accepted a contract with the New Car Dealers Association (NCDC) to return to work. The association represents around three dozen car dealerships. Workers described unfair wages and having to buy their own tools, which further erodes their income. The mechanics say they were not allowed to vote on a previous contract which offered higher wages, a reason cited for the closeness of the vote.

The strike lasted longer than a previous strike by the Chicago car mechanics in 2017, which went on for seven weeks.

Northern California Medical Center Workers’ Strike

On Saturday, 750 workers employed by the Kaiser Permanente health system went on strike, forming picket lines outside the majority of Kaiser’s northern California medical centers. The workers, represented by the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 39, demand higher wages on par with those offered by other local employers. Negotiations broke down on September 19, the day before the previous contract expired, after Kaiser refused to offer a better proposal.

Kaiser has a contentious history with its workers and is currently facing a separate strike from the United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals after similar negotiations reached a stalemate.

Longest Nurses Strike in Massachusetts History Continues

Nurses at St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts have been on strike for over 200 days, making it the longest nurses strike in the state’s history. 700 nurses walked off the job in February due to unsafe staffing levels, which negatively impacted their ability to care for patients. The striking nurses have received significant support from the community. The strike nearly ended a month ago; however negotiations once again broke down between the union and Tenet Healthcare, which owns the hospital.

The hospital has hired new nurses to replace the strikers, which prevents some of the striking nurses from returning to their jobs. One nurse told Tribune, they would strike, “as long as it takes to get a fair and just resolution, because every time they retaliate or spread lies about us, it just makes us want to fight more, and for longer.”

Read Full Coverage: Massachusetts: Longest Nurses’ Strike in State History Continues as Hospital Owners Retaliate

Entire Staff at Kansas Donut Shop Quits

All of the workers at LaMar’s Donuts in Overland Park, Kansas quit on Sunday in response to dangerously unsanitary conditions and the theft of tips by management, leaving the store shuttered for the day. Lindsay Dube, a former employee of the store, told the local FOX monopoly media affiliate, “There is mold all in the back. Our sinks and drainage don’t work properly … Please treat your employees right and pay them for what they deserve.”

LaMar’s Donuts flew in a replacement crew from Denver, Colorado to reopen the store on Sunday.

Alabama State Police Escort Scabs across Coal Miners’ Picket Line

More than 1,000 miners at Warrior Met Coal in Brookwood, Alabama have been on strike for six months, fighting for better pay and benefits, and an end to seven-day workweeks. The workers, who are represented by the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), have consistently fought to prevent scabs from entering the mine, putting their bodies on the line to enforce their demands. According to the union, workers on the picket line have been assaulted, but police are taking little action.

There have been reports of Alabama state troopers escorting scabs across the picket line. UMWA spokesman Phil Smith said, “It just looks like the company doesn’t need to hire its own security guards.”

Northwest Carpenters Union Shutters Picket Lines

After leading strikes for a week, the Northwest Carpenters Union has announced a stoppage of all picketing due to ‘illegal picketing by unauthorized strikers.’ The workers, represented by the Northwest Carpenters Union, voted to strike after rejecting an unfair contract from the Associated General Contractors of Washington, which failed to increase wages with the rising cost of living and did not offer adequate protection against sexual harassment. The union claims to have been contacted by lawyers from several contractors who are threatening to sue.

The union has attempted to limit the number of participants in the strike; however there are numerous reports of wildcat strikes (strikes not authorized by the union), which have received support from workers in other trades and the local community. Striking carpenter Jason Bartos told non-profit media outlet Labor Notes, “We don’t need to spend the rest of the seven hours marching and yelling at an empty jobsite. We can shut this whole city down, but leadership won’t let us, to stay in the good graces of contractors.”

San Antonio Symphony Musicians Unanimously Vote to Strike

Symphony musicians in San Antonio, Texas unanimously voted to strike on Tuesday, after rejecting a contract from the San Antonio Symphony Society. The proposed contract would cut the number of full-time positions from 72 to 42, and cut pay by 50 percent. While there has been ongoing conflict over these issues between the musicians and the Symphony Society for years, the last time the musicians went on strike was in 1985.

Violinist and Musicians of the San Antonio Symphony chair Mary Ellen Goree told the San Antonio Current: “I am stunned and disappointed that our management and board would take such an action without any good faith attempt whatsoever to partner with the musicians to raise the funds necessary to keep the San Antonio Symphony on stage. … My colleagues and I refuse to be complicit in destroying the orchestra and betraying our colleagues by removing their jobs and benefits.”

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