Workers’ Resistance Bulletin: October 29

Workers’ Resistance Bulletin is 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 worker 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.


Alabama Coal Miners Still on Strike, Courts Ban Pickets Near Mines

Over 1,000 miners at Warrior Met Coal in Alabama have been on strike for seven months, fighting for better pay and benefits, and an end to seven-day workweeks. The workers have fought tirelessly to prevent scabs (strike-breaking replacement workers) from crossing the picket line and entering the mine. Recent reports have described Alabama state troopers escorting scabs across the picket line.

Warrior Met Coal has claimed that strikers have physically attacked scabs and broken windows on vehicles attempting to cross the picket line. Workers have reported that cars driven by company management and scabs have repeatedly driven into the picket line to assault and injure the miners, but local police have done nothing to protect the workers.

Rather than negotiating with the workers, Warrior Met has used these claims of violence to win a court-ordered injunction barring workers from picketing within 300 yards of the mine’s entrances. Workers report that tents set up on the picket line have already been bulldozed by contractors. Any worker who does not exit the picket line by Wednesday evening will be arrested and held in contempt of court.

North Carolina Charter School Closes as Teachers Protest Board of Directors

The Union Day School, a charter school in Union County, North Carolina, was forced to close last Thursday and Friday as teachers went on strike to protest the school’s board of directors. Teachers specifically highlighted the culture of fear created at the school by the board as well as high administrative and staff turnover as their main grievances. The protesting teachers were joined by parents, students, and community members who supported their demand for an entirely new board of directors.

The immediate trigger for the protests was the firing of Principal Matt Hamilton by the board, who, according to teachers, was considered popular among the staff. Union Day School has gone through six different principals in five years.

Charter schools have few protections in terms of workplace conditions, wages, and dismissal policies, and are mostly non-unionized. Because of these conditions charter schools usually have very high turnover rates, as one teacher described to local monopoly media outlet Fox 46 Charlotte: “We have questions about how we’re treated as teachers knowing that if we speak out, we’re losing our jobs.”

Striking Brooklyn Fuel-Terminal Workers Mark Six Months Since Walkout

On October 19, 14 workers at the United Metro Energy Corporation (UMEC) marked the six-month anniversary of their walkout, rallying outside the company’s offices. The workers walked out in April after two years of fighting for a union contract. They demand higher pay at the industry-standard level, lower healthcare costs and better coverage, a pension plan, and an end to at-will employment. Of the 14 strikers, 8 have been fired, and all of the workers have been replaced by scabs. The owner of the company, John Catsimatidis, has a net worth of over $4 billion.

ER Nurses Strike for Better Pay at Minnesota Hospital

Emergency room and urgent care nurses at Abbott Northwestern – WestHealth Hospital in Plymouth, Minnesota struck for three days this week, from October 24 to 26, as they demand higher wages in their current round of contract negotiations with healthcare company Allina Health. The strike shut down the emergency and urgent care departments at the hospital while nurses picketed outside.

Nurses at the hospital are demanding summer holiday pay, and as one nurse told local monopoly media outlet Fox 9, “we are here for the patients in the communities. But [the company is] telling us every day that we are cheap labor. We are paid at a lower level than everybody else, but we’re expected to do the same job if not more.”

Based out of Minneapolis, Allina Health operates 11 hospitals and over 90 clinics, and in 2021 posted first-quarter revenue of $83.3 million.

Locked-Out ExxonMobil Workers Reject Contract

Workers represented by the United Steelworkers at the ExxonMobil oil refinery and lubrication plant in Beaumont, Texas have rejected a contract offer from the company. Negotiations have reached a new degree of urgency, as the company has promised to cut benefits on November 1. ExxonMobil is currently attempting to remove the union from its facilities; the workers have been locked out of the facilities since May.

SEPTA Workers Authorize Strike in Philadelphia

SEPTA Bus (Source: Adam E. Moreira, CC)

Over 5,000 Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) workers in the Philadelphia area voted almost unanimously this past Sunday to authorize a strike if a new contract agreement is not reached by midnight on October 31. SEPTA is the public transportation agency that operates busses, commuter rail, trolleys, and metro lines in the Philadelphia metropolitan area. The main demands of the transit workers include paid parental leave, wage increases, and an end to the reduction of employee seniority rights.

The last time SEPTA employees went on strike was in 2016, for seven days. SEPTA transit workers have gone on strike 12 times since 1975.

Maryland County School Bus Drivers on Strike for Salary Increase

School bus drivers for the Charles County Public Schools in Maryland are currently on strike this week to demand a higher salary and greater benefits amid contract negotiations with the school district. The drivers say they will stay on strike until they achieve their demands for a significantly higher raise than the 3% raise the county is currently offering. The strike is taking place as school districts fail to fill bus driver positions, a situation which has prompted some districts, such as the Chelsea Public Schools in Massachusetts, to bring in US National Guard members to serve as school bus drivers.

The strike is the third school bus driver strike this month in Maryland. Drivers in Anne Arundel County went on strike for three days at the beginning of October to demand higher wages, and school bus drivers in Calvert County staged a sickout on Monday, October 11 to fight for higher wages and greater benefits as well. As one driver told local media station NBC 4 Washington, “we have to take this action to be heard and for things to change.”

One Month of West Virginia Metal Workers Strike

Around 500 workers at Sulzer Pumps and Special Metals in Barboursville and Huntington, West Virginia have been on strike for a month after their contracts expired and negotiations for new contracts broke down. The workers, represented by the United Steelworkers and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, demand increased pay, decreased healthcare premiums, and better working conditions.

Two Thousand More Kaiser Healthcare Workers Authorize Strike

On October 20, pharmacy and lab workers represented by United Food and Commercial Workers International Union Local 770 voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike if an agreement is not made with healthcare giant Kaiser Permanente, which is based out of Oakland, California. Workers’ main grievance with the new contract is that the two-tier wage system proposed by Kaiser would cut starting pay for new hires by between 26 and 39 percent starting in 2023.

According to a count by labor news reporter Jonah Furman, this newest strike authorization, combined with the possibility of two other authorizations from large locals in Georgia and Washington State, would bring the total number of Kaiser Permanente workers with the potential to strike to 45,000.

Las Cruces School Bus Drivers Strike

School bus drivers in Las Cruces, New Mexico staged an unfair labor practice strike Thursday morning following a contract dispute. The drivers are employed by the contractor STS-NM, a subdivision of the larger school bus contractor DS Bus Lines, which hires drivers for Las Cruces Public Schools. The workers demand safer buses and equipment to provide better conditions for both the drivers and students, and a higher, livable wage.

McDonald’s Workers Strike to Protest Sexual Harassment

McDonald’s workers in 12 cities, including Chicago, Houston, Miami, and Detroit, went on strike to protest sexual harassment in the workplace. The strike was organized by Fight for $15 and a Union, an organization run by the Service Employees International Union. There have been five strikes at McDonald’s related to sexual harassment since 2018. The workers demand a solution from McDonald’s corporate, and not the franchisees.

Adriana Alvarez, a McDonald’s worker in Chicago, told monopoly media outlet ABC“It’s unfair to these workers, making close to poverty wages, and then on top of that to have to worry about being sexually harassed on the job.”

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