Workers’ Resistance Bulletin: December 17

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.


California Sanitation Workers Strike Over Scheduling, Contract Loopholes

Sanitation workers in Anaheim and Huntington Beach, California, represented by Teamsters Local 396, staged a week-long strike between December 9 and 16. The workers are demanding higher pay and changes to their current contract, which allows Republic Services, the second largest waste collector in the country, to over-schedule and overwork them. While wage increases had been agreed to during contract negotiations, the negotiations stagnated in recent months around work hours and shift scheduling. Current contract language allows Republic Services to sometimes make the workers work six days a week when their workweek is supposed to be defined as only five days. Other grievances include discrimination against older Spanish-speaking workers, constant threats of termination and write-ups, and 14-hour shifts. The more than 400 sanitation workers in the two cities voted to authorize a strike on November 23 after their contract expired in September.

One worker at the Anaheim picket told Tribune, “We’ve got 7 cities that are not being serviced. Disneyland Parks, Honda Center, Angels Stadium! What are they going to do without us? Something has got to give – and it sure as hell is not going to be us.” On December 16, the corporation reached a tentative agreement with the union, which ended the strike.

Source: Teamsters Local 396

Erie Ironworker Strike Continues, Buoyed by Community and Worker Solidarity

The strike of ironworkers at the Erie Strayer plant in Erie, Pennsylvania, enters its second month this week as spirits and community support remain high on the picket lines. The workers began their strike back in October to demand better pay and a dental and vision plan provided by the company. While the company only employs around 30 ironworkers, hundreds of workers in the area have joined the picket lines on different days to support and show solidarity with the striking workers. Reporters from the labor news publication Payday Report reported of their visit to the plant, “Our two days reporting out in a snowstorm, we saw community members stopping to constantly drop off coffee, donuts, and donations for the strike fund.” Striking workers have also been staging demonstrations and protests outside the owner, Kyle Strayer’s, house to put additional pressure on ownership to agree to the ironworkers’ demands.

Source: @Mikeelk/Twitter

Lehigh Valley Coca-Cola Workers Strike for Better Pension, Health Care Benefits

Workers at the Coca-Cola distribution plant in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, have been on strike since December 5 to protest the company’s plan to end their current pension benefits and increase the amount that workers pay towards their health plans. Under the new four-year contract, the company would transition to an individualized 401 retirement plan from their current collective pension system. Workers told local monopoly media they planned to strike for weeks and picket from 3 am to 8 pm to win their demands, or as the president of the Teamsters local representing the workers told WFMZ 69 News: “We aren’t looking to break anytime soon. We will sit out in the cold and will be out here one day longer than they will.”

Delaware School Bus Drivers Strike over Expired Contract, Stagnant Negotiations

School bus drivers in Delaware working for the company First Student went on strike for one day last Thursday to protest the company’s unwillingness to listen to workers’ demands. One worker explained the reason for the strike and their demands to local public news station WHYY: “We want to be heard, and we’re just tired of not being heard. We just want better benefits, less years on the contract, maybe work out the 401(k), and a voice.” The workers have already rejected four separate contract offers from the company, which they say don’t meaningfully address any of their grievances. After the strike, the union representing the workers and First Student reached a tentative contract agreement which has yet to be revealed or ratified by a vote.

Northern Rhode Island Bus Drivers Authorize Strike, Begin Picketing as Negotiations Stall

Bus drivers in the cities and towns of Smithfield; Pawtucket; Bristol-Warren; Scituate; and Portsmouth, Rhode Island, authorized a strike last week. Demands for higher wages and better benefits remained unmet by the bus companies Durham School Services and First Student. In preparation for the potential strike, bus drivers began picketing last Thursday outside the Durham bus yard in Smithfield. Durham pays its drivers lower wages than other bus companies in the state.

Altoona Nurses Rally against University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

On Wednesday, nurses from Altoona, Pennsylvania, held a rally at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) headquarters, demanding that UPMC address what they call a “staffing crisis.” They took 8-hour shifts for 24 hours outside the hospital’s headquarters to call attention to the average wait time for patients in Altoona’s ER, which can reach 50 hours, according to the nurses.

Source: Tribune of the People

The Altoona nurses were joined by nurses from UPMC hospitals in Pittsburgh as well as from Allegheny General Hospital and West Penn Hospital. Steelworkers, carpenters, and firefighters from local unions also showed up in solidarity. The nurses called for “UPMC senior management to meet with nurses and hear our demands for safe staffing, competitive pay, and improved working conditions.”

One worker from a UPMC hospital in Pittsburgh said: “UPMC has been completely tone-deaf throughout the pandemic. While making record profits, they repeatedly tell staff that they need to pitch in for minimal compensation.” Another nurse from Altoona also spoke on the company’s increased revenue while doing nothing for the workers: “With a 400% increase in net revenue generated over the past year, it is not a question of whether UPMC can put the first foot forward in solving the staffing crisis.”

Oregon Health Care Workers Stage Another, Longer Strike Over Pay, Outsourcing

Health care workers at McKenzie-Willamette Medical Center in Springfield, Oregon, staged a five-day strike last week to protest low wages, COVID safety concerns, and the dismissals and outsourcing of dozens of employees at the hospital. The strike was made up of hundreds of medical support staff at the hospital, such as CNAs, technicians, and housekeepers represented by the SEIU. This is the second strike the health care workers have gone on in the last few months, having staged a two-day strike back in October with similar demands.

Workers told local news publication Eugene Weekly that poor treatment from management and pay levels below the market rate at the hospital affected patient care and caused high staff turnover. “We’re losing staff left and right, so we’re constantly training new people, which does not allow us to provide the high-quality patient care that these patients should be getting. When you’re constantly getting a new person—they’re here for a month or two—and then they’re gone, just because they find a better place to work that pays what the market is, that’s sad.”

Source: @pres_SEIU503/Twitter

San Diego Charter School Teachers Walk Out, Resign over Burnout and Lack of Support

A significant proportion of teachers from the charter school High Tech Middle School in San Diego, California, walked out last Wednesday to protest poor pay and a lack of support from school administration. While the school’s administration characterized the walkout as an “unlawful work stoppage” in a statement, teachers released statements signed by the High Tech Education Collective, which pointed to some of the grievances that led to the walkout. In a social media post announcing their decision to resign following the walkout, two teachers explained, “We have pleaded with central leadership at the HTH organizations to give us more support and resources, but the organization has failed to respond to our pleas. Without these supports, we are unable to meet the needs of our students and support them in the ways that we know that they deserve.”

Film Crew Workers Walk Out in Oklahoma City

Approximately 40 film crew workers walked off the set of the film Nefarious on Monday in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, forming a picket line and shutting down production. The workers are demanding the production company recognize the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) in the collective bargaining process as well as health and retirement benefits.

The production company has characterized striking workers speaking to apprentices about not crossing the picket line as “mob type tactics” and claimed that the strike is politically motivated to target “conservative and faith-based media,” as well as Oklahoma’s ‘Right to Work’ laws. The producers plan to fly in scabs (replacement workers) to resume production rather than negotiate with workers.

Colonial Williamsburg Workers Picket Hotels and Taverns

Amid contract negotiations between Colonial Williamsburg and its employees in Williamsburg, Virginia, workers held pickets outside of the company’s hotels and taverns last Saturday. The workers have cited low pay and mandatory overtime as problems that the company must address and have called for a boycott of the Williamsburg Lodge, Williamsburg Inn, Chowning’s Tavern, and King’s Arms Tavern.

Source: @WTKR3/Twitter

One worker told the local media outlet WYDaily: “We were supposed to have gotten a raise two or three years ago. […] Now we have people [who] have worked through the pandemic, and they [Colonial Williamsburg] should appreciate us. We put our lives on the line, and they just don’t care. We don’t get a bonus. No nothing.”

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