Workers’ Resistance Bulletin: December 24

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.


San Diego Sanitation Workers Strike after Years of Low Pay, Poor Treatment

Over 250 sanitation workers employed by Republic Services in San Diego, California went out on strike this week to demand higher wages and better workplace safety. The strike began on December 18, with workers forming picket lines after the last shift on Friday the 17th. The San Diego strike immediately follows another strike by Republic Services sanitation workers in Anaheim and Huntington Beach, California over similar grievances of low pay and poor working conditions.

Source: @The_Tommy_Hough/Twitter

The sanitation workers’ contract expired in November when negotiations stagnated with Republic over questions of pay, scheduling, and workplace conditions. Many workers reported that conditions at the company had deteriorated over the last decade, with one worker telling the local public media station KPBS, “At some point, you kick the dog too many times, it’s going to turn around and bite you.”

Erie Ironworkers Win Dental Plan, Pay Raise after Two-Month Strike

Striking ironworkers at the Erie Strayer Plant in Erie, Pennsylvania, returned to work this Monday after a tentative contract agreement was reached with the owner of the plant, the Erie Strayer Company, which specializes in making concrete-mixing machinery. Ironworkers at the plant had been on strike since October 4 to fight against the low pay, restrictive contract language, and lack of dental and vision plan at the plant. Under the new five-year contract the company will finally provide a dental plan for workers, as well as a 56-cent-per-hour raise.

The original pre-strike contract proposal from Erie Strayer did not include any dental plan and would only give workers there a 5-cent-per-hour raise. The union had originally demanded a 60-cent-per-hour raise, as well as a sign-on bonus and changes to bereavement days, which they compromised on in the tentative contract. Workers at the plant highlighted the importance of persistent struggle and solidarity in achieving their demands to labor news publication Payday Report, with one worker saying: “Don’t give up. Figure out a way to break through that wall. … Together you are absolutely strong enough, because there’s no stopping anyone when you stick together and actually work towards the same goal.”

Source: @Mikeelk/Twitter

Minnesota Packaging Workers Walk Out after Anti-Muslim Comments from Boss

Dozens of workers at Pinnacle Logistics in Eagan, Minnesota walked out last Monday and Tuesday to protest anti-Muslim comments and discrimination at their workplace. According to the workers, many of whom are East African, during their daily prayers on Monday their supervisor confronted them, saying, “That’s bullshit, I’m tired of you all going to pray all the time.” Instead of being disciplined or suspended when the workers complained about the supervisor’s comments to their general manager, the supervisor and general manager met and afterwards were seen laughing together about the issue.

Following the incident, many workers walked out, and on Tuesday morning they picketed outside the facility with signs like “Stop discriminating against us” and “Respect our faith.” In a letter drafted by the workers, they also alleged this comment was part of broader pattern of harassment at the facility: “We have been experiencing racial and religious discrimination and a hostile workplace, including the incident yesterday.”

Source: Sahan Journal

Oregon Grocery Store Workers Stage Walkout against Low Wages, Contract Violations

Thousands of workers at the Oregon grocery chains Fred Meyer and QFC walked out last Friday to protest low wages, understaffing, and overscheduling at the Kroger-owned chains. The strike was led by Local 555 of the United Food and Commercial Workers, which represents over 10,000 workers at QFC and Fred Meyer. However, not every store participated in the strike. While the strike was originally planned to last a week, it was ended prematurely by the union leadership after a tentative agreement was made with Kroger 24 hours after the strike began. The content and details of the tentative agreement have not been made public yet. Prior to the agreement, the union said in a statement that QFC and Fred Meyer were not paying workers the wages agreed to in the previous contract and would not agree to a raise for all workers.

Source: @JwJpdx/Twitter

Massachusetts Nurses Win Staffing Improvements, Defeat Retaliation after Nine-Month Strike

Nurses at St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts reached a tentative contract agreement with Tenet Healthcare, the owner of their hospital, this weekend after a more-than-nine-month strike, which counts among the longest healthcare strikes in state history. The strike began in March over dangerously low staffing levels at the hospital which overworked the nurses and lowered the quality of care patients received at the hospital. While the nurses and Tenet agreed on new contract language that would significantly raise staffing levels back in August, the strike continued when Tenet refused to let all nurses return to their old pre-strike positions, which is considered common practice after a strike.

Nurses beat back that retaliatory position this week when Tenet finally agreed to guarantee all striking nurses their original positions at the hospital. Nurses who spoke to Tribune after the deal was announced expressed their pride at having defeated Tenet’s attempted retaliation. One nurse told Tribune that the main lesson they had learned during the strike was that “there are more of us than there are of them, and if we stick together, we can defeat whatever they throw at us.” Another nurse, when asked what message they had for other struggling workers and nurses around the country, said: “Fight for what’s right and fight with the motto ‘when they push us hard, we push back harder.’”

Source: @LaborforSPayer/Twitter

Rural South Carolina Bus Drivers Go on Strike to Resist Over-scheduling

School bus drivers for Chesterfield County schools in South Carolina staged a one-day strike last Monday to protest their low wages and route overscheduling. Due to the shortage of bus drivers that is affecting school districts across the country, many bus drivers have been forced to pick up additional routes and students without support or overtime pay. Drivers in the county are paid a starting wage of only $10.47 an hour, and if their routes are delayed or they have to take to take extra time to pick up an additional student, they are not paid for those hours. One driver described the conditions behind the strike to local monopoly new outlet WSOC-TV: “We have been risking our lives and trying to transport our children from point A to point B without any supervision other than us on the buses. … We need [the district] to hear us. We need to let them know we are serious, we are valuable employees and we need to be heard.”

Amazon Workers in Chicago, Staten Island Stage Walkout amid Holiday Rush

Workers in two Chicago-area Amazon delivery stations and another four Amazon warehouses in Staten Island walked off the job halfway through their shifts on Wednesday. The Christmas holiday season is an especially brutal time for Amazon workers, as they are pushed to their limit to process an increased number of packages as fast as possible to ensure delivery before Christmas.

Workers in both cities are seeking to form unions as Amazon fails to address their grievances or meet any worker demands, which include increased pay, better hours, adequate breaks, and realistic standards for the number of packages employees can process in a given time. When asked about the Teamsters Union’s efforts to gain a foothold in Amazon facilities, one worker at the Gage Park facility in Chicago said, “We are our own union and we’re not seeking to be recruited by anybody.”

Amazon workers in Cicero, Illinois, stage walk out. Source Paul Goyette/Facebook

Retail Pharmacists Walk Out across Country

On Monday, pharmacists across the US at massive retail chains like CVS and Walgreens walked off the job in protest of low pay, long hours, and worsening working conditions. The walkout is part of a larger effort to create an independent union for pharmacists, as the major unions have passed on organizing the workers due to the fact that their numbers are spread out over many locations.

Discussing their grievances, the pharmacists cited the consolidation of pharmacies among large monopolies like CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, Kroger, and Rite Aid, which drives down wages, and an increased workload as the COVID-19 pandemic drives up the number of prescriptions and vaccinations across the US. The government-funded vaccine effort has brought record profits for these companies as the workers are offered token gifts like free pizza for shouldering the burden of the pandemic.

Wisconsin Dollar Tree Closes after Workers All Quit

On Monday in Saint Francis, Wisconsin, customers of the Dollar Tree found the store closed with a note on the door reading, “This Dollar Tree will be closed until further notice. All the workers quit, and we must restaff.”

While the Wisconsin governor blamed the issue on a “shortage of workers in our state and our country,” the workers have made it clear that the Dollar Tree did not pay them enough to work in conditions they considered unacceptable.

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