Greetings from the ‘Burgh, where the air quality is atrocious.
2.8 Million Strike in France This Week
In Paris, 2.8 million workers were on strike this week according to the union CGT. Workers remain upset over a plan to raise the minimum age for them to receive their pensions from 62 to 64.
“Today, the government is in a corner. It has only to withdraw its reform,” Erik Meyer of the Sud Rail union told BFM TV.
500,000 British Public Employee Strike
In Great Britain, over 500,000 public employees are on strike, including educators, railroad engineers, security guards, and sanitation employees.. Workers are protesting a proposed law that would allow the government to fire striking employees.
“I joined physiotherapists on a picket line last week. It was the first time they had been on strike and they were loath to take industrial action, but they received huge support from members of the public, and their mood was upbeat and defiant,” Trades Union Congress (TUC) General Secretary Paul Nowak told the National News this week.
For more and a full photo gallery, check out the National News.
DC Suburbs Transit Strike to Grow
Last week, bus drivers employed byWashington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority contractor Keolis, a French-owned company, went on strike in the Washington D.C. outer-ring suburbs in Loudon County, Virginia. Now, the company’s drivers in Prince William County are also on strike.
“When we first organized with the Teamsters around a year ago, we thought maybe the company had learned that it needed to make some very serious changes – apparently not,” said Carrie Blount, a Keolis driver, said in a statement. “Sometimes in life, people just have to learn lessons the hard way, so if that means hitting the picket line, so be it.”
For more, check out the Teamsters.
King Crab Fisherman in Alaska
Up in Alaska, 130 king crab fishing boats and their crews in Kodiak, Alaska are declaring victory in their two-week long strike against the local processors in Kodiak. Initially, the processors’ association was offering the fisherman only $2.50 per pound for crab, down from $5.85 per pound.
The fishermen won an increase to $3.35-per-pound and after 2 weeks on strike, declared victory so that they can take advantage of the fishing season.
“We stuck together, we’re gonna roll this thing out together, and we’re looking at it as a victory,” Kevin Abena, the secretary and treasurer for the Kodiak Crab Alliance Cooperative told KTOO.
Farm Labor Organizing Committee Election Faces Accusation of Illegal Rigging
The Farm Labor Organizing Committee has made a name for itself representing 23,000 farmworkers, primarily guest workers concentrated in North Carolina.
The union has been run by 75-year old Baldemar Velasquez since the union’s founding. This year, the union held its first contested presidential election in decades. Now, rank-and-file farmworkers are claiming that Velasquez stole the election and are moving to press the National Labor Relations Board to order a new election
Challengers are also claiming the election was rigged. While more than half of the union’s membership is based in North Carolina, members were forced to travel to Toledo, Ohio, where the union represents no one, to vote. Many farmworkers were unable to travel to Toledo and weren’t allowed to vote online
Velasques, who lives in Toledo, was, however, able to pack the convention with family members and friends, many of whom weren’t farmworkers, but opted to pay a $30-a-year associate membership fee to get voting privileges.
Out of the 197 people who voted, only 101 were actively employed as farmworkers. Velasquez wound up winning the election by a margin of 135-21. Civil Eats has more:
In an interview, Velasquez confirmed that about 20 of his family members voted in the election. When asked if that is fair, given the allegedly comparable number of farmworkers under union contract who voted, he said: “If it wasn’t for these 20 family members, those other 20 [farmworkers] wouldn’t have an agreement. They wouldn’t be here.” said Velasquez. “They would be nothing.”
However, some of the family members are new to the union. For instance, Andrew Healy, Velasquez’s nephew who lives in Ohio and is not a farmworker, told Civil Eats he joined the union as an associate member in early 2022. “I just wanted to support him and his ideas for FLOC. I’m behind him, with whatever he says,” he said in an interview.
Another point of dispute is how to count the votes of the farmworkers who did attend the election. El Futuro Es Nuestro maintains that most farmworkers under the union’s contract came as delegates, elected by other chapter members to represent them, and should therefore be counted as 20 votes each under FLOC’s constitution. If just five delegates voted for Zavala, representing 100 votes under this calculation, it would tip the election in her favor.
However, Velasquez does not recognize the new chapter in North Carolina as legitimate, contending in an Email to Civil Eats that “no members outside their closed circle were notified of the meeting, including the FLOC executive board.” Similarly, FLOC’s grievance committee decided that the formation of a North Carolina local chapter, though outlined in the union’s constitution, was “inherently undemocratic and inappropriate.”
For more, check out this great long read by Grey Moran.
Strikes & News Happening Elsewhere
Finnish tech industry strike to begin on Wednesday
Top Tunisian union official arrested over strike
Waste Management Workers in Camden County Go on Strike
House to vote on plan to end telework for hundreds of thousands of federal workers
United Center concessions workers vote in favor of authorizing strike (Bulls/Blackhawks arena)
City of Portland Office Workers Move to Form an Independent Union
On Labor asks “Does the Labor Movement Speak Meme
Finally, LA Times has a remembrance of 32 illegally deported farmworkers, who died in a plane crash in 1948
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