Photo credit: Twitter @UFCW_7
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Republic Services Sanitation Worker Strike Continues, Expands to Seattle
The strike affecting trash-collection company Republic Services expanded from California to Washington State this week when Republic sanitation workers outside Seattle walked off their jobs this Wednesday, in solidarity with striking sanitation workers in San Diego, California. The San Diego sanitation workers went on strike more than three weeks ago to protest a lack of overtime pay and managerial harassment. The one-day solidarity strike in Seattle comes as negotiations have broken down between the union and Republic Services over the company’s unwillingness to address workers’ demands.
Thousands of Colorado Grocery Store Workers Strike
Over 8,000 grocery store workers at the Kroger-owned King Soopers chain in Colorado went on strike this Wednesday, making it the second-largest strike in the US in the last two years, behind only the recent John Deere strike. The strike follows a breakdown in contract negotiations between the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) union, which represents the workers, and King Soopers management. The workers’ unmet demands are about health care cost increases, a lack of thorough COVID safety protocols, and giving greater priority in scheduling for what the UFCW calls “non-union ‘gig’ workers.”
Rank-and-file workers at King Soopers voted by a margin of 95% to authorize the strike last week, despite last-minute offers of a significant pay raise by the company. Union officials said that the pay raise came with too many caveats and erosions of work conditions, with the president of the striking union local telling monopoly media company CNN, “The company’s ‘last, best, and final’ offer, in many ways, is worse than its previous offers.”
Columbia Graduate Student Workers Win New Contract
Striking graduate students at Columbia University in New York City informally voted to accept a new contract between the university and the union which represents them, the Student Workers of Columbia. In addition to a significant pay raise, the new contract gives students increased healthcare benefits and allows for students to seek third-party arbitration of harassment and discrimination cases against the university. The contract still has to be put to a formal vote of all union membership before it is ratified, with this week’s vote having a participation rate of only around a third of all membership.
When discussing the strike, one graduate student interviewed by local New York City publication the Gothamist said of the strike: “The university certainly wasn’t expecting that we can hold out for this long. So I think the success speaks to the student workers and their resilience.”
Seattle Concrete and Cement Workers’ Strike Continues, Slows Down Construction Projects
Over 300 workers at six different cement plants in the Seattle area have been on strike since December 3 over a contract offer they say would decrease their pay when accounting for inflation. The over-a-month-long strike has had strong ripple effects throughout construction projects and other industrial works in Washington’s Puget Sound. Without concrete, many construction projects have either had to slow down or have ground to a complete halt.
Despite this, the Teamsters union local representing the striking workers claims that the owners’ representatives have not met with them “in over six weeks” and will not budge on the workers’ demands for wages that keep up with inflation and healthcare and retirement benefits on par with those in other construction trades.
Bay Area Teachers Stage “Sick-outs” to Demand More COVID Safety Measures
Teachers in Oakland and San Francisco have begun carrying out “sick-outs” (strike actions in which employees call in sick on the same day) to protest inadequate COVID protocols and protections currently implemented by their school district. In particular, teachers are demanding more testing be provided to both them and students, as well as adequate protective gear and paid COVID sick leave to be extended until the end of the school year. Absences of teachers and students have skyrocketed across the country as many fall ill and have to quarantine due to the latest COVID surge.
According to a petition statement from one of the organizers of the sick-outs: “By withholding our labor, by reclaiming our time and our health, we send the message that if SFUSD [San Francisco Unified Public Schools], the City, State, and Federal Government do not invest in seriously addressing this pandemic (and the ongoing issues which make dealing with the pandemic so challenging for public schools), we can shut the whole system down, and we will!”
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