Workers’ Resistance Bulletin: January 21

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.

Seattle-Area Concrete Workers Shut Down Second-Largest Export Customs District in Washington

Over 300 cement workers in the Seattle area with Teamsters Local 174 have been on strike for six weeks. The strike includes workers at German-based company HeidelbergCement (Cadman and Lehigh Cement), the Japanese-based Taiheiyo Cement (CalPortland), Stoneway Concrete (Gary Merlino Construction), and Salmon Bay Sand and Gravel. The concrete workers are demanding an increase in wages and benefits.

On January 10, the workers expanded their strike to the Port of Everette for three hours and shut down all operations at the port, which handles nearly $21 billion worth of US exports annually. The port is the site of a storage facility and several distribution facilities operated by Lehigh Northwest Cement Company. On January 13, workers extended the strike to two facilities owned by the Cadman Cement Company, shutting down operations. On Wednesday, 100 workers protested at the Associated General Contractors building in downtown Seattle. After six weeks of the strike, Seattle’s $23 billion construction industry is grinding to a halt without concrete.

Photo credit: Teamsters Local 174

North Carolina Bus Drivers Refuse to Work in Protest of Non-payment

Nearly a third of school bus drivers for the Durham Public Schools in Durham, North Carolina didn’t show up to work last Monday in protest of their lack of payment over the last three to four weeks. According to many drivers for the district, they had not been paid by direct deposit for the last couple of Fridays due to clerical errors caused by the district and bank. The error resulted in bus drivers going without paychecks over Christmas. While the district said in a statement the error was due to a name change on the part of SunTrust Bank, whom they rely on for their direct deposit system, drivers said that the whole situation could have been easily avoided.

One driver told local monopoly news outlet WRAL: “They [had to have had] some kind of fair warning, and they gave us no warning at all and therefore left everyone in a bind. … Bus drivers don’t make that much, and to top it all off you don’t get paid for three weeks and a whole extra weekend? That’s a lot on somebody. It’s been frustrating to say the least.”

Minneapolis Educators Rally in Preparation for Potential Strike

Teachers and educational support staff for the school district of Minneapolis, Minnesota rallied this Monday to demonstrate their unity as contract negotiations with the school district administration continue to stagnate and go nowhere. Educational workers in the Minneapolis School District are currently working under an expired contract as their union, the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers, and the school district cannot reach an agreement on issues such as wages, class sizes, and caseloads for mental health and special education specialists.

In another step towards a possible walkout, on Tuesday the executive board of the union voted unanimously to authorize the use of a strike in the contract fight. The union said in a statement that many educational workers are feeling burnt out and fed up after years of low pay and overwork. As one teacher at the rally told local monopoly new outlet 5 KSTP: “We are on the front lines and we are the ones keeping education going.”

Photo credit: Twitter @MFT59

Teachers in Seattle, Baton Rouge Stage “Sick-out” to Protest Unsafe Schools and Working Conditions

This past Wednesday, a total of 760 staff members called out sick from the East Baton Rouge Parish Schools in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to protest unsafe school conditions and a lack of adequate COVID safety policy in their district. In a similar action, a majority of teachers at Chief Sealth International High School in Seattle, Washington also called out sick last week on Friday to protest issues of school safety during this latest COVID surge. In both districts teachers demanded measures such as increased testing, free high-quality mask distribution for teachers and students, and increased staffing.

During an interview with local monopoly outlet WAFB News, one Louisiana high school teacher who called out sick explained: “Actually, if the district would do what they say they are doing, and even pretended that they care, I hate to say it that way, but pretended they actually care about our students for real, our teachers, our staff, our administrators, our student’s families, if they were true to what they were saying we would feel safe.”

Chicago Teachers Narrowly Approve COVID Safety Agreement

Last week, educational workers organized by the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) approved the COVID Safety Agreement reached between the union leadership and the city government by a vote of 56%. The slim margin of victory reflected the widespread sentiment that teachers did not win all of the safety demands that had led them to demand to temporarily move to remote learning the previous week. In response to that demand, the district had completely shut down Chicago schools for five days.

Initially, CTU was pushing for universal opt-out testing, a plan which Mayor Lori Lightfoot rejected. Instead, Chicago Public Schools will randomly test 10% of students each week.

Even the union president Jesse Sharkey recognized the poor quality of the agreement he and union leadership had reached with the district, saying in a statement, “This agreement covers only a portion of the safety guarantees that every one of our school communities deserve.”

Photo credit: Twitter @hjtherealj

King Soopers’ President Storms Out of Negotiations as Workers’ Strike Enters Second Week

A negotiation meeting between United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW) union Local 7, representing 8,000 grocery store workers on strike in the Denver area, and King Soopers, a Kroger-owned grocery store chain, ended when the King Soopers’ president stormed out, claiming that there was “no more money on the table.” Kroger’s latest proposal would cut workers’ wages by up to $3.34 an hour and remove their daily overtime pay, as well as reverse the economic gains (such as bonuses) previously won by workers.

The new proposal is an insult to King Soopers workers, who already struggle to make ends meet. In an interview with liberal nonprofit More Perfect Union, a worker stated, “We get paid enough to survive but not enough to live.”

Rank-and-file workers at King Soopers voted by a margin of 95% to authorize the strike earlier this month. The workers are striking due to increased health care costs and a lack of thorough COVID safety protocols.

Photo credit: UFCW Local 7 Facebook

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