1.37 Million Strike in France – 500,000 British Strike – Suburban DC Bus Driver Strike to Expand

2.37 million workers strike in France (Reuters)

Folks, 

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.

For more, check out the AP. 

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. 

For more, check out 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

Alright folks, that’s all for today. Donate to help us keep covering workers across the US. Please, if you can, sign up as one of our 740 recurring folks today. 

Keep sending story ideas, tips, comments and complaints to [email protected] Thanks again for all the support & suggestions. 

Love & Solidarity, 

Melk 

About the Author

Mike Elk
Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter and alumni of the Guardian. In addition to filing over 1,800 stories from 46 states, Elk was the only American reporter in the room with Lula on the morning of the election & traveled with him to the Oval Office. Credited by the Washington Post for being the first reporter to track the strike wave systematically, Elk started Payday Report using his NLRB settlement from being illegally fired for union organizing in 2015. He lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh and works frequently in Rio de Janeiro, where he attended college at PUC-Rio. He speaks both Portuguese and Pittsburghese fluently. His email is [email protected]

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