15,000 LA Hotel Workers Strike – After US ILWU Accepts Deal, 7,500 Canadian Workers Walkout – Saladin Muhammad Organizing Blitz

Folks, 

Greetings from Carrboro, North Carolina, where I’ve been down here covering the Saladin Muhammad Organizing Blitz. 

Saladin Muhammad UE 150 Organizing Blitz 2023 

Last year,t retired United Electrical Workers (UE) organizer Saladin Muhammad died at the age of 76. In addition to his work with the UE, Saladin founded The Southern Workers Assembly and Black Workers for Justice. 

Growing up in a UE family, I first met Saladin as a child and got to know him much better when I was a labor reporter in my 30s covering the South. I always enjoyed talking to Saladin because he had such bold ideas about changing the labor movement. 

Saladin organized non-union workers and fought to win workplace changes without union contracts. With the Southern Workers Assembly, he built networks of workers in non-union parts of the South where there wasn’t much support. And Saladin always challenged the labor movement to do better in organizing around racial justice. 

In 2021, Payday Report and franknews sat down with Saladin and had a long conversation with him about his views on how the labor movement needed to change to organize the South. Please take a few minutes to read the whole interview below. (Read the full interview here)

The UE put out a moving tribute video to Saladin Muhammad for their Organizing Blitz. To honor Saladin, UE organizers from across the country, including recently unionized graduate employees from the University of Minnesota, John Hopkins, and Northwestern, came to town to help with the blitz. 

Watch the tribute to the Saladin Muhahad UE 150 Organizing Blitz Here 

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15,000 Hotel Workers Strike in LA. 

In Los Angeles, over 15,000 hotel workers are out on a 4th of July strike against low wages and poor treatment. 

“Workers have been pent up and frustrated and angry about what’s happened during the pandemic combined with the inability to pay their rent and stay in Los Angeles,” said Kurt Petersen, co-president of Unite Here Local 11, in a statement. “So people feel liberated, it’s Fourth of July, freedom is reigning in Los Angeles and hotel workers are leading that fight.”

For more, check out Cal Matters. 

After US ILWU Accepts Deal, 7,500 Canadian Workers Walkout

Last month, longshore workers across the US accepted a controversial deal, which some considered a “sellout.” However, 7,500 workers in Canada refused to accept the deal and went on strike this week across Western Canada. 

Now, employers in Canada are hoping to get the government involved in stopping the workers’ strike much as Biden did with the railroad workers in the U.S. From CNBC: 

The BCMEA, which represents port owners, said the International Longshore & Warehouse Union Canada’s Longshore Division “seems to have entrenched their positions,” rather than working for an equitable deal.

“The BCMEA has gone as far as possible on core issues,” the group said in a statement. “ILWU Canada needs to decide if they are going to continue this strike with no hope of settlement, or significantly modify their position so a fair and balanced deal can be reached.”

The employer’s comments come on the heels of calls for government intervention in the creation of back-to-work legislation.

When asked if the government is considering such a measure, the office of the Minister of Labor told CNBC: “We are not looking past the bargaining table, because the best deals are made at the table. Federal mediators continue to support the parties in their negotiations.”

For more, check out CNBC. 

Drag Queens See New Support in Rural Areas

Finally, many drag queens are reporting that they are seeing new support in rural areas. From the AP:

Jacob Kelley, who performs as drag queen Trixy Valentine, is an LGBTQ+ activist and educator with a master’s in human sexuality.

Harpy Daniels, Trixy’s twin, is a US Navy sailor who’s had three deployments on the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan. Soon that seaman, Petty Officer 1st Class Joshua Kelley, who just reenlisted, moves from a base in Norfolk, Virginia, to one in Spain, with plans to pack a wig “and maybe one or two cute outfits but nothing over the top” for Harpy-style shore leave.

Apart from the twins, the drag performers in this circle are family by choice, not genes. Theirs is an oasis of belonging.

“I never had a person like me growing up,” Trixy said, “and now I get to be that for everyone else.

“There was a curse being a queer person in a rural town — the curse is that we’ll move … because there’s no one like us here, there’s no one that can understand us.

For more, check out the AP. 

News & Strikes Happening Elsewhere 

Alright, see yinz after the holiday. Donate to help a self-employed labor reporter afford to take the holidays off. Please, if you can, sign up as one of our 753 recurring donors today. 

Keep sending complaints, story ideas, and comments to [email protected] 

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]