Ford Workers Walk Off – Workplace Violence at Record Levels – 220 Strikes Since March 1st

UAW members picket in Rochester, New York last fall (Zach D. Roberts)

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220 Strikes Since March 1st 

The strike wave across the country continues to build as we now have found several uncovered strikes and identified at least 220 strikes identified since March 1st. 

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Ford Workers Wildcat Strike

This week, the BIG 3 auto-reopenings began reopening, but some workers say that conditions still aren’t safer enough. More from the Detroit Bureau

Just two days after reopening its U.S. and Canadian plants – and a day before hosting a visit by President Donald Trump – Ford briefly was forced to shutter two assembly lines when multiple workers were found to be suffering COVID-19 infections.

Crews immediately went to work at the factories in Chicago and Dearborn, Michigan, to disinfect the two lines but when Dearborn workers on the night shift returned Wednesday evening they initially refused to man their stations, confirmed, protesting what some described as unsafe conditions.

A video from the plant showed employees milling in the aisles at the Dearborn facility while managers tried to coax them back to their stations. One worker told that they were told they could be fired if the protest continued.

For more, check out the Detroit Bureau. 

Violent Attacks Against on Retail Workers At Record Levels

With nearly all major retailers requiring customers to wear masks to shop, many retail workers are reporting being violently attacked for implementing company policy. More from Business Insider: 

“In 30-plus years of studying retail and crisis situations, we have never seen a situation of customers being so rude to hourly employees,” Larry Barton, a professor of crisis management and public safety at the University of Central Florida, told Business Insider’s Mary Hanbury.

“It’s demoralizing and, as we saw with the shooting of the security guard, a sometimes deadly environment,” he added.

But UFCW International President Marc Perrone said that many retailers are failing to fully back or protect frontline employees on the issue of enforcing mask policies. He said that businesses “don’t want to drive off their customers” by taking stricter measures. Perrone advocates for retailers to hire security guards to enforce PPE policies.

“We have been pushing for that for quite some time now, and the reason being is that these workers are not management, the consumer does not look at them as management,” he said.

For more check out, Business Insider. 

(Be sure to also check out Century Foundation Fellow Moshe Marvit, who has an interesting look at how OSHA could revamp itself to give workers more of a voice in responding to active workplace threats.)

After 3 Workers Died, Employers Force Workers to Sign Liability Waiver to Get COVID Testing 

In some places, workers desperate to earn a living are being forced to sign liability waivers in order to get employment. 

At Quality Sausage in Dallas, three immigrants have died of COVID-19. Now, if employees want to get tested, the company is forcing them to sign a liability waiver first. From the Fort-Worth Star Telegram: 

As part of the gradual restart, Quality Sausage hired a medical doctor who designed a testing system for workers, according to the company statement.

But some workers told the Star Telegram they are afraid to sign the release forms because they think the company is using the tests to relinquish any liability for the company’s actions or inaction dealing with COVID-19 cases inside the plant.

A copy of the form obtained by the Star-Telegram reads: “I expressly waive and release all potential and actual legal claims and causes of action against the three companies and their owners, investors, insurers, employees, contractors, and agents in any way related to the swabs, tests, and test results, including how the test results are used by QSC.”

For more, go to the Star-Telegram. 

Vegan Meat Company Purges Pro-Union Employees

At No Evil Foods in North Carolina, several workers have claimed the fast growing vegan meat company has engaged in union busting. 

Paul Blest at The Appeal reports that since early this year, workers had been trying to unionize but No Evil Foods started tactics to “kill organizing drives,” even firing workers who signed a pro-hazard pay petition. 

Many find it’s off-brand for a company with vegan meat names like “Comrade Cluck” and “El Zapatista.” 

From The Appeal:

[Cortne] Roche and two other workers who’ve been fired in recent weeks told the Appeal that they believe their terminations were retaliatory. “I was told I was terminated immediately and there was no conversation about that,” Roche said. “I’m not stupid.” Roche said she’s filed a charge with the National Labor Relations Board; the company currently has two open charges against it for alleged violations of the National Labor Relations Act, both of which were filed earlier this month.

No Evil refused to answer specific questions about the firings, including the alleged use of “shadow write-ups”—writing employees up for violations without telling them, and then citing the violations in their firings. 

For more, head to The Appeal and Vice, who obtained a 23-minute video of the CEO imploring workers to vote against the union.

Gig Workers Collective Organizing For Workers’ Rights

Strikes for gig workers have been increasing ever since Payday started tracking them. A group of eleven women are leading the charge, and they’ve never met. 

The Gig Workers Collective had its first collective action back in November. Then when the pandemic hit, they started organizing a nationwide Instacart strike. From Next City: 

Gig Workers Collective, the offshoot of an Facebook group for disgruntled Instacart shoppers, realized its first formal collective action in November 2019. Between 2016 and 2018, two San Francisco-based activists, Sarah Clarke and Vanessa Bain, were among many Instacart shoppers who participated in workers’ rights activism against the San Francisco-based company. The two women, living just a short distance away from each other in the Bay Area, found that they saw eye to eye on many of the same things. Though sympatico, the pair knew that they’d need some extra hands.

For more, go to Next City.

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About the Author

Mike Elk
Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter and alumni of the Guardian. In addition to filing nearly 2,000 stories from 46 states, Elk traveled with Lula from Sáo Bernando do Campos all the way to the Oval Office in the White House. 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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