Immigrant Fruit Strikers Face Violent Threats – Wall Street Apartment Workers Strike – 10 Million Don’t Have Unemployment Insurance Yet

Alex Palma, a member of the independent union Familias Unidas por la Justicia waves his union flag outside of his plant in Yakima Valley, Wash. State (Evan Abell/ Yakima Herald-Republic)

Greetings from the Burgh, where the state has imposed a yellow status. There has been limited retail openings here, but bars and restaurants remain closed.

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210 Strikes on the Map

Folks, we have updated the Strike Tracking Map with a new strike total of 210. This includes a strike of janitors on Wall Street, factory workers in Missouri, and McDonald workers all over. 

Check out our Strike Map for more. 

Wall Street Luxury Apartment Workers Strike Over Lack of Protection

At a luxury apartment building at 75 Wall Street, workers went on strike this week to call out unsafe conditions.  

From Labor Press

Another issue is what 32BJ calls “inadequate and inconsistent supplies” of personal protective equipment.

“We have it in the building, but we don’t have access to it unless the super or the property manager is around,” says Christian Sandoval, [a porter at 75 Wall Street for almost four years]. 

The property manager hasn’t been seen there in weeks, so if the super’s not around, they can run out of masks and gloves. Last weekend, he adds, a coworker had to buy gloves with his own money.

It’s important, Sandoval continues, because several tenants are self-quarantining, either because they are infected or have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus. 

“We still have to go to their floors and clean up the garbage and vacuum,” he says. “If I was single, I wouldn’t be so upset.” 

Missouri Workers Strike Over Lack of Hazard Pay

In rural Northwest Missouri, Johnson Control workers who are members of the SMART Union making medical equipment, are on strike over a lack of hazard pay and being forced to excessive overtime. 

“You can’t come in here with a big city attitude like that no matter what you are going to work seven days a week and 10-12 hours days or whatever the case may be and expect them to continue and continue with that. There needs to be some balance between their personal lives and their work life,” Union leader David Steele told KQTV. 

Fruit Workers Face Violent Threats as They Continue Their Strikes

Fruit workers striking in Washington State have entered their second week, some are beginning to fear the threat of violence.

From the Yakima Herald

Schilperoort said the sheriff’s office has responded to several calls related to strike activity at Allan Bros.

One involved a man who approached striking workers Thursday and said he would come back with a gun and shoot them.

The 58-year-old man was arrested for malicious harassment after he returned to the site and said he made the threat. Prosecutors have not filed charges, Schilperoort said.

According to Schilperoort, police records show the man was arrested and charged with malicious harassment in 2019 when he fired a gun at three Hispanic males.

(Veteran Labor Journalist David Bacon’s has a look at the strike for Capital & Main)

Bloomberg Says Up to 10 Million Don’t Have Unemployment Yet 

If you’ve struggled with unemployment claims, you are not alone. Bloomberg reports that millions of Americans have been waiting to receive unemployment checks. Tens of billions of dollars of money have not been delivered to the unemployed, which is now 1 in 5 American workers.

Bloomberg found millions of claims had not been paid

Bloomberg News contacted all 50 states this week and less than half provided figures on how many people had been paid the benefits they were owed. But in those states alone at least 5 million initial claims filed were yet to be paid. The gap between the initial claims reported March 15 to May 2 and continuing claims is now more than 10 million people.

“For basically six weeks I’ve received nothing,” says Scott Ross, who spent seven years working 60-hour weeks as a restaurant manager in Eldersburg, Maryland. He was let go at the end of March as a result of the state lockdown imposed by Governor Larry Hogan.

The exact number of people waiting nationally for their unemployment benefits is virtually impossible to nail down, partly because of the sheer volume of claims still pouring into overloaded systems. The data are also imperfect: Many states like New York decline to share exactly how many claims have been paid, or lodged but dubbed pending. Some track “unique” initial claims, or a figure that removes duplicates, others don’t

For more, go to Bloomberg News.

100,000 Crew Ship Workers Trapped At Sea

Dozens of cruise ships from Miami to Cuba have been sailing back and forth with little hope of being let off. 

Since the cruise industry ceased operations two months ago, nearly 100,000 crew members remain at sea, with other reports finding that at least 578 crew members have contracted the COVID-19 virus and another 7 have died. At least two crew members lept overboard in apparent suicides. 

Taylor Dolven from the Miami Herald has more:

Some crew members have spent days in small, windowless rooms with no information about when they will be going home as their ships float in and out of U.S. ports. Some are on long journeys crossing the Atlantic Ocean without any assurance their home countries will allow them to dock. Some were told for weeks that their ships were virus-free only to see colleagues quietly evacuated to Miami hospitals days later.

Many feel like an afterthought after watching cruise companies use diplomatic and logistical channels to promptly repatriate passengers.

The delayed repatriation process could jeopardize the industry going forward, said Rockford Weitz, director of the Maritime Studies Program at Tufts University’s Fletcher School.

“(The cruise companies) have to show they are going to have the capability in an emergency situation to get people at scale off of the ship and back home,” he said. “They have to be able to convince their customers they can find solutions and work constructively with public health authorities. The time for excuses at this point in May, there’s no excuse for not finding the way home.”

For more, go to the Miami Herald.

Okay, that’s it for today. Pass the hat and keep on donating so we can keep on doing this.

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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