Longshoreman Refuse to Unload Israeli Ship – Machinists Drop Nissan Union Bid in Tenn – Ohio Factory Workers Strike

Protesters at the Port of Oakland on June 4, 2021, where they halted a container ship owned by the Israel-based Zim Integrated Shipping Services Ltd. in a campaign tied to the BDS movement. (Brooke Anderson via J: Jewish News of Northern California)

Folks, 

Greetings from the Burgh, where for the first time in months, I am starting to feel energetic and productive. 

Thanks for all the donations that helped me take some time off to heal. 

Help Us Avoid A Post-Pandemic Fundraising Slump 

As more and more people become vaccinated and life returns to “normal,” we are seeing readers become less engaged and wanting to read less articles about worker struggles as we attempt to pull out of the pandemic. 

This could lead to a real dip in donations as the pandemic fades from people’s memories and readers want to read less about workers as the terror of the pandemic fades from the collective consciousness. 

We’re asking for your help to keep us from reaching this slump as we continue to dig into labor issues that are more important than ever. 

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Machinist Pull Union Election Petition at Nissan in Tennessee. 

Earlier this year, the Machinists Union (IAM) filed to hold a union election to represent a unit of 87 maintenance workers at Nissan’s plant in Smyrna, Tennessee. The Machinists hoped that focusing on organizing such a small unit would allow them a chance to win. 

Last week though, the NLRB ruled that the Machinists Union would have to hold a union election for all of its 4,000 workers in the plant from July 7 to 8. 

Late yesterday, the Machinists informed the press that they would be withdrawing the election rather than risk an embarrassing defeat in a bargaining unit that was 51 times the size of their intended unit, where they had focused their bargaining efforts.   

“The Machinists Union did not petition for a wall-to-wall union representation election encompassing all production and maintenance workers,” said the Machinists in a statement. “The IAM received an unfavorable decision from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Regional Director on Friday, June 11, stating that the Tool and Die Maintenance Technicians group was not an appropriate bargaining unit under the National Labor Relations Act and related case law. The IAM strongly disagrees with this decision and will be submitting a request for review of the Regional Director’s decision.” 

Longshoreman Refusing to Unload Palestinean Ships 

While many unions have stayed silent on the struggle for Palestinean rights, some unions are taking action and standing up. In Oakland and now Seattle, longshoremen are refusing to unload Israeli ships as a sign of solidarity. Truthout has the story: 

A community picket line in support of Palestinian rights and liberation has succeeded in delaying a vessel operated by Israel’s largest cargo shipping company from docking at the Seattle Port for over a week.

The ship, which belongs to Zim Integrated Shipping Services Ltd. (ZIM) and is known as the Zim San Diego, was originally scheduled to unload its cargo in Seattle on June 2, but has postponed docking in response to the ongoing #BlockTheBoat picket line organized by Falastiniyat, a Seattle-based Palestinian feminist collective. Hundreds of people are expected to show up in protest of the Zim San Diego if it eventually manages to dock.

The current picket line in Seattle comes on the heels of a #BlockTheBoat victory in Oakland, California, where a community and worker coalition led by the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC) successfully blocked an Israeli ZIM ship on June 4 after 17 days of delaying the ship from attempting to dock.

For more, check out Truthout. 

Ohio Hoist Manufacturing Workers Strike

In Ashland, Ohio, 70 workers, members of United Steelworkers Local 7008, went on strike over low pay at Custom Hoists. 

Workers there say they are upset with a two-tier union structure at the company. 

“We were deemed essential during the pandemic,” said Mike Frymier, a 37-year veteran of the company. “Then, in return for that, we got literally nothing.” 

For more, check out the Ashland Source. 

Nina Banks Comes Out with Book on the 1st Black Economist 

Today, one of my Bucknell professors, Black Economics Professor Nina Banks, is out with a book on the first Black economist to get a PHD in 1921, Sadie Alexander. She previewed her book for The Washington Post

Alexander worked toward her doctorate knowing the violence that accompanied Black success. Two weeks before her graduation in 1921, she read reports about how White residents of Tulsa burned down the most prosperous African American community in the country, the Greenwood District, by destroying 35 city blocks, an event that led to African American deaths, arrests and the displacement of some 10,000 African American residents.

A few years earlier, Alexander had seen similar violence and injustice up close in her hometown of Philadelphia, when White mob attacks on African Americans escalated into four days of mayhem in July 1918. By July 30, city police had arrested some 60 Black residents even though Whites were the main instigators of the deadly clashes.

White rage, fueled by the perception of African American social and economic mobility, aimed to stifle Black political, geographic and economic aspirations. As a graduate student, Alexander studied the Great Migration of African Americans who fled suppression and racial terror in the South. They went north seeking voting rights, educational and job opportunities and justice in the courts of law. In her dissertation, Alexander calculated Philadelphia migrants’ living expenses and the degree to which their earnings enabled them to be self-reliant. She found that the majority of migrants were able to earn a living wage, thus countering the perception of longtime Philadelphia residents that migrants were an economic drain on the city.

For more, check out The Washington Post. 

Here is some other news you may have missed.

New Jersey Senate committee advances legislation benefiting public employee unit

Unsafe at Work: A look at harassment, discrimination inside San Diego County’s largest employers

John Nichols: Vulture capitalists are preying on jobs in Janesville

Alright, folks thats all for today. Keep sending along story ideas, tips, complaints, and links to [email protected] 

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About the Author

Mike Elk
A protege of the late Bill Greider, Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter who covered the drug war in Brasil and spent years covering union organizing in the South for The Guardian. In 2016, he used his $70,000 NLRB settlement from being fired in the union drive at Politico to start the crowd-funded Payday Report. The son of United Electrical Workers (UE) Director of Organization Gene Elk, he lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh. Email: [email protected]

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