NoLa Public Works Employees Strike – Rhode Island Marijuana Workers Strike – Frito Lay Workers Vote to Strike

Union members protest outside of Frito-Lay in Topeka. (Evert Nelson/The Capital Journal)

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New Orleans Public Works Employees Strike 

Last week, the New Orleans City Council voted to raise the wage for city contractors to $15 an hour. However, under city law, the city council lacks the authority to raise wages for city employees, some of whom make as little as $11.21 an hour. Those changes must be made by the independent City Service Commission. 

To draw attention to their plight, two-thirds of the workers, some of whom are employed by the city fixing potholes and making only $11.21 an hour, decided to go on a wildcat strike. 

The workers say they aren’t just protesting low wages, but also unsafe working conditions, including a lack of protection from the summer heat. 

“It’s a safety issue,” city worker Eric Gardner told The Lens. “It’s so hot out there. We’re dealing with asphalt that will burn your skin off. We gotta get in the hot truck, get in the hot sun and work and get back in the hot truck.”

For more, check out The Lens. 


Marijuana Workers Strike in Rhode Island 

In April, cannabis workers employed by Greenleaf in Rhode Island voted to unionize with UFCW Local 328 by a margin of 21 to 1. 

However, since voting to unionize, the company has dragged its feet on bargaining a contract. Now, the company has even fired a worker who served on the negotiating committee; a move that the union saw as retaliatory. 

To protest the firing and show the company that the new union meant business, the workers went on a one-day strike to protest it. 

“The Greenleaf workers saw an injustice and responded with an incredible display of solidarity,” said the union in a statement. “Throughout the day, patients offered their support and commitment to demanding CEO Seth Bock stop the pattern of retaliation and to reinstate a valued member of their team who was unjustly terminated.”

For more, check out GoLocalProv.


Frito Lay Workers to Strike in Topeka 

In Topeka, Kansas, members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers union employed at a Frito-Lay factory voted to strike by a margin of 353 to 30. 

The strike slated to begin on July 5 would be the first time that workers went on strike at the factory since 1973. 

“It’s the first time in many, many decades that the members of Frito-Lay, the union members, have had to do this,” Kansas AFL-CIO Executive Vice President John Nave told the Topeka Capital-Journal. “It’s been eight to 10 years since they’ve had a wage increase — so something’s wrong here. … Workers are tired of it.”

For more, check out The Topeka Capital-Journal. 

Colorado Farmworkers Win Right to Unionize

On Friday, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed a bill granting farm workers the right to unionize and collectively bargain. 

Colorado is now one of only a handful of states allowing farmworkers the right to unionize as the largely Latino workforce of farmworkers is exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act and the National Labor Relations Act. 

“We stand here to change almost a hundred years of racially motivated exclusion for ag workers from basic labor protections, many of whom are still Black and brown,” Fatuma Emmad of Frontline Farming and Project Protect Food Systems, celebrating the legislation, told Colorado Springs Gazette. 

For more, check out Colorado Springs Gazette.

News Happening Elsewhere

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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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