Greetings from the Burgh, where things are heating up.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to Vote Strike
Since 2017, the Pittsburgh Post Gazette’s union contract has been expired. However, for more than three years, the union has resisted calls to go on strike.
Now, the union finds itself trapped and may be forced to strike in order to defend its existence. (Earlier, this year, the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Union was decertified after a years-long anti-union campaign by management).
Yesterday, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette management unilaterally imposed a concessionary union contract on the bargaining unit at the Post-Gazette, saying that after three years of trying to bargain, management has been unable to come up with a contract.
Now, the executive council of the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh has authorized a strike vote to be taken. If successful, the executive council of the union would have the ability to call for a strike at any time.
The Post-Gazette is already threatening employees in company-wide emails to bring in scabs if the union strikes.
“This means there will be plenty of work available for those who desire to work,” Post-Gazette management wrote in an email to workers obtained by Pittsburgh City Paper. “Employees can strike or continue to do their work and earn a living.”
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A strike at the Post-Gazette could be one of the most high profile media strikes in more than a generation.
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Strike of Foreign Base Workers at US Air Force Base in Afghanistan
At a U.S. Air Force Base in Bagram, Afghanistan, a potential strike is brewing from foreign nationals mainly from India, Kenya, Nepal, and Uganda.
Despite risking their lives to be on a base that is regularly attacked, the workers employed by defense contractor Flour say that they are paid dramatically less than other workers for the same work, and much less compared to workers who are white.
“Hundreds of employees, especially from Africa and India, feel they have been discriminated against by Fluor’s policies because of their race and countries of origin,” one worker told Stars and Stripes.
The protest by the workers is believed to be the first time that foreign nationals had led a protest of this size on Bagram Air Force Base. The Defense Department has already said that protests on bases in foreign war zones are illegal and are threatening to deport the workers.
Honda Forcing Office Workers onto Assembly Lines Due to Mass Sickouts
In Marysville, Ohio, Honda says it’s experiencing a high number of workers calling in sick and refusing to work in its non-union plant.
Honda says that it’s struggling to find temp workers, claiming that the $600 a month of extra unemployment benefits is dissuading many workers from taking the jobs.
In response, the auto manufacturer is now forcing office workers onto the assembly line, a practice that has many assembly line workers worried about safety on the line.
This shortage of workers is not unique to Honda. Other factories find themselves having to fill empty slots on the floor.
But Brian Rothenberg of the United Auto Workers says pulling white collar workers from other parts of the company would not happen at a unionized plant.
“First, we have unionized temp workers to fill in,” Rothenberg says. “And if there’s not enough of those, other people who are laid off from the nearby area, and then a larger area, and then a larger area, and call them back to work.”
Rothenberg says while it is common in the auto industry to have employees move within the company, it would be extremely difficult for office workers to work the assembly line without proper training.
“You have to know what you’re doing,” he says. “You have to have some basic training, health and safety training, and it’s a very skilled repetitive job that you have to know what you’re doing.”
Boston Teachers Union Hold Sit-In Against Unsafe School Reopenings
This week, the AFT voted to back “safety strikes” nationwide. The backing from the international comes as many teachers were preparing to take drastic action to stop unsafe school reopening.
Today, members of the Boston Teachers Union occupied City Hall to protest unsafe school openings.
“No students or staff should be asked to risk their lives or their loved ones by going back in person 一 not even under a hybrid plan 一 until all possible health and safety precautions are addressed and verified,” said Boston Teachers President Jessica Tang in a statement. “The District should work with educators, especially our school nurses, to plan and prepare for a reopening that is safe, equitable and healthy for everyone.”
Only 24% of Nurses Feel Safe on their Job According to Survey of 21,000 Nurses
The National Nurses United released a survey this week of more than 21,000 Nurses.
The survey had some startling findings including that only 24% of Nurses feel that they are safe on their jobs.
An additional 87% of nurses report that they have had to reuse personal protective equipment.
Most shockingly, the survey finds that only 23% of all nurses report having been tested for COVID; creating the risk that COVID could spread to the patients they are treating.
How Collective Bargaining Could Veto Legislative Police Reform Laws
A new report by the Illinois Policy organization examines how Illinois State law keeps police unions in power and allows police unions the ability to “evade accountability.”
Illinois Policy specifically calls out Section 15 where union contracts can “ ‘supersede any contrary statutes, charters, ordinances, rules or regulations’ otherwise established in state law.”
Vincent Caruso, Illinois Policy Community Manager, worries that passing even modest reforms could be effectively vetoed by this rule.
“If the problem here isn’t already obvious, suppose state lawmakers passed a comprehensive policing reform package tomorrow,” said Caruso in a report issued by Illinois Policy. “To the extent that a police union contract conflicted with the new law, that contract would effectively nullify those reforms, even though they had already cleared a higher level of government. And because Illinois imposes few restrictions on what may be bargained in such negotiations, police unions’ latitude to evade accountability through the bargaining process is virtually limitless.”
The report finds violence has been “systematized” because police have not been held accountable. In one statistic, they cite that the “DOJ examined 30,000 [Chicago Police Department] complaints over a five-year period – just 2% of them resulted in discipline.”
That’s all for today folks. Thanks for reading and donate today so we can keep covering the story of the fightback against racial injustice and COVID.
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