Poll: Kellogg Strike Leader Ahead In Nebraska Senate Race – Danish Unions Join Swedish Unions in Taking Action Against Tesla

Kellogg Strike union leader Dan Osborn is currently leading the Nebraska senate race (Photo courtesy of Dan Osborn for Senate)

Folks, 

Greetings from the Burgh, where we are closely watching the SAG-AFTRA ratification vote that is supposed to be announced later tonight. 

Poll: Kellogg Strike Leader Ahead In Nebraska Senate Race 

Exciting news out of Nebraska, where a new poll shows that Dan Osborn, president of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union Local 50G, led the US Senate race by a margin of 40-38% over incumbent Republican Senator Deb Fisher. 

Nebraska native Prem Thacker has a look at the race: 

Osborn has served as the president of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union Local 50G and garnered national attention two years ago when he helped lead workers in a strike against Kellogg’s that lasted more than two months and also included factories in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee.

“It’s exciting to be a part of something bigger than yourself, knowing that we’re not alone,” the 18-year Kellogg’s veteran said at the time. 

In his campaign launch video, Osborn spoke about the strike. “Two years ago, I successfully led the strike to preserve 500 middle-class jobs here in Nebraska,” he said. “It didn’t matter what party you belonged to. We came together to find solutions and move forward.”

During the strike, the company had threatened to replace all 1,400 workers. At its conclusion, workers won an agreement that included a $1.10 per hour raise, a new cost-of-living pay increase, and a pathway for lower-tier workers to “graduate” into a higher tier of pay.

For more, check out the Intercept. 

Danish Unions Take Action Against Tesla 

Around the world, Elon Musk’s car company, Tesla, appears to be increasingly from unions from various countries. 

Last month, Tesla workers in Sweden went on strike. Now, it appears that workers in Denmark are joining as dockworkers refuse to unload Teslas.  

“Although you are one of the richest people in the world, you can’t just make your own rules. We have some agreements on the labor market in the Nordics, and you have to comply with them if you want to do business here,” Jan Villadsen, union head, told AP. 

For more, check out AP. 

The Barriers to UAW’s New Union Drive

Last week, to much fanfare, the UAW announced that it was launching a historic union drive to organize more than a dozen non-union automakers in the United States. Over at the American Prospect, Dave Dayen has an in-depth piece look at the barriers that would the UAW may have difficulty overcoming: 

Richard Ortiz, who was a production associate at Tesla’s plant in Fremont, California, was fired for protected union activity in October of 2017. Every administrative body that has looked at the case, including the most conservative court of appeals in the nation, has ruled in Ortiz’s favor. Yet he still doesn’t have his job, more than six years later.

The case shows how a persistent, aggressive employer that doesn’t want a union can frustrate collective bargaining by flagrantly violating labor law, and trusting that resulting minuscule penalties and especially the glacial slowness of the legal system will let them win in the end. “It’s standard operating procedure to delay as long as possible,” said Nelson Lichtenstein, labor expert and professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara. “It doesn’t matter if they win or lose.”

I first interviewed Ortiz in early 2017, when the UAW was first attempting to organize the Tesla Fremont plant. He actually worked at the plant for 22 years when it was co-managed by Toyota and General Motors in an innovative joint venture called New United Motor Manufacturing Incorporated (NUMMI) that used Japanese production techniques. Tesla purchased the NUMMI plant in 2010, and Ortiz came out of retirement to join the new electric-vehicle team, assembling hoods and doors.

“I have an eight-pound rivnut gun,” Ortiz told me at the time, referring to a tool that installs rivet nuts. “I’m doing that all day long. I’m to the point where, if I pick something up with any weight, within 30 seconds I have to drop it. That scares me, I want to be able to use my arm when I retire.”

For more, check out the American Prospect. 

Strikes & News Happening Elsewhere

Alright yinz, that’s all for today. Keep sending tips, story ideas, comments and complaints to [email protected] 

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Love & Solidarity 

Melk 

About the Author

Mike Elk
Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter and alumni of the Guardian. In addition to filing over 1,800 stories from 46 states, Elk was the only American reporter in the room with Lula on the morning of the election & traveled with him to the Oval Office. 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]