It’s Melk. Greetings from the Burgh, where my COVID recovery is entering its fourth week and I am slowly getting back to covering the strike wave. A lot has happened in the three weeks I’ve been off and I hope to get folks up to speed quickly.
We may be delayed in coming weeks and the newsletter may be shorter, but I am hoping to recover after a rough bout of COVID.
Special Metals in WV Permanently Lays Off a Quarter of Workforce
Last October, 450 Steelworkers went on strike at the Warren Buffet-owned Special Metals in Huntington, West Virginia.
For more than three months, the company demanded workers take cuts to healthcare, forcing some to pay as much as $700 a month. The company also demanded that crucial union and seniority rights be stripped from the contract.
The company is still playing hardball on union rights and healthcare costs but now, in an effort to pressure the union to settle, Special Metals sent layoff notices to 75 of the steelworkers at the facility.
“We’ve been bargaining since October, so to get layoff notices is a tough blow,” United Steelworkers Local 40 Chad Thompson told WOWK. “ [We] will try to negotiate to see what [they] can do to stop it and keep those people working.”
(For more see Payday’s on-the-ground report from November “Huntington Steelworkers Dig In for Multi-Month Strike at Warren Buffet’s Special Metals.”)
Just late last month, the strike escalated to national attention when owner Warren Buffet rejected Bernie Sanders’ plea to get involved in mediating a settlement to the three-month strike.
In Utah, ski instructors at Vail Resorts-owned Park City ski resorts, who start at $13 an hour, are preparing to go on strike this month.
The effort is led by the Park City Professional Ski Patrol Association, which represents 170 members at the Vail Resorts-owned resort. They have already collected $77,000 on the union’s GoFundMe strike fund since Christmas.
With the union publicly preparing to strike, the union posted on its Instagram a leaked email from a ski patrol leader at a Vail Resort-owned ski resort in New Hampshire that offered scabs replacement workers $600-a-day to work and travel expenses to work at the Vail Resort-owned Park City facility if ski patrollers do go on strike.
The union was outraged by the offer.
“We hope any patroller who receives such a message understands the fight we are taking on for our co-workers, families, and patrollers everywhere,” the union wrote an Instagram post, urging other Vail Resorts to apply to work as scabs at their Park City facility. “Please help us by continuing your strong work at your home resorts.”
When asked about the hiring offer for scabs by the Salt Lake Tribune, Vail Resorts said that the email offer was not authorized directly by upper management, but that they were preparing for contingencies in the event of a strike.
Chicago Teachers Lockout Enters the Second Week
With Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot attempting to force public school teachers to return to the classroom, she has stopped paying teachers who are insisting on the right to teach remotely. The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) have dubbed the move as a “lockout.”
Lightfoot disagreed and blasted the teachers’ union for not prioritizing the students.
“CTU leadership, you’re not listening,” Lightfoot and [Chicago Public Schools] CEO Pedro Martinez said in a statement. “The best, safest place for kids to be is in school. Students need to be back in person as soon as possible. That’s what parents want. That’s what the science supports. We will not relent.”
But CTU has dug in and is rallying community support behind it.
“[Lightfoot] also has dug herself into a hole by continuing to insist that even a day of remote learning harms our students,” CTU said in a statement on its Facebook page. “Yet, she has denied students four entire days of instruction and allows her own staff to work remotely. And she stubbornly refuses to set any metric that could trigger a district-wide pause to in-person instruction. We are caravaning to show the mayor and the City we are united and strong.”
Strikes & News Happening Elsewhere
- Maine’s Democratic governor vetoes bill that would allow farm workers to unionize.
- 8,400 King Sooper’s grocery workers in Denver, Colorado plan to walk out on Wednesday if no deal is reached.
- San Francisco saw a spike in teacher and paraeducator absences after a call for a sickout.
- Cleveland Starbucks workers are looking to unionize.
- Charlottesville School Board shows their support for allowing teachers to unionize.
- Officers respond to EMS call after an employee walkout at a nursing home in Littlefield, TX
- Almond, NY bus drivers hold sickout over pay and working conditions.
- Finally,a 9-month strike of nearly 700 nurses has ended at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Worcester, Mass.
Alright folks, I am utterly exhausted after writing my first newsletter in a month as I deal with COVID cognitive issues, but I’m getting better and excited for the year to come. We had a great year last year and have a lot of exciting things planned for this year including the launch of a podcast and much more.
Please, if you can, sign up as one of our 664 recurring donors today. We’re only 36 short of reaching 700 recurring donors. Thanks again to all those who have donated to the recovery fund.
As always, send tips, story ideas, links, and comments to [email protected].
Thanks again for all the support yinz.
Love & Solidarity,