Greetings from the Burgh, where we’ve just returned from a chilly but inspiring trip on the shores of Lake Erie.
Strayer Strike Mobilizing Erie Labor as Other Unions Prepare to Strike in Town
We will have a longer story on the significance of the Erie Strayer strike coming out this weekend, but I wanted to give a quick impression of how this fight has electrified the Erie labor community and the 150,000-member Ironworkers Union.
For a strike entering its second month and facing below freezing snowstorms on the picket line, spirits are unusually high thanks to the massive community support from the Erie labor community.
Only 30 ironworkers are out on strike, but hundreds of union members in the traditional union stronghold of Erie have shown up to the picket line over the past few weeks to show their support. During our two days reporting out in a snowstorm, we saw community members stopping to constantly drop off coffee, donuts, and donations for the strike fund. (Their GoFundMe has raised over $13,000 from the local community.)
Currently, the strike of 30 ironworkers at Strayer is the only strike happening in Erie, but many there want to make it clear to anti-union employers like Strayer that their conduct will not be tolerated. At Strayers, workers, who build mobile cement-making rigs, are paid $19.10 an hour on average while routinely being pushed into working overtime.
However, Strayer has yet to address excessive overtime concerns. Workers on the picket line at Strayer say that the most insulting aspect is how the company is offering a .25 cents-an-hour raise after making the ironworkers union local work throughout the pandemic.
Workers at the plant also receive negative discipline points on their record for calling off work to stay home with sick children. Other workers have complained about being forced to repeatedly provide excessive and overwhelming paperwork to call off sick or attend the funeral of a loved one.
Labor activists in Erie see the strike as key to helping mobilize members for future strikes that they may face in the 95,000-person city of Erie.
Next week, Erie labor is preparing a massive mobilization on behalf of the striking Strayer workers. There is a candlelight vigil in front of plant owner Kyle Strayer’s house on Tuesday, December 14th, at N. Wayside Drive and Asbury Rd. There will be a massive car rally outside the Erie Strayer plant on December 16th.
On Saturday, December 18th, the PA AFL-CIO is organizing a holiday brunch fundraiser for the children of striking Strayer workers at VFW 470 from 10 a.m. to noon.
We will have more tomorrow, but this is a very inspiring fight. Spirits are unusually high, and if workers can win a victory in a small plant-like Strayer’s, it will set a precedent that Erie’s ironworkers and organized labor are willing to dedicate massive resources to labor fights no matter the size.
Starbucks Workers Win Toehold in Buffalo
Ninety miles up the road on Lake Erie, workers in Buffalo today have won the first-ever successful union election at Starbucks.
Today, the NLRB announced that the Starbucks workers won a union election at the Elmwood Starbucks location in Buffalo by a 19-8 margin.
At the Genesee Street location, Starbucks workers voted 15-9. However, seven ballots were challenged, but union sources tell More Perfect Union they are confident they will win.
At another location, the union lost after an intense anti-union campaign that included an alleged illegal firing by the employer.
400 Orange County Garbage Workers Strike
In Orange County, California, over 400 garbage truck workers, members of Teamsters Local 396, are on strike against Republic Services.
According to their union, the primarily Black and Latino workforce (that Republic Services treated as essential employees during the pandemic) feel they are being dehumanized and bullied by their management.
“Instead of providing these workers with fair pay and a fair contract that addresses their concerns, including excessive working hours and constant harassment on the job, Republic Services has responded to the employees’ union activities with unfair labor practices, leaving them with no choice but to strike,” Teamsters Local 396 said in a statement.
Delaware School Bus Drivers Strike in Biden’s Hometown
After turning down four contract offers from the mega bus contractor First Student, about 60 bus drivers in New Castle, Delaware, where Joe Biden was first elected to office and partially grew up, are on strike.
Workers are demanding higher pay, a pension plan, and better treatment on the job.
“Problem is that they don’t pay them. They don’t give them benefits and they basically treat them like second-class citizens,” Len McCartney of Teamsters Local 326 told NBC Philadelphia.
News & Strikes Happening Elsewhere
- San Diego charter school teachers walk out over pay and late paychecks.
- IATSE strike in Georgia ends after one day with the signing of a union contract
- Rhode Island Teamsters have authorized a school bus strike; they’ve begun practice picketing.
- Maryland legislature could override Gov. Hogan’s veto of a bill to allow Anne Arundel community college workers to unionize
- WGA East is launching a union campaign for IHeartMedia podcast workers.
- PRO soccer officiating authority is attempting to reverse the referees’ union vote.
- Finally, NBC News has a look at how some employers have started to roll out “stay interviews” in a desperate attempt to keep workers from quitting.
Alright, folks, that is all for today.
As always, send any tips, comments, ideas, or complaints to [email protected].
Love & Solidarity,