Working In These Times
Weekly Workers’ Round-up: Nurses Organize, Public Transit Workers Unite
Transit workers unite to save public transit
Thousands of transit workers, including leadership from Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), Transport Workers Union and United Transportation Union gathered at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition (RPC) last Saturday in Chicago, Ill. to demand more federal funding for public transit systems. The rally was the first in a national coalition tour organized by transit worker unions and RPC to save public transit and union jobs nationwide. The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) cut services and laid-off 1,100 workers in February, to offset a $300 million budget deficit.
According to the American Public Transit Association, for each dollar invested in public transit, $6 is generated in economic return, meaning a $1 billion investment in public transit would create 30,000 jobs. Read more about the movement here. (See video above)
Club employees protest lockout
More than 85 people marched last Sunday in Pleasanton, Calif. to protest the continued lockout of Castlewood Country Club employees. The club locked out employees over a month ago, after they were unable to come to an agreement on employee contributions to health benefits. Management wanted employees to pay $739 per month for family medical coverage, while employees wanted to pay $225. According to the Hospitality Workers Union Local 2850 which represents the workers, the locked out employees have been living on savings, unemployment benefits and financial assistance. Read more about it here.
Healthcare workers picket for fair contract
On Wednesday, 1,500 health care workers picketed and rallied at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, Pa. to demand a fair labor contract. The hospital workers, represented by the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals, are on strike and have been without a contract since September. Temple’s “best and final” offer includes sanctions for publicly criticizing the hospital and an increase in healthcare costs. The union says Temple has refused to discuss nurses’ concerns about staffing levels and have not engaged in good faith bargaining. Read more about it here.
West Virginia workers fight Verizon-Frontier deal
Around 200 workers from W.Va rallied at the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, D.C. on Thursday to protest Verizon’s sale of state landlines to Frontier Communications. The Verizon-Frontier deal would put Frontier, a small Connecticut-based rural phone company, $3.3 billion in debt while Verizon would profit with an additional $600 million tax break. Verizon brokered similar deals with two other companies in New England and Hawaii, and the companies have since gone bankrupt, resulting in job losses for workers and poor service for consumers.
The delegation in D.C. included members of the Communications Workers of America(CWA), Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the W.Va AFL-CIO. After the rally, CWA members met with the FCC and delivered petitions signed by more than 5,000 W.Va residents, and letters from 71 state legislators and 19 county commissions opposing the deal. Read more about it here and here.
Nurses rally for patients in Minnesota
More than 1,000 nurses rallied for patient safety and advocacy last Saturday in Minnetonka, Minn., in the midst of contract negotiations with hospitals. The labor contract between 12,000 Minn. Nurses and 6 Twin Cities hospital systems is set to expire on May 31, and on May 19 nurses will vote on whether to ratify the contract or strike. Read more here and here. (See video above)