Working In These Times
Weekly Round-up: 35,000 Protest Christie’s Cuts, 26 Cities for LGBT Workplace Rights
By Jennifer Braudaway
Tens of thousands rally against Christie’s budget cuts
More than 35,000 people rallied in Trenton, N.J. last Saturday to protest Gov. Chris Christie’s massive state budget cuts. Christie’s proposed bills would, among other things, cap increases on public employee wages and benefits at 2.5 percent annually and replace pensions with employee contribution plans. The protest came shortly after Christie vetoed legislation that would have helped the budget crisis by creating a tax bracket for residents making over $1 million. Read more here and here. (video above)
Hundreds honor Harvey Milk Day by calling for LGBT workplace rightsHundreds of activists nationwide took to the streets last Saturday on Harvey Milk Day, to rally for LGBT rights in the work place, including the repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy and the proposed Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). Rallies took place in 26 cities and 20 states, including Los Angeles, Calif., Boston, Mass., Austin, Texas, New York, N.Y., Champaign-Urbana, Ill., Chicago, Ill., and Seattle, Wash. Read more at SocialistWorker.org.
Mott’s workers go on strike
More than 300 Mott’s apple juice plant workers went on strike last Sunday in Williamson, N.Y. over proposed wage and benefit reductions. The strike came after failed contract negotiations with Mott’s parent company Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, which made $550 million in profit last year. DPS wants to cut hourly wages by $1.50, decrease employer contributions to 401(k) retirement plans, increase employee contributions to healthcare, freeze pensions for current employees, and eliminate them for future employees. Read more about it here.
Harvard temporary workers demand union rights
Around 30 Harvard University employees, students and supporters gathered on Wednesday at Holyoke Center before commencement ceremonies began the next day, to protest layoffs and the university’s alleged abuse of temporary workers. Workers say the university violated their contracts by refusing to give them unionized jobs after a period of work, in order to avoid giving union benefits and wages. Read more about it here.
Shaw’s workers march 60 miles for justice
Around 80 Shaw’s Supermarket Inc. warehouse workers began a 60-mile march from Methuen, Mass. to the Statehouse in Boston, in protest of unfair contract provisions and bad faith bargaining. The march is part of an ongoing strike, which began in March after workers rejected a contract offer that dramatically reduced their healthcare benefits. Many local faith groups have voiced support for Shaw’s marchers, and 80 state clergy members have signed a petition asking Shaw’s to renegotiate a fair contract with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 791, which represents the workers. Read more here and here. (video above)
Aluminum workers picket over tripled healthcare costs
Over 100 people picketed Alcoa Inc.’s aluminum rolling plant on Wednesday in Davenport, Iowa over the company’s plan to triple health-care costs for employees. The United Steelworkers Union Local 105 is in talks with Alcoa to replace the current labor contract which expires on May 31, and covers almost 6,000 workers across 11 plants. Failed contract negotiations could lead to the first strike since 1986. Alcoa is the country’s largest aluminum maker. Read more about it here.
Nationwide civil disobedience for comprehensive immigration reform
Around 200 people rallied outside U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in Chicago, Ill. on Tuesday, calling for Congress and the Obama administration to take up comprehensive immigration reform at the national level. 32 of the protesters were arrested after refusing to move at the request of Department of Homeland Security officers, including Ald. George Cardenas (12th) and executive vice president of the SEIU, Eliseo Medina. The civil disobedience demonstrations are part of a nationwide campaign, which included demonstrations that same week in Seattle, Wash. and New York, N.Y. Read more here.(video above)