By Jennifer Braudaway
The first week of February saw workers’ struggles spanning from East Coast to West, including:
- Workers in New Bedford, Mass. demanding local jobs for local residents.
- Day laborers in California fighting for their right to look for work.
- Action from the ongoing Hotel Workers Rising campaign in Boston.
- Police unions picketing for collective-bargaining rights at the AFL-CIO conference in Plymouth. (See video above.)
- And county workers in Michigan protesting furloughs.
Workers Demand More Jobs for Local Residents, Minorities and Women
More than a dozen protesters marched in New Bedford, Mass., last Monday to demand that city officials and developers give more jobs to local residents, minorities and women. John “Buddy” Andrade, who helped lead the march on construction sites and government buildings, called for the city to provide information on who is working at local projects. Read more here.
Day Laborers in California: Right to Look for Work is a Human Right
In Costa Mesa, Calif., dozens of day laborers marched through the streets last Tuesday in protest of a city anti-solicitation ordinance that prevents them from gathering in parking lots and public places to look for work. Laborers say the right to look for work is a human right, and held signs reading, “We are workers, not criminals.”
The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California have filed a federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana, claiming that prohibiting day laborers from seeking employment is a violation of free speech. Read more here.
Momentum Still Going for ‘Hyatt 100’ Campaign
Almost 100 workers, students, activists, and union and community leaders gathered to picket outside of the Cambridge, Mass., Hyatt last Tuesday as part of the ongoing Hotel Workers Rising campaign to “bring back the Hyatt 100,” the Boston Hyatt housekeepers who were laid off last August. As In These Times reported earlier here, the housekeepers — many of whom had worked for Hyatt hotels for over 20 years — were replaced by out-of-state contract workers making half as much. Read more at Talking Union.
Police Unions Picket for Collective Bargaining Rights
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick withdrew from the state AFL-CIO’s annual conference in Plymouth last Thursday after reports that the labor group’s executive committee would stand with police unions who were planning to picket.
More than 250 labor unionists showed up to protest some of Patrick’s recent cost cutting proposals, including changes to collective bargaining agreements and civilian flaggers at traffic sites. But unlike many picket lines, the demonstration did not try to discourage other elected officials from attending. AFL-CIO officials said they were unaware of the governor’s last minute withdrawal until less than a half hour before he was scheduled to appear. Read more here and here.
Wayne County Workers Protest Furloughs
Last Friday, more than 100 city and Wayne County workers gathered in downtown Detroit, Mich., to protest the one-day-a-week layoffs of 700 employees that began that day. The furloughs, which are supposed to help fill a $100 million budget hole, come after unions would not accept 10-percent pay cuts. Unions claim the order is arbitrary, and an administrative judge has given Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano 10 days to prove the furloughs don’t violate employee contracts.
Read more about it here.