Weekly Workers’ Round-Up: AFA ‘OccuFLIES,’ Labor at CPAC, and Another Greek Strike

Patrick Glennon

Every week­end, Work­ing In These Times high­lights a few labor strug­gles and protests that con­trib­u­tors weren’t able to cov­er dur­ing the pre­ced­ing week.

Flight Atten­dants OccufFLY” LAX

Mem­bers from the Asso­ci­a­tion of Flight Atten­dants (AFA) pub­licly denounced Con­gress last Mon­day, reap­pro­pri­at­ing Occu­py lan­guage to decry plans to estab­lish new rules on union elec­tions. Pro­test­ers expressed dis­con­tent over what they per­ceive as an attack on their col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing rights, as Con­gress debates revis­ing the Rail­way Act — one of the old­est labor laws in the books.

Accord­ing to orga­niz­ers, new leg­is­la­tion would com­pli­cate the elec­tion process through which work­ers decide to union­ize, allow­ing employ­ers to stall elec­tions indef­i­nite­ly. AFA pres­i­dent Veda Shook dis­cussed the ratio­nale behind the Occu­FLY” protest:

This con­tro­ver­sial labor pro­vi­sion is noth­ing less than an attack by the 1 per­cent against the 99 per­cent. We saw it in Wis­con­sin and Ohio, now we see it for air­line and rail work­ers who are sim­ply seek­ing the ben­e­fits of col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing or fight­ing to hold on to col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing rights.

Ameir­can Air­lines work­ers in par­tic­u­lar are embroiled in a strug­gle to hold on to what they have, as AA looks to cut its work­force and shed pen­sion oblig­a­tions through bank­rupt­cy proceedings.

Labor Joins Occu­py DC to Protest CPAC’s Anti-Union Agenda

Labor activists from a hand­ful of unions—includ­ing SEIU, the AFL-CIO, Nation­al Nurs­es Unit­ed and the Metro Labor Coun­cil — gath­ered in D.C. this week as the annu­al Con­ser­v­a­tive Polit­i­cal action Con­fer­ence (CPAC) com­menced on Thursday.

This year’s three-day CPAC fea­tures cur­rent con­tenders for the GOP pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion New Gin­grich, Mitt Rom­ney and Rick San­to­rum, as well as recent dropouts from the race, Rick Per­ry and Her­man Cain.

Oth­er con­ser­v­a­tive nota­bles appear­ing include Ann Coul­ter, Grover Norquist and Scott Walker.

If you’re in the D.C. area, keep your eyes peeled for the hash­tag #Occu­py­C­PAC, as actions will be cir­cu­lat­ing on Twit­ter through­out Saturday.

Brazil­ian Police Strike Over Low Wages

Police and fire­fight­ers in Rio de Janeiro went on strike Fri­day, rail­ing against low wages and work conditions.

Car­ni­val — a huge attrac­tion for tourists, and the crime that typ­i­cal­ly accom­pa­nies tourists — is set to kick off next week. The gov­ern­ment has deployed mil­i­tary per­son­nel to fill the void.

The strike comes in the wake of failed con­tract nego­ti­a­tions in which work­ers received mere­ly half of the wage increase that they orig­i­nal­ly sought. Addi­tion­al­ly, the pay increase will be stag­gered over the next sev­er­al years.

Helio Oliveira, a major in the Rio state police and leader of the union orga­niz­ing the strike, said that We want dig­ni­ty at work,” com­ment­ing fur­ther that the strike was not intend­ed to affront the gov­ern­ment or harm society.”

Also at issue is poor field equip­ment. Out­dat­ed and inef­fec­tive bul­let-resis­tant vests are a threat to police, union orga­niz­ers say. Police also com­plain about anti­quat­ed weapon­ry that endan­gers lives.

Salary lev­els are a hot-but­ton top­ic with­in the Brazil­ian secu­ri­ty appa­ra­tus, as many blame the ram­pant cor­rup­tion of police and mil­i­tary offi­cials on chron­i­cal­ly low wages.

Greek Labor Begin 48-Hour Strike Against EU, IMF-Imposed Aus­ter­i­ty Measures

Greece’s two largest labor unions kicked off a 48-hour strike on Fri­day to protest gov­ern­ment con­ces­sions offered in return for bailouts from the Euro­pean Union and the Inter­na­tion­al Mon­e­tary Fund.

The unions, the Civ­il Ser­vants’ Con­fed­er­a­tion (ADEDY) and the pri­vate sector’s Gen­er­al Con­fed­er­a­tion of Greek Work­ers (GSEE) togeth­er rep­re­sent over half of Greece’s workforce.

Prime Min­is­ter Lucas Papademos — who was not elect­ed, but rather appoint­ed fol­low­ing the depar­ture of pre­vi­ous PM George Papan­deou — must cut an addi­tion­al €130 mil­lion from the state bud­get by Wednes­day in order to secure the bailouts.

Accord­ing to labor activists, these cuts con­sti­tute the tomb­stone of Greek Soci­ety,” throw­ing work­ers under the bus in order to appease pow­er­ful North­ern Euro­pean nations that favor aus­ter­i­ty for the EU’s most debt-rid­den countries.

Pro­vi­sions in the government’s plan include the elim­i­na­tion of 15,000 pub­lic-sec­tor job and a decrease of the min­i­mum wage by more than 20 percent.

Patrick Glen­non is a writer and musi­cian liv­ing in Chica­go. He received his B.A. in His­to­ry from Skid­more Col­lege and cur­rent­ly works as Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Man­ag­er for the Michael For­ti for Cook Coun­ty Court cam­paign and as the web intern at In These Times.
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