Weekly Workers’ Round-up: Rio Tinto Workers Continue Struggle, Educators Stand Up

Jennifer Braudaway

TSOs continue fight for union rights in Washington, D.C.

Hundreds of people, including union leaders and U.S. Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee (D‑Texas) and Nita Lowey (D‑N.Y.), rallied outside of AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, demanding the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) grant collective bargaining rights to Transportation Security Officers (TSOs). TSOs screen luggage at the nation’s airports and are federal employees.

On Monday, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) filed a petition with the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) to allow them to officially represent the 41,000 TSOs, many of which have already joined despite not having all the rights that go with union membership. The AFGE said that having union representation will benefit the workers even if the TSA does not grant them bargaining rights. Read more about it here and here. (See video above)

Poway school workers protest pay cuts

In Poway, Calif. on Monday more than 400 school district workers gathered at a special school board meeting to protest the opening of a three-year contract that would reduce employee pay by 7.5 percent. In addition to pay cuts, the contract would increase class sizes and reduce the number of school days per year. Poway Unified School District currently serves more than 33,000 students. Read more here.

Spirit Airlines pilots say they are ready to strike

Spirit Airlines pilots demonstrated on Monday outside the airline’s Miramar, Fla. headquarters, protesting a five-year contract that would involve furloughs and $31 million in concessions. Pilots say they are ready to strike. Read more here.

Central Falls educators and community rally against mass firing

Around 500 teachers, students and community members rallied on Tuesday outside a Central Falls high school board meeting in R.I., protesting the board’s decision to fire all 93 of its faculty and staff members. Central Falls is the smallest and poorest city in the state, and the school was one of six in the state identified for poor performance.

The controversial move is part of a new measure by U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, in which states identify the bottom five percent of their public schools and reform them through either closure, takeover, transformation, or turnover. After failing to reach a transformation agreement with teachers, the school’s superintendent elected for turnover, which involves firing all teaching staff and rehiring no more than half. Read more about it here and here.

Locked-out Rio Tinto workers get miles of support

In Boron, Calif. on Wednesday hundreds of union workers from all over the state showed up to support Rio Tinto Borax mine workers, in a caravan that stretched for several miles. As we reported earlier this month, the London-based mining company locked out more than 500 employees and hired replacement workers after failed contract negotiations with International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 30, who represents the workers.

The contract would have authorized hiring more nonunion employees and changing the seniority-based promotion system to a performance-based system. Wednesday’s caravan was led by four rigs carrying over $30,000 worth of food for the locked-out workers and their families. Read more about it here.

Whirlpool workers fight to keep their jobs

Nearly 5,000 people protested outside of Whirlpool Corp.’s refrigerator manufacturing plant in Evansville, Ind. on Friday, including AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. Whirlpool, who recently received $19 million in economic recovery money from the federal government, is closing the plant and moving its jobs to Mexico. The layoffs will affect 1,100 workers and are expected to begin in March. Read more here and here.

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Jennifer Braudaway is a Winter 2010 Web intern.
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