Weekly Workers’ Round-Up: Labor Day Week Sees Spirited Street Action

Jennifer Braudaway

Hundreds of union members join in Boston Labor Day rally

Around 500 union members and activists took part in a Labor Day rally for jobs, healthcare and immigrant rights last Monday in Boston, Mass. Speakers at the rally included Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, SEIU 615 President Rocio Saenz, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Greater Boston Labor Council Rich Rogers, and U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-Lowell) who is currently campaigning for re-election. The rally took place on the Boston Common and concluded with a spirited march to Copley Square. Read more about it here. (video above)

Philadelphia dock workers dump Del Monte

Union dock workers in Philadelphia, Pa. dumped cases of Del Monte pineapples into the Delaware River last Monday as part of a Labor Day demonstration to protest Del Monte Fresh Produce Co.’s decision to switch its banana shipping business to a different port. Del Monte’s move will cost the International Longshoremen’s Association 200 to 300 jobs, and will cut union hours at ports in Philadelphia, Camden and Wilmington by about 25 percent.

Del Monte plans to shift 75 ships and a half million tons of banana cargo from Camden to privately-owned Gloucester Terminals L.L.C. which the ILA says pays workers below industry standards, between $12 and $17, and some with no benefits. The company rejected union concessions to keep the business, which would have earned workers $21.50 to $22.50 an hour, down from a top rate of $31 an hour. Read more about it here.

GMU food workers strike for better working conditions

More than 100 George Mason University food workers went on strike in Fairfax, Va. on Thursday to protest working conditions in the dining halls, where they have experienced cuts, burns and bruises on the job. In addition to unsafe working conditions, the workers, who are represented by SEIU and employed by Sodexo Inc., were protesting low wages and high health insurance costs. Around 100 students joined the protest rally in support of the workers.

Sodexo, one of the largest contracted food and facilities companies in the world, has been the subject of repeated criticism this year for a poor workers rights record, most recently in a Human Rights Watch report released in early September. Sodexo has about 450 employees at George Mason University and 6,500 employees in the Washington region. Read more here and here.

US Airways pilots demand overdue labor contract

US Airways pilots picketed on Wednesday outside the Philadelphia International Airport in Pa. to protest an unresolved labor contract that has dragged on for 5 years. The pilots, who are represented by US Airline Pilots Assn., claim that the protracted contract negotiations are a deliberate effort by US Airways to continue paying the pilots the lowest wages among major airlines in the industry. Union officials say that after significant concessions made on the part of USAPA to help the airline survive during the economic challenges the industry faced following September 11th, 2001, US Airways management has continued the concessions indefinitely despite the airline’s recovery. Read more here.

Calif. Teamsters protest non-union labor

Hundreds of protesters demonstrated at John Wayne Airport in Orange County, Calif. on Saturday to protest the airport’s switch to a non-union firm to operate its courtesy shuttles. The airport’s decision to employ non-union workers has displaced about two dozen union members. The protest was organized by the Teamsters who represent the workers, and protesters came from Orange County and other parts of Southern California. Read more here.

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Jennifer Braudaway is a Winter 2010 Web intern.
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