The wages and working conditions of union autoworkers have always set standards for all manufacturing. These in turn have put upward pressure on wages and benefits for all workers. But in today’s political and economic climate, major contract negotiations in the manufacturing sector are hell.
About 43,000 autoworkers streamed out of their workplaces Oct. 10 at Chrysler plants across the nation, launching a second nationwide auto strike within a two-week period, but this one lasting only about four hours.
Unions, led by the AFL-CIO and the Service Employees, and joined by allies ranging from the ACLU to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, won another round Oct. 10 in their battle with the Bush administration over immigration. A federal judge banned Bush from using error-ridden Social Security records to round up and deport workers and prosecute companies.
The hazard of violent death that faces trade unionists, especially in Latin America, is apparent from the recently issued annual report of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) for 2006. A perusal of the report makes for grim reading, especially because improvements from the year before seem nonexistent, a situation that continues this year.
The United Food and Commercial Workers union, negotiating for thousands of grocery workers in Southern California, won a stunning victory in July, approving a new union contract that reversed the unfair two-tiered system they had been forced to accept back in 2004.
The end of the historic strike against General Motors by the nation’s autoworkers may well signal the beginning of a fight by all workers against a new level of the corporate offensive against our jobs, our wages, our benefits and our very livelihoods.
Every day women go to work and have to face various kinds of gender discrimination — an unfair wage differential, discrimination in health and other benefits, lack of advancement opportunities, and sexual harassment.
SAN FRANCISCO — Talks for a new contract continued this week after workers who provide security in prime downtown office buildings returned to their jobs Sept. 27 following a first-ever three-day strike. Workers, members of SEIU Local 24/7, and their supporters held a spirited late afternoon rally on Market Street Sept. 27 before marching past many of the buildings they protect.
As we go to press, the United Auto Workers has called a time out in its strike against General Motors pending membership ratification of a new contract. It’s expected that the contract will be ratified quickly. While we do not yet know the full terms of the contract, it most likely contains concessions. In today’s political climate, and in the face of capitalist globalization, the balance of class forces often makes it a victory if unions can just hold on.
As union leaders emphasized that the struggle will continue, the AFSCME negotiating committee at the University of Minnesota decided last week to call off the union’s strike and submit the administration’s contract offer to the membership without a “yes” recommendation.