One just started, the other long running. One a strike, the other a lockout. One is high profile involving 3500 workers, the majority in a major city, the other just eighty workers in a small town. Both are fighting around issues of concern to all. Both deserve widespread generous support.
University of Minnesota
Three AFSCME locals representing 3500 clerical, technical, and health care employees of the U of M launched a strike this morning (September 5) that centers on wages. The employer wants to count progression step raises rewarding experience on the way to top of wage classifications as part of a none too generous cost of living raise. The union correctly nailed this as a wage cut proposal, condemning U workers to further erosion of living standards through inflation. 72 percent of AFSCME members rejected this insult, and authorized the strike.
The clerical workers in Local 3800 know all this well. They went through a tough 15-day strike in 2003–and won an honorable settlement. The union leadership did a good job both in preparing their membership and in sharing their experience with the other two locals in joint negotiations with them this time around.
There is also a volunteer Labor and Community Strike Support Committee that came together several weeks ago and organized rallies and other informational events before the strike. These support efforts help get the striker’s side, often ignored or distorted by the mass media, to the working class community.
For suggestions of what you, and your union, can do to help visit these web sites:
Quad City Die Casting Lockout
Eighty members of UE Local 1174 used to come to work every day at this foundry on the bank of the Mississippi River in Moline, Illinois. That stopped in July when the company locked them out. These workers were forced on the street because they rejected the company demand for unlimited use of temporary workers. Local President Rich Nordholm said, “Our contract has allowed them the limited use of temps for years, but now they want unlimited temps, part-timers, outsourcing and insourcing. If we agreed to this we’d all be out of a job.”
We should not allow small time bosses--usually vassals for major corporations--to pick off small, isolated groups of unionists, releasing such scourge in to our environment.