Local Labor News Round-up

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Comrades, we are in the midst of a wave of labor actions and agitation as the working class reasserts itself with greater urgency every day. People are fighting for their communities, fighting to save the planet, and fighting to get just a little more justice in their lives every day.

All labor actions involve surprises, good and bad, and as socialists we must always examine events with a sober perspective so that we can learn from successes and setbacks. Here are a couple recent local labor developments, and opportunities for us all to show solidarity.

UAW Narrowly Passes Deal

For forty days, United Auto Workers were on strike at GM plants across the country, including in Hudson, Wisconsin. Workers struck over a range of issues, the two most urgent being plant closures and closing loopholes that keep  temporary workers from full employment status and benefits. The strike has now ended, with the contract agreement narrowly passing the rank and file vote of approval.

Over the course of the forty days, striking workers were threatened by police and company sympathizers, and for several days GM even attempted to intimidate strikers by cancelling their company healthcare coverage, directly threatening the wellbeing of workers and their immediate families. Fortunately, the persistence of the workers combined with solidary outrage from local communities reversed the company’s heartless decision and helped illustrate who in the community stands with workers and who stands with the bosses.

Local DSA comrades made several trips out to the Hudson picket line. There they were able to express their solidarity, help cover some breaks on the 24/7 picket line shifts, and contribute money and basic supplies. DSA comrades were able to recruit others to attend their first picket line, demonstrating that people are ready to get organized when they can see directly how it benefits their community.

In the end, a close vote after a forty-day strike demonstrates a range of opinions among the rank and file workers (with many critical of what little the contract holds for plant closures) as well as management playing games with workers stuck in temporary status. As one UAW striker said when the deal was being released, “Don’t give me the highlights. I want to know about the parts that they don’t want me to see!”

Further reading: https://jacobinmag.com/2019/10/gm-general-motors-uaw-united-auto-workers-strike-plant-closings-temp

MAC Action Pushes $15

The Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) is the body that runs the Minneapolis-St. Paul international airport (MSP). Due to its unique position in state and municipal structures, MAC possesses a great degree of autonomy in internal policy, including being completely exempt from the $15 minimum wage laws that have passed in both Minneapolis and St Paul!

However, organized workers across several unions at MSP have been demonstrating their determination to see that everyone who helps run the largest airport in the upper midwest gets a basic level of economic justice.

Recently workers and community members organized for a public forum. From one of the organizers:

For nearly a year we have been organizing to win a $15 minimum wage at the MSP airport. By our estimates, easily thousands of people will get a raise with a higher minimum wage.

An ordinance was proposed that had a tip penalty and multiple other carve-outs. On September 23rd the MAC held a public forum; nearly three hundred people attended, with fifty people, mostly airport workers, speaking. 100% of the people spoke in favor of a $15 minimum wage ordinance with no tip penalty or other carve-outs.

A few days after the forum, we found out we had achieved a major win. A new, better ordinance with no tip penalty or carve-uts was being proposed. It would set the airport on the same track as Minneapolis!

We aren’t planning on stopping until we win!

Stay tuned to local labor and DSA social media for any future opportunities to show your solidarity with airport workers.

Further reading:  https://www.fox9.com/news/msp-airport-holding-public-hearing-on-raising-minimum-wage-for-workers

https://kstp.com/business/new-ordinance-raise-msp-airport-worker-wages-under-consideration-public-hearing/5502016/

– Anders B.

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