A piece on the recent fast food campaigns launched by SEIU – their origins, means, and prospects for revitalizing the labor movement in the U.S.
“Olivia, who’s 23 now, has worked a string of fast-food jobs since she was a teenager, most recently at Papa John’s Pizza. She’s gone in to work sick on many occasions… and seen co-workers get injured on the job; with no paid sick days or disposable income, they would sometimes arrive at work the next day in a sling.
A 1976 diplomatic telegram sent abroad by the Italian government informing of dangerous workerist intervention challenging the limits of an ineffective 4 hour token strike in Italian industry.
Sent 9th February 1976, originally classified for ‘Limited official use’ but since declassified and released as of 2006. Taken from the original text found in the Wikileaks public archive.
As the fast food strikes heat up, there are a lot of reasons housing justice activists should come out to support them.
Today we are seeing an unprecedented mass of one-day strikes of fast food workers around the country, with events in well over a hundred cities. Fast food is a $200 billion dollar a year industry in this country, providing a large mass of low-pay jobs as well as being tied to many of the health crises we are seeing from early onset diabetes to childhood obesity and heart disease.
As police go on strike in Argentina’s second largest city, Cordoba, the people have gone on a huge shopping spree, emptying every supermarket in the city. Despite there being massive unemployment and poverty across the city, the media and government have claimed the the shopping spree has nothing to do with being poor, and everything to do with ‘common criminality’.
The widespread emptying of supermarkets in Cordoba comes just twelve months after similar actions spread across the whole of Argentina.
If the American labor movement is to rise again, it will not be as a result of electing different politicians, the passage of legislation, or improved methods of union organizing. Rather, workers will need to rediscover the power of the strike. Not the ineffectual strike of today, where employees meekly sit on picket lines waiting for scabs to take their jobs, but the type of strike capable of grinding industries to a halt - the kind employed up until the 1960s, argues Joe Burns.
In "Reviving the Strike," labor lawyer Burns draws on economics, history and current analysis in arguing that the labor movement must redevelop an effective strike based on the now outlawed traditional labor tactics of stopping production and workplace-based solidarity.
Following violent clashes over the decision to dismiss hundreds of unionised workers and replace them with unaffiliated workers, locals in the Odisha region of India have forced the closure of seven large open cast coal mines, and two railway stations. 1,000 local workers ransacked the management offices and fought running battles with workers who remain loyal to the bosses.
Over forty mining vehicles have been set on fire and destroyed, and railway tracks have been damaged to prevent the transportation of coal. Several hundred police officers have been drafted into the village to try and regain control.
A three week strike involving 5,000 workers at an electronics company in Shenzhen, China, has ended after the bosses agreed to a 20% hike in pay.
The strike started on the 31st October after the factory owners, ASM materials, announced – without consultation with the unions – that it would be relocating elements of its production outside of Shenzhen. Thousands of workers walked off the job, demanding a wage rise of 3,000 Yuan a month, and a compensation package for re-location.
Outsourced workers at the University of London are striking for equal rights and for recognition of the IWGB union. Their ‘3 Cosas’ (3 things) campaign is demanding equal sick pay, equal holidays, and equal pensions. They are also protesting against potential job losses following the closure of university buildings. They are striking on the 27th and 28th November.
Central buildings at the University of London are to be closed to the public today in the first official strike by outsourced staff in the university’s 170 year history.
Workers have today walked off the job at seven branches of Walmart across Dallas. The workers then joined protests outside, demanding that workers are paid a minimum of $25,000 a year. The action organised by the ‘OUR Walmart’ campaign has been played down by company lickspittles, who claim that very few employees have been involved, and that busloads of pickets had been transported between stores to boost numbers.
These latest walkouts follow on from similar wildcat actions in Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, Cincinnati, and Miami. They are planning more of the same on ‘Black Friday’, traditionally the biggest shopping day of the year, which signals the start of the Christmas shopping period.
A toadying Walmart spokesperson claimed that:
The Bangladeshi minimum wage board has, after long negotiations, announced a 76% increase in garment workers’ pay, applicable to all seven pay grades. This has quickly been hailed as a great victory by some observers. We’ll go into the details to show that it’s not the result the workers continue to demand and that any gains may not be long-lasting.
The minimum wage increase being granted at this time is a result of particular circumstances. The past year has seen both the Tazreen fire and the Rana Plaza building collapse, bringing the combined deaths of over 1200 workers.