Workers Struggles in the Americas

Published on the World Socialist Web Site WSWS, 28 June 2011.

Latin America

Protests for wage increases, against police attack on striking Argentine teachers:

  • Teachers held a number of strikes and protests in Argentina last week over salary demands and repression of their colleagues. In Puerto Madryn, Esquel, Chubut, Rosario, Buenos Aires and other cities, teachers struck, marched and blockaded streets. Estimates of adhesion varied by location from 30 to 80 percent.One issue highlighted by the protests was the June 23 attack on an encampment of teachers in Buenos Aires. Federal police violently evicted a group of teachers who were attempting to set up an encampment in front of Buenos Aires’ labor ministry. The police dislodged the teachers using water cannons, arresting four and injuring nine.
  • The dislodged teachers are from the southern province of Santa Cruz and have been on strike for two months over wage demands, which have been met with intransigence by the provincial government. The encampment was meant to bring attention to their demands and force the intervention of the Ministry of Labor.  
  • The teachers, members of Santa Cruz’s Adosac union, demand a salary increase of 50 percent to offset the nation’s inflation rate. The provincial government has remained adamant with its offer of 25 percent.
  • According to the Argentina Independent, “Ministry officials received Santa Cruz teachers and concluded that the issue should be resolved by the provincial jurisdiction and not through the national labor ministry.”
  • The Confederation of Education Workers of the Argentine Republic (Ctera) called for a nationwide one-hour strike and assembly on Monday to protest the repression of the teachers.

Guyanian municipal workers go slow, strike over unpaid wages:

  • Hundreds of municipal workers in Guyana’s capital city, Georgetown, angered over delays in payment of their salaries, went on a “go slow” on June 16 and a partial strike June 17. The workers had yet to receive salary payments for the month of May … //

United States

Rally to support Southern California grocery workers:

  • Members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) picketed a Ralph’s supermarket in Inglewood, California, Monday to support Southern California grocery workers who have been without a contract for three months.
  • Some 62,000 members of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) employed at Ralph’s/Food for Less, Vons/Pavillion and Albertson chains are facing demands for steep concessions, including $450 million in cuts to health benefits. The UFCW has proposed its own health care cuts, including an increase in weekly employee contributions from $7 to $9 per week for individuals and from $15 to $23 per week for families.
  • The grocery workers’ contract expired in March. In April, workers voted for strike authorization. However, the union has refused to call a strike. Meanwhile, Vons and Albertson officials said there had been progress in the talks, with a tentative agreement reached on the question of pensions.
  • Southern California grocery workers faced a five-month strike/lockout in 2003-2004 that ended with the UFCW accepting all the major concessions demanded by management, including a two-tier wages system and cuts to pension and health benefits.

Honeywell workers mark one year of lockout:

  • Workers at a Honeywell Inc. uranium processing plant in Metropolis, Illinois, marked the one-year anniversary of a management lockout with a June 25 rally that brought together 800 supporters. The 228 members of the United Steelworkers were locked out June 28, 2010, following the expiration of their contract. Management has continued operations during the lockout with strikebreakers.
  • Outstanding issues include overtime pay, medical leave, the institution of an inferior pension plan for new hires and a company-paid meal allowance for staff who work overtime.
  • The Metropolis plant mills yellow cake uranium into uranium hexafluoride that is frozen and sold for use by the nuclear power industry. Since the lockout, the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has levied 17 serious workplace safety violations against the company. The violations stemmed from a December 22, 2010, release of hydrogen fluoride vapors.

Canada

Saskatchewan insurance strike ends under threat:

  • Two days after the provincial government of Brad Wall introduced back-to-work legislation, and three days after it began, a strike by 470 crop insurance workers has ended with the signing of a new contract.
  • The 470 workers who are members of the Saskatchewan Government and General Employees Union (SGEU) had been without a contract for almost two years, but the Saskatchewan Party government, a right-wing political amalgamation, cited devastating floods to justify the threat of legislating an end to the strike.
  • The new contract, which has yet to be ratified, provides wage increases of only 5.5 percent over three years, but SGEU leaders say they are happy the strike ended with a negotiated settlement. (full long text).

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