Skyline of Richmond, Virginia

DC area labor daily news from Union City


Monday, September 22, 2008

LABOR UPDATES: Dairy Workers Beat Unionbusting at Quickway: Dairy workers at Quickway Transportation won a major legal fight last Monday when an NLRB judge ruled against Quickway’s unionbusting tactics during contract negotiations in 2007. This is “a stunning and complete victory for our members,” says Teamsters Local 639 Recording Secretary Phil Giles. Workers – who deliver Marva Maid dairy products to Giant stores in the Metro DC area - stuck Quickway in January 2007 after the company locked out workers and refused to bargain in good faith (Dairy Workers Still on Strike 1/18/07 UC). The NLRB ruling orders Quickway to reinstate locked out drivers with full back pay, benefits and interest. Giles said he hoped the ruling would send a warning other employers that would think about using the same tactics and added that Local 639 “will do whatever it takes to make Quickway comply with their legal obligations.”

NEW TRADES LEADER A FIGHTER: Vance Ayres has been standing up to bullies since he was a kid. “I always stood up for the kids being picked on,” Ayres told Union City, “and I always picked them for my team because they fought harder and we won!” These days Ayres is taking the fight for justice to a bigger sandbox as the new Secretary-Treasurer of the Washington Building and Construction Trades Council, the umbrella organization for over a dozen area construction trades locals. The 42-year-old’s energy and enthusiasm is infectious and he seems hard-put to sit still for an interview. Though most folks these days know him as an Elevator Constructor – his home local for the last 11 years (he’s still Recording Secretary) – he began his union career in 1990 as an organizer for UFCW after a brief stint playing semi-pro football. “Organizing really woke me up to poverty and why people needed a union,” Ayres says, “I’d go into rowhouses there were huge holes in the walls and the people had no food, in stark contrast with my neighborhood, where families had plenty of food, pensions and health care.” Click here for the rest of the interview.
- report by Chris Garlock

HEALTH CARE SQUAD TO QUARANTINE INSURANCE CONFAB: Warning that “The health insurance industry is hazardous to your health,” uniformed nurses and doctors will stage a protest at an insurance industry conference today. Area activists are urged to join the healthcare professionals as they attempt to quarantine the Capitol Hilton hotel at 12:45P when Newt Gingrich is scheduled to address the America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) Conference on Medicare and Medicaid. “Despite spending twice as much as other industrialized nations, our mostly private health insurance system performs poorly,” says the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee, which is coordinating the protest. “One third of every health care dollar is taken up by paperwork and other administrative costs of private insurance that have little to do with addressing disease or injury. Poor health and poor health care hold down the U.S. economy and reduce productivity. A guaranteed health care program patterned after Medicare can provide coverage for all, while at the same time saving close to $300 billion per year.”

WILLIAMS CHAIRS UNITED WAY LABOR DIV: Metro Washington Council President Jos Williams has been tapped to chair this year’s United Way Labor Division. “The United Way has long been a great partner for our own Community Services Agency,” Williams said, “and this year’s campaign slogan – “Live United” – is completely consistent with the union movement’s commitment to working together to change the world.” With the Community Services Agency launching its workplace giving campaign this week, Williams urged area union members to “Give generously this year; times are tough but the labor movement is tougher!” The CSA’s United Way designation number is 8253.

LABOR PHOTO: Protest Against Colombian Prez Draws Huge Lunchtime Crowd: Over 100 activists rallied outside the National Press Club Friday to protest the visit of Colombian President Alvaro Uribe. Uribe and 80 other Colombian government officials were in town to lobby for passage of the US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, which critics argue should not be passed until the Colombian government addresses the increasing violence against workers and activists and the agreement includes significant labor, human and environment rights. “In the past eight months, 41 Colombian trade union members have been murdered, more than in all of last year,” reports James Parks on AFL-CIO Now Weblog. “Nearly 2,700 trade unionists have been murdered in Colombia since 1986, including some 471 during the Uribe administration. And the killers are getting away with it. The impunity rate for murdering a trade unionist in Colombia remains at more than 96 percent.” Click here to read Parks’ full report.

UNION CITY VOICE: Readers Write: The Real Battle in Seattle: “I saw that [last Wednesday’s] Union City reviewed the new movie Battle in Seattle,” writes Georgetown Solidarity Committee activist Sarah Heydemann. “Here at Georgetown, we’ve been debating whether this movie is a positive or negative force! I’m not against the Hollywood version per se, I just worry that those who know nothing about the issue or the event before they see the movie will think that’s the only version out there.” For activists’ accounts of the historic 1999 protests, check out the Real Battle in Seattle website and the documentary This is what Democracy Looks Like, which uses actual footage shot by hundreds of activists on the ground during the protests. Click here for a debate on the film, which aired on Democracy Now! last Thursday, with Director Stuart Townsend and David Solnit, a key organizer of the shutdown of the WTO in Seattle and creator of The Real Battle in Seattle website. Battle in Seattle continues this week at the E Street Cinema; click here for details on showtimes and tickets.

TODAY’S LABOR HISTORY: Emancipation Proclamation passes (1862); Great Steel Strike begins; 350,000 workers demand union recognition. The AFL Iron and Steel Organizing Committee calls off the strike, their goal unmet, 108 days later (1919); Martial law rescinded in Mingo County, WV after police, US troops and hired goons finally quell coal miners’ strike (1922); US Steel announces it will cut the wages of 220,000 workers by 10 percent (1931); United Textile Workers strike committee order strikers back to work after 22 days out, ending what was at that point the greatest single industrial conflict in the history of American organized labor. The strike involved some 400,000 workers in New England, the mid-Atlantic states and the South (1934); Some 400,000 coal miners strike for higher wages in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Illinois and Ohio (1935); The AFL expels the International Longshoremen’s Association for racketeering; the union was readmitted to the then-AFL-CIO six years later (1953); OSHA reaches its largest ever settlement agreement, $21 million, with BP Products North America following an explosion at BP’s Texas City, Texas plant earlier in the year that killed 15 and injured 170 (2005); Eleven Domino’s employees in Pensacola, FL form the nation’s first union of pizza delivery drivers (2006); San Francisco hotel workers end a two-year contract fight, ratify a new five-year pact with their employers (2006); More info & ammo for unionists is available online from Union Communication Services.

Material published in UNION CITY may be freely reproduced by any recipient; please credit the Council as the source.

Published by the Metropolitan Washington Council, an AFL-CIO “Union City” Central Labor Council whose 200 affiliated union locals represent 150,000 area union members. JOSLYN N. WILLIAMS, PRESIDENT.

Story suggestions, event announcements, campaign reports, Letters to the Editor and other material are welcome, subject to editing for clarity and space, and should be directed to:

Editor: Chris Garlock
Assistant Editor: Andy Richards
Voice: 202-974-8153
Fax: 202-974-8152

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