Labor Notes #367, October 2009
Hotel housekeepers are on a seven-city tour with a gigantic “hope quilt” that memorializes injuries on the job. It's also a symbol of their determination to rally union and non-union hotel housekeepers against harsh working conditions and workplace injuries.
After two years of delay, farmworkers in Florida will finally start getting a penny more per pound for tomatoes they pick.
Governor Luis Fortuño announced in late September that nearly 17,000 public employees in Puerto Rico will lose their jobs by November, in addition to the nearly 8,000 laid off over the summer.
Miners in northern Ontario have been striking since July, standing against demands from a mining colossus to end defined-benefit pensions and to ax profit-sharing. The bottom line for members is ensuring that the company doesn’t cut the workforce into different tiers.
Over the weekend Federal Police seized the plants of the Central Light and Power Company of Mexico, which provides electricity to Mexico City and several states in central Mexico.
When President Obama laid out a plan to reshape public education this summer, he wasn’t subtle with his symbolism: he was introduced by an eighth-grader from a charter school. Soon after, teachers nationwide met in Los Angeles.
Rank-and-file reformers in the East Coast Longshoremen’s (ILA) union have had a busy summer. The Longshore Workers Coalition (LWC) exposed secret contract negotiations and channeled member outrage against the deal, deepening a rift among top leaders.
The media reports of New Yorkers coming together are certainly true, and in some ways this has been a really inspirational time. I was lucky enough to volunteer both Wednesday and Thursday nights.
After a friend and I waited on line for over an hour at the Javitz Center, we arrived at the volunteer registration table just as my declaration of “good communication and people skills” came in handy. (I’d been so regretting that I couldn’t put a check mark next to “welder” or “medic.”)
Nobody wants to admit it, but the next casualty of the Wall Street meltdown will probably be your golden years. For years corporations have been trying to choke the life out of traditional pensions, working hard to get out from under the risk—and the cost—of providing for their retirees. Between last year’s credit crunch and changes to federal pension laws, they may get their wish.
Workers in defined-benefit pension plans used to be one-third of the private sector. Now they are a sixth—and those 20 million workers’ security is under serious threat.
Consider the Central States Pension Fund. Once an anchor of retirement security for Teamsters in 29 states from Minnesota to Florida, the fund lost nearly a third of its assets during last year’s market meltdown. This only made an uncomfortable balancing act more precarious.