The GM strike jumped off suddenly September 16. At the start, it wasn't clear what the bargainers were going for—including to members themselves. Since then, judging by dozens of interviews on the picket lines, a remarkable consensus has developed among the Auto Workers rank and file: their top priority is wage equality, for second-tier workers and especially for the misnamed “temps.” Temps may work for years doing the same work as Tier 1 and Tier 2 workers, but with low pay and almost no rights.
General Motors workers have been on the picket lines for 17 days now, and just picked up their first weekly strike pay of $250. Strikers wonder who will hold out the longest—a workforce seeking justice or an immensely profitable corporation demanding more concessions?
Being on strike is “kinda scary,” said one picketing nurse in Toledo, Ohio—but “kinda empowering,” broke in another. “We’re doing this for nurses across the board.”
After 58 bargaining sessions totaling 450 hours since last summer, nearly 1,900 hospital workers at Mercy Health St. Vincent walked off the job Monday, marching from union headquarters to line the street in front of the hospital.
Since 1979, Labor Notes has been home to the troublemaking wing of the labor movement. The pages of our magazine are filled with the stories of workers who are working to transform their unions, to take on the boss, to fight for racial justice.
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Though I've lived in Detroit for 44 years, my heart is still in West Virginia, where I was born and raised. When West Virginia teachers and school workers went on a winning wildcat a year ago, and touched off a wave of teacher strikes across the country, I bragged about them all over, as if it had anything to do with me.
As rank-and-file teachers waged their audacious strike in my home state, lots of people cited West Virginia’s stirring labor heritage: the epic mine wars in the 1920s, including the Battle of Blair Mountain, when planes dropped bombs on striking miners, fighting to unionize and end the dictatorship of the coal barons. Teachers proudly wore the miners’ red bandanas as a nod to that history.