Labor Notes #374, May 2010

Auto workers at a Michigan GM plant voted down big wage cuts by a 2-1 margin March 31 despite intense whipsawing against sister plants by company and International union officials. . . .

Grocery warehouse workers in northern Massachusetts are putting up a spirited fight with wide support from the rest of labor as their strike ends its sixth week. Workers and allies are making Shaw’s Supermarkets the poster child for corporate greed in the state. . . .

When 40,000 union members joined thousands of other protesters at the 1999 Battle of Seattle to march against the WTO, it looked like activists from many different movements for social justice were finally getting together. The slogan “Teamsters and Turtles” was coined to indicate that activists opposing environmental destruction, NAFTA and other unfair trade agreements, increasing inequality, and human rights violations were uniting. . . .

Workers at the Providence Westin Hotel in Rhode Island called a boycott in mid-March when management broke off contract talks after imposing a 20 percent wage cut and quadrupling some employee health plan contributions.

It is legal to fire lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender workers for no other reason than their sexual orientation or gender in most states. LGBT people are organizing to change that, and have gotten the Employment Non-Discrimination Act introduced in Congress. . . .

As the strike of 1,000 registered nurses and 500 professional staff at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia entered its third week, the heat was on the administration to return to the table.

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