Labor Advocate Online

Week In Review

A Weekly Column by Bill Onasch
October 23, 2005

What a week to try to review!

What’s Bad For GM Workers Is Bad For the USA
As I started to do my promised article on developments in the UAW it soon became clear to me that this was a much bigger deal than the run of the mill give-backs that have become all too common in the American labor movement. The GM surrender is in fact a disaster of historic impact, a turning point that will reshape labor struggles in America for a long time to come, in my opinion. As my article grew in length–too big to include in our regular weekly e-mailing to the list–I’m afraid I also departed from my usual style of diplomatic politeness toward our leaders. I’m interested in your comments. You can check out the article on the web:

UAW Capitulation Leaves All Of Us Vulnerable In Class War

Mixed Decision In B.C.
It’s been a roller-coaster week in the "illegal" teacher strike in British Columbia. It started out with a massive (I’ve seen estimates ranging from 7-50,000, in any case pretty big) solidarity demonstration at the provincial capital in Victoria, called by the BC Federation of Labor. That was followed by demonstrations, and solidarity job actions, throughout the BC mainland. A steelworkers local adopted a resolution calling for a general strike.

But when a new mediator got involved both the provincial fed and the teacher union called for delays in further job actions as long as "progress" was being made. Nor did the teachers put up much of a protest when a judge leveled a half-million dollar fine–the biggest ever handed down in a Canadian labor dispute.

Both the teachers and the Liberal government have tentatively agreed to accept the mediator’s recommendations. Schools are slated to reopen Monday. The deal includes another twenty million dollars to "improve learning conditions" and unspecified changes to the School Act to limit class sizes. Initially the teachers held out for more definite, written guarantees from the government but ultimately accepted more vague promises.

The deal is subject to membership approval–which, under the circumstances, appears likely. For now, its impact on coming public sector negotiations with other unions remains to be seen.

I saw absolutely no reference to this turbulent struggle in any of the mainstream media in the U.S.

Crafty Strategy At Northwest
On the first day of the AMFA strike at Northwest, the leader of the pilots union summoned other crafts to an emergency meeting. It was definitely not a gathering to organize solidarity with the strikers, however. In fact, AMFA was excluded from this conclave convened to come up with a joint proposal from the scabbing crafts for a new offer of give-backs to the carrier.

Their plan was undermined by the reluctance of the second largest union at Northwest, the Professional Flight Attendants Association (PFAA), to go along. The ranks, at least, of the flight attendants have shown sympathy with the AMFA strikers and have worked reluctantly because of legal obstacles to honoring the picket line. In the end, Northwest management decided the coalition of the willing couldn’t come up with sufficient give-backs and opted instead for bankruptcy.

We’re In A Contest
The KC Labor site is among those to be judged in a Best Rank-and-File Website Contest, sponsored by the Association for Union Democracy. The winners will be selected by an anonymous panel of judges.

As usual, much of the material for this column was taken from postings in the Daily Labor News Digest.

That’s all for this week.

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