Labor Advocate Online

KC Labor Newsletter
Week In Review, September 19, 2004
by Bill Onasch, webmaster, kclabor.org

FLOC Wins Big Victory
Victory celebrations are few and far between for American labor these days. But the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) won a big one this past week. After an intense five-year effort, marked by a consumer boycott, the union reached an historic agreement with the North Carolina Grower's Association (NCGA) and the Mount Olive Pickle Company, covering 8,000 Mexican "guest workers." This is the first union contract ever won for this category of essentially indentured servants. It is also the biggest organizing win in North Carolina history. FLOC is among the most innovative and progressive unions on the scene today. They were one of the first to affiliate to the Labor Party and FLOC president Baldemar Velasquez is a party Co-Chair.

Another One for the Books
A much smaller but strategically important victory was registered this week at Borders Books in Minneapolis. Twenty UFCW Local 789 workers at the Uptown Minneapolis store will be voting today for a first union contract. This comes nearly two years after winning an NLRB representation election. This is only the second Borders store to get a union contract. Workers at the flagship store in Ann Arbor, Mich., ratified a contract in January after a seven-week strike.

Thousands of Low Wage Workers Prepare Strikes
2,500 New York home health aides employed by Premier Home Health Care Services, the only major employer that has refused to negotiate a new contract which calls for the hourly wage to reach $10 in the next few years, are likely to strike Tuesday. Nearly all women immigrants, these 1199 members currently earn $7.60 an hour–a truly poverty wage, especially in the Big Apple.

Thousands of UNITE-HERE hotel workers in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington D.C. are also readying picket signs.

This Silent Majority Needs Voice
"Majority of those polled say they favor insurance system similar to Canada and Britain to help combat rising costs and less coverage"–subhead line in Newsday account on health care polling. Since they will find no sympathy for this sentiment in the major parties we recommend checking out the Labor Party Just Health Care campaign.

How Bush Will Win I
"Kerry has run into two problems of his own making, aides say: He voted to authorize the war in 2002, says today the war is wrong but will not take back his vote; and he has yet to detail a markedly different strategy than Bush's for ending the conflict. This has allowed the president to argue -- with great success, Democrats say -- that Kerry and Bush basically agreed on the need to go to war and see eye to eye on how to get out."–from the Washington Post.

How Bush Will Win II
"Women's rights activists have grown increasingly anxious that Sen. John F. Kerry is failing to shore up a key constituency after recent polls showed that female voters are backing him by just a small margin.…a Gallup poll released last week showed Kerry beating Bush among women 50% to 46% — down from a 15-point lead in June…For months, many Democrats have seen single women as a potential key to a Kerry victory. When they vote, they tend to support Democrats. But in 2000, more than 21 million single women did not cast ballots…According to several activists, some of Kerry's aides have lobbied to get the campaign to focus more directly on women's issues. But they said the candidate's largely male group of advisors dismissed those entreaties, confident in his lock on the women's vote."–from the Los Angeles Times.

No Workers Comp For Hoosier Scab On Wrong Side Of Picket Line
A scab on his way out of work at Global Communication during an Indiana strike made a perhaps ill-considered decision to get out of his car to challenge picketing strikers. He claimed he got whacked over the head with a 2x4 and filed for Worker Comp benefits. His grateful employer challenged his claim and an appeals court sided with the company. Since he had already left the company’s parking lot the judges ruled the scab’s injuries were not work related.

‘If You Get Paid Peanuts You Get Monkeys’
That was the slogan of hundreds of thousands of public sector strikers in South Africa. The unions have challenged the government headed by their long time ANC ally over wages. "You go tell Fraser-Moleketi [Public Service and Administration Minister Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, who was roundly booed when she tried to address strikers] that she can take her 6% and give it to her dogs," said a union spokesman.

As usual, much of this material came from stories posted on the Daily Labor News Digest.

That’s all for this week.

Regards to all