A Tale of 3 Strikes
Telecom's in New York and Auto Workers in Canada Strike while Auto Mechanics in Chicago go back to work
Workers around the world are being taken advantage of by companies that will stop at nothing to make a quick buck for their executives and shareholders. While employers are looking to cut corners and staff, workers have stood up to stop these cuts by going on strike to defend their rights.
In Ontario Canada, General Motors is negotiating a new contract with the auto workers union, Unifor. Negotiations have stalled over GM’s insistence that production of the Chevrolet Equinox will move to Mexico. The move would affect up to 2,700 jobs. In July, GM moved production of the GMC Yukon from the same town in Canada to Mexico, causing the loss of 600 jobs. With negotiations at an impasse, the workers decided to walk out on Monday and go on strike.
As the autoworkers spent their first day on the picket line, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 3 members held a march in New York City. Local 3 has been on strike for 6 months after Spectrum tried to get rid of the employees’ pensions and refuses to negotiate a fair contract. Yesterday, they were joined by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, IBEW International President Lonnie Stephenson, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, and New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio as they marched across the Brooklyn Bridge and held a rally in Foley Square. Tens of thousands of New York union members from all different trades came out to support these striking workers. You can watch video from the March on UCOMM’s Facebook page.
For the last 7 weeks, 2,000 auto mechanics in Chicago have been on strike. The 130-member New Car Dealer Committee tried to play hardball with the mechanics in the hope of breaking the union. After nearly two months of facing constant dirty tricks from the dealers who tried to break the members’ solidarity, 70 car dealers broke ranks and bypassed the committee to work out a deal with the union. While the workers held firm, the car dealers’ solidarity collapsed. In the end, the 2,000 mechanics, who are members of IAM Local 701, got significant wage increases, increased base pay hours, advancement of semi-skilled workers towards a career path and more family-friendly work schedules.
By these workers going on strike, some of the biggest companies in the world are realizing that they cannot just steamroll over workers. When workers are united, they can win, as the auto mechanics in Chicago proved. As companies continue to try and outsource jobs to countries with lower wages, benefits and safety standards, workers need to stand up to protect their way of life.