Labor struggles: the Americas – World Socialist Web Site


the World Socialist Website invites workers and other readers to contribute to this regular column.

Latin America

Argentinian ferry workers demonstrate for the respect of the contract

Workers at Buquebus, a ferry service between Buenos Aires and two Uruguayan cities, Montevideo and Colonia, protested on January 21, preventing passengers from boarding. The workers staged the protest to press the demands of their union, the United Union of Maritime Workers (SOMU).

SOMU accuses Buquebus of non-compliance with the collective labor agreement and signed agreements, unjustified suspensions and reduction of wages.

Uruguayan bank workers stage 24-hour strike to demand new collective agreement

Members of the Association of Bank Employees (AEBU) in Uruguay organized a walkout day on January 21 at the offices of the Central Bank. Bank employees refused to replenish ATMs in three departments as part of the pressure action. The AEBU, which had called for some limited protest actions the previous week, is demanding progress in contract negotiations with the government.

An additional sticking point is the latest salary adjustment of 5.8% which, given the current inflation rate of over 8%, represents a loss of purchasing power. Additionally, the AEBU noted that despite rising profits, more than 1,000 jobs were lost, mostly due to non-replacement of retirees.

The AEBU has planned shorter strikes and a march this week.

Brazilian public sector workers demand raises after Bolsonaro promises pay rises to cops

Last month, Brazil’s fascist President Jair Bolsonaro tried to shore up his base in the state’s repressive apparatus by announcing pay rises for federal police officers, federal highway patrolmen and prison guards. Bolsonaro instead, in the words of El País“opened the thunder box” among other public sector workers, who staged short work stoppages, slowdowns and protests to demand the same.

Shaken by denunciations and protest actions, as well as a lack of funds, Bolsonaro announced on January 19 that he was “suspending” the increases, while dangling the possibility of a “readjustment” in 2023. However, if he and his fascist supporters are unable to stage a coup – his defeat and replacement would bring no relief to the working class but shift the responsibility for enforcing austerity to Lula and the Party workers, who have already shown their willingness to apply the austerity dictates of the national bourgeoisie and international capital.

Barbados nurses continue protests, strike for better conditions, wages and benefits

The strike at Queen Elizabeth Hospital by nurses belonging to the Unity Workers Union (UWU) in Barbados entered its seventh week last week. On January 17, nurses marched through the capital, Bridgetown, chanting, “Enough, we won’t be intimidated,” and other slogans.

The union has raised several demands which the government has ignored, saying it is represented by another union, the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW). UWU leader Caswell Franklyn criticized the NUPW leadership, saying Barbados today that “they only agreed on the most basic things, not on the more substantial issues that we wanted to address”. He further claimed that the other unions “are now in bed with the government”.

UWU demands include: a pay rise; improved working conditions, nurse-patient ratios; health insurance; improved salary levels for degrees; advancement and continuing education. Franklyn said workers in other sectors, such as airport technicians, stand in solidarity with nurses and that industrial action and protests would increase if their demands were not addressed.

Belize longshore workers protest, strike over shift assignments

Port Stevedores Belize Limited (PBL) staged a sit-in action and then struck management’s refusal of recommendations to fill recent vacancies. The industrial action prevented the unloading of a ship and brought police and military forces to the port.

Following news of the resignation of two general foremen and vacancies for an assistant general foreman, a gangway man and two crane operators, the Christian Workers Union (CWU) held a meeting of foremen at their headquarters last week . On January 19, the union emailed its recommendations to the PBL. According to CWU President Evan “Mose” Hyde, the recommendations were based on “safety and performance, because those are the ones that exist.”

The union received no response, and when the six workers showed up the next day, they were refused entry to the port. Several of the stevedores staged a protest, which turned into a strike on January 21. With rumors circulating that the BPL was going to bring in Belize Defense Force (BDF) units to unload a ship, some strikers stayed in port overnight. . BDF soldiers arrived the next morning and port police forcibly removed a longshoreman.

Since then, there has been no news of the strike, other than a denunciation by BPL management of the strike as “illegal” and “madness”.

United States

Workers at the Kentucky General Motors plant firmly reject the company’s contract proposal

More than 1,000 autoworkers at General Motors’ Corvette plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky, voted overwhelmingly to reject the company’s latest offer. Production workers got a 98% rejection vote, while skilled trades rejected the proposal by a 97% margin.

The United Auto Workers (UAW), always focused on the interests of the union bureaucracy, is seeking contract language that will guarantee continued production at the Chevrolet plant. The Drive, which interviewed officials from UAW Local 2164, reported that, “When it comes to market realities…the union understands that the plant sometimes has to employ part-time and contract workers. for certain roles. In other words, the union will sacrifice the interests of the base to obtain this guarantee.

The old agreement expired two years ago and the factory has been working without an agreement ever since. The workers voted to authorize a strike, but the union is determined to block industrial action and continue negotiations.

Teachers in Euclid, Ohio give strike notice after year of failed negotiations

The union representing teachers in Euclid, Ohio issued a 10-day strike notice Jan. 20 after a recent round of bargaining ended in an impasse over contract language governing teacher assignments. teachers. Members of the Euclid Teachers Association (ETA) have been without a contract for more than four months and negotiations are reaching the one-year mark.

The Euclid City School District has attacked language in contracts dating back to the 1950s that denies the administration the ability to impose teacher assignments and change working conditions.

“The Council insists on stripping teachers of long-standing contractual rights which ETA says would seriously harm our students’ learning opportunities,” ETA spokesman Josh Stephens said in a statement. . The teachers accuse the board “of seeking the power to arbitrarily reassign teachers to different classrooms or to different teaching duties at any time during the school year for any reason.”

Teachers also want increased pay at what they consider “the second lowest-paid school in the county.” A new round of negotiations will begin on January 26.

Workers in Minnesota’s Hennepin County file plans to strike

Two unions representing social services and clerical workers in Hennepin County, Minnesota, filed strike plans Jan. 19, setting a ten-day countdown to a possible walkout of 3,500 workers. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Locals 34 and 2822 and county negotiators failed to reach a contract agreement for workers in a bargaining unit that encompasses Minneapolis and its surrounding suburbs.

The unions are asking for annual increases of 5% over the next three years, while the county offered only 2.5%. Workers are also asking for hazard pay, a monthly stipend of $200 to provide work-related supplies while working from home, and higher-quality personal protective equipment when interacting with the community, such as N masks. -95 as opposed to surgical masks which do not protect against COVID-19[FEMININE[FEMININE

Workers also oppose the county’s proposal to establish a two-tier system that would do away with traditional sick days and vacations and put in its place a lower PTO (personal leave) provision that would be used for two categories.

AFSCME and the county have entered into mediated talks and both sides are required to hold another bargaining session before the workers can strike. County officials said they were firm in their final offer and will try to implement contingency plans in the event of a strike.


Thousand copper miners from Teck Resources ratify a contract in British Columbia

United Steelworkers (USW) officials at the Highland Valley open pit copper mine announced on Saturday that a report by mediators put to a member vote last week had been adopted by 81.2%, avoiding a strike. Shortly thereafter, Teck Resources management announced that it would also agree to the terms of the proposed settlement. The two sides had come to an impasse in negotiations last week and turned to terms offered by two labor relations mediators.

With inflation close to 5% and expected to remain at high levels for several years, the mediators’ recommendations amounted to a substantial reduction in real wages. The terms of the mediators agreed to the company’s demand for a meager salary increase of 2% per year for each year of a five-year contract. The company had also offered a signing bonus of $3,000 to be paid in each of the five years of the proposed settlement. The union had demanded a meager salary increase of 3% per year as well as a signing bonus.

In an effort to gain acceptance of the agreement, the mediator increased the signing bonus to $20,000 to be paid in one lump sum within 30 days of ratification.

Highland Valley, Canada’s largest copper mine, accounts for 43% of Teck’s global copper production, meaning a workers’ strike would have had a big impact on the company’s bottom line at a time when copper prices in the world market continue to climb. Teck Resources operates three other copper mines in South America. It is also active in mining operations for coal and other resources. Global revenue of $3.77 billion is expected this year, up 92%.


Comments are closed.