Tag Archives: strike

On Labor Day Workers Demonstrated for Minimum Wage Raise

During Labor Day, the Fight for $15 movement organized protests in 300 cities across the US. In Chicago, hundreds of fast food workers, hospital employees, and airport workers advocated for higher wages and better benefits through a series of walkouts and marches. Members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) demonstrated with supporters of the national Fight for $15 movement. Illinois Republican Governor Bruce Rauner recently vetoed a bill that would have raised the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022, arguing that it would negatively affect businesses and reduce jobs.

Fast food workers in Boston went on strike Labor Day to highlight their demand for a $15 minimum wage. In Massachusetts, the $15 minimum applies to home care workers and select companies that have chosen to offer it. A planned November 2018 ballot proposal would incrementally raise the minimum from $11 to $15 by 2022.

The $15 minimum wage has been implemented in New York City, California, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and Minneapolis.

Workers Walk Off the Job at Canada’s Busiest Airport

On July 27, 700 workers employed by Swissport at Pearson Airport in Toronto, Ontario, walked off the job. The workers are baggage and cargo handlers, maintenance personnel, and cleaners for more than 30 airlines. They cited the company’s uncompromising attitude and disrespect for workers as the cause of the labor dispute.

The last collective agreement expired July 23. Swissport is attempting to impose a three-year wage freeze and would like “flexibility” to change schedules with 96 hours advance notice, leaving workers without stable, predictable schedules.

Swissport has brought in hundreds of untrained, inexperienced temporary workers to act as strikebreakers. “We’re shocked at how Swissport is willing to sacrifice airport safety and jeopardize travel plans to gain an upper hand at the bargaining table,” says Harjinder Badial, vice president of Teamsters Local Union 419, which represents the workers.

To safely work in sensitive areas of the airport, baggage handlers normally require three to four weeks of training, rather than the three or four days of training for the temporary workers. It is also unclear how the workers were able to quickly pass airport staff background checks that normally take three to six months.

WGA May Seek Strike Authorization

Writers Guild of America (WGA) resumed contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, representing broadcast and cable networks and movie studios, on April 10. An initial two weeks of talks in March ended in impasse. If no settlement is reached Guild members will begin voting on authorization to strike April 19.

The current three-year Minimum Basic Agreement expires May 1. This season there are more series than ever, 455, but fewer episodes, with many of the shows having eight to 12 episode seasons, compared to a traditional 22 to 24 episode broadcast series. Because writers are generally paid on a per-episode basis many are earning a fraction of what they did previously.

Hollywood is hoping to avoid a work stoppage like the 100-day strike in 2007, which forced primetime shows to run reruns while many movie projects were put on hold.

video game strike

Local 47 Lends Support to SAG-AFTRA Video Game Strike

video game strike

Members of AFM Local 47 (in light blue t-shirts) joined with hundreds of SAG-AFTRA members, labor, and community supporters on a November 3 picket line outside of Warner Bros. Studios in support of SAG-AFTRA’s video game strike.

In October, SAG-AFTRA called a strike against certain video game producers. SAG-AFTRA members have sought, through two years of negotiations, to modernize a decades old contract covering voiceover and performance capture artists. Among other  issues, they are fighting for transparency—knowing what the project is before signing on, reasonable secondary compensation for every 2 million copies, and safety—the use of stunt coordinators and protections from vocal stress.

AFM members of Local 47 (Los Angeles, CA) have joined with members of SAG-AFTRA, Unite Here, Writers Guild of America (WGA) West, Actors’ Equity Association (AEA), and International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) at picket lines outside various video game companies.

“We, as professional musicians, support our SAG-AFTRA counterparts in their fight for fair and safe workplace agreements. The gaming industry has undergone its second or third boom and terms need to be updated accordingly. The working relationship between entertainment companies and the talent they employ to generate their products predates the industrial revolutionary by millennia and isn’t going to change. For this reason alone, I believe a strong agreement will eventually be reached. Please help spread the word about this issue,” says AFM Local 47 member Andy Moresi.

The strike includes 11 video game employers: Activision Publishing, Inc.; Blindlight, LLC; Corps of Discover Films; Disney Character Voices, Inc.; Electronic Arts Productions, Inc.; Formosa Interactive, LLC; Insomniac Games, Inc.; Interactive Associates, Inc.; Take 2 Interactive Software; VoiceWorks Productions, Inc.; and WB Games, Inc.

“Each picket has brought out more members than the last,” says SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris in a press release. “SAG-AFTRA members and our allies support this action and are continually raising the pressure on the video game companies to come back to the bargaining table with fair proposals so we can reach a deal.”

“The video game corporations we’re striking have tried to sow divisions among our membership, instead of returning to the bargaining table to negotiate a fair contract,” she says. “Not only are SAG-AFTRA members united in this strike action, but they have the support of their union brothers and sisters.”

At this writing, SAG-AFTRA has held pickets outside four of the 11 companies. Additional pickets are planned. There are also virtual picket lines on social media using the hashtag #PerformanceMatters and sharing SAG-AFTRA’s message to raise awareness during the holiday shopping season.

O’Hare Workers to Strike after Thanksgiving

The work stoppage at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport will deliberately miss the busy Thanksgiving travel week, a tactic aimed at bolstering public support, says spokeswoman for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).  

The workers, who include airplane cabin cleaners, baggage handlers, janitors and wheelchair attendants, want to bring awareness to their fight to earn $15 an hour, improve what they describe as unsafe work conditions, and obtain union rights. At present, the workers are employed by subcontractors hired by the airlines. Some of the workers planning to strike earn the minimum wage, which is $8.25 an hour in Illinois. Although the workers are not in a union, Local 1 is in the process of organizing them. 

Philly Ends Transit Strike in Time for Election

Early November 7, Philadelphia’s transit system resolved a labor dispute with its union ending a major strike that threatened to carry into Election Day. The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) and the Transport Workers Union agreed on a new contract after a week-long shutdown. The looming election brought pressure to bear on both parties to hash out their differences.

Transport Workers Union 234 announced they had reached a tentative five-year deal with SEPTA that would still need to be ratified by employees. Pension plan, health care costs, and scheduling were the crux of the disagreement.

The workers’ contract expired at the end of October. Union members voted against extending any deadlines in order to force SEPTA to agree to a contract before people needed to get to the polls. When the strike began, SEPTA sought a court injunction to force workers back onto the job ahead of the election. That injunction was not granted. The agency would have made its argument again in court had it not reached a deal.

Costello Supports Striking Pittsburgh Musicians

Local 802 (New York City) member Elvis Costello has canceled his November 1 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, stop from his Imperial Bedroom & Other Chambers’ tour. Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra musicians, members of Local 60-471, have been on strike for since September 30. They rejected management’s so-called “last, best, final” proposal calling for a 15% pay cut and other concessions.

“I am unwilling to cross an AFM picket line …” says Costello. “I hope the dispute will soon be settled honorably and amicably. We send our apologies to ticketholders and all our friends in Pittsburgh with thanks for your understanding and support of live music wherever it is heard.” The concert was to be held at Heinz Hall, the orchestra’s home venue.

Jim Beam Strike Ends

On October 24, Jim Beam workers, members of United Food and Commercial Workers International Local 111D, ended a nearly weeklong strike at two bourbon distilleries in Kentucky. According to Local 111D President Janelle Mudd the main objections from workers did not center on money. “The final proposal includes many of the key elements that we felt so strongly about, such as equal pay for equal work, a cap on temporary employees, and the hiring of more full-time workers,” she says.

Fort Worth Musicians on Strike!

For the last few years, I’ve taken great pleasure in announcing at each AFM and symphonic player conference that there currently are no ongoing symphony orchestra strikes or lockouts within the AFM. Unfortunately that is no longer the case. On Thursday, September 8, 2016, the Dallas-Ft. Worth Professional Musicians’ Association, Local 72-147, sent out a press release stating: “Musicians of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra Call Strike.” This came after management made a last, best, and final offer and indicated they would be implementing it Monday, September 12.

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Canada Post Employees March on Trudeau’s Montreal Office

Hundreds of unionized postal workers and their supports, some bused in from Ottawa and Quebec City, marched at the Montreal office of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to call attention to the lack of progress in negotiations. The Canadian Union of Postal workers is hoping to the Liberal government will pressure Canada Post to negotiate in good faith.

Though Canada Post withdrew its threat of a worker lockout in July, talks are stalled on key issues. Canada Post wants to bring the pension plan more in line with the private sector, under a defined contribution plan, which reduces company costs and provides no guaranteed set retirement.     

The union would like to change how suburban and rural carriers are paid, to bring their pay more in line with urban letter carriers. Currently, suburban carriers, who are 70% women, are paid by how many packages they deliver, while their male urban counterparts are paid by the hour and earn about 28% more.

The two sides have been negotiating since 2015.