Wednesday roundup

The Chicago Teachers’ Union may strike after the Chicago Public Schools proposed a contract in which pay would be cut 7%.

Workers at the Trump Taj Mahal are continuing their strike, while Icahn continues to insist the casino will close.

Paramedics in Cape Town, South Africa, are demanding safer working conditions and may strike if these conditions are not met. This coincides with another strike in South Africa by National Union of Miners workers at Eskom power plants. A court ruled the strike illegal, so workers are up against a great deal.

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Trump Taj Mahal to close its doors as punishment to striking workers

After a month-long strike by Unite Here Local 54 members, who want a restoration of healthcare and retirement benefits previously slashed by management, Trump Taj Mahal owner Carl Icahn has announced that he will shut the casino down after Labor Day.

In a letter to employees, Icahn  blames Unite Here local 54’s president Bob McDevitt; he claims that McDevitt has not allowed members of the union to vote on offers. McDevitt, in a statement, explained that workers had rejected an insulting proposal and voted to strike.

In another statement, McDevitt compared Icahn to a playground bully, arguing that his no-compromises attitude made bargaining in good faith impossible:

There was no element of trying to reach an agreement here on Icahn’s part; it was always “my way or the highway” from the beginning with Icahn. It is the epitome of the playground bully, who picks up his ball and announces he is going home because nobody else would do it his way. It is truly a shame that such an unscrupulous person has control of billions of dollars.

Icahn’s power is political as well as monetary. He just turned down an offer to join Trump’s economic team in order to focus on potentially starting a regulatory reform super-PAC.

For more on this situation and how it relates to Trump, check out this article.

Santa Clara County court workers strike

TL;DR please give to the strike fund!

Workers at Santa Clara County superior court entered the third day of their strike on Friday, protesting, among other things, management’s failure to offer a reasonable raise. The workers have not seen a raise or cost of living adjustment in eight years, and while the current offer would give a 9.5% raise to some employees, 12% would receive only a 4.5% net raise. This amount is insufficient to help struggling clerks, janitors, and other court employees make ends meet in one of the most expensive areas in the country, especially given the amount of time these workers have spent without raises at all. ABC7, reporting on the strike, highlighted the discrepancies between clerk pay and the cost of living by sharing the story of one woman who works at the court but lives at a homeless shelter:

I have to leave the current shelter I’m at in a few weeks, and I have nowhere else to go right now. It’s just been so discouraging because I can’t find a place to live.

The initial strike vote was cast on July 27th, but the strike only began on Wednesday.

The Superior Court Professional Employees Association, the union involved in this bargaining, pointed out how unfair the offer is in light of a recent $200 million spent on a new courthouse. Continue reading “Santa Clara County court workers strike”

Tentative agreement between UFCW locals and Ralphs, Albertsons

On August 4, six California-based UFCW locals (135, 770, 1167, 324, 1428, and 1442) reached a tentative agreement with grocery stores Ralphs and Albertsons. Members will vote whether or not to ratify the agreement this Monday.

This tentative agreement follows a strike authorization vote made on June 20. In particular, union members feared that changes to company benefits plans would place a higher cost burden on workers. Workers were also concerned about the offer of a paltry ten-cent raise to the hourly wage in 2017.

The UFCW/Ralphs/Albertsons case demonstrates the power of even the threat of a strike: a 2003 strike cost southern California grocery stores almost 2 billion dollars, so management knew that stakes were high. Ralphs and Albertsons both said that, in the case of a strike, they might close their stores. Also at play was the possibility that a strike could drum up business for competitors.

The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, which was involved in negotiations, released a statement by director Allison Beck celebrating the agreement.

Pharmacy negotiations are still in progress, according to the UFCW 770 website.