From contract victories to organizing to picket lines, October has been a very busy month for MTD affiliates.
The Bakery Workers (BCTGM) scored a major win on October 19 when members of Local 85 unanimously approved a new contract with Hormel-owned Corn Nuts that improves the workers’ health insurance plan while maintaining reasonable costs for the members and their families. The California unionists had been on the picket line since August 15.
BCTGM International President Anthony Shelton said, “Our striking members at the Corn Nuts plant courageously stood their ground and sacrificed so much in order to achieve a fair contract.”
Across the country in Philadelphia, AFSCME Local 397 members at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) ratified their first contract on October 14 after being on strike for three weeks. The workers had organized in August 2020, but the museum refused to negotiate in good faith until the workers hit the bricks. The three-year pact includes pay increases, health care cost reductions and four weeks of paid parental leave.
AFSCME President Lee Saunders claimed, “Solidarity was the key to success. After more than two years fighting for a fair contract and nearly three weeks on strike, Philadelphia Museum of Art workers have finally reached a fair deal that treats them with the respect and dignity they deserve. Sticking together in the face of union busters, scabs and stonewalling from management, PMA workers showed us how it’s done.”
During the AFL-CIO Convention in June, MTD Administrator Mark Clements joined hundreds of delegates in a protest for the workers outside the museum.
The Steelworkers (USW) announced 700 Bobcat employees in Bismarck, ND, voted in a secret ballot election to join the union in late September.
“As employers continue to urge more and faster production, it is absolutely essential for workers to have a say on issues that could impact their occupational health and safety,” noted USW District 11 Director Emil Ramirez. “Fair pay and benefits will help retain loyal, experienced workers, and ensuring adequate staffing numbers will keep the plant running as safely and efficiently as possible.”
The Machinists (IAM) saw one strike end with a new contract while a different fight gained international support.
Less than a week after walking out, the nearly 700 members of IAM Local 1529 who worked for Amphenol Aerospace in Sydney, NY, approved a new contract that improved wages and paid leave while eliminating a two-tier pay system.
“IAM Local 1529 members should be proud of the stand they took to get a better contract offer for the membership,” said IAM Eastern Territory General Vice President David Sullivan. “Our entire union pitched in to ensure that our members received the dignity and respect they deserve.”
Meanwhile, striking IAM District W24 members continue their picket line that started September 13. The IAM represents about 1,100 Weyerhaeuser workers who belong to four different locals in Oregon and Washington.
The Building and Wood Workers’ International (BWI) sent a letter of solidarity to the strikers in mid-October, pledging its support: When we learned the way the management of Weyerhaeuser thinks that they can treat you and the fellow workers that have brought with labour so much profit to the company and their last concessionary offer in which they propose to cut vacation time, increase the cost of your health insurance with a very meagre increase in wages, we understand your anger and we felt the need to express our solidarity.”
IAM Western Territory General Vice President (and MTD Western Area Executive Board Member) Gary Allen thanked the BWI, “Our woodworkers are asking Weyerhaeuser for a contract that brings dignity and respect to their work; workers all over the world resonate with this struggle, and global solidarity is proof of that.”
CWA members have been on the line against the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette since October 5 because of unfair labor practices, including unilateral changes to the health care plan.
Among the strikers are members of Locals 14842 and 14827 and CWA/News Guild Local 38061 as well as Teamsters Local 205/211 and Pressmen’s Union Local 24M/9N.
“We, the workers, are standing together today, ready to fight to win back our contract and work toward signing a new collective bargaining agreement that preserves the Post-Gazette for the Pittsburgh region,” declared Local 38061 President Zach Tanner.
And, the strike by more than 1,100 UMWA members against Warrior Met Coal in Brookwood, AL, continues. The miners walked out April 1, 2021, when the company sought further givebacks from the workers after the union agreed to reduced wages and benefits in 2016 when Warrior Met took over for bankrupt Walter Energy with the understanding that the contract would be improved when Warrior Met became profitable. The company had shown a profit for the two years prior to the strike.
The Mine Workers are asking supporters for donations to help the strikers and their families make it through the upcoming holidays. Checks should be made out to the UMWA Strike Aid Fund and sent to Shanna Peeks, United Mine Workers of America, 18354 Quantico Gateway Drive – Suite 200, Triangle VA 22172.
MTD Executive Secretary-Treasurer Daniel Duncan has met with strikers and participated in rallies in Alabama and the District of Columbia.