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Teachers, Warehouse Workers On Strike: Refusing to Accept ‘You Have Nowhere Else to Go’ Dictates

UPDATE: Via NPR: “No Deal: Chicago Teachers To Continue Strike”

Two strikes (of which I am aware) are currently underway: the Chicago Teachers Union and the Warehouse Workers United, in California and Illinois. At a time when labor unions are fighting for their existence, much less power, the strikes are particularly significant. If you listen to the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates, you won’t hear that, of course. Actually, you won’t hear much about labor or labor unions, beyond 2012 sound bites. Only weeks before the November elections, for the legacy / corporate parties, it’s really a rather inconvenient time for strikes. But then, they’ll just mostly ignore them, and mostly, the media and public won’t notice and/or care.

Meanwhile, on the streets and at the grassroots level, people are fighting for their rights, and the rights of employees in general.

This afternoon the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) will meet to decide whether to continue the strike, or accept the new contract. According to the CTU website:

The Bargaining Team is expected to share new details about proposed contract language which includes a number of victories for teachers, paraprofessionals, clinicians, and students.

The earliest teachers and other school personnel could return to their schools could be Monday; however, no decision has been made to do so. Delegates, the elected leaders of their schools, have the authority to suspend or lengthen the strike. They could also ask for at least 24-hours to talk to individual members in their schools before making a decision on what to do next. The 29,000-member CTU has been on strike since Sept. 10.

The Warehouse Workers United strike began in California, on September 13. From their website:

With the support of community, clergy and elected leaders including Asm. Norma Torres, warehouse workers launched the WalMarch, a 50-mile, 6-day pilgrimage from Southern California’s Inland Empire to Downtown Los Angeles.

Workers and their supporters are calling on Walmart to take responsibility for working conditions in its Inland Empire warehouses. As the largest retailer in the world, Walmart effectively dictates the standards of operation in the logistics and distribution industry, which impacts the lives of 85,000 warehouse workers in Southern California.

A few days later, Warehouse Worker Strike Spreads to Illinois:

Workers at a key Walmart distribution center in Elwood, Illinois went on strike today (September 15) to protest illegal retaliation and other labor abuses.

This comes just days after warehouse workers in Southern California walked off the job at an NFI warehouse in Mira Loma, California to call for an end to retaliation and unfair labor practices. Workers are employed by NFI and a temporary labor agency, Warestaff. Workers there move Walmart goods, but the retail giant has ignored repeated attempts to meet and address the inhumane and illegal conditions in its contracted warehouses.

In Illinois, workers walked off the job Saturday to protest intimidation and retaliation against workers, following the Thursday filing of a federal lawsuit by workers against Walmart contractor Roadlink Workforce Solutions for non-payment for all hours worked, paying less than the minimum wage and non-payment of overtime worked. …

Walmart has been harshly criticized for the legal violations of its contractors and towards its store associates. In California, contractors at warehouses serving Walmart were fined hundreds of thousands of dollars for violations of workers’ rights and a federal judge issued several orders and injunctions in favor of the workers, including an injunction stop the mass firing of workers who had filed the lawsuit. In Illinois, a total of six lawsuits have been filed against contractors operating in the Walmart warehouse for labor violations.

Warehouse workers labor under extreme temperatures lifting thousands of boxes that can weigh up to 250 lbs each. Workplace injuries are common; workers rarely earn a living wage or have any benefits. Warehouse Workers for Justice is an Illinois worker center dedicated to fighting for quality jobs in the distribution industry that can sustain families and communities.

Meanwhile, back in the “real world” of politics as usual, it’s Forward! as we Believe in America!

(Chicago Teachers Strike photo via Edward’s FB Photos
Warehouse Workers United Strike photo via Warehouse Workers United)

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4 Responses to Teachers, Warehouse Workers On Strike: Refusing to Accept ‘You Have Nowhere Else to Go’ Dictates

  1. secularhumanizinevoluter September 16, 2012 at 1:30 pm #


    • Joyce Arnold September 16, 2012 at 4:06 pm #

      Stepping out on strike requires a great deal of courage. Unions have always had strong opposition, of course, but it takes a tremendous amount of work, and as I said, courage, to face the collective apathy from so many citizens, along with the opposing power of corporate USA.

  2. Antonio September 16, 2012 at 7:36 pm #

    Good evening Ms Joyce

    I’m still here…I have’nt commented lately because the atmosphere is overwhelmed and dominated with the corporate purchasing of the “president ‘s” seat. I’ve been following the strike ( link TV ) some…I personally don’t think the unions are ready to go out on a limb for their workers…right now the entire distraction for middle, working and poor Americans is which candidate’s fart is the loudest, or who gets to decide on whose “middle class”…(just exaggerating)…but you get my point! So far all of the strong supporters for not supporting Obama that were with me in the beginning of our “mass dissapointment” has left us and given way to the alternative choice of supporting the “lesser of two evils”.

    • Joyce Arnold September 16, 2012 at 10:03 pm #

      Hey Antonio, great to hear from you. I know it’s a very uphill effort, but I do think continuing to point out the very big problems with the “lesser of two evils” is worth it.

      The teachers union did reject the offer, and the strike continues. I have a feeling that in general, you’re probably correct, that unions aren’t going to “go out on a limb,” but I love the sign from the teachers’ strike: “Democratic party, where are you?”

      Always appreciate your thoughts :)

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