When 1700 members of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers (UE) went on strike recently in Erie, Pennsylvania, it was the first large manufacturing strike in three years. They struck, said the Huffington Post, because their employers Wabtec Corporation announced the imposition of mandatory overtime and a lower wage scale for new hires—which cause a rift between generations. “This is a multi-generational plant. Some of them, their grandparents worked there,” Jonathan Kissam of the UE said. “So they’re unwilling to sell out their own children.”
Teachers strikes have become widespread, but the continuing work stoppage in Oakland adds something different. As the Oakland Education Association presses the Oakland Unified School District over funding and classroom size, the OEA has picked up allies. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, “Teachers from San Francisco, Berkeley, San Lorenzo and Albany are planning a “sick out” Thursday to rally with their Oakland colleagues on the picket lines ahead of the strike reaching its one-week mark.” San Francisco high school teacher Greg McGarry told the paper, “Part of the reason we’ve been so weak so long as an occupation is because we’ve been stratified, atomized. We’re trying to build connections now.”
Meanwhile, workers in 70 Mexican factories just over the US border—maquiladora—have won wage increases and contract provisions. According to Labor Notes, “The strikes in the industrial city of Matamoros, Tamaulipas, on the border with Brownsville, Texas, have primarily hit auto parts factories, where tens of thousands of workers make goods for General Motors and other car manufacturers.” While most workers already make the new minimum wage of between $8.60 and $9 (per day, not per hour), the important provision, “says that any increase in the federal minimum wage must be applied to the entire pay scale via a proportional daily wage increase and an annual bonus.”
The New York Times recently profiled Sara Nelson, president of the 50,000 member Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, headlining her as, “America’s Most Powerful Flight Attendant.” On January 20 in response to Trump’s government shutdown, “Ms. Nelson called for a general strike, an idea so radical that it has scarcely been invoked in public by the head of a national union in generations.” While it didn’t come about, the threat, plus actions among air traffic controllers, are widely believed to have brought about the end to the shutdown. Read the profile here.