On the picket line

Walmart warehouse workers in Calif. end strike Sept. 28

Though workers at Walmart warehouses in California and Illinois are pursuing different strategies, organizers in both places are committed to making Walmart accountable for the backbreaking conditions and need for union representation by 85,000 workers in this industry. Workers at the giant Inland Empire warehouse, a subcontractor of Walmart in Mira Loma, Calif., returned to work Sept. 28 after a 15-day strike that included a six-day, 50-mile march for safe jobs. On Sept. 18, more than 30 tired but happy marchers were joined by hundreds of supporters in front of Los Angeles City Hall. They told the crowd that marching in 103-degree heat was nothing compared to the brutal conditions they are forced to endure on the job. The workers, who are mostly immigrants, agreed to return to work after winning a few safety improvements, though a Walmart spokesperson continued to deny the workers’ claims that they’re forced to work with broken and dangerous equipment. However, on Sept. 25, Warehouse Workers United issued a press release that workers had found a checklist with a Walmart logo dated Aug. 8 listing broken and dangerous equipment that had not yet been fixed. To put pressure on Walmart to change these conditions, sign the petition at takeactionwalmartwatch.org. While you’re at it, sign the petition for the National Day of Action against Walmart on Oct. 10.

Walmart warehouse workers in Ill. call mass rally Oct.1

Inspired by the gloriously successful Chicago teachers’ strike, a caravan of buses from Chicago is bringing activists to join community, faith and labor activists in Will County on Oct. 1 to support the warehouse workers who have been on an unfair labor practice strike since Sept. 15. A rally, called by Warehouse Worker Organizing Committee, will highlight the usually invisible Walmart distribution center in Elwood, Ill., where wage theft, unsafe working conditions and discrimination, as well as retaliation against the mostly immigrant workers who speak up about poor conditions, are routine at the country’s largest inland port. After assembling in a public park behind the warehouse, the crowd will march at 2 p.m. to the shipping entrance where a group of local clergy and community leaders plan to block the road preventing goods from coming in or leaving the warehouse. These supporters are prepared to be arrested in defense of the strikers’ demands to end the abuse and pay a living wage with benefits. (warehouseworker.org, Sept. 28)

Longshore contract talks extended on East Coast

East Coast contract negotiations by the International Longshoremen’s Association with the Maritime Alliance over a contract that affects nearly 65,000 longshore workers on the Atlantic, Gulf and inland coasts has been extended from the original Sept. 30 deadline to Dec. 29. Because a federal mediator is conducting the negotiations, no issues have been formally announced, according to a Sept. 20 notice posted on ilaunion.org. However, ongoing high-tech containerization and speedup are two contested issues that ILA has noted in the past. Stay tuned.

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