On the picket line
Illegally fired Cablevision workers fight back
Cablevision-Optimum illegally locked out and fired 22 workers Jan. 30 for attempting to address management’s lack of good-faith bargaining with Communications Workers Local 1109 for their first contract. The 300 Brooklyn, N.Y., workers voted overwhelmingly to join the union a year ago. At that time, the company, headed by anti-union CEO James Dolan, multimillionaire owner of the Radio City Music Hall and the Knicks basketball team, gave all nonunion technicians raises ranging from $2 to $9 an hour to stop union organizing, but has refused to discuss economic issues at the bargaining table. CWA filed unfair labor practice charges against Cablevision with the National Labor Relations Board the week of Jan. 28, so the firing is seen as retaliation. Local 1109 swung into action with a demonstration for the workers, all African Americans, at the Cablevision Garage in Brooklyn on Jan. 31 and another one on Feb. 6. There, it was reported that five workers had been rehired. A rally outside a Cablevision job fair in Brooklyn was called for Feb.14, and picketing is planned at scab locations in Brooklyn and the Bronx as well as in Connecticut. To protest the illegal firings, call Dolan at 516-803-1002 and sign a petition at tinyurl.com/a7zcgrh. For more information, visit cwa1109.org.
NYC carwashers protest job loss
Carwashers walked out of the Sixth Avenue Car Wash in lower Manhattan, N.Y., on Feb. 10 to protest the impending loss of their jobs. The low-paid immigrant workers claim the sale of the carwash, which takes effect Feb. 28, is in retaliation for their joining the Department Store Union last November. Workers at four other carwashes have joined RWDSU to stop persistent violations of labor laws. For example, in 2009 the Lage Management Corp., which owns more than a dozen carwashes in the city, including the one in question, agreed to settle a lawsuit by paying $3.4 million in back wages and damages to 1,187 current and former employees. In addition to the union, the workers are supported by such community groups as New York Communities for Charge and Make the Road New York. (New York Times, Feb. 10)
Federal minimum wage needs increase!
Activist groups fighting for economic justice for low-wage workers are holding a press conference Feb. 13 in Washington, D.C. They want Congress to pass the bill that would raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.80 an hour over the next three years and the tipped minimum wage from $2.13 to 70 percent of the regular minimum wage. Groups such as Jobs with Justice and the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United have called this action.
Raise the NY State minimum wage!
There’s a campaign in New York state to raise the state minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $8.75. That would help more than 1 million workers, including health aides and restaurant workers, who currently take home $15,080 for full-time, year-round work. New York lags behind 19 states, including nearby Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont. (NY Daily News, Dec. 20) Even supporters note that the state minimum wage should really be more than $10.70 to keep pace with the cost of living since 1970.
Twin Cities workers vote to strike
At a Feb. 9 meeting of Service Employees Local 26 in the Twin Cities, the janitors who clean and security officers who protect the property of major corporations like Target and banks like Wells Fargo voted to strike after their contracts expired on Dec. 31. The major issues are the bosses’ proposed cuts to full-time jobs and the workers’ demands for living wages and affordable health care. Wages are so low that the average full-time janitor qualifies for public assistance, including health care programs. Current wages for the mostly people of color and immigrants are just above the poverty line. SEIU 26, which represents more than 6,000 workers in the Twin Cities area, has been bargaining for months. To support this just struggle, sign the petition at seiu26.org.