On the picket line



Reno, Nevada, bus drivers have voted down the most recent contract offer and went back on strike Nov. 9. City bus service is contracted out to the privately owned Keolis bus company. The Teamsters Local 533 members voted 90% “no,” with only six drivers voting to return to work. Wages are still the issue. Salary concessions by Keolis would have kept up with the rate of inflation. This is the drivers’ third strike in four months.

In Howard County, Maryland, school bus drivers won a $5,000 bonus after 80 AFSCME union drivers called out sick for one morning shift and demanded wage and benefit increases. Drivers had no pay increase since 2009. The Board of Education agreed to negotiate with drivers about benefits before the end of 2021. The community supports the drivers. One parent, who drove her child to school on the day of the strike, stated she was all for the drivers getting higher pay: “We love our bus drivers.” (tinyurl.com/4skyccnk)

Striking nurses picketed Mercy Hospital in Buffalo, N.Y., during their month-long October strike.         Credit: New York Focus

Nurses know safe staffing saves lives

St. Vincent Hospital nurses in Worcester, Massachusetts, continue their heroic battle against employer Tenet, a for-profit hospital conglomerate. The nurses have been on strike for eight months. Tenet seems unfazed by repeated appeals by state legislators and the city’s mayor that it meet the nurses’ demand for their reinstatement to bedside positions, which some have held for as long as 35 years.

Nurses at Mercy Hospital in Buffalo, New York, represented by Communications Workers Local 1133, ratified a four-year contract Nov. 9. The 2,000 health care workers then ended a strike which had begun in early October. The new contract provides clear requirements for safe staffing on critical care and medical-surgical units. 

New York State will implement a safe-staffing law in January; however, the nurse-patient ratios are not specifically mandated as they were in California’s progressive law. The New York law only requires hospitals to negotiate staffing levels yearly. Nurses at the Buffalo hospital wanted their contract to have hard-and-fast nurse-patient ratios, and that’s what they won. 

Health care workers at three privately owned nursing homes in St. Louis, Missouri, are on strike over poor staffing conditions and safety of workers. The workers at the Blue Circle Rehab and Nursing facility have yet to finalize a contract, with management stalling for over a year. Their union, SEIU Healthcare Missouri/Kansas, has filed a NLRB Unfair Labor Practice complaint charging that the facility’s owner, Blue Circle Holding, is not bargaining in good faith. 

Lemar Young, who has worked at the nursing home for 20 years, says he knows it would be easier to quit, but he is striking to improve conditions for all workers at the facility. “It’s not the pay,” Young said. “It’s really trying to get a change in there.” (tinyurl.com/3hzbffm7)

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