Seattle unionists defend the right to strike
On May 5, 150 young unionists rallied at the federal courthouse in Seattle supporting labor’s right to strike.
The anti-labor U.S. Supreme Court will soon take up the case of Glacier Northwest vs. Teamsters Local 174, filed in retaliation for a Teamsters strike in 2017. Glacier, a cement company, is claiming its drivers went on strike and caused “tortuous destruction” of company property, because trucks were loaded with cement which couldn’t be recovered. The Teamsters filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board, saying Glacier was suing in retaliation.
This strike forced the resistant Glacier to come to the bargaining table, and Local 174 won a new contract within a week.
Speakers at the rally included workers and representatives of 20 unions and allied solidarity organizations. They said the right to strike is what built the labor movement, and it’s the most sacred and democratic right! Nick Jones, a United Parcel Service worker, pointed out that this Supreme Court case is coming just as the country’s largest private sector union contract between the Teamsters and UPS expires Aug. 1, with the possibility of a strike.
Bosses like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are lining up behind Glacier in order to restrict the right to strike. More protest actions will be held by the labor movement in other cities in the coming weeks.
Jim McMahan is a retired member of Teamsters Local 174.