Categories: Workers unite!

Thousands in Atlanta back strikes


Mass rallies and militant worker solidarity are becoming an almost everyday occurrence in Atlanta. On July 18, a rally in support of striking members of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Actors (SAG-AFTRA) brought out a crowd of over 1,000 people.

The main hall of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) Local 479 was filled to standing room only and five additional watch rooms with TV monitors were filled to capacity.

Solidarity with SAG-AFTRA strikers, Atlanta, July 18, 2023. Credit:SAG-AFTRA

SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher and National Executive Director Duncan Crabtree-Ireland provided an update on the unsatisfactory negotiations with executives of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) over Zoom. Other labor activists, including members of Starbucks Workers United, were among those in the loud crowd determined to win the strike demands.

Around 180 workers at Republic Services-Waste Management, who collect the garbage from hospitals, industrial sites and other businesses, held a rally on July 21 outside the facility’s Bankhead site. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, their job is one of the most dangerous and deadly. Yet, despite the very necessary work they do, their grievances about low pay, long hours, safety issues and more get little attention from Republic bosses. These Teamsters union members have voted to strike when their contract expires on July 31 if their demands are not met. The rally numbers were bolstered by other union and community supporters.

As the current United Parcel Service (UPS) contract with the Teamsters union approaches its end date of July 31, “practice” pickets have been occurring across the country, including in Atlanta and all over Georgia, at various UPS facilities. Other union members and labor allies have joined these actions to make clear to UPS that the community has the workers’ backs.

That solidarity and support was also evident at a huge rally held July 22 in the new Teamsters Local 728 hall. National Teamsters President Sean O’Brien was the featured speaker. The crowd roared in approval as he made clear the union’s determination to see the billions of dollars in profits – that the corporation raked in off the hard work of 340,000 Teamsters – go to higher wages, improved benefits, and the upgrading of tens of thousands of part-time workers into full-time status.

Support for UPS Teamsters, Atlanta, July 22, 2023. Credit: Teamsters

For months, O’Brien has stated, without equivocation, that if a satisfactory contract is not reached by midnight July 31, all 340,000 UPS Teamsters will go on strike.

Although negotiations had broken off, it is reported that talks will resume on July 25.

The clock is ticking down!

Dianne Mathiowetz is a retired auto worker who worked 30 years on General Motors assembly lines, a United Auto Workers Local 10 member and producer and co-host of The Labor Forum on WRFG 89.3 FM.

Dianne Mathiowetz

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Dianne Mathiowetz

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