On the picket line

Detroit casino win 

As of Dec. 2, all 4,700 striking union members at three Detroit casinos will be back on the job with the ratification of a five-year contract at MGM Grand Detroit Casino. Strikers at the MotorCity Casino and the Hollywood Casino at Greektown approved an agreement and returned to work in November. The Detroit Casino Council, which represents workers at all three casinos, includes UNITE HERE Local 24, UAW Local 7777, Teamsters Local 1038, Operating Engineers Local 324 and the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters.

The MGM workers struck the casino for 47 days. They had only seen a minimal pay increase of 3%  since 2020, while the three casinos reported revenues of $1.2 billion in 2022 alone. The five-year contract includes an immediate 18% average pay increase, workload reductions and no additional health care costs.

Nurses fight on

Nurses across the country are continuing the fight for safe nurse-to-patient staffing ratios. At two hospitals, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and Ascension-Seton Hospital in Austin, Texas, nurses have fought bitter struggles.

One-day strike by National Nurses United members at Ascension-Seton hospital in Austin, Texas, June 27, 2023.

At RWJUH, the nurses walked out in August and just this week reached a tentative agreement. Judy Danella, a registered nurse and president of United Steelworkers Local 4-200, said in a statement: “After more than 120 days on the picket lines, we are pleased to announce that USW nurses have reached a historic agreement with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital that includes enforceable safe staffing standards in our collective bargaining agreement for the first time.”

At Ascension-Seton, the battle continues. Nurses there, represented by National Nurses United since September 2022, have yet to ratify a contract. They will stage another one-day strike on Dec. 6, along with nurses at two other Ascension hospitals in Kansas. The first one-day strike was June 27 of this year.

In retaliation, the hospital plans to lock out the nurses for three days, paying exorbitant rates to “travel nurses” who plan to cross the picket line. They have no affiliation with the hospital and are unfamiliar with the facility and the patients.

Labor for Palestine

Unions in the U.S. are slowly responding to the appeal from the Palestinian trade unionists for solidarity. That appeal in October called on unions across the world to denounce the genocide of Palestinians and resist arms shipments to Israel. Three national unions – United Electrical Workers, American Postal Workers Union and United Auto Workers – and some two dozen local and regional labor bodies have called for a cease-fire.

In 2004, Labor For Palestine was founded as a “labor-driven campaign for justice in the Middle East.” In its introductory statement, Labor for Palestine states, “Israel’s oppression and exploitation of Palestine’s indigenous population — the Arabs — is based on maintaining a state with exclusive ethnic demographics. ‘The Jewish State’ is the euphemism for this scheme, and it is fueled by the political ideology of Zionism. For all practical and historical purposes, Zionist Israel has been a 56-year [in 2004] colonial project. Zionism has always been opposed by the indigenous Middle Eastern majority, because it threatens the cultural and physical existence of that population. … The best word that describes Israel’s economic and political situation is apartheid.”

Labor For Palestine regularly posts updates on labor unions’ responses to the current genocide in Gaza. (laborforpalestine.net)

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