Labor struggles: the Americas – World Socialist Web Site
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15,000 Ontario carpenters join strike wave in construction industry
On Monday morning, members of the Carpenters District Council of Ontario joined strikes by 15,000 high-rise and low-rise residential construction workers, institutional construction workers and thousands of other crane operators from institutions and of infrastructure. Like their brothers and sisters who began their strike last week, the carpenters are demanding wage increases that respond to rampant inflation across the province, which has reached 6.7% and continues to rise.
Carpenters voted overwhelmingly last week to reject a miserly offer from their employers. This agreement had been recommended to the workers for acceptance by the union leadership. In negotiations with other building trades groups, employers have only offered 9% (or less) spread over three-year contracts.
The 15,000 carpenters who joined the strike movement on Monday work on industrial and commercial sites. Carpenters in the residential sector are not yet on strike. However, another 15,000 residential home carpenters, forming workers, tile installers and carpenters from the International Union of North America Local 183 have halted high-rise and low-rise residential construction since the week. last.
In addition, last weekend plumbers and pipe fitters refused to ratify a proposed settlement, with 52.8% of union members rejecting the agreement. A strike date has not yet been announced. Union leaders for masons and painters have recommended recently negotiated agreements to their members, but ratification votes have yet to take place.
Employers cling to their contract offers because of favorable labor laws. Under Ontario’s labor relations law, strikes in the province’s construction sector can begin on May 1 every three years, but must end no later than June 15. Any outstanding disputes are then settled by binding arbitration.Latin America
Mexican phone workers vote to strike over wages, pensions and understaffing
Workers at Telmex, Mexico’s main telephone company, voted last week to ratify the decision of the General Assembly of the Union of Telephone Operators of the Mexican Republic (STRM) to strike from May 11. At the same time, the STRM leadership has repeatedly stressed that its demands are not “irreducible” and that it is open to an “arrangement” to avoid the walkout.
The main demand of the union is a 7.5% increase for active and retired workers, the latter being nearly 30,000 out of 55,000 members. Telmex’s offer is a 4% wage increase and just a 1% increase in benefits for active workers, with smaller increases for retirees. Union leader Francisco Hernández Juárez told reporters that the STRM wanted equal increases for active and retired workers.
Other union demands include an end to procrastination over more than 2,000 unfilled vacancies since 2017, the annual review of the collective agreement and the correction of contract violations. STRM and Telmex have been in “dialogue” for more than three years without an agreement. The STRM has not called a strike since 1985.
Telmex, which was privatized in 1990, is owned by multi-billionaire Carlos Slim, the richest person in Latin America. Company spokespersons say the strike would have little effect, as many functions are now automated.
One-day strike by Uruguayan teachers against the government’s reform proposal
Members of the Secondary Teachers’ Union of Montevideo (ADES) went on strike on May 4 against the reform program proposed by the government. The action included the occupation of the Dámaso Antonio Larrañaga high school and a midday assembly. An expulsion order was served on them and moved the meeting to the headquarters of the PIT-CIT federation.
During the meeting, a number of issues were discussed: overcrowded classrooms, a salary cut of almost 8%, the loss of jobs and the education reforms proposed by President Luis Lacalle Pou, who , according to the director of ADES, Emiliano Mandacen, would serve to “delegitimize teachers as builders of educational policy.
The assembly asked the Central Governing Council to convene a meeting to work out its position and establish the scope of the negotiations.
Possible 72-hour strike by Argentinian bus drivers as arbitration nears deadline
May 10 marks the expiry date of the “compulsory conciliation” wage negotiations decreed by the Argentine Ministry of Labor between the bus companies and the UTA union of urban and interurban bus drivers. If an agreement is not reached, the union has said it is likely to call a 72-hour strike for bus service in the country’s interior provinces.
The talks, ordered on April 26, have not advanced. If the strike takes place, it would affect travel to and from cities such as Córdoba, Rosario, Tucumán, Neuquén and Salta.
The UTA demanded parity for interior bus drivers with the salaries of drivers in the federal capital and the Greater Buenos Aires area, known as AMBA. In April, an agreement was signed for short- and medium-haul AMBA drivers giving them a staggered 50% raise, bringing their basic monthly salary to 150,000 pesos ($1,289) in August.
Protest by recycling workers in Argentina suppressed by cops
A group of recycling workers staged a protest in a Buenos Aires park on May 5 to demand better wages and working conditions. The protesters, members of the recycling cooperative Dawn of Cartóneros (de cartón, Spanish for cardboard), gathered at Parque Lezama, opposite the Ministry of Environment and Public Space, where they denounced the ” arbitrary wage reductions” imposed on the “Green Centers” where they bring their recyclable materials.
The municipal police showed up to clear the road separating the ministry and the park. In the ensuing scuffle, 13 protesters were arrested and eight police officers were injured. The demonstrators then went to the public prosecutor’s office in Buenos Aires, where they demanded the release of their colleagues and dialogue with the authorities. They were refused and the police arrested six other protesters.
According to a representative of the Movement of Excluded Workers, to which the cooperative is affiliated, “they closed the door to them. And in the discussion to enter, a crackdown was unleashed which, from what I saw on the videos, has no justification. The Buenos Aires government has also been denounced by the Argentine Federation of Cartóneros, Carreros and Recyclers, which claimed that it was “responding with a huge and excessive police deployment”.
Indiana production workers prepare to strike, demand inflation protections
Workers at the FireKing production plant in New Albany, Indiana, are scheduled to strike May 9 over wages and health care. The 89 workers who make storage products, such as safes and filing cabinets, rejected the company’s “best and last offer”.
FireKing claimed its first-year salary offer was the highest in company history. But Teamsters Local 89 said workers are unhappy with the five-year wage plan with annual hourly increases of $1.47, $1.32, $1.23, $1.15 and $1.14. Workers want higher wage increases and inflation protection.
As for healthcare, Teamsters business agent Jay Dennis outlined the company’s United Healthcare plan to the Tribune-Star as “abyssal”.
“There are extremely high deductibles ranging from $3,000 to $3,500 for the individual and $6,000 to $7,000 for the family. As for maximum payouts, you’re looking at $4,500 to $6,800 for individuals, and $9,000 to $13,000 for families per year for the health plan.
But the Teamsters bureaucracy is seeking to move FireKing workers to a union-sponsored plan that FireKing says is “unworkable.” In a statement, FireKing said the Teamsters health care plan “places significant uncertainty on the company,” saying, “We… implore the union leadership to encourage acceptance of the company’s proposal.
Wisconsin landfill workers strike for better wages and benefits
Heavy equipment operators went on strike May 4 against GFL, owner of the Seven Mile Creek landfill near Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Members of International Union of Operating Engineers Local 139 voted unanimously to strike after a year of negotiations that failed to produce a new contract.
Workers are demanding higher wages and better health care and pension benefits. GFL has employed management staff in an attempt to continue operations.