Canada Caterpillar workers
win increased severance pay
The workers were locked out Jan. 1 after rejecting the bosses’ demands for a 50 percent wage cut and steep cuts to pensions and benefits. The company closed the factory Feb. 3.
Following the shutdown announcement, the workers maintained picket lines to prevent unfinished locomotives and equipment from being taken out of the plant before establishing an agreement on the severance package.
Labor laws in Ontario stipulate workers with less than five years on the job aren’t entitled to severance, while those with more than five years experience get one week’s pay for each year served to a maximum of 26 weeks.
The agreement stipulates three weeks pay for each year served with no cap and includes workers with less than five years experience.
“The company was feeling the pressure from us and the media,” Rick Walter, a locomotive painter, said in a phone interview.
“What I will get with six and a half years seniority sort of covers the time I have lost,” said Walter. “But, it is grim out there. I have been sending out resumes, but there is nothing.”
“Personally I wasn’t all that happy,” welder Nelson Sarky told the Militant. “But, we are damn proud of what we did. We didn’t give in to corporate greed. Hopefully what we did will help other people.”
—John Steele and Michel Dugré
Los Angeles ‘carwasheros’
win contract, lunch breaks
“We worked for 10 hours and would get paid for five,” Manuel Aguilar, who works at this car wash, told the crowd. “We had no lunch breaks. If we tried to sit down for five minutes the manager would come and shake the table and tell us to get back to work. With the union we will be paid for our hours of work and get an uninterrupted lunch break. I want to tell other carwasheros, ‘Don’t be afraid. Let’s unite.’”
Richard Trumka, president of the national AFL-CIO, was among the speakers. “This should be the headline: Car wash workers make history in L.A.,” he said. “And the labor movement and Los Angeles community stand shoulder to shoulder with them.”
Calif. country club workers
protest two years of lockout
Staff and workers from the Steelworkers, United Food and Commercial Workers, Teamsters, Longshore and Warehouse union, and other unions participated along with a contingent from nearby St. Mary’s College and activists from Occupy Oakland.
Workers used to get medical benefits without charge. But then “Castlewood demanded that workers with families pay $739 a month,” said locked-out worker Francisca Carranza.
UNITE HERE officials report that a ruling is expected March 1 reviewing the decision by the General Counsel of the National Labor Relations Board last August that the lockout is illegal.
Newspaper strikers in Greece
publish weekly to win support
“We want to be excluded from the company’s bankruptcy protection proceedings,” she added. “We are employees and not creditors.”
Eleftherotypia was the second-largest daily in Greece.
“The first to bring food donations to us were the strikers from Alter TV,” Klavdianou said. “And the president of the striking steelworkers at Halivourgia spoke at our membership meeting and gave us courage.”
Alter TV workers have not been paid for more than a year. Some 500 people attended a Jan. 30 concert in solidarity with the Eleftherotypia and Alter TV strikers.
On Feb. 15 the Eleftherotypia workers’ published the first issue of their own 56-page weekly newspaper. “Support of the trade union movement and of working people will be essential for us to continue publishing and advancing the fight,” said striking Eleftherotypia journalist Moisis Litsis in an interview.
“Solidarity is our strength,” said Yannis Fovakis, an image processor.
and Maria Plessa