The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 76/No. 23      June 11, 2012

On the Picket Line

‘We are sticking strong,’
say Caterpillar strikers

JOLIET, Ill.—Members of International Association of Machinists Local 851 maintain around-the-clock picket lines in front of the Caterpillar plant here. The 780 workers walked off the job May 1 after rejecting a contract proposal by 94 percent.

Caterpillar wants to impose a six-year wage freeze, expand the use of “supplemental” workers to 20 percent of the workforce, double health care costs, and gut seniority rights, cost of living increases and pensions. The plant here produces hydraulic components for the company’s bulldozers, excavators and other earthmoving machinery.

“Caterpillar has to stay flexible, efficient and focused to compete and succeed,” said a May 15 letter by Carlos Revilla, Caterpillar’s operations manager, addressed to company’s employees.

On May 24 Caterpillar presented a modified proposal to the IAM during a meeting with a federal mediator. Members of Local 851 will discuss and vote on it May 30.

“We are sticking strong,” union steward Allen Aimone told the Militant on the picket line of about 30.

“Six months before the strike began Caterpillar brought in management from other plants and had us train them,” said Aimone. “The company didn’t think we’d strike. But 94 percent voted against the contract. Maybe 10 have crossed over the course of a month. Union electricians, carpenters, iron workers who do work in the plant are not crossing the line.”

“The only way we get raises is if we get COLA [cost of living adjustment],” said Jack Darin, who began working at the plant in 1972. “Now they want to take that away. We never get hourly raises. We get bonuses, but they don’t last.”

He said there were strikes in 1967-68 and 1986. “This is all for the young guys. If we don’t make a stand now nobody is going to have a living wage.”

Letters of solidarity and contributions can be sent to: IAM Local Lodge 851, 23157 S. Thomas Dillon Dr., Ste. B, Channahon, IL 60410.

—Alyson Kennedy

School workers protest
layoffs and privatization

PHILADELPHIA—School bus drivers, custodians and maintenance workers rallied on the steps of the school district headquarters May 23 to protest proposed layoffs and privatization.

Members of Service Employees International Union 32BJ and other unionists mobilized more than 1,800 for the noontime action. Every school worker in SEIU 32BJ Local 1201—2,700 members—has received an advanced notice for a possible Dec. 31 layoff.

Teamsters, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Laborers International Union and UNITE HERE workers joined SEIU 32BJ members. Several busloads of supporters came from New York City. The demonstration was part of coordinated actions by the union in several cities around Pennsylvania.

—Osborne Hart

Actions at Athens airport
protest massive pay cuts

ATHENS, Greece—Workers at 35 airlines at Athens international airport conducted two 24-hour strikes on May 23 and 25 against contract demands by the Federation of Foreign Airline Companies. These include a 42 percent cut in wages and benefits. The strikes were called by the Federation of Air Transportation Employees (OPAM).

On May 23, 200 participated in a protest rally at the main terminal chanting, “We want a contract.” Afterward, they blocked check-in counters operated by subcontractors, delaying flights.

On May 25 police warned workers they would be arrested if they tried to delay flights. Strikers marched for about six hours in the main terminal.

At European Air Transport, which handles DHL cargo planes, strikers surrounded a plane, preventing management from getting Olympic Airlines employees to unload it.

The 42 percent cut demand is part of implementing measures passed last February by the Greek government as a condition for receiving loans to stave off government bankruptcy.

The deal allows bosses to abolish labor contracts if new ones are not signed three months before their expiration. The OPAM contract ends June 12.

—Bobbis Misailides
and Natasha Terlexis
OPAM members on strike.

Related articles:
Canadian rail strike paralyzes shipping
Workers battle Lockheed over concession demands
Machinists: ‘Strike is making us stronger’
Workers in Myanmar fight for wage raises and electrification
United Farm Workers holds 50th anniversary convention
New Zealand meat workers’ strike defeats union-busting
Maori farmers’ boycott threats aided struggle  
Front page (for this issue) | Home | Text-version home