The Militant (logo)  
   Vol. 70/No. 25           July 10, 2006  
On the Picket Line
Chicago: UFCW rally backs
organizing Smithfield Packing
plant in North Carolina

Militant/Dennis Richter
CHICAGO—Some 150 workers rallied in Chicago June 20 to back the drive by the United Food and Commercial Workers union to organize the Smithfield Packing plant in Tar Heel, North Carolina. The factory is the world’s largest pork processing plant, slaughtering about 32,000 hogs a day and employing about 5,500 workers. At the podium is Quincy Harvey, a kill-floor worker at Smithfield, who was fired in 2005 after being injured on the job and out on medical leave. Similar support rallies were organized June 19-22 in Atlanta; Boston; New York; Washington; Richmond, Virginia; and Raleigh, North Carolina.


Miner in north Sweden
killed in roof fall

STOCKHOLM, Sweden—Miner Teemu Saarensilta, 27, died in a roof fall May 2 in the Kirunavaara iron ore mine in Kiruna, north Sweden. He was reportedly working 907 meters (more than half a mile) underground preparing a blast while standing on the elevated basket of a charge truck. Suddenly about a cubic meter of rock fell on the truck’s elevated arm, which then sprung up with such force that Saarensilta was killed from hitting his head on the roof of the basket.

“The mine needs to be inspected more often,” a miner who works with ore lift maintenance at the mine told the Militant. “The workers where Teemu worked had been telling their bosses repeatedly about rock falls, but nothing happened. Now there is a safety investigation going on.”

Two days later two workers were taken to the hospital after a blast threw them against the safety rails of a truck platform. The mine is run by state-owned LKAB, which employs some 3,500 workers in several mines, processing plants, and ore docks in north Sweden and Norway.

—Björn Tirsén  
Transit workers in Toronto
conduct one-day strike

TORONTO—Some 8,500 members of Amalgamated Transit Workers Union (ATU) Local 113 conducted a one-day strike here May 29 in the face of Mayor David Miller’s charge that the walkout was “illegal from the start.” The unionists set up picket lines on the day the Toronto Transit Commission reassigned 53 of 87 janitors and 53 of 91 subway track workers to night shift in violation of their seniority rights. The ATU has also been negotiating with the Toronto Transit Commission to resolve issues around driver safety and compensation for time lost due to injuries on the job, payment of health premiums, and job evaluations. Despite a “cease and desist” order from the Ontario Labor Relations Board, the transit workers maintained their picket lines throughout the day.

—Beverly Bernardo  
Northwest Airlines flight
attendants reject wage cuts

The Professional Flight Attendants Association (PFAA) on June 6 voted by an 80 percent margin to reject a wage concessions package demanded by Northwest Airlines. The proposal, according PFAA, would have reduced attendants’ pay by 40 percent with a 21 percent hourly wage cut and higher employee medical care costs. Three days later Northwest baggage handlers and ramp workers approved by 62 percent a concessions package reducing their wages by 11.5 percent and a layoff of some 700 workers. The five-year contract allows Northwest to outsource ground operations at a number of airports, as well as food catering, and to utilize more part-time workers.

—Brian Williams
Related articles:
UAW tops promote concessions  
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