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Vol. 75/No. 37      October 17, 2011

On the Picket Line

Workers protest Kraft Nabisco’s
attempt to contract out jobs

ATLANTA—Members of Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union Local 42 protested at the Kraft Foods Nabisco plant here September 27. The company is trying to contract out to Ecel, a nonunion outfit, the work of truck drivers and warehouse workers at its depot facility in Norcross.

“They want to eliminate half the workforce and then hire others for half the pay,” 16-year truck driver Edwin Martin told the Militant. “These are workers with a minimum of 10 or 12 years with the company. Our contract isn’t up until February, but they’re telling us if we don’t accept this now, the workers won’t get any severance pay.”

“This is straight blackmail,” added Zack Townsend, Local 42 business agent, as the 35 unionists protested the union-busting move and held homemade signs saying, “Contract violation” and “Say no to corporate greed.”

Many workers were familiar with the lockout of the 1,300 sugar workers in Minnesota and North Dakota also organized by the BCTGM.

—Janice Lynn

Minn. nurses approve contract
with Sanford Bemidji Hospital

MINNEAPOLIS—Nurses in Bemidji, Minn., approved a three-year contract offer from Sanford Bemidji Medical Center September 13 after six months of negotiations. On July 28 the nurses had overwhelmingly rejected management’s “final” offer. Although they continued to work they carried out informational picketing. They also extended solidarity to the locked-out sugar beet workers in the nearby Red River Valley in Minnesota and North Dakota with a $10,000 donation.

“It was a long, tough road,” Peter Danielson, chair of the Minnesota Nurses Association bargaining team, told the media. “While to us this isn’t a perfect resolution, it is a compromise that helps put our patients first.” MNA represents 230 registered nurses at the hospital.

The contract includes a 3 percent pay raise over three years and requires nurses to pay a $750 deductible on their health insurance, according to Associated Press.

Natalie Morrison

Postal workers protest closings,
layoffs, and end to Sat. delivery

DES MOINES, Iowa—Dozens of postal workers rallied here September 27 as part of a national day of protest against proposals for massive cuts in service, the layoff of 120,000 employees, and elimination of Saturday mail delivery, to deal with the budget crisis the United States Postal Service is facing.

The Postal Service is “using the economic crisis as an opportunity to get out of the contract, to get rid of older workers,” Rene Charbonneau, a postal worker for 20 years, told the Militant. Charbonneau and some 70 others rallied outside Congressman Leonard Boswell’s office in Des Moines.

In Waterloo, 40 gathered outside Rep. Bruce Braley’s office.

—Willie Cotton

NEW YORK—More than 250 postal workers rallied outside the Varick Street post office in Manhattan September 27. This was one of 29 rallies in New York state that day.

“Five days no way, six days the only way,” workers chanted, referring to the threat to eliminate Saturday delivery.

“Elimination of Saturday delivery would make some of us part-time,” said John Bonno with 25 years seniority.

—Dan Fein

NY workers reject contract;
governor to lay off 3,500

NEW YORK—In spite of threats by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo that he would lay off 3,500 workers if a proposed contract was voted down, members of the Public Employees Federation rejected the proposed five-year contract, which included wage freezes and benefit cuts.

“We’re going ahead with the layoffs, and it wasn’t a bluff,” Cuomo said September 30 after the 52,000-member union voted down the pact by 54 percent. Nearly 70 percent of union members cast ballots.

The union executive board had recommended approving the contract, which is similar to one agreed to by the largest state public workers union, the Civil Service Employees Association.

Seth Galinsky

Related articles:
N. Dakota: aid pours in for locked-out sugar workers
Solidarity spreads-from Tampa to Tanzania
Boathouse Restaurant strikers in NY win big victory
Wash. rally backs longshore workers’ union battle  
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