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Vol. 81/No. 2      January 9, 2017

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Momentive strikers in NY: ‘Solidarity keeps us strong!’

Daily Gazette/Marc Schultz
Strikers stay warm at Dec. 15 picket line at Momentive in Waterford, New York. Company has hired strikebreakers. Area workers donate food, kids’ holiday gifts and firewood to strikers.
“They thought we’d break going into the holidays, but we’ve only gotten stronger every day,” striker Kevin Alderman told a WRBG-TV reporter as workers maintained round-the-clock pickets at entrances to the sprawling Momentive Performance Materials chemical plant in Waterford, New York.

Some 700 members of International Union of Electrical Workers-Communications Workers of America Local 81359, who struck Nov. 2 after voting down several concession contract proposals, continue to receive solidarity. Area unions are donating firewood.

“‘Operation Keep Them Warm’ is led by strikers’ wives,” Local 81359 President Dominick Patrignani told the Militant. Hundreds of gifts have been donated for Momentive families to pick up at the American Legion Post in Mechanicville, a town just north of the plant where many strikers live.

Six days before Christmas no more gifts were needed and the union is now requesting warm clothes for children instead. “We continue to receive plenty of food donations, including homemade soups and chilis,” said Patrignani.

Four strikers spoke at a Christmas party meeting of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 236 in Albany Dec. 6. A motion to contribute $3,000 to the strikers’ cause, amended to $5,000 from the floor, passed enthusiastically.

Strikers told the electricians they were getting support from a wide variety of area groups. Just before coming to their meeting, striker Michael Leonard said, they got a donation of food from the Capital District Coalition Against Islamophobia. “This was a bit of a surprise,” he said. “We’re getting culturally diverse — it’s a growing, big circle of friends.”

Strikers also got support from Faith on the Line, a group of Christian clergy that held a solidarity service outside the plant Dec. 22.

Momentive has hired strikebreakers and has refused to back down on demands to increase medical costs for working union members and retirees and cut 401(k) contributions.

“The company has agreed to begin negotiations again in January,” Patrignani told the Militant.

Donations may be sent to IUE-CWA Strike Defense Fund, P.O. Box 339, Waterford, NY 12188.

Ray Parsons from Delmar, New York, contributed to this article.
Related articles:
On the Picket Line
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