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On the picket line

January 25, 2002 | Page 11

Portland, Ore., hospital nurses
ILWU Local 6

United Parcel Service

By Donny Schraffenberger, steward, Teamsters Local 705

ON JANUARY 30, the Teamsters and United Parcel Service (UPS) are scheduled to exchange contract proposals ahead of a July 31 contract deadline.

In 1997, the Teamsters, led by reformer Ron Carey, beat UPS in a national strike that galvanized the country. Two out of three Americans supported the UPS workers' demands for full-time jobs. The strike won 10,000 new full time positions, although UPS refused to create them for more than two years.

Since then, UPS has had five years of record profits. Now Teamsters want their share. At a recent contract meeting in Local 705 in Chicago, part-time workers proposed raising start pay to $12 an hour instead of $8.50 and to strike if supervisors keep doing bargaining unit work. They also demanded a three-year instead of a five-year contract.

In response to a recent Teamsters survey, nearly 60 percent of UPS workers rate the creation of full-time jobs as a key priority. And 69 percent of part-timers ranked wage increases as their highest priority.

But UPS is trying to undermine the full-time "combination" jobs we won. Recently, at Chicago's Jefferson Street hub, management tried to make us waive our right to an eight-hour day. Workers were strong-armed into signing an extra-contractual agreement or else, they were told, they would be laid off for a week.

I refused to sign and was laid off, while other workers that did sign worked as little as four hours a day. We have put in numerous grievances against this attack, and it is up to our union officials to back us in our fight. More and more, UPS management is using the threat of temporary layoffs to cow workers into submission.

This company will play hardball, especially in a recession. The question is: Will Teamsters President James Hoffa make good on his promise to organize the union for the fight that it will take to get a good contract?

Since 1998, Hoffa has mismanaged negotiations, including those for Anheuser-Busch brewery workers and the Northwest Airlines flight attendants. Teamsters at UPS can't rely on Hoffa's words. We need action.

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Portland, Ore., hospital nurses

By Paul Dean

PORTLAND, Ore.--Approximately 1,500 members of the Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) have reached the one-month mark in their strike against Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) Hospital.

The nurses are fighting for a 19 percent pay raise over two years in order to lift their wages to market levels. OHSU officials claim that the university can't afford to pay--even though they've spent more than $4 million on scab nurses to break the strike.

On Wednesday, the latest round of negotiations collapsed, but the striking nurses remain confident that they can win. ONA member Kathleen Sheridan told delegates of the Northwest Oregon Labor Council that so far the hospital has presented "a bunch of crap that wasn't worth taking to the membership."

Management had the gall to offer employees an increase in the tuition program cap of $20,000--in exchange for letting administrators censor union e-mails to more than 50 nurses! The ONA is also filing an unfair labor practice because the hospital is paying replacement nurses an extra $7.50 an hour to cross the picket line.

Sheridan told one Portland newspaper, "If this is a test of wills, they are going to lose."

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ILWU Local 6

By Ken Morgan, ILWU Local 6

SAN FRANCISCO--In a landslide victory, reform candidates were elected to several top offices in the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 6.

The election came after a yearlong fight by members to preserve the democratic traditions of the ILWU, which were being threatened by political allies of ILWU International President James Spinosa.

Newly elected officers on the reform ticket include President Richard Sierras and Secretary-Treasurer Fred Pecker.

The election victory, however, has been complicated by an appeal to the International Election Committee by the former officers. The appeal has put Local 6 in limbo, with the newly elected officers unable to assume office.

Despite the pending appeal, this election is a victory that resulted from a mobilization and fight by the Local 6 membership.

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