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On the picket line

April 19, 2002 | Page 15

Pacific Maritime Association
University of Illinois—Chicago
Stanford University living wage

Lockheed Martin

By Tony Kin

MARIETTA, Ga.--More than 200 strikers and supporters rallied outside the Lockheed Martin plant last April 11 as union and company negotiating committees met for the second day with federal mediators.

One month ago, members of IAM Local 709 went on strike for the first time since 1977 after turning down a contract that failed to provide job security or improve health and retirement benefits. The Marietta plant produces F-22 fighters and C130J transports for the U.S. military.

"The company has not budged at this point," Local 709 Vice President Jim Farist told strikers at the rally. "There has been no movement on the company's part."

Lockheed is refusing to change any of the contract language and says that the current proposal, which includes a 10 percent raise over three years, is final. But as one striker noted, "You can make more than $100 an hour, but it doesn't mean anything if you don't have a job."

Many Lockheed workers, like Ann Marie Orr, are determined to remain on strike for as long as it takes to get a fair contract. "Why do they [Lockheed] get these great big bonuses by taking work away from us?" Orr, who has worked at Lockheed for 20 years, said. "It isn't fair and it isn't right."

Dave Barlow, who has worked at Lockheed since 1962, pointed out that the plant's workforce has decreased from 20,000 in the 1980s to 7,000 today because of outsourcing. "But what I want to ask management is, 'Where's your outsourcing at? How many management jobs have been outsourced?'"

Local 709 President Jim Carroll said, "Lockheed Martin is only proving that corporate greed knows no bounds. In a time when profits will be going through the roof, they have forgotten the workers who will make that profit possible."

That's why we need to stand with the strikers at Lockheed in their struggle--and with workers everywhere who are taking on the bosses.

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Pacific Maritime Association

SAN FRANCISCO--The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) could be heading for a strike this summer. The bosses' organization, the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), is out to radically transform work rules to break the power of the union as contract talks begin.

"Our terminals are becoming full," PMA boss Joseph Miniace told reporters. "Greater efficiency would increase the flow." Translation: The employers want to use new technology to break the power of the union, which represents some 10,500 longshore workers.

But Miniace has so far stonewalled the union on the details of the plan--leading the ILWU to seek an unfair labor practice ruling in courts. "When we ask for that information, he says he doesn't have it," ILWU President James Spinosa wrote to members. "Either he is lying to the press or he is lying to us."

Moreover, the PMA is pushing the proposed Maritime and Port Security Act, which includes background checks and mandatory drug tests for all longshore workers--and bans on those who don't pass such tests.

Management is also counting on internal divisions in the union to work to its advantage. Spinosa, who won election two years ago, is much more conservative than his predecessor, Brian McWilliams. But the ILWU is closing ranks to take on the employers.

The union joined the International Dockworkers' Council at the recent Charleston Five victory rally in Charleston--and are working to build worldwide solidarity in case of a strike.

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University of Illinois—Chicago

By Dennis Kosuth

CHICAGO--The Graduate Employees Organization (GEO) at the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC) held two actions this week to demand that the administration recognize their union.

The common excuse given by the university is that teaching assistants are students and therefore cannot belong to a union. This completely disregards all the necessary work that is done by them in the daily operation of the school.

Discussion sessions taught by graduate students were held outside for two days to demonstrate the amount that they contribute as university workers. At the end of each day, rallies were held and speakers from many different unions, on and off campus, gave solidarity greetings.

Other issues were also raised. One of them was by Diversity in Demand, an organization centered on increasing the number of tenured Black faculty, which is an embarrassingly low 2 percent. A classroom instructor also spoke about how UIC plans to lay off hundreds of teachers, thereby increasing class sizes, while simultaneously upping our tuition.

The administration is attacking students and workers at UIC on many different fronts.

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Stanford University living wage

By Anna Letitia Mumford

PALO ALTO, Calif.--Hundreds of students and workers rallied to demand that Stanford University improve conditions for its workers. Protesters marched through campus, delaying the administration's annual "Community Day" celebration.

Marcher Estela Diaz said she works at the campus food court, earning $10.50 per hour without health care benefits. She and her husband are unable to pay for health insurance for their three kids because her salary goes for the rent for her East Palo Alto home.

The rally was organized by the Coalition for Labor Justice, which is composed of student organizations, faculty and organized labor. The coalition has been organizing for four months.

Six students were arrested last fall during a protest over the university's decision to subcontract custodial jobs at the Stanford Medical Center to nonunion employers. Since then, the coalition has begun to pressure the university to adopt a four-plank code of conduct, which includes higher minimum-wage standards, health benefits for all employees, a reduction in the number of jobs given out to subcontractors and university neutrality in labor contracts.

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