ST. LOUIS, Mo. – The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 50 held a press conference here, June 13, filing complaints with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Local 50, representing more than 3,000 janitors, charged six St. Louis cleaning companies with “blatant” sexual and racial discrimination.
A few months ago, Transport Workers Union Local 100 settled an agreement with the owners of three private bus lines in Queens, N.Y. The settlement was a fair one. It took a few work stoppages to convince the owners that the union was serious about its demands. The unity amongst all sections of Local 100, primarily a union of subway workers and city-owned bus line employees, was the reason for this success. The public supported the strikes. But the Bloomberg administration is balking.
PHILADELPHIA – A capacity crowd of nearly 400 gathered at the Congregation Mishkan Shalom here June 2 to watch the “60 Minutes” special report on the Israeli reservists who have refused to serve in the occupied territories and hear from one of the refusers, Lieutenant Noam Sheizaf.
CIUDAD JUÁREZ, Mexico – How best to fight the ongoing wave of violence against women here was the theme of Mexico’s 5th National Poets’ Encounter, held at the Autonomous University of Ciudad Juárez, June 1-3. The Encounter, titled “Eulogy for a City,” drew poets and writers from the United States and across Mexico, and featured a citywide grafitti-painting campaign and the establishment of a women’s memorial “time capsule” as well as more traditional poetry readings and seminars.
HOUSTON – One day after weakening clean air protections on more than 1,700 old power plants, refineries and other polluters, George W. Bush travelled to one of America’s smoggiest city to raise money. Home to a number of energy giants, including Enron, Houston is currently violating Clean Air Act limits for asthma-causing ground level ozone. In the last three years, Houston residents have been exposed to ozone smog more often and at higher concentrations than residents of any other city in the United States.
PHILADELPHIA – The Philadelphia City Council passed June 13 yet another measure aimed at widespread privatization of city services. The measure creates what Councilman Richard Mariano termed an “opportunity for a golden parachute” at the Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW), the publicly owned city agency responsible for natural gas service for city residents.
The prestigious Commonwealth Fund just released a letter to health professionals documenting the failure of the U.S. health care system: “A new five-nation survey of public attitudes toward health care reveals that the United States has the highest share of residents facing access problems, driven in large part by the difficulty many face in paying for care. At least one of five Americans reported problems paying their medical bills, filling prescriptions, getting medical care when they had a problem, or getting a physician-recommended test. Americans with below-average income reported more health care access problems than their counterparts in the other four countries.”
LORAIN, Ohio – A crowd of 200 steelworkers and retirees cheered May 28 as Rep. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) announced that he has introduced legislation to force the government to pick up the health care benefits of steel retirees losing benefits due to corporate bankruptcy. The spirited rally at the United Steelworkers of America (USWA) Local 1104 Union Hall also urged a no vote on Bush’s proposal for fast track on trade agreements.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Over 100 years ago, workers chose the first day of May to fight for an eight-hour day. This year we were reminded that sometimes we’re simply fighting for our right to work at all.
SAN FRANCISCO – The 50 room cleaners at the Marriott Courtyard on Fisherman’s Wharf had enough of substandard pay and overwork, so they hit the bricks for the past three weekends and continued into this week. The room cleaners, all women, were joined by other unions as well as their own Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees (HERE) Local 2, creating a large and energetic picket line, complete with whistles, drums and chants.