Raytheon strikers get a boost

TUCSON, Ariz. — Striking workers at Raytheon here got a morale boost Dec. 8 with a show of community solidarity in honor of International Human Rights Day. The strikers, members of Local 933 of the Machinists union, were joined at a downtown rally by supporters and many local elected officials.

The union has been out on strike for over a month after rejecting company demands for takeaway concessions. Raytheon, which manufactures missiles at its Tucson plant, has been making huge profits from the war in Iraq, but offered a contract that would result in reduced take-home pay for many workers.

After gathering at Veinto De Agosto Park, the strikers marched to the federal building for a spirited rally. Richard Elias, chairman of Pima County Board of Supervisors, called on the assembled workers to “Stand up to tyranny!”

Bobby Martinez, business representative for Local 933, thanked the brothers and sisters who came out in solidarity. “They’re here because it’s their struggle,” he said. “We should be setting the standard here. … It’s about building a quality of life in this community.” Echoing Martinez’s remarks, City Councilman Steve Leal called the strikers “heroes” who are standing up for “all of us.”

Arizona State House Minority Leader Phil Lopes expressed solidarity on behalf of the entire Democratic legislative caucus. Spokespeople for Tucson’s two U.S. Congress members, Raul Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords, expressed solidarity with the striking machinists and promised to pursue labor’s agenda in Congress, starting with a big increase in the federal minimum wage.

Among those joining the solidarity action were Teamsters, CWA, AFSCME, AFT, the Writers Union, IBEW, and the ever-present Jobs with Justice.

pwwinaz @ webtv.net