Kentucky AFL-CIO: ‘De-privatize health care’

The Kentucky AFL-CIO and the Central New Mexico Central Labor Council are the latest labor backers of HR 676, legislation for single-payer national health care. In their recent convention, Bluegrass State delegates voted to campaign for a system, advocated by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) to extend Medicare nationwide. The New Mexico resolution endorsing the bill was introduced by Council Vice-President Pablo Trujillo whose own IAM Local 794 had previously endorsed it.

Healthy settlement for S.F. strikers

Hospital workers have returned to work at three San Francisco hospitals after two months on the picket line. The California Pacific Medical Center, which owns the hospitals, signed an agreement with SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West on Nov. 11. The workers won a 16 percent raise over the four years of the contract and the right for worker consultation in staffing decisions. The union had pressed for management to remain neutral in any organizing efforts. The final contract language only allows the hospital to communicate with workers using written materials or in conversations initiated by employees. This would appear to bar “captive audience” meetings, which corporations typically use to intimidate workers during organizing drives.

Scabs and plutonium-238

Boeing Corp. is resorting to “replacement workers” to complete work on the upper stage booster of NASA’s plutonium powered spacecraft since the company’s technicians and inspectors went on strike. The company is scrambling to complete the project to make a January launch date that is set to send the craft to Pluto.

Inexperienced workers and plutonium-238 — how safe is that? “What they are fixing to do is very dangerous,” Johnny Walker, business rep of the Machinist Local 1163 in Cape Canaveral told Florida Today. “I think they are playing with dynamite.”

Reds to study globalization

“The real strength of industrial workers today is in their connections and solidarity with industrial workers around the world as they confront the same giant transnational corporations,” said Communist Party Labor Commission chair Scott Marshall, opening a meeting of the commission in Chicago Nov. 12-13. Labor activists from across the country laid out plans for a “think tank” to take place in conjunction with the party’s economics commission in early 2006. The think tank will discuss the new challenges facing labor in the face of globalization and loss of manufacturing jobs.

This week in labor is compiled by Roberta Wood ( Marilyn Bechtel, Carolyn Taylor and PAI contributed. Readers are invited to submit news from their struggles.