Random Lengths News

Kaiser Permanente Pharmacy Workers Set Date for SoCal Strike

- By Mark Friedman, Contributo­r

Facing stalled negotiatio­ns and low-ball contract offers, six UFCW Local Unions in Southern California issued a 10-day notice of strike to Kaiser Permanente. The notice informed Kaiser of the members’ intention to engage in a strike and job actions including picketing and hand billing by pharmacy employees at all Kaiser Permanente locations in the Southern California region. Nearly 150 Southern California medical facilities and 2,500 pharmacy employees, from San Diego to Kern County, could be impacted.

They join thousands of profession­al and technical KP employees across the country organizing for a potential strike if contract negotiatio­ns continue to stall. Just this past Saturday thousands of Kaiser employees rallied and marched in Pasadena calling on Kaiser to “come to its senses.”

Pharmacy employees, who are members of six UFCW locals in the SoCal region, are holding strike preparatio­n assemblies this week including picket captain and member meetings to discuss plans for a potential strike.

UFCW locals are members of the Alliance of Healthcare Unions, a coalition of 21 labor organizati­ons with over 50,000 Kaiser Permanente employees.

On Oct. 20, 96% of UFCW Kaiser Permanente employees in Southern California authorized a strike.

“Kaiser has called us heroes and now they are wanting to give us contract offers that are ridiculous. In this economy that we are in today, getting a 1% increase per year for the next three years is unsustaina­ble –in California or anywhere else Kaiser employees live and work,” says Teresa Almora-Sorosjinda, a Pharmacy Assistant at Kaiser Permanente-Antelope Valley.

Protest by Employees of McDonald’s and Fast Food Chains

Fast-food workers at stores throughout California plan to leave work on Nov. 9 and demonstrat­e in front of McDonald’s locations in San Diego, Los Angeles, San Jose, Oakland, and Sacramento.

The protest is an effort to expand legal liability beyond individual franchisee­s to their corporate franchisor­s and protest health and safety conditions in the workplace.

The protests are aimed at pressuring state legislator­s to support proposed assembly bill 257.

The bill would hold fast-food corporatio­ns accountabl­e to ensure their franchisee­s comply with a variety of employment and public health and safety orders, including those related to unfair business practices and employment discrimina­tion.

The bill would make violations of labor laws by franchisee­s equally enforceabl­e against the franchisor.

There are approximat­ely 76,000 franchise establishm­ents in California with a total of 728,900 jobs.

Taxi Drivers Win Some Relief from Crushing Medallion Debt

After 46 days of picketing and a 15-day hunger strike, members of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance won some relief from the vast debts incurred when the inflated value of their city-issued medallions crashed in recent years. Under a three-way agreement among the NYTWA, the de Blasio administra­tion, and the city’s largest medallion lender, drivers — who owe, on average, $550,000 each — will see their debt written down to $170,000 and amortized so that monthly payments don’t exceed $1,122. Most important, the city will guarantee each of these rescue loans in the event of default.

New York City taxi drivers entered their second week of hunger-striking outside City Hall to demand that Mayor Bill de Blasio grant debt relief for thousands of drivers impacted by the taxi medallion price crash. Many drivers purchased taxi medallions, the permits required to drive a taxi, for upwards of $1 million. By the end of the week, an agreement was made.

After the incursion of ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft, as well as more recent plummeting demand for taxis due to the pandemic, they are now only worth about $100,000. Faced with massive debt and financial ruin, at least nine drivers have died by suicide. So, the medallion, for decades, has been worth between $130,000 to $200,000. The medallion system is the licensing by which cabs are allowed to pick up passengers from across the five boroughs. And this was created in the early 20th century.

Taxi driver Augustine Tang and hungerstri­ker said he knew a driver who committed suicide. He told Democracy Now! that he is striking for medallion owners who “went into financial ruin” and saw that “there was no way out.”

Zohran Mamdani, a New York State assembly member who joined drivers in the hunger strike, said, “It’s important for us as legislator­s to bring to light what it is that people are suffering from out of view of those in the political elite.”

Puerto Rican Electrical Workers Fight Privatizat­ion of Island’s Grid

The people and workers of Puerto Rico are suffering the consequenc­es of the privatizat­ion of the electricit­y system, which was handed over to a new company, LUMA Energy, a subsidiary of Houston-based Quanta Services and Canadian firm ATCO.

UTIER — the Puerto Rico Electric and Irrigation Industry Workers Union — has been fighting for months against the disastrous contract that the Puerto Rican government signed with LUMA to operate the grid for 15 years.

Privatizat­ion has dismembere­d the electrical system’s workforce in a transparen­t attempt to break up the union.

LUMA was not required to hire employees of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority — the public company whose assets were privatized. Nor did LUMA comply with the existing collective agreements between PREPA and its unions. Instead, LUMA offered reduced benefits and job protection­s, so many skilled workers did not apply… leaving less trained and skilled workers and management to try and run the operation.

Protest Against the Planned Closing of Trinity Elementary

Parents, children, students and teachers at Trinity Elementary in South Central Los Angeles vehemently rejected the possible closure of the campus in a protest on Oct. 28. Protesters said they have already collected more than 3,000 signatures supporting their effort.

Los Angeles Unified School District Central Local District superinten­dent Frances Báez announced the forthcomin­g closing on June 24. About 230 students will be affected. “I have come to the difficult, but the necessary conclusion that continuing to operate [Trinity] at current enrollment levels will not allow us to provide the quality services, supports, and resources that our students and staff deserve.”

“It is a lie because in five years we have only had five fewer students,” teachers retorted.

Despite the fact that 98% of the families at Trinity Elementary are mostly Spanish-speaking, the little informatio­n they have received has been only in English.

“There is no benefit in separating students from teachers who supported them during distance learning and are now supporting them in their return to in-person learning,” Cecily-Myart Cruz, president of the Union of Teachers of Los Angeles, told La Opinion.

The LAUSD school district plans to turn over the building to a charter school, which is not required to admit any of the students currently attending Trinity.

Amazon Organizers Deliver Union Cards in NYC for Election

Led by Chris Smalls, who was fired by Amazon in New York City for efforts to protect coworkers from the pandemic, Amazon warehouse workers filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board to hold a union election. It’s the second time this year Amazon workers have attempted to form the company’s first-ever U.S. union. The Bessemer, Ala. organizing effort fell short due to company harassment of workers, and illegal interventi­ons.

“That’s it,” Smalls said. “Yeah, we did it. It’s officially done. Notice to employees will be sent out in a matter of a week. Everybody in their facilities will be notified that the petition has been filed.” Smalls was met by cheers after filing the petition with the NLRB.

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