Ithaca Blog

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Local and National Labor Successes

Pete Meyers of the Tompkins County Workers Center sends word - "when it rains, it pours" - about successful actions by organized labor that have gained national attention this month.

In Chicago, 200 workers at a bankrupt window manufacturer were laid off with three days notice and told they would not get severance.

The workers responded with a campaign that included occupying the building.

After six days, lenders to the manufacturer said they would provide the almost $2 million owed to the workers.

In North Carolina, workers at the Smithfield Packing plant, the world's largest pork slaughterhouse, voted to unionize after 15 years of organizing efforts. Richard Hurd, a professor of labor relations at Cornell, called the vote "an important positive sign for labor," which he connected to the larger political environment: "The election of Barack Obama may have eased people's concerns about speaking out and standing up for a union."

Pete and the Workers Center helped with a significant local labor victory this month, at the Lakeside Nursing Home.

One week after a picketing action outside Lakeside, part of a publicity campaign for worker grievances about working conditions and pay, Lakeside management met with workers for a successful contract settlement.

Congratulations to the Lakeside workers and the Workers Center organizers, including Kenny Ritter, who worked on the issue from the inside as a resident at Lakeside. Kenny has seen the workers' plight first-hand, and felt the repercussions for residents.

Kenny hosted the pioneering activist news program, "Luminary News", on local TV for a number of years. Looks like you can't keep a good man down - or quiet.

Steve Burke
for Ithaca Blog

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