Nearly 50,000 striking auto workers remain on the picket lines after close to two weeks, and the Detroit Free Press reports that a tentative deal is likely at least a week away. Meanwhile, teachers in Chicago are gearing up for a strike.
The striking UAW workers are fighting to regain ground after they made concessions when General Motors faced bankruptcy in 2009. They want livable raises and affordable health care, sure, but they also want to reduce the use of temporary workers who get a much worse deal, chip away at the two-tier system in which newer hires make less money, and re-open plants that the company has “unallocated,” a weasel word for closed. And make no mistake that this is about what the mass of workers want: “The tentative agreement they negotiate will have to be good enough to sell itself,” Wayne State University’s Marick Masters told the Free Press. “The (UAW) leadership will not be able to sell an agreement that the membership will ratify, because they will not have confidence in the leaders.”
In Chicago, 94% of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) voted in favor of a strike, which could start as early as October 7 and draw the support of 7,000 school workers who are members of SEIU. Teachers are looking far outside the classroom to improve the schools for their students and communities. They want a raise, and deserve one, but they also want a nurse at every school and at least one social worker for every 50 students in high-trauma areas; more “community schools” that feature wrap-around services such as health care and GED programs; protection against ICE for immigrant students and families; and taxes on the wealthy to provide funding for affordable housing. “The money is there,” CTU Vice President Stacy Davis Gates told Labor Notes. “Our city leadership makes choices. They choose to give $1.3 billion to build development in what they call a ‘blighted area’ in one of the richest parts of Chicago.”
This article was originally published at Daily Kos on September 28, 2019. Reprinted with permission.