Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Unions to Olympics: Don't buy from union-busting supplier

Here's how to inspire a generation: Risk your job to make sure your kids have the same good wages and benefits that you have. 
That's what steelworkers in Alma, Quebec, are doing. They refused to accept a contract that allows their employer to replace retiring union workers with temporary workers at half the pay.
On Jan. 1, the nearly 800 steelworkers were locked out of the Alcan aluminum smelter by their employer, ruthless mining conglomerate Rio Tinto. (That, btw, is what happened on Aug. 1 to Sotheby's Teamsters who stood up for the same principle.) 
Teamsters are supporting the locked-out workers in Alma,  just as we supported locked-out miners at Rio Tinto's borax mine in Boron, Calif., two years ago.

Rio Tinto is the official supplier of 99 percent of all the gold, silver and bronze used in the Olympics medals.Unions throughout the world are asking the International Olympic Committee NOT to buy from Rio Tinto.

An Olympic triathlete, Helen Russell, posted a terrific blog about the dispute. She asked whether the London games will be the "fair play" Olympics:
On 1st January Rio Tinto locked out 780 workers who were campaigning against the company’s contracting-out of jobs. The workers are trying to stop apparent attempts by the company to replace retiring unionised workers with precariously employed contract workers earning half the wages and no pension benefits. 
Workers argue that this is driving down wages and living standards of the community despite the smelter being highly profitable.
The workers in Alma were allegedly locked out of the factory without warning, in the middle of the night on New Year’s Eve. They have since been locked out for five months and the plant has been operating with non-unionised workers at about one-third capacity.
Russell hits a home run with this paragraph:
The workers are not campaigning for a pay rise but rather fighting to protect decent jobs in their community for the next generation. In my opinion, these workers are putting into action the Olympic motto of ‘inspiring a generation.'
Couldn't have said it better ourselves.