Friday, November 15, 2013

Next wave of Walmart, low-wage strikes is here

Another massive wave of low-wage worker strikes may be upon us as labor unrest is rising at the Port of Los Angeles and Walmart workers walked off the job in three cities over the past 10 days.

Yesterday, 20 port drivers at Total Transportation Service Inc. in Rancho Dominguez took a petition to management demanding they be recognized as employees and entitled to medical benefits. TTSi driver Jose Rosales told La Opinion,
In reality we are employees, but we have no benefits, not even my kids, or my wife.
The publication also reported:
Drivers complain that the company charges them for insurance and parking charges, and leaves the costs of maintenance and fuel on his shoulders. “The truck is not mine, but I am paying maintenance," said (Dennis) Rosales.
Earlier this week, drivers filed a lawsuit against Southern Counties Express Inc. alleging the drivers don't earn a fair wage, nor do they have time to eat and rest, all because they were misclassified as independent contractors. The lawsuit was filed before the Superior Court of Los Angeles County.

Throughout the United States, workers trapped in low-wage jobs are revolting against a system that lavishly rewards a tiny sliver of the population and consigns more than half the U.S. population to near poverty. An analysis by Social Security released Tuesday showed more than half of U.S. wage earners take home less than $30,000 a year. The federal poverty line for a family of five in 2012 was $27,010.

Meanwhile billionaire-funded propaganda paints low-wage workers as lazy handout seekers and Fox News drives home the message. The real handouts go to companies like Walmart and McDonald's. In the U.S., 18 percent of all food stamp recipients and the largest group of people enrolled in Medicaid work for Walmart. In fact, the average Walmart worker receives $1,000 in government assistance because pay is so low. McDonald's has a “McResource” line that helps employees and their families enroll in various state and local assistance programs.

Walmart employees since Black Friday have ratcheted up community pressure on the retailer by exposing the ways it devastates people's lives, their communities and their government treasuries. Workers in the Walmart supply chain -- in warehouses, on the ports and in food processing plants -- are walking off the job to protest the degradation and poverty that Walmart foists on them. Teamsters, SEIU, UFCW and other allies have been with them every step of the way. Last week, 54 people, including three Teamsters, were arrested in peaceful acts of disobedience, to support striking Walmart workers in Los Angeles.

And now the ports are restive again, just weeks after the first-ever one-day walkout by drivers at Green Fleet Systems. Discontent is only increasing at fast-food restaurants and for low-wage government contractors as employers have resisted calls for higher pay. And Walmart workers are ready to strike on Black Friday.

This could be a long, cold, strike season. If you'd like to show your support for striking workers and a more equal America, click here and scroll to the bottom of the page to find a Black Friday Walmart protest near you.