Dec 302013

“Union busting is disgusting”

Please support our sisters and brothers fighting anti-worker austerity and repression in Boston. Local 8751 supported the International People’s Assembly held in Detroit on October 5 and 6 in Grand Circus Park with a generous donation. It’s now our turn to show them our support and solidarity with a donation, however large or small.

young Boston school bus 5 supporter

Happy New Year!

The last few days of the year are also the last few days of the fundraising campaign for the wrongly fired Boston school bus drivers.

These union leaders were singled out for their consistently progressive, pro-union and pro-people stand – as well as for the rights and benefits they’ve been able to win for their members over the years.

We’re making a big push to try to reach $10,000 by January 1. Please help by forwarding this email to your contacts. Feel free to donate, but make sure to spread the word!

January will see the fightback against union-busting shift into high gear, with two major Boston events: a follow-up city council hearing investigating Veolia’s breach of contract, and “Solidarity Day 2,” another major demonstration in support of Local 8751. The dates are to be determined, and will be announced soon!

This fundraising campaign is what will allow the fired leaders of the union to keep fighting.

Boston is the latest hotspot of a union in battle with the vicious union-busting tactics of Veolia Transportation. In Phoenix, Veolia provoked a strike with public transportation unions and bilked the city for tens of millions of dollars. In Florida, Veolia flew scabs in from all over the country and hired round-the-clock armed security when the bus drivers there went on strike.

Veolia has also been singled out by UN officials for its support of illegal settlements in Palestine. Veolia is well established as a despicable corporation — but it is not operating on its own. It was brought into Boston by forces who have wanted to decapitate the leadership of Local 8751 for decades. After the October 8 lockout, Boston’s outgoing Mayor Menino held multiple press conferences calling for the drivers to be fired.

If you already have donated, please share this message with your friends by email, twitter, facebook or other social media.

Union-busting, illegal-settlement-supporting Veolia has been defeated before. In Florida, St. Louis, Indianapolis and other cities, Veolia has been kicked out. Keep up the pressure — the next peoples’ victory against Veolia will be in Boston!

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 December 30, 2013  Posted by  Uncategorized Tagged with: , ,  No Responses »
Feb 232013


Jose Parra, Jerome Jackson at PNC Demo-dec12

Jorge Parra of the Colombian General Motors injured workers struggle and Jerome Jackson who is fighting foreclosure against PNC Bank. This demonstration was held in Ann Arbor on December 1, 2012. (Photo: Abayomi Azikiwe)

Hear from Jorge Parra, President of the Association of Injured Workers and Ex-workers of GM Colmotores (Asotrecol), who recently ended a 72-day hunger strike to draw attention to GM’s abuses of workers in Colombia

Moratorium Now!/ MECAWI weekly meeting

7:00 PM, Monday, February 25

5920 Second Ave., Detroit, 48202

We also will have updates on the anti-foreclosure struggle, fighting the banks for causing Detroit’s so-called financial crisis, and other struggles.

For more info on the Colombian workers struggle, please call 216-534-6435.

 February 23, 2013  Posted by  Uncategorized Tagged with: ,  No Responses »
Nov 252012

Local organizations to protest at GM’s Human Resources Center in Detroit on Wednesday, Nov. 28th

Please note time and location change.

WHY: Solidarity Protest for Hunger Strikers demanding negotiations with GM-Detroit

WHEN: 3:30pm – 5pm, Wednesday Nov. 28th

WHERE: GM Headquarters, 400 Renaissance Center Drive, Detroit

AND U.S. State Dept. Ben Franklin RM, Washington D.C.

The President of the Association of Injured and Ex-Workers of General Motors Colombia (ASOTRECOL), Jorge Parra, sewed his mouth shut on November 20th and is on hunger strike. Jorge, alongside local unions, community organizations, and religious leaders, demands that GM Detroit negotiate with ASOTRECOL. Jorge’s fellow workers continue their 15-month-long tent occupation outside the U.S. embassy in Bogotá, Colombia.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is considering awarding General Motors the “Award for Corporate Excellence,” citing GM’s “exemplary labor practices” and its overall “corporate social responsibility.” In 2006 the Bush administration granted the award to Colmotores, the GM plant located in Bogotá, Colombia–the same plant responsible for destroying the lives of the ASOTRECOL workers.


  • GM Colombia (Colmotores), the most profitable GM plant in Latin America, fired over 200 workers who suffered work-related injuries and diseases, including spinal fractures and cancer.
  • GM bought off government inspectors, doctors, lawyers, and judges to hide evidence of poor working conditions and worker injuries. They falsified documents and destroyed patients’ medical histories.
  • GM refuses to recognize the workers’ occupational injuries and provide the fired workers with adequate medical compensation and pensions. Taking into account lost wages, pensions, and medical care, labor lawyers estimate a just settlement to be $24 million. In August 2012 Colmotores offered just $5,000 in total compensation to 12 workers. One spinal surgery alone costs over $50,000.


  • GM Detroit must negotiate directly with ASOTRECOL.
  • Recognize workers’ injuries as occupational and provide adequate medical care
  • Pay pensions for disabled workers and rehire those still able to work
  • Compensate workers for economic damage, including lost wages and homes
  • Recognize ASOTRECOL as a GM union
  • U.S. enforcement of the Labor Action Plan, which outlines basic protections for workers within the US-Colombia Free Trade Agreement

MAKE A FINANCIAL DONATION:ASOTRECOL workers and their families lack adequate food, shelter, and medical care. Send a donation check to “Wellspring UCC” with “Colombia relief” on the memo line. Mailing address: Wellspring UCC, Box 508, Centreville VA 20122.

CONTACT: For Spanish: Jorge Parra (ASOTRECOL),; 540-220-8257. For English/Spanish: Diana Sierra (Graduate Employees’ Organization),, 607-857-5677, or Kevin Young,, 607-857-5677.

 November 25, 2012  Posted by  Uncategorized Tagged with: ,  No Responses »
Oct 132012

By David Sole on October 12, 2012

On Oct. 4, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Union Local 207 ended their five-day strike, claiming victories. The powerful forces arrayed against the 450 workers at the Detroit Waste Water Treatment Plant included Mayor Dave Bing, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department management, and federal Judge Sean Cox, who oversees the department under a consent decree going back 35 years. Cheering on these anti-union forces were the corporate mass media. In the end they could not defeat the workers, who had begun to garner support in the broader union and community arenas.

The strike began on Sunday, Sept. 30, when 34 workers walked off the job at the largest consolidated waste water treatment facility in the U.S. For the next few days, strong picket lines — bolstered by other union members, students, Occupy Detroit activists, members of the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War and Injustice, and other supporters — kept many truckers, skilled trade contract workers and others out of the plant. Management personnel scrambled to keep the facility operating, forcing many to work 12-hour shifts and even longer.

On Oct. 1, Judge Cox issued an injunction ordering the striking workers back to work. The strikers defied this injunction and stayed out. On Tuesday, Oct. 2, management escalated the conflict by announcing that the 34 workers who walked off their jobs two days earlier were to be fired, along with Local 207 President John Riehl and Secretary-Treasurer Mike Mulholland.

According to Local 207, several hundred strikers returned to work on Wednesday under this tremendous pressure. Management announced the strike was over. They were joined by the leadership of AFSCME Council 25, who had never given the strike any support.

A special “settlement conference” was called for Thursday, Oct. 4, by representatives of Mayor Bing’s office, Judge Cox and the water department, where they no doubt expected Local 207 to surrender. Instead, the strike leaders refused to call off the strike and informed the management side that they would never call off the strike with workers fired and other issued unresolved.

Bosses cave, reach settlement with union

The management side, perhaps fearing growing public support for the strike and sympathy for the fired workers, then agreed to a settlement acceptable to the local union. All fired workers were returned to work (although it is unclear what future disciplinary action may follow). The DWSD agreed to return to the bargaining table over anti-union issues imposed by Judge Cox in a November 2011 order. Included are provisions regarding seniority and union representation that Cox had gutted.

If the union wins an appeal at the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, scheduled to be heard on Oct. 9 in Cincinnati, then management has agreed to “reopen the contract and re-bargain any areas of the contract Cox had changed,” according to a bulletin issued by Local 207.

The settlement also recognized the union membership’s right to vote on any final settlement agreement.

This struggle represents the first time in 35 years of a federal judge’s oversight of the DWSD that a union has had access to the proceedings which affect so many workers. Local 207, with 950 members, is the largest union among almost 2,000 water department workers.

The real importance of this strike goes far beyond the concessions granted by DWSD management, the mayor and a federal judge. This struggle serves as a lesson about the power of organized and militant workers. It was a long overdue response to the many years of attacks against city workers and the entire Detroit community by the politicians, bosses and bankers who have been extorting wage and benefit concessions, threatening pensions and slashing essential city services in order to satisfy the profit needs of the banks and corporations.

Sole is a longtime Detroit Water and Sewerage Department worker and past president of the Sanitary Chemists and Technicians Association, formerly United Auto Workers Local 2334.

 October 13, 2012  Posted by  Uncategorized Tagged with: , ,  No Responses »
Oct 042012

Debt service to banks saps budget

By David Sole on October 3, 2012

The writer is a longtime Detroit Water & Sewerage Department city worker and past president of Sanitary Chemists and Technicians Association (formerly United Auto Workers Local 2334).

Strikers and supporters outside the waste water plant, Sept. 30.
WW photo: Abayomi Azikiwe

Oct. 2 — Workers at the Detroit Waste Water Treatment Plant walked off the job at 10 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 30, and immediately set up strong picket lines. Members of American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees Local 207 — with 950 members, the largest union among almost 2,000 workers at the Detroit Water & Sewerage Department — had voted Sept. 26 to authorize a strike. According to one union official, the rank-and-file workers jumped the gun on Sept. 30 while union leaders were still making plans for a strike later in the week.

On Oct. 1, federal Judge Sean Cox, at the request of management, issued an order for the workers to end the strike. The union’s attorney denounced the order as “outrageous” and announced plans to file a motion to dissolve the order. As of this writing, the workers and the local union leadership remain defiant and on the picket lines.

Top management, operating in “panic mode,” according to a chemist on duty Sept. 30, rushed to the plant the first day of the strike. All leaves and vacations were canceled. Workers from other, nonstriking unions were ordered to work 12-hour shifts and told they could not call in sick. Several workers, who had worked all night on Sept. 29, were ordered to stay in the plant and put in over 20 hours.

None of these other unions, however, do the same work as the hundreds of ­AFSCME 207 members who keep the waste water plant operating.

Detroit city workers have been battered for decades with pay cuts, concessions and wage freezes. Recently the situation has grown even worse. Claiming financial distress, Mayor Dave Bing and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder reached an agreement to overturn collective bargaining and authorize the imposition of vicious wage, benefit and pension cuts on the thousands of city workers.

Some DWSD workers had hoped that a ruling by Judge Cox, who oversees the water department, would prevent them from suffering these attacks. The DWSD is a separate entity whose budget is not under the city’s general fund, but is based on revenues from water and sewerage rate-payers.

Privatization, union-busting plans

It became clear, however, that DWSD was going to go even further than other city departments in cuts and union busting. DWSD had hired a “consulting firm,” the EMA Group, which issued a report in August calling for the elimination of 81 percent of all public workers in DWSD.

The corporate-controlled media ran ridiculous stories alleging that DWSD was overstaffed and wasteful. This, in turn, was used to whip up public opinion against the public utility, especially against the largely African-American work force.

A closer examination of the EMA Group report shows that a major recommendation is to privatize large sections of DWSD. This has been a long-term goal of the corporate world for the city of Detroit. About 10 years ago, former DWSD director Victor Mercado brought in a different consulting firm, the Infrastructure Management Group. And federal Judge John Feikens, who had oversight of DWSD before Judge Cox, had authorized the creation of a secret corporate-dominated committee to examine ways to dismantle and outsource the department.

Those efforts failed when Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was forced to resign in the face of perjury, obstruction of justice and corruption charges in 2008. Mercado is now undergoing a trial, along with Kilpatrick and others, on federal charges of corruption.

DWSD has approved a $48 million contract with EMA Group to implement their union-busting proposals.

Priority: paying ‘debt service’ to banks

Despite all the anti-worker and anti-union propaganda, the fact is that Detroit’s general fund budget shortfalls and the DWSD’s cries of poverty are caused entirely by the huge interest payments demanded by the big banks.

Of DWSD’s sale in June of $660 million in bonds, $300 million goes directly to the biggest banks, including JPMorgan Chase. Debt service — payment to banks — now eats up more than 40 percent of the water department’s revenues.

A recent report from Gov. Snyder’s own financial review team found that Detroit had more than enough revenue to cover all city services and pay current workers — except for the fact that payment on the debts owed the banks gets priority. Only after paying debt service to the banks does the city show a deficit. Detroit’s debt is estimated at $16.9 billion!

Picket lines honored

The morning of Oct. 1 found large and militant picket lines at all the gates to the waste water plant. Cars and trucks were used to block the driveways. Starting at 6:20 a.m., no one was allowed into the plant.

Workers from other, nonstriking unions took one look at the picket lines and turned around to go home. Vendors and contractor workers have refused to cross picket lines.

It has been widely reported that management may fire all workers who went on strike. But these tactics may backfire. City workers in water as well as other —departments are fed up with having all the burden of the economic crisis put on their backs. And the people of Detroit are sick and tired of cuts to their crucial city services.

This strike has the potential to trigger a wider fightback by Detroit residents, workers and the poor against the bankers and their lackey politicians who put the profits of the banks ahead of the needs of the people.


 October 4, 2012  Posted by  Uncategorized Tagged with: , ,  No Responses »
Aug 212012

International Call to Action:
Support the General Motors Colombia Hunger Strikers
Worldwide Protests on August 24th at GM sites, U.S. and Colombian Embassies

Detroit: GM Headquarters, 12pm

Thirteen members of ASOTRECOL, the Association of Injured and Ex-Workers of General Motors Colombia launched a hunger strike on Wednesday, August 1st outside the U.S. embassy to demand that GM justly compensate, provide medical care, and reintegrate over 200 workers that were fired after suffering work-related injuries, and recognize ASOTRECOL as a union. As proof of their commitment, the workers have sewn their mouths shut and plan to carry out the hunger strike to the death. August 24th marks the third week of the to-thedeath hunger strike and 387 days of a tent occupation in front of the U.S. embassy in Bogotá.

ASOTRECOL’s struggle reflects the failure of the 2011 Labor Action Plan to defend workers rights, a $2 million program paid for by U.S. taxpayers and a condition of the Free-Trade Agreement between the United States and Colombia. By ignoring ASOTRECOL’s demands for justice, General Motors, and the U.S. and Colombian government perpetuate the violent conditions that make Colombia the most dangerous country in the world for labor organizers. The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) documented 29 trade unionist murders, 10 attempted murders, and 342 death threats in 2011. Private security firms have harassed and surveilled ASOTRECOL.

On August 24th:

Detroit:  GM Headquarters, 12pm
Washington D.C.:  GM CEO’s House
Bogotá:  U.S. Embassy
São Paulo:  Colombian Embassy
Hanover:  Colombian Embassy

Endorsed By: Witness for Peace, São José Metal Workers Union, Brazil (Sindicato dos Metalurgicos de São José dos Campos e Região); International Automotive Workers Council (Internationaler Automobilarbeiterratschlag); South East Michigan Jobs for Justice; Washtenaw Community Action Team; Graduate Employees’Organization, AFT-Michigan, Local 3550; Lecturer Employees’ Organization, AFT-Michigan, Local 6244; Michigan Emergency Committee Against War and Injustice; Moratorium Now!; U.S./Cuba Labor Exchange; Autoworkers Caravan; Organization for a Free Society
Contact: Diana Sierra,
Stephen Boyce,

 August 21, 2012  Posted by  Uncategorized Tagged with:  No Responses »
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