Community Support Grows for Striking L.A. Port Truckers

By Doug Cunningham

Workers Independent News is heard Monday through Friday at 8:45 and 11:45 a.m. and 5:45 p.m.

Workers Independent News is heard Monday through Friday at 8:45 and 11:45 a.m. and 5:45 p.m.

Los Angeles striking port truckers, elected officials, clergy and community leaders held a press conference Thursday to protest the planned closing of the port.

Workers planned what they said would be a massive protest at the Los Angeles Harbor Commission meeting.

Hundreds of striking workers are demanding that port companies stop violating labor laws. Picket lines continued at Port of Los Angeles terminals and marine yards Thursday. The workers say misclassification as contractors rather than employees results in wage theft and other labor rights violations.

Port drivers so far have been awarded more than $32 million in back pay in 300 separate decisions by California’s Labor Commissioner. There are more than five hundred more cases waiting to be heard.

800 Portland State University Graduate Student Employees Win Union Recognition

The Graduate Employees Union at Portland State University has been certified by Oregon’s Employment Relations Board - bringing 800 new workers into the labor movement.

The new union for Portland State University graduate students is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers.

“Something that comes up a lot is pushback that graduate employees are seen as students. I think the fact that this is something that’s become such a widespread issue has shown that there really is a collective interest around these workers as employees in the situation that they have as employees of the university. So that’s something we’re really excited to be a part of,” said Andres Oswill, a grad student worker at Portland State. “It’s pretty exciting because there hasn’t been a large scale public employee unionization in Oregon for awhile. So we’re pretty excited about everything that’s happened.”

The Graduate Employees Union is working to identify issues and prepare to bargain their first contract. Oswill said the union has a good relationship with the university. He added, in addition to compensation, issues include health care costs, workload increases and fees charged to the graduate students.

Chicago Teachers Union Meets with District For Bargaining Session

The Chicago Teachers Union and the Chicago Public Schools met Thursday for a bargaining session on a new labor contract for teachers. CTU President Karen Lewis says teachers may be willing to forego annual raises in the new contract, if Chicago and state governments step up to find other revenue sources for Chicago Public Schools.

Lewis is critical of comments from the district’s CEO Forest Claypool that schools may not open in September due to what Lewis calls the district’s broke on purpose fiscal crisis. Lewis says that statement is another example of Claypool’s failed leadership.