Labor Roundup | October 2020

Even change will need civic action, says Postal Workers’ Prez. Saying “movements move Congress and politicians, and not the other way around,” Postal Workers President Mark Dimondstein nevertheless warns movement activists to be ready for a long haul –– even if voters dump Donald Trump this fall.

Speaking at a pre-Labor Day videoconference of Our Revolution, which grew out of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ two presidential campaigns, Dimondstein added that Trump is just a symptom of what progressives, unionists and allies face as they conduct an “inside-outside” campaign against both the Democratic establishment and the 1%. “Our problems as working people did not start with Donald Trump and they will not end with Donald Trump,” Dimondstein said.

Unions protest closing hospitals. At the rate the Cook County Board is closing hospitals on the majority-Black South Side of Chicago, the nearest ones may be the University of Chicago’s hospital complex in mostly white Hyde Park. So continuing closures last month led four unions –– the Illinois Nurses Association/National Nurses United, Teamsters, SEIU and AFSCME –– into the streets at one of the endangered institutions, historic Provident Hospital. The nurses previously demonstrated at another threatened medical center, Mercy Hospital. County Board Chair Toni Preckwinkle, who is also Black and who repeatedly declares her commitment to the Black South Side community she hails from, plans to keep Provident open while building a new, but smaller Provident. All the closures, including prior shutdowns of Westlake and MetroSouth, would limit health care for many people, the unionists said. Those cuts follow service cuts at Holy Cross Hospital and Jackson Park Hospital. “These cuts and closures are creating a health-care desert on the southeast side of Chicago,” said INA/NNU board member Martese Chism. “It is inconceivable to me that cutting health-care services and access is even considered in the midst of a global pandemic. It is life-threatening hypocrisy, and we won’t stand for it.”

Rail unions demand BNSF stop threatening workers and jeopardizing jobless benefits. The Burlington Northern Santa Fe is tightening the screws on workers, manipulating work recalls and work rules to even deny workers railroad unemployment insurance assistance benefits, top rail union presidents said in a stern letter to the freight line. Nine Smart-Transportation Division general chairs and three more from the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen/Teamsters demanded the railroad retreat from its anti-worker moves. “Just when one thinks the carriers can’t possibly stoop any lower, they try to game the RUIA system to their benefit,” said BLE&T President Dennis Pierce and Smart-TD President Jeremy Ferguson. “BNSF has continually looked for ways to blame its managerial inadequacies on the workforce, this is just another example,” they said. “BNSF is again imposing an unfair labor practice on its employees without a clear and concise policy to follow.”

News briefs courtesy of The Labor Paper:

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