SANTA FE SPRINGS, California—Since November 3, nearly 175 workers, primarily Latinas, have been on strike against the Rich Products Corporation, a large transnational frozen foods company. The Jon Donaire Deserts plant here makes ice cream cakes that are widely distributed, including at stores like Baskin Robbins, Cold Stone, Walmart, and Von. In total, the company employs about 11,000 people. The workers are on strike demanding higher wages and improved health care from a company that had $4 billion in revenue in 2021, and whose owner, Bob Rich Jr., is valued at nearly $7.5 billion according to bloomberg.com.
DENVER, CO, January 11, 2022—Working people and all supporters of democratic rights should express solidarity with Rogel Aguilera Mederos and demand he be immediately freed from prison. The truck driver was involved in a tragic 28-vehicle pileup caused by a failure of the brakes in the semi he was driving while descending a mountainous section of the I-70 highway in Lakewood, a suburb of Denver. The April 2019 accident resulted in the death of four people. After a jury found Aguilera guilty last October of four counts of vehicular homicide and 23 other criminal offenses, a judge sentenced him to an incredible 110 years behind bars! The news of such cruel and unusual punishment struck a chord with millions around the world who quickly expressed indignation at the draconian sentence.
In a November 17, 2021, vote, United Auto Workers (UAW) members at the major agricultural implements company John Deere approved a new contract and ended their month-long strike. The agreement, which covers some 10,000 workers in the U.S., was approved by a vote of 61% to 39%. The union ranks had rejected two previous contract offers.
November 15, 2021—The Amazon Labor Union (ALU) withdrew its request for a union representation election at Amazon’s Staten Island warehouses on November 12. The ALU had filed its petition for a union vote with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on October 25. The NLRB has approved the withdrawal request.
This is a Reporter’s Notebook based on a November 3, 2021, visit by World-Outlook editor Argiris Malapanis to the Amazon Labor Union organizing tent in front of the JFK8 Amazon fulfillment center on Staten Island, New York. It is a supplement to the news article “NY Amazon Workers File for Union Recognition,” published on World-Outlook November 4, 2021. It paints a more detailed picture of how rank-and-file workers lead this impressive unionization effort.
NEW YORK CITY, November 3, 2021—Amazon warehouse workers in New York took a big step toward unionization on October 25, when they filed more than 2,000 signatures with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) seeking a union representation election. World-Outlook visited the union organizing center and spoke with Chris Smalls and other workers.
The Amazon Labor Union (ALU), a grassroots group organized by warehouse workers, is leading the organizing drive. With no affiliation to any of the established national trade unions, the ALU is trying to unionize the approximately 7,000 workers employed in four warehouses—the JFK8 on Staten Island and surrounding facilities dubbed LDJ5, DYY6 and DYX2. Amazon uses these warehouses to fulfill orders in the huge New York market.
If successful, the outcome will reverberate through the working class and labor movement in the United States. These workers know they are challenging a powerful enemy.
United Auto Workers (UAW) members at John Deere, one of the giants of the agricultural machinery industry worldwide, struck the company on Thursday, October 14, for the first time in more than three decades. Over 10,000 workers are on strike at plants in Iowa, Illinois, and Kansas. The Waterloo Courier reported the mood on the picket lines at entrances to the Deere plants there was “downright jovial.”
DENVER, CO, June 7, 2021—On May 6, Amazon worker Linda Rodriguez filed a complaint with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment for Amazon’s “systematic failure to comply with even the most basic safety precautions necessary to protect her and her co-workers from exposure to the [Covid-19] virus” at the peak of the coronavirus pandemic. “Amazon just wanted to pressure people to keep coming to work during the pandemic, even though we were terrified, and they didn’t tell us whether we’d been exposed and didn’t even explain to my Spanish-speaking co-workers…that they shouldn’t come to work if they were sick.”
April 15, 2021—Pro-union workers suffered a setback in their effort to organize the giant Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama. They lost the vote for union representation by a margin of 738 ballots cast in favor to 1798 against. The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Workers Union (RWDSU), which was seeking to represent them, said it plans to challenge the result and will ask federal labor officials to investigate Amazon for creating an “atmosphere of confusion, coercion and/or fear of reprisals.”
April 2, 2021—The vote at Amazon’s warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, closed March 29. The fight to establish a union there, however, is far from over.
Mar. 26, 2021— Workers in Bessemer, Alabama, are engaged in one of the most important union-organizing drives in recent years. Their goal is to win representation by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) at the giant Amazon warehouse there. Voting by mail by the 5,805 workers began in February. It closes March 29. The outcome can have far-reaching implications for the working class and the labor movement in the United States.