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Despite Intimidation, Union Voices Get Louder for Ceasefire in Gaza

By Keith Brower Brown and Caitlyn Clark - Labor Notes, October 31, 2023

Workers from three Chicago hospitals marched October 21. Photo: @lowisiana on X.

In the U.S. and across the world, hundreds of thousands of people have taken the streets to protest Israel’s assault on Gaza, which has killed at least 8,300 Palestinians, including 3,300 children, since October 7. On October 27, the United Nations called for an “immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce.”

In the U.S., those protesting Israel’s attacks have faced a wave of repression by employers.

Management retaliation has struck journalists and academics. Michael Eisen, editor-in-chief of the open-access science journal eLife, was fired after sharing a satirical article from The Onion that criticized media responses to the loss of Palestinian life. Jackson Frank, a sports writer for PhillyVoice, was fired after criticizing a pro-Israel post by the Philadelphia 76ers.

After publishing and signing a letter of prominent artists and critics for a ceasefire, to stop an “escalating genocide,” Artforum Editor-in-Chief David Velasco was fired after 18 years at the magazine and six in that role. Three other editors resigned from the high-profile magazine in protest.

The National Writers Union is documenting such cases—both to connect writers with individual support, and to push for industry-wide reforms.

Meanwhile in Gaza, at least 25 journalists have been killed by Israeli airstrikes.

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'We're Not Gonna Wait Around Forever': UAW Expands Strike to Ford's Most Profitable Plant

By Jake Johnson - Common Dreams, October 12, 2023

The United Auto Workers launched a surprise strike at Ford's most profitable plant on Wednesday evening, calling on nearly 9,000 members in Kentucky to walk off the job after the company did not come to the bargaining table with a new contract proposal.

Speaking outside of Ford's Dearborn, Michigan headquarters, UAW president Shawn Fain said that "we came here today to get another offer from Ford."

"Unfortunately, this offer was the exact same offer they gave us two weeks ago," said Fain. "They're not taking us serious. We've been very patient working with the company on this. At the end of the day, they have not met expectations, they're not even coming to the table on it. So at this point, we had to take action."

The walkout at Ford's Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville brings the total number of UAW members on strike at the Big Three U.S. car manufacturers to roughly 33,000. The companies have laid off thousands of non-striking workers since the UAW's walkouts began last month.

Citing an unnamed source inside Ford's Kentucky facility, the Detroit Free Pressreported that "with little warning, thousands of workers left their jobs at 6:30 pm, just minutes after union officials walked through the plant, shut off the line, and told workers to walk out peacefully."

"We're not gonna wait around forever," Fain wrote in a social media post late Wednesday. "If Ford can't get that after four weeks on strike, these 8,700 workers shutting down their biggest plant will help them understand it."

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Auto Workers Escalate: Surprise Strike at Massive Kentucky Ford Truck Plant

By Keith Brower Brown - Labor Notes, October 11, 2023

Every Friday for the past four weeks, Big 3 CEOs have waited fearfully for Auto Workers (UAW) President Shawn Fain to announce which plants will strike next.

But without warning on Wednesday afternoon, the union threw a haymaker: within 10 minutes the UAW would be shutting down the vast Kentucky Truck Plant.

This plant, on 500 acres outside Louisville, is one of Ford’s most profitable—cranking out full-size SUVs and the Superduty line of commercial trucks.

“We make almost half of Ford’s U.S. revenue right here,” says James White, who has worked in the plant for a decade.

These 8,700 strikers join the 25,000 already walking the lines at assembly plants and parts distribution centers across the country in the union’s escalating Stand-Up Strike.

Auto Workers Charge Up the Power to Fight for an Electric Future

By Keith Brower Brown - Labor Notes, October 16, 2023

By the time the Stand-Up Strike began in September, White says many of his co-workers were raring to go, feeling like “we’re ready to walk out of here right now.”

Lowball offers from Ford management infuriated them. “Stop giving us one crumb at a time,” White said. “We know you can afford giving us the whole thing. It’s what you owe us. Your 40 percent raise came from us; you can give us a 40 percent raise.”

During the first few weeks of the strike, Kentucky Truck Plant members heeded the union’s call to organize to refuse voluntary overtime.

White, a full-timer who works a second job in security to support his family, says some members have struggled to give up the extra pay. Already, the exploding local housing costs had turned some members homeless, and forced others to live an hour and a half away.

Despite that tough context, White says, members stayed ready to strike. An hour before they got called to walk out, workers at the plant were already feeling primed to go.

“They just want to tip it over for real,” says White. “They want it to be like the Boston Tea Party. They feel like it’d be the final move on the chessboard to make the CEO fold.”

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UAW President: “Use Auto Profits to Address Inequality and the Climate Crisis”

By staff - Labor Network for Sustainability, October 10, 2023

In a September op-ed, UAW President Shawn Fain and Congressman Ro Khanna say record auto profits should be used to address inequality and the climate crisis. 

“The climate crisis and income inequality are the two greatest challenges facing our generation. Both are being determined in the union contract negotiations between the United Auto Workers Union and Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis.”

The electric vehicle transition, they write, “must be as much about workers’ rights as it is about fighting the climate crisis. Forcing workers to decide between good jobs and green jobs is a false choice. We can and must achieve both – and it can start with a fair contract for UAW autoworkers.”

The electric vehicle future must be union made. “We can have both economic and climate justice – and that starts by ensuring that the electric vehicle industry is entirely unionized and that EV jobs come with union standards.”

We will not let corporate greed manipulate the transition to a green economy into a roll back of economic justice. That money must be invested in high-road, green American manufacturing jobs that create broad-based prosperity for working class communities. 

“We’re mobilizing for a new model that puts working people, climate justice and human rights before profit.” 


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