Chicago teachers move closer to ratifying new collective bargaining agreement

Chicago teachers took another step toward ratifying a new collective bargaining agreement with the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) when the Chicago Teachers Union’s House of Delegates voted on October 19 to endorse a tentative agreement.

The tentative agreement now goes to the 27,000 members of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) for a ratification vote that will be held on October 27 and 28.

The union and CPS reached an agreement on the eve of a strike.

After reaching an agreement on October 10, CTU President said, “We’re very pleased with the agreement” but also noted that the agreement isn’t perfect.

The bargaining over a new collective bargaining agreement began in 2015 as CPS was in the midst of a budget crisis. Over the last two years, the school district’s budget has been cut by $300 million.

Members of CTU worked all of the 2015-2016 without a contract as negotiations bogged down because the school district insisted on steep concessions from its teachers and other education workers.

As the beginning of the school year drew near, CPS CEO Forrest Claypool and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel tried to intimidate teachers into accepting CPS’ concession-laden contract proposal.

Claypool told the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune that CTU members had a choice: they either had to accept concession or accept further cuts to classroom resources that would hurt their students.

Mayor Emanuel backed up his handpicked leader at CPS by telling the media that the teachers had to make choice between one of the two alternatives.

In response, CTU called for a vote on whether to authorize a strike if a fair contract could not be reached. Ninety-five percent of the membership voted to authorize a strike.

The union, which has spent the last five years building a base of support among parents, students, and the community, said that if the union had to strike, the strike wouldn’t just be about better pay, it would be about better education.

Negotiations continued as the October 11 strike deadline drew near, but a strike appeared to be imminent.

On October 10, union members picked up picket signs and prepared to strike the next day.

But that evening, CPS offered a new proposal that included an additional $87.5 million that would come from a surplus in Mayor Emanuel’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF) fund.

TIF is a program that diverts property taxes in areas of the city targeted for redevelopment into a fund used to subsidize private development in those areas.

The offer to use the TIF surplus did not come out of thin air. The union, city council members, and parents had been urging the mayor for more than a year to invest more TIF money in public education.

The extra TIF money and savings resulting from the tentative agreement will significantly increase resources for Chicago’s classrooms.

For example, the district agreed to hire assistants for kindergarten through second grade teachers whose classes have 32 or more students.

The district will also spend more money on after school programs, counselling, and medical services for students.

Special education teachers, counselors, and other service providers will be able to spend more time teaching and providing services and less time on paper work, and elementary teachers will have more time to prepare lessons.

In addition, the agreement capped the number of charter schools that could operate in the district.

The tentative agreement also contains some economic gains for teachers and other union members.

The school district wanted to eliminate the 7 percent pick up, an extra pension contribution that the school district makes on behalf of each CTU member. The tentative agreement keeps the 7 percent pension pick up intact for current staff, but eliminates it for staff hired after January 1, 2017.

In lieu of the pick up, new staff will receive a 7 percent increase in base salary split over two years.

The school district also agreed to restore step and lane pay increases, which compensate teachers for years of service. The district stopped paying these increases last year.

The district also agreed to a 4.5 percent cost of living raise for the last two years of the agreement.

Teachers laid off at the end of the year will be eligible fill vacant positions. If no positions are available, laid off teachers can teach as a substitute with full pay and benefits for one year.

The agreement also includes incentive payments for eligible teachers to retire at the end of the current school year; although in order to get the incentive, at least 1500 teachers must retire at the end of the school year.

The House of Delegates voted 358 to 130 to endorse the tentative agreement. The margin of those voting yes over those voting was substantial; nevertheless, the number of no votes showed that there was significant opposition to the agreement.

During the delegates’ meeting, special education teachers and counselors expressed disappointment that the agreement did not include a cap on special education class sizes.

Others criticized the agreement for excluding new hires from receiving the 7 percent pension pick up.

Lewis said that much of the dissent could be traced to a feeling among teachers that CPS could not be trusted to carry out its responsibilities laid out in the tentative agreement.

That distrust is not unwarranted. Soon after CTU won a strike and a new collective bargaining agreement in 2012, CPS began cutting its budget, laying off teachers, and closing schools.

But Lewis said that she thinks the agreement will be ratified.

“I think there’s enough in this tentative agreement that will appeal to the overwhelming majority of members,” said Lewis.

Feds thwart terrorist plot against immigrant workers

Federal agents on October 15 arrested three white men in Kansas and charged them with plotting a terrorist attack against Somali immigrant workers.

The immigrants, most of whom are Muslim, live in an apartment complex located in the western Kansas town of Garden City. Many of them work at a nearby Tyson Foods meat packing plant.

According to a Federal Bureau of Investigation criminal complaint, the three men “conspired with each other and with others to use weapons of mass destruction” to blow up the apartment complex where the immigrants live.

The complaint states that Chris Wayne Allen, Patrick Eugene Stein, and Gavin Wayne Wright planned to load four vehicles with explosives and detonate the bombs close to the apartment complex.

The explosives that they planned to use were similar to those used by Timothy McVeigh in 1995 to blow up a federal office building in Oklahoma City.

The alleged terrorists planned to detonate the explosion on November 9, the day after Election Day.

They are members of an anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim militia group called the Crusaders.

The complaint states that the alleged co-conspirators “have routinely expressed their hatred for Muslims, individuals of Somali descent, and immigrants. They chose the target based on their hatred of those groups, their perception that these groups represent a threat to American society, a desire to inspire other militia groups, and a desire to ‘wake people up’.”

In addition to their plan to blow up the apartment complex, members of the group also talked about taking action against churches and people who have helped the Somalis settle in Garden City.

The Somalis who live in the targeted apartment complex are refugees from a county that has been in the midst of a bloody civil war for years.

They moved to the US because their lives were in danger in Somalia.

Once they settled in Garden City, many of the apartment residents, who number about 120, went to work at the Tyson meat packing house.

As well as Somalis, Tyson has hired immigrant workers from other African countries, Vietnam, Burma, Malaysia, Mexico, and South America to work at its Garden City packing house.

For 150 years, US employers have relied heavily on immigrants to perform the country’s most arduous, dangerous, low-paying work. Tyson, the largest food processor in the world with annual sales of $40 billion, is part of this long tradition.

The work on Tyson killing floors and processing plants is hard, dangerous, and low paying.

According to Hunter Ogletree, an organizer with the Western North Carolina Workers Center who helps Tyson workers at its poultry processing plant in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, Tyson “reported 51 amputations or hospitalizations (at its food processing plants) to OSHA” during 2015 and the early part of 2016.

“Among all companies in the US, Tyson reported the fourth highest number of these serious incidents,” continued Ogletree.

Tyson was recently fined $263,000 by the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration for safety violations at its poultry processing plant in Center, Texas.

The fine was the result of a safety inspection that took place after a Tyson workers had his thumb amputated after it was caught in a conveyor belt.

The pay at Tyson for processing food is also low.

In 2015, Tyson announced that it was raising pay at its poultry processing plants. The Wall Street Journal reports that after the pay increase went into effect, a production workers who worked for Tyson for a year would be making $12 an hour.

Work at Tyson’s meat packing plants like the one in Garden City appears to pay better.

An NPR report from 2013 said that workers’ pay at the Garden City plant averaged $13.50 an hour, but the report stated that many of these workers still rely on food stamps and reduced-price school lunches to make ends meet for their families.

The day after the arrests, The Wichita Eagle reports that, the immigrant workers and others who live in and near the targeted apartment complex gathered together to hear a briefing from the Garden City police Chief Michael Utz.

Utz tried to reassure them that the police and citizens of Garden City would protect them.

But when he spoke of the alleged terrorists’ motives, his words sounded ominous.

“The only answer I can give you about why this happened is that they wanted to attack your religious beliefs,” said Utz.

Allina nurses ratify new contract, return to work

Allina Health nurses in the Minneapolis-St Paul area returned to work after ratifying a new collective bargaining agreement.

The ratification vote ended a five-week strike by the nurses.

The vote came two days after the Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA)  and Allina reached a tentative agreement on October 11.

The two sides announced the agreement after a 17-hour negotiating session held in the home of Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton.

Gov. Dayton brought the two sides together and urged them to reach an agreement a week after nurses rejected a proposal Allina to end the strike.

“This contract represents compromise and strength by the nurses,” said Rose Roach, MNA’s executive director. “While it’s nowhere near what nurses deserve, they can hold their heads high. They can rest easy knowing they won a “no diminishment” clause, so even though they are moving to the corporate health insurance plans, they have assurance that the value of their benefits won’t be reduced in any future cost-cutting scheme.”

When contract talks began in February, Allina sought to shift nurses away from their low-cost, high-quality union sponsored health care plan and into its corporate plan.

Penny Wheeler, Allina’s CEO, said that doing so would save the company $10,000,000.

The savings would be generated by shifting health care costs from the company to the nurses.

The Kaiser Family Foundation compared the union’s two most popular plans with the company’s most popular plan.

Depending on which of the two union plans a nurse is enrolled, insurance pays either 91 percent and 96 percent of the yearly costs that a typical person would incur. Under the corporate plan, a typical person pays 87 percent of the yearly costs.

Before the strike began, nurses agreed to the shift but wanted it done gradually and wanted Allina to compensate them for the money they would lose when they shifted to the corporate plan.

The final agreement, which is similar to the agreement that nurses rejected a week earlier, gives nurses five years to shift their health care coverage to the corporate plan.

When they do so, Allina will contribute money to a health reimbursement or savings account.

The company also agreed that during this time, corporate plan benefits will not be diminished.

There were other issues that led to the strike. Concerns about under staffing were just as important to the nurses as their health care plan.

Nurses argued that staffing shortages were putting the health and lives of their patients as risk. They wanted the company to agree to safe nurse to patient staffing ratios.

The ratified agreement takes some small steps toward addressing the under staffing problem.

Under terms of the new agreement, Allina agreed to examine the conditions under which charge nurses are assigned a patient load.

Charge nurses are registered nurses who perform supervisory work. They oversee admissions and discharges, assign duties to other nurses and staff, assist other nurses and staff, and perform administrative tasks such as ordering and monitoring prescription medicine.

Charge nurses usually care for patients too.

Nurses are hoping that a closer examination of how charge nurses are assigned patient care will lead to more appropriate nurse to patient ratios for all nurses.

“The nurses sacrificed their livelihoods and their families’ security to win improvements to patient care through a staffing procedure that will examine and review the impact of charge nurses having patient assignments,”said Mary Turner, MNA’s president and an RN at Allina’s North Memorial Medical Center. “The issue of safe staffing is far greater than one job classification, which is why nurses focused from day one on negotiating staffing ratios.”

The new contract also includes safety improvements. For example, Allina agreed to hire security guards that would be present in its emergency rooms around the clock.

While the nurses voted to end the strike, they remain wary of Allina and its motives.

“To Allina we say: as a member-run union, the nurses make the decisions (about ending the strike),” said Roach. “Rest assured, this isn’t the last time you will hear nurses speak out. The wounds inflicted on the nurses since February will not heal overnight. Nurses have continually felt disrespected and devalued. Nurses are determined to keep speaking up for their patients and their profession as they return to the bedside. I hope Allina will listen and work to re-establish trust with the nurses and ensure maximum patient safety and care.”

Washington farmworkers vote yes for a union

Farmworkers in the state of Washington have voted to join a union.

In a secret ballot election held on September 12, workers at the Sakuma Brothers Farms in Burlington, Washington voted to join Familas Unidas por la Justicia (FUJ).

“This win is a win for all farmworkers,” said Ramon Torres, president of FUJ. “Now we will be getting ready for a union contract negotiation process.”

Sakuma Brothers Farms is a vertically integrated agribusiness that among other things is a large scale producer of blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries on its farms in Washington.

Sakuma sells its berries to Driscoll’s, a global agribusiness that distributes berries to markets all over the world.

The workers at the farm in Burlington are immigrants from Mexico. Most are Triqui and Mixteco indigenous peoples from the state of Oaxaca in southwestern Mexico.

Three years ago they formed FUJ and began organizing to fight for better pay, better working conditions, and better housing in the dilapidated labor camps where many of the workers live while picking berries.

A wage theft suit initiated by FUJ won an $850,000 settlement in which Sakuma agreed to pay workers for unpaid wages.

FUJ’s organizing also won increased wage rates for workers.

However, Sakuma refused to recognize FUJ as the workers’ union and refused to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement.

To win union recognition, FUJ called for a boycott of berries produced at Sakuma Farms. The main target of the boycott was Driscoll’s, Sakuma’s primary distributor.

Supporters of the boycott established solidarity boycott committees primarily in cities along the West Coast. The committees urged stores such as Costco and Whole Foods to stop selling Driscoll’s berries.

In another act of solidarity, members of the International Longhore Workers Union in July refused to load Driscoll’s berries onto a ship in the Port of Seattle.

In the summer of 2016 when the berry picking season began, things began to heat up in the fields.

On July 20, 200 workers walked off the job in a blueberry field to protest wage rates and the limited number of hours they were allowed to work.

They went back to work the next day without the issues being resolved.

Another walkout took place on August 9 when workers objected to a management decision to lower the blueberry wage rate in a particular field from $0.60 a pound to $0.56 a pound.

At the same time, workers in another blueberry field were being paid $0.77 a pound.

After walking off the job, the blueberry pickers marched to a blackberry field and urged workers there to join the walkout.

Management tried to stop the blueberry workers from talking to the blackberry workers and even threatened to call the police.

After intense discussions between the two sides, management agreed to sit down and talk with representatives from the workers, and the two sides reached an agreement.

The company agreed to raise the wage rate in the blueberry field where the walk out took place to $0.65 per pound if the workers agreed to return to work.

Despite the victory, workers were frustrated by this and other ad hoc agreements with the company. They wanted something in writing that would guarantee fair treatment. In short, they wanted a contract.

Three weeks later, FUJ called for another walkout and urged community supporters to join workers on the picket lines.

When workers in blueberry fields began walking off the job on August 27, they were cheered on by FUJ members and supporters who had gathered on a picket line.

Those who walked out and their supporters marched to other fields and urged more workers to join the strike.

“We don’t walk out of the field because we just feel like it,” said Tomas Ramon, a member of the FUJ coordinating committee. “This is the only way that Sakuma listens to our demands for pay that is fair for our labor. That is why we need a union contract, so we can work and not to be calling for work stoppages in order to get a fair wage.”

After the walkout, Sakuma’s management sat down with leaders of FUJ for more talks. As a result, the two sides agreed to hold a secret-ballot union representation election on September 12 in which farmworkers would vote on whether to join FUJ.

In return, FUJ agreed to end the boycott.

During most of the organizing drive, Sakuma’s management contended that only a small percentage of farmworkers supported FUJ.

But when the ballots were counted, 77 percent voted to join FUJ.

“We want to thank all our supporters that helped made this victory happen,” said Felimon Pineda, vice president of FUJ. “We are looking forward to a new and productive relationship with Sakuma.”

Dining hall workers strike Harvard

Harvard University students may soon be eating frozen dinners instead of fresh food prepared by the university’s dining hall workers because the workers have gone on strike.

The strike began October 5 when the workers’ union UNITE HERE Local 26 and Harvard could not reach an agreement on a fair contract.

Before the strike, workers reported that Harvard University Dining Services had stockpiled frozen dinners to feed students during the strike. When the Harvard Crimson queried the university’s administration about the stockpiling, a university spokesperson declined to comment.

The strike began about three weeks after the old contract expired.

About 750 dining hall workers have joined the strike and have been picketing and rallying on campus.

Union members, many of whom are laid off for extended periods during the summer and winter break months, want a guaranteed salary of $35,000 a year.

Harvard, which raised $7 billion in its most recent fund raising campaign and has an endowment of $35.7 billion, the largest university endowment in the world, says it can’t afford the pay raise and it wants dining hall workers to pay more of their health care costs.

“All the money they have, and they still want to squeeze every bit out of us,” said Anabela Pappas, a dining hall worker at an October 5 rally supporting the strike,. “You greedy people. This (the strike) is what you caused, not us. We didn’t want to be here.”

An analysis of Harvard’s health care proposal prepared by four Harvard Medical School students finds that “For nearly all dining (hall) workers, Harvard’s proposed heal!h plan is considered unaffordable under state government guidelines.”

Most workers would pay $233 a month in premiums to cover their families, and Harvard wants workers to pay higher co-pays for doctor visits, prescriptions, tests, and procedures.

The analysis points out that some low-income dining hall workers would be eligible for co-pay reimbursements under Harvard’s proposal, but in order to get the reimbursement, the workers must pay the co-pay up front and file a claim for reimbursement.

Harvard (proposed health care) plans . . . have more expensive out-of-pocket costs than plans on the Massachusetts (health care) exchange, and the design threatens the financial stability of low-income workers,” concludes the analysis.

Workers are concerned that the new out-of-pocket expenses will make health care less accessible for themselves and their families.

Gene VanBuren, a dining hall worker told the Christian Science Monitor that the main reason he went on strike was to get a better health insurance deal. “We work hard every day, and they try to shorten our hours and increase our workload, and now they want to take our health insurance,” said VanBuren to the Monitor.

Negotiations between the union and Harvard also failed to resolve issues regarding workers’ pay.

Harvard rightly argues that the average dining hall worker wage of $21.89 an hour is well above wages of workers in the area who do comparable work.

But the workers say that the hourly wage that they are paid isn’t enough because many are laid off without pay during the three-month summer break and the month-long winter break, and they are not eligible to draw unemployment insurance during the breaks because the university is a non-profit organization.

Even if you are making $21.89 an hour, living without an income for four months out of the year in the Boston/Cambridge area where Harvard is located would be difficult.  According to the Harvard International Office, “the cost of living in the Boston/Cambridge area is among the highest in the United States.”

At (Harvard), the richest university in the world, no worker that is here and that is ready to work should be making less than $35,000 a year,” said Michael Kramer, a negotiator for Local 26 at a rally supporting the strikers.

The strike has won widespread support on campus.

The Undergraduate Council has voted to support the strike, the editorial board of the Crimson, the student newspaper, endorsed the strike, and so have a number of graduate student groups including the Harvard Graduate Students Union-UAW.

“HGSU-UAW stands in solidarity with (the dining hall workers)  because all of Harvard’s employees deserve a sustainable standard of living,” reads a statement of support on the union’s Facebook page.

HGSU is also urging members to sign a solidarity petition in support of the workers.

“Harvard is the richest university in the world, yet it consistently fails to look out for its lowest-paid and hardest-working employees,” reads the petition. “The money required to maintain workers’ current health-care plans and ensure a sustainable annual income is inconsequential to the University but of utmost consequence to workers.”

Striking Allina nurses reject contract offer

Striking Allina Health nurses on October 3 voted to reject the company’s latest contract offer.

The nurses, members of the Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA), have been on strike since September 5.

With their health insurance set to expire, the company thought that if it repackaged an old contract offer, the nurses might be willing to break ranks and return to work.

But the nurses said, “no thank you.”

“We felt that although some progress was made in negotiations with Allina, it wasn’t enough progress,” said Angela Becchette, an RN and negotiating team member.

Allina Health owns a string of hospitals and clinics in the Minneapolis-St.Paul. It employs 4800 nurses at its health care facilities and 4200 of them have been on strike for a month.

With the assistance of a federal mediator, negotiations between the union and Allina have continued during the strike.

On September 29, Allina made a contract offer that it thought would get nurses back to work.

But the new offer didn’t address the nurses’ main concerns–health care insurance and staffing.

The MNA negotiating team presented the company’s offer latest to members for a vote without making a recommendation.

Rose Roach, MNA executive director, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that the nurses vote on Allina’s offer was “a resounding” no.

The secret-ballot election took place on October 3.

“Each of (the  nurses) voted with their conscience, and with their patients and their families in mind,” said Roach to the Star Tribune.

Allina’s stubborn stance on its health care proposal is one of the main reasons that nurses rejected the company’s offer.

Since negotiations began last spring, Allina has insisted that nurses give up their union sponsored low-cost, high-quality health insurance and enroll in its high-deductible corporate health care plan.

MNA proposed a compromise that would lead to the gradual transfer of nurses from the union’s plan to the corporate plan and would compensate nurses for the money they would lose by transferring to the corporate plan.

In its latest offer the company continued to insist that nurses bear the financial burden of the transfer.

“Nurses felt that the (company’s latest) proposal took more away from nurses than it offered,” said Becchetti, explaining why nurses rejected the company offer.  “Nurses said they would end their affordable health care plans in the year 2020, but they haven’t been adequately compensated for it.”

Allina’s response to nurses’ concerns about under staffing also underwhelmed the nurses.

Speaking on Minnesota Public Radio, Becchetti said that Allina’s hospital floors are continually understaffed, putting patients’ health and lives at risk.

For the striking nurses, understaffing and the risks it poses to patients is even more important than health care insurance.

“We need more resources on the floor” because our patients’ lives are on the line, said Becchetti.

But the company offered only to study staffing issues.

Another concern of the nurses is safety. Nursing involves heavy lifting, exposure to contagious diseases,  and dealing from time to time with unruly, uncooperative, and violent patients.

In the latest round of negotiations, nurses and the company managed to make some progress on safety issues. Allina agreed to keep a full-time security guard in the emergency room and implement face-to-face workplace safety training.

For some reason Allina has been reluctant to reach a fair agreement with the nurses.

MNA has reached agreements with other hospitals in the area that did not include health care cuts like those proposed by Allina.

Allina could have had the same deal, but instead, it chose to spend millions to hire replacement workers during the strike.

There’s no way to know how much prolonging the strike is costing Allina, but MPR News reports a seven-day nurses strike last June cost Allina an extra $20 million.

Allina may be willing to suffer short-term losses in order to assure creditors that it can control its workers.

Allina, which describes itself as a non-profit health care company, has taken on $880 million in debt.

Some of that debt has been used to buy Health Catalyst, a for-profit health technology company, Regina Medical Center, a hospital, nursing home complex in Hastings, Courage Center, a company that provides rehabilitation services in Minneapolis, and a county hospital in Faribault, Minnesota.

Perhaps, Allina needs to convince its lenders that it can control its workforce and keep labor costs down, so that it can pay its debts in full and on time. And  maybe even borrow some more money.

Polish women strike to protect women’s health

Update: The Polish Parliament on October 6 voted 352-58 to scrap the anti-abortion bill that sparked a one-day strike by Polish women.

The ruling Justice and Law party, which had supported the bill “backtracked because it was scared by all the women who hit the streets in protest,” said Ewa Kopacz, a former prime minister and now an MP for the Liberal party to the Guardian.


An estimated 6 million Polish women didn’t show up for work on Monday, October 3.

They were taking part in a national strike to oppose a new abortion law that the country’s parliament is considering.

On what strike organizers called Black Monday, strike supporters wore black to express a day of mourning for those who will face needless deaths if the proposed law is enacted.

One protester interviewed by BBC said that the proposed law amounts to a death sentence if it passes.

“(Supporters of the  proposal) want to introduce an anti-abortion law which will mean in many cases, women will be sentenced to death,” she said. “It will take away the sense of security they have, the treatment options available when pregnancy puts their lives or health in danger.”

Poland already has one of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe. The country bans abortion except when the life of the expectant mother is at risk, there is the risk of serious and irreversible damage to the fetus, or the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.

The proposed law would remove these exemptions. It would also criminalize the act of abortion. Women who seek an abortion could be imprisoned for up to five years, and doctors who are perceived to have helped terminate a fetus would also be punished.

Amnesty International called the proposed law “a dangerous step backward for women and girls in Poland.”

“(The proposed law) will inevitably place women’s health at risk, and put doctors in impossible situations,” writes Anna Błuś for Amnesty International. “With no clear guidelines about how close to death a woman or a girl must be for performing an abortion for medical reasons to be lawful, the onus will be on doctors to delay for as long as possible.”

Dr. Romuald Debski, a gynecologist who works and teaches at a Warsaw hospital explained to the Polish media how the proposed law puts women at risk.

“(Under the proposed law) whoever causes the death of the unborn child is punishable by imprisonment up to three years,” said Debski. “If I have a patient with pre-eclampsia, who is 32 weeks pregnant, I will have to let her and her child die. I have to, because if I perform a caesarean section and the child dies, I may go to prison for three years, because the child was premature.”

To make matters worse, women who have miscarriages would also be investigated.

At the rallies held around the country to support the strike, women held up images of coat hangers, the symbol for underground abortions that resulted in the deaths of many women and girls until abortions were legalized.

Rallies supporting the strike took place in all of Poland’s major cities and in some smaller cities. Thousands attended the rallies.

Even more supported the strike by staying away from work.

The Guardian reports that in Czestochova, the most Catholic city in Poland, the city government reported that 60 percent of its women workers did not report for work on the day of the strike.

The Washington Post reports that the strike’s organizers estimated that 6 million workers stayed away from work on Black Monday to support the strike.

The proposed law has very little support. A recent Ipsos poll found that only 11 percent of those surveyed supported the proposed law.

The proposed law was submitted to Parliament by Ordo Iuris, a legal organization with ties to the Catholic Church, and the Stop Abortions coalition.

The ruling Justice and Law party and the Catholic Church support the proposed law, which the Parliament on September 23 referred to committee for study and further consideration.

Organizers of the strike said that they hope the Black Monday strike will galvanize women to and their supporters to be more assertive in challenging those who use religious zealotry as an excuse to put the lives of women at risk.

“A lot of women and girls in this country have felt that they don’t have any power, that they are not equal, that they don’t have the right to an opinion,” said Magda Staroszczyk, a strike coordinator to the Guardian. “This is a chance for us to be seen, and to be heard.”