Striking Idaho miners stand firm

Striking Idaho miners on March 17 marked the one-year anniversary of their strike with a solidarity march and rally.

Miners at the Lucky Friday silver mine in Mullan, Idaho and their supporters chanted “Mullan is a union town. We won’t let you shut it down!” as they marched from the town center to the Lucky Friday picket line.

The mine is owned by Hecla Mining, a precious metals mining company that operates mines in Alaska, Mexico, and Canada as well as the one in Idaho.

Members of  United Steelworkers Local 5114 began their unfair labor practices strike on March 13, 2017 after the company attempted to unilaterally implement changes to the collective bargaining agreement.

The company’s attempt came after more than a year of  negotiations with the union on a new collective bargaining agreement.

Among the changes demanded by Hecla, were concessions, some of which, workers said, will make their jobs less safe.

Work in underground silver mines like the Lucky Friday is dangerous.

A mixture of heavy equipment, high temperatures, brittle rock, and unstable dust make for a volatile work environment.

“When things go wrong (in the mine), you usually don’t get a second chance,” said Louis Elam, a Local 5114 member to the Spokane Spokeman-Review during the solidarity march.

In 2011, an explosion at the Lucky Friday killed one miner.

“They pay you for your diligence and safety,” continued Elam. “These are talented people who know how to work the rock.”

A key element in keeping the mine safe is the seniority system that miners and the company agreed to more than 35 years ago.

The seniority system allows senior miners to select their crews. The system, according to union members, enhances safety because it builds crew cohesion and communication.

It also has resulted in record-setting production levels.

But the company thinks that the seniority system gives miners too much control over their jobs and wants to end it.

The company’s concession demands also included changing procedures for recalling workers after layoffs, increasing workers’ health care costs, moving work out of the mine, and reducing miners’ bonuses.

Before the strike began, the company tried to bully workers into accepting the company’s demands and once the strike began, it tried to intimidate them into returning to work.

The union filed unfair labor practice charges against the company, and some of the charges were recently resolved.

As a result of a settlement between the company and the National Labor Relations Board, Hecla mailed letters to union members telling them that the company will no longer engage in the unfair labor practices listed in the letter.

Among other things, Hecla said that it will not threaten employees with “negative consequences” if they support the strike; it will not promise benefits to those who abandon the strike; and it will allow workers to take accrued vacation as either a lump sum payment or earned vacation time.

The letter also said that the company will bargain in good faith with the union and will not unilaterally implement changes to the collective bargaining agreement.

Prior to receiving the letter, Local 5114 members had a chance to vote on whether to continue the strike.

In a secret ballot election held on March 7, workers voted 123-51 to reject a proposal to submit the outstanding negotiating issues to arbitration and instead to continue the strike and to continue negotiating with the company.

“Our members have spoken,” said Dave Roose Local 5114 unit chairman to the Shoshone News Press after the vote. “We have played the game, jumped through the hoops, and everyone has had the chance to vote. We have chosen to remain on strike rather than let someone else decide our future.”

Local 5114 members are looking to make it clear that the March 17 solidarity march was not just a one-time event and that they are ready to continue their fight for a fair contract.

On the local’s Facebook page, Roose announced that beginning March 23, “every Friday will be designated Black Friday” and encouraged members, family, and supporters to wear black “in remembrance of all the union members that have given their lives on picket lines and (as) a show of solidarity!!”

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April 2 public employee strike looming in Oklahoma

April 2 could be momentous day for Oklahoma teachers and state employees.

The Oklahoma Education Association (OEA), on March 8 announced that unless state lawmakers provide for a “significant raise” for teachers and school support employees and restore the funding cut from the state’s education budget, there will be a statewide closure of public schools on April 2.

“Teachers and support professionals of Oklahoma are angry and frustrated with the legislature for not doing its job,” said Alicia Priest, president of OEA. “We have tried several different paths to improve education funding, but none have worked. If the legislature cannot properly fund education and core state services by the legal deadline
of April 1, we are prepared to close schools and stay at the Capitol until it gets done.”

Two days later, the Oklahoma Public Employees Association (OPEA) board of directors voted to develop a work stoppage action plan for state employees. The work stoppage would take place on April 2.

“State employees in all 77 counties are fed up with state leaders who will not act to address state employee pay that is 25 percent below the private sector,” reads a statement issued by OPEA. “They are also tired of politicians who will not vote to raise revenue so core services can be sufficiently funded.”

The state’s failure to adequately fund core services such as education, public health, human services, law enforcement, etc. is the result of an extended shortage of revenue.

The revenue shortage is the result of generous tax breaks given to the oil and gas industry and the absence of other reliable and stable revenue sources.

While being stingy when it comes to funding the state’s core services, Oklahoma lawmakers have been almost philanthropic when it comes to lavishing tax breaks on the oil and gas industry.

US News reports that “Oklahoma has cut educational spending drastically in recent years while granting some of the most generous tax breaks in the country to oil and gas companies.”

The result of this generosity was a steep drop in state revenue even when oil production was booming.

Reuters reports that while oil and gas production boomed, “Oklahoma’s generous tax breaks for horizontal drilling resulted in declining revenue from production taxes,” which according to Reuters cost the state about $800 million in lost revenue between 2008 and 2014.

These tax breaks had been temporary, but in 2014, lawmakers voted to make them permanent.

In doing so, they continued to subsidize the oil and gas industry at the expense of core state services.

In 2017, the Guardian reported that Oklahoma’s lack of funding for public services made it resemble “a failed state” in which “the contract between citizens and public institutions breaks down.”

The Guardian describes a number of failures of the state to provide basic services including its lack of funding for programs that serve Oklahoma residents with mental disabilities. This lack of funding has resulted in a ten-year waiting period for some of these services.

In addition to short-changing its residents, Oklahoma has also been short-changing workers who provide state services. Oklahoma state employees haven’t had a pay raise in nearly 10 years.

And it’s no better for the state’s public school teachers whose average pay is the worst among all states in the US.

Priest said that as result of the low pay, Oklahoma teachers are leaving the state for better paying jobs in Texas and Arkansas.

Oklahoma’s failure to fund education has resulted in larger class sizes, reduced after-school programs, and cuts to other vital education services.

The lack of education funding also has caused nearly 100 of Oklahoma’s 513 school districts to reduce their school week to four days.

Teachers and state employees have been vocal advocates for improving the state’s core services, but lawmakers have ignored them.

Nevertheless, these advocates have persisted and what we’re seeing in Oklahoma, said Priest, is a “grassroots movement” that will no longer stand by and watch while state core services continue to crumble.

“Being last in the country in teacher pay and at the bottom of per pupil funding cannot be our vision for Oklahoma,” Priest said. “Our teacher shortage has reached catastrophic levels. . . We have thousands of full‐time support professionals who live below the poverty line. These people are vital to the day‐to‐day operations of our schools and play a significant role in our students’ lives.”

“We have found we cannot cut our way to prosperity,” continued Priest. “Our health care system is cutting services to our most at-risk populations. That includes children who are also our students.”

Priest went on to say that school districts across the state are preparing to close on April 2 but that a school closure is not OEA’s goal.

“Properly funding education and our state’s core services is the goal,” Priest said.

Frontier Communication workers strike for job security and improved customer service

Workers at Frontier Communications in West Virginia are on strike.

The 1400 striking Frontier workers are members if the Communication Workers of America (CWA). They walked off their jobs on March 4 because they want their new collective bargaining agreement to include job security protections for all union members.

Union members also want Frontier to keep promises that it made to customers when it acquired the state’s telecommunications system from Verizon in 2010.

“Frontier promised West Virginians that they would continue to provide the high quality service that is critical for families and businesses across the state,” said Ed Mooney, vice president of Communications Workers (CWA) of America District 2-13. “Instead, what we have seen is a sharp increase in customer complaints that has coincided with job cuts. There are simply not enough employees to get the job done.”

The CWA bargaining team began negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement with Frontier ten months ago.

After nearly a year of bargaining, the company was willing to guarantee job protections for 85 percent of union members, but the union wanted job protections for all members.

Union members say that job protections and quality services go hand in hand.

Frontier acquired West Virginia’s telecommunication system from Verizon in 2010 and at the time promised to invest in the state’s local workforce and its telecommunication system.

But instead, the company eliminated 500 good-paying, middle class jobs, a 27.5 percent reduction in its workforce.

Half of those job cuts have come since January 2017.

In December, about the same time that Frontier learned that it would be getting a substantial tax cut, the company announced its plan to eliminate 50 more jobs.

While Frontier has been eliminating good-paying union jobs, the work load has not declined, and the company is using lower-paid non-union contractors to pick up the slack.

As the company relies more on inexperienced contractors, customer service complaints have increased substantially.

The union’s review of informal customer service complaints filed with the West Virginia Public Service Commission found that complaints against Frontier increased by 69 percent between 2014 and 2017 going from 639 in 2014 to 1072 in 2017.

“”Customers are waiting way too long to have their problems resolved, and too often we’re back fixing the same problems over and over again,” said John Bailey, president of CWA Local 2276 in Bluefield. “Frontier is leaving West Virginia behind. The network has been neglected and there are just not enough experienced, well-trained workers left to handle the service requests.”

Since the strike began, Frontier has been trying to maintain service by importing out-of-state contractors to serve as replacement workers.

One of the out-of-state contractors was detained by police after he brandished a gun at striking workers as they walked their picket line.

Despite the actions of one disgruntled contractor, striking Frontier workers have been receiving widespread support locally and throughout the US.

During a recess on the final day of the state Legislature’s session, a busload of Democratic lawmakers joined a Charleston picket line of  striking Frontier workers.

Earlier in the week, Frontier received a letter from Kent Carper, president of the Kanawha County Commission.

In his letter, Carper wrote that he was disappointed with Frontier.

When Frontier began operating West Virginia, wrote Carper, it made promises to the community, but the company “failed to live up to its promises.”

Carper requested a meeting with company officials “to discuss this work stoppage and offer my assistance to resolve it.”

In addition to these elected officials, other unions and union members from all over the US are supporting striking Frontier workers.

During the first week of the strike, members of International Union of Elevator Constructors Local 10, SEIU Virginia Local 512, CWA Local 2201, CWA locals from Virginia and Maryland, and UAW locals joined Frontier picket lines.

United Food and Commercial Workers locals 1776 and 23 whose members live and work in Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, and West Virginia sent a letter pledging support for the striking workers and their customers.

A number of unions including CWA locals all over the country and United Mine Workers of America locals 1924, 1620, and 1332 from the Navajo Nation posted messages of support on Facebook.

And union members and other supporters from all over the country have been making contributions to the strikers’ Solidarity Fund, which helps striking workers meet the financial responsibilities during the strike.

In  a statement issued on March 9, Mooney said that Frontier, which has already agreed to job security protections for 85 percent of its union employees, could end the strike by extending the same protections to just 200 more of its union workers.

“We are asking them to make a commitment on job security for 200 of their employees to close this deal,” Mooney said. “They have no problem making a commitment to 200 scabs, many of them from out of state, in order to try to undermine our strike. Why not commit to their own employees, some of whom have been with the company for 40 years or more?”

West Virginia teachers on strike

Fed up and feeling disrespected, West Virginia teachers and school support employees today began their statewide strike to save public education.

The strikers set up picket lines at their schools, held rallies and demonstrations in their communities, and some traveled to Charleston, the state capital, to demand action by lawmakers.

Even though West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey declared the strike illegal, leaders of the two state public education unions, the American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia (AFT-WV) and the West Virginia Education Association (WVEA), said that schools in all 55 counties of the state were closed.

The strike was caused by years of neglect by state leaders.

A series of budget cuts have resulted in crowded classrooms, cuts in vital school services, and a severe teacher shortage as qualified teachers leave the state to take jobs in nearby states that pay better and have better benefits.

Rebecca Diamond, a second grade teacher in Huntington, and Jacob Fertig, an art teacher in Kanahwa County, explained why they are willing to defy state leaders and go on strike.

“I have a daughter,” Diamond said. “I will go on strike, so that she will have a highly qualified teacher in every single classroom that she goes into.”

Diamond said that her current salary isn’t enough to pay her family’s bills, so she has taken a second weekend job where she sometimes works ten-hour shifts on both days.

Instead of working at my second job on the weekends, Diamond said. “I’d like to be preparing for what I’m going to the next week at school.”

Fertig, whose wife has a chronic illness and whose daughter has a physical disability, said that he needs a quality, affordable health care plan, but that West Virginia does not provide one to teachers, school support employees, and other public employees.

“The lack of quality health insurance that we have here for teachers in West Virginia bankrupted my family,” Fertig said.

“We qualified for food stamps and WIC (a federal nutrition program for women, infants, and children),” Fertig continued.

According to Fertig the original teacher pay raise offered by West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice would have raised Fertig’s pay by about $375 a year. In the same year, his health care premium was scheduled to increase by about $1100 a year.

By 10:00 A.M. this morning a long line of hundreds of teachers formed outside of the West Virginia Capitol as striking teachers and other public school employees waited for the building to open.

When it did, the first floor of the building was covered with a flood of people wearing red and demanding that lawmakers take real action to solve the state’s public education crisis.

The strike has already had an impact.

The day before the strike began, the Finance Board of the state’s Public Employee Insurance Agency (PEIA), which manages health insurance plans for teachers and other public employees, approved a freeze on health care benefits for the next school year.

The freeze halts the $29 million worth of health care cuts for next year authorized by PEIA in December.

Union leaders said that the freeze is a step in the right direction, but PEIA, the Legislature, and governor need to do more.

“We still believe a freeze is not a fix,” said Christine Campbell, president of AFT-WV, about the agency’s decision to freeze benefits.

Campbell and Dale Lee, president of WVEA, both said that there needs to be a long-term, permanent solution to the funding problems that have caused PEIA to radically cut health care benefits over the last four years.

On the eve of the strike, the Legislature passed a pay raise bill for teachers and school support staff.

The raise increases pay by 2 percent next year, and 1 one percent the following two years.

When asked by reporters if she was satisfied with the pay raise, Campbell said that she wasn’t.

“This isn’t something that will actually pull us out of 48th in the country,” Campbell said.

Campbell was referring to the fact that teacher pay in West Virginia ranks 48th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

In addition to wanting the Legislature to do more to improve pay and health care benefits, Campbell also said urged union members to keep up pressure on the Legislature to thwart anti-public education bills pending before the body.

Among those bad bills are SB 335, which would prohibit the withholding of union dues from union members’ paychecks, SB 6, which would provide vouchers for parents wanting to send their children to private schools, and several bills that attack seniority rights for teachers.

The statewide strike has made state officials nervous. Attorney General Morrisey hoped that he could dissuade union members from going on strike by announcing that the work action is illegal.

He also said that if any local governments requested him to do so, he would file an injunction to halt the strike.

So far, no one has taken him up on his offer.

After the attorney general issued his threats, Lee said that the fact that the strike is illegal would not keep teachers and school support employees from striking.

“Education employees know they do not have the right to strike and they know there could be consequences to their actions,” Lee said. “But their frustration and anger has reached a boiling point and the Legislature continues to move punitive bills and fuel their anger. They are courageous and standing up for themselves, our schools and our students. They should be applauded instead of threatened.”

Striking miners remain resilient and strong

After six months on strike, 250 miners at the Lucky Friday silver mine in Mullan, Idaho remain determined to continue their fight for a fair contract that protects hard-won union pay, benefits, and safety measures.

In addition to maintaining a strong picket line for more than six months, the strikers, members of United Steelworkers Local 5114, have carried out an effective corporate campaign aimed putting their employer Hecla Mining on the defensive.

In addition to the Lucky Friday silver mine in Idaho, Hecla owns mines in Mexico, Canada, and Alaska that mine silver, gold, lead, and zinc.

The strikers next action against corporate greed will take them to Hecla headquarters in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho where on October 31 they’ll hold a solidarity rally.

After more than a year of bargaining, the strike began in March when the company tried to implement the terms of its last, best, and final contract offer made in February and rejected by Local 5114 members by a vote of 244-2.

Among other things, the company’s wants to cut pay, increase miners’ health care cost, eviscerate the seniority system, and make changes that miners fear will compromise safety.

The company’s offer also reduces the length of recall rights from three years to 90 days. Recall rights are important because, they protect workers’ jobs in event of layoffs or when the mine shuts down for long periods of repair and maintenance.

Hecla apparently thought that it could force a strike at one of its mines and carry on with business as usual, but that proved not to be the case.

Hecla’s silver production is a fraction of what it once was, and the business press is starting to take notice.

The Motley Fool reported that because of the strike, Hecla silver production during the first six months of 2017 was 850,000 ounces less than it was in the first six months of 2016 causing a steep drop in profits.

The strike at Lucky Friday “played a pretty big role in the (poor) financial performance Hecla Mining turned in during the second quarter of 2017,” reports The Motley Fool, which also observes that the strike has been “costly” to investors.

Seeking Alpha also reports that the strike has caused Hecla profits to fall.

For the company’s second quarter, the reporting period between April 2017 and June 2017, Hecla lost $24.2 million, a significant drop compared to the second quarter of 2016 when the company reported a profit of $24 million.

The outlook forward doesn’t appear to be much better.

Recently, the Spokane, Washington Spokesman-Review reported that with Hecla supervisory personnel working the mine, Lucky Friday silver production between July 2017 and September 2017 is 90 percent below its production for the same time period in 2016.

The strike has been hard on the workers, but they been strong and resilient. None of the union members have returned to work, and whenever they have had an opportunity, they’ve taken the fight to corporate management.

In August, Steelworkers including two Lucky Friday miners confronted Hecla executives in New York City during a meeting with investors.

They “stormed in during Hecla’s presentation chanting, ‘Hecla, Hecla you can’t hide. We can see your greedy side.”

They also met with some investors at that meeting to describe the impact that the strike was having on the company.

In September, members of Local 5114 attended the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum induction banquet where they passed out information about the strike.

The strikers accused Phillip Baker, the CEO of Hecla, of trying “to starve our families into accepting a contract that lowers pay, undermines job security, and gives management unchallenged authority to decide who works and when and where they’re assigned regardless of seniority or health and safety concerns.”

Baker, who was paid $6.4 million in 2016, a 36 percent raise over 2015, was also present at the banquet.

When he learned that Local 5114 members were at the banquet, he “lost his cool” and demanded that the workers be removed from the banquet.

The striking miners have received support from their communities where they live and from union members outside the community.

In September, a group of young workers and retirees from International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) locals in the Pacific Northwest traveled to Mullan to help the miners picket.

Since the strike began ILWU locals have contributed  $15,500 to Local 5114’s strike fund.

With help from United Steelworkers international office, Local 5114 has paid out $994,000 in assistance to strikers and their families.

Those wishing to donate money to support the strike can send checks to USW 5114, PO Box 427, Mullan, ID 83846.

During all this activity, the union’s bargaining team has been meeting with company negotiators.

They met for three days earlier in October and reported that some progress has been made, but more work needs to be done.

The next round of negotiations is scheduled for October 25, 26, and 27.

Boston food service workers win standard setting pay increase

Food service workers at Northeastern University in Boston voted on October 10 to ratify a new collective bargaining agreement that will raise their annual wage to at least $35,000 by 2019.

The new agreement is the second collective bargaining agreement that the workers’ union UNITE HERE Local 26 has negotiated that establishes a minimum annual salary of $35,000 for university food service workers in the Boston area.

The agreements also provide for improved health care and pension benefits and should serve as a new standard for collective bargaining agreements that unions in the area negotiate for service workers.

At Northeastern, members of Local 26 had voted to strike unless their new collective bargaining agreement included a substantial pay increase.

They needed a big pay raise because their pay was so low that some of the workers were receiving public assistance.

They reasoned that their employer Chartwells, which operates university dining halls all over the US and is owned by the international food service conglomerate Compass Group, shouldn’t be paying poverty wages.

Their vote to strike was inspired by the success of Harvard food service workers who won a minimum annual salary of $35,000 a year ago as a result of a 22-day strike.

The Chartwells workers were prepared to begin their strike on October 11, two days before Northeastern was to host the annual meeting of the Clinton Foundation’s Clinton Global Initiative University (CGIU).

According to the Clinton Foundation, CGIU meetings bring together “students, university representatives, top experts, and celebrities . . . to discuss and develop innovative solutions to pressing global challenges” including among other things “the alleviation of poverty.”

Had the strike taken place, Bill and Chelsea Clinton and others attending the meeting to discuss innovative strategies for alleviating poverty would have had to decide whether to cross the workers’ picket line to attend the meeting or to honor the picket line in order to stand in solidarity with workers fighting to alleviate their own poverty.

The union and Chartwells, however, reached an agreement just a few hours before the strike was to begin.

The new agreement includes a total wage increase of $5.56 an hour over five years for all workers. By 2019 all full-time workers will be making at least $35,000 a year.

In addition, the company will pay 97 percent of the workers’ health care costs and will begin contributing to UNITE HERE’s pension fund so that workers can start accruing retirement benefits.

The new contract also includes protections for immigrants, more sick days, better non-discrimination language in the contract that includes protections for gender identity and expression, additional sick days, and language that protects workers from lost wages when the state declares snow day emergencies.

“I am so proud of what we accomplished,” said Angela Bello, a Northeastern food service worker and member of the Local 26 bargaining team. “It’s amazing to feel the power that workers have when we get together and are well organized. The ways this contract will impact our lives is almost hard to believe. Thank you to everyone who supported us and believed in us.”

Brian Lang, president of Local 26, said that the new collective bargaining agreement at Northeastern will serve as the standard in the union’s next round of bargaining for service workers in the Boston area.

“Our union fights so that our members can have their fair share of the wealth they create. Last year that meant we struck Harvard University for 22 days. This week we threatened to do the same at Northeastern. Next on the list are the 34 Boston hotels where contracts expire in 2018.” said Lang.

Hurricane Harvey interrupts pickets but not the strike at Wyman-Gordon

Hurricane Harvey forced striking workers at Wyman-Gordon in Houston to leave their picket line, but the strike remains in effect.

The strike by 271 members of International Association of Machinist (IAM) Local Lodge 15 began more than a week ago when the current collective bargaining agreement expired and workers rejected the company’s final offer.

The company’s offer included a three-year wage freeze for current employees and a steep pay cut for new hires.

Striking workers also criticized the company’s offer because it lowered disability payments and created safety problems.

“These Machinists are very strong because they take these issues to heart,” said James Parker IAM Southern Territory grand lodge representative. “Cuts to short and long-term disability insurance really struck a nerve because it touches all generations from retirees to new hires. They know each other and their families, so they know who would be adversely affected by cuts like this. It’s not some faceless person; it’s your brother and your sister that you see every day. That strengthens their drive for a fair and equitable contract.”

At its factory located in far Northwest Houston, Wyman-Gordon designs and manufactures complex metal components for  aircraft engines and seamless pipes for oil, gas, and nuclear energy companies.

Wyman-Gordon is owned by Precision Castparts, a worldwide manufacturer of metal components and products. It produces these components for some of the world’s largest companies including Boeing, Airbus, GE, Rolls Royce, and many others.

It was purchased in 2016 by Warren Buffet who paid $32 billion for the company.

Byron Williams, president and directing business representative of IAM District 37, called the Wyman-Gordon final offer to its workers “an outrage.”

It includes “takeaways of benefits, unlivable wages, even trying to decrease overtime breaks,” said Williams, whose father is one of the striking workers.

Mark Boldin, IAM Southern Territory general vice president, also called the company’s offer an outrage.

“According to their last, best and final, it would take a new hire starting at $12.75, close to 50 or 60 years to top out on wages,” said Blondin. “No one will be able to raise a family on that, much less save for retirement. It’s just unacceptable.”

Workers also decided to strike because Wyman-Gordon’s last contract offer included cuts to both long-term and short-term disability payments.

Disability benefits are important because, like all heavy industry, work at Wyman-Gordon is hard and dangerous.

Workers at Wyman-Gordon in Houston forge and cut heavy pieces of metal.

They operate large machinery including a 12,000-ton horizontal extrusion press, a 20,000-ton closed-die press, a 29,000-ton closed-die press, and a 35,000-ton vertical extrusion press.

In the summer when the thermometer outside approaches and sometimes exceeds 100 degrees, temperatures inside the plant, which lacks air conditioning, can be as high as 120 degrees.

The hours are long and there are stretches when days off are few and far between.

All of these conditions taken together put stress on a worker’s body, which over time can become more prone to disabling injuries, which makes a decent disability benefit worth fighting for.

Safety problems also can be exacerbated by fatigue, which is one reason that under the terms of the old contract, workers got 20 minutes for breaks during overtime.

But the company wants to reduce those breaks to 15 minutes, which will give workers less time to recover from the grueling work during an extended work day.

Before Hurricane Harvey struck Houston, the union’s bargaining committee met with the company to explain why union members were dissatisfied with the company’s contract offer.

During the meeting, the committee presented the company with another contract  proposal.

The company is currently reviewing the proposal, but the negotiations have been interrupted by the hurricane and the flooding that it has caused.

Hurricane Harvey has done more than interrupt the negotiations; it has interrupted the lives of the strikers and of working people all over Houston.

To help out the strikers and other IAM members affected by flooding, the union has mobilized its Emergency Relief Department and its Employee Assistance Program.

The union is also asking other IAM members to contribute money to the union’s Disaster Relief Fund.

The Texas AFL-CIO has also activated the Texas Workers Relief Fund  to collect donations for workers and their families affected by Hurricane Harvey.