5/21/08

Angry labor-state Teamster nurses hurl Hoffa

Angry nurses weren't throwing sticks and stones at Genesys Regional Medical Center adminstrators during an outdoor protest rally today in Grand Blanc Township (MI). But they did hurl a mighty big rock, in the form of International Brotherhood of Teamsters president James P. Hoffa. Hundreds gathered in the parking lot at Trillium Theater to hear Hoffa speak, just down the road from the hospital. "Let's see if they can hear us down the road," shouted Hoffa, holding high the hand of original UAW Sit-Downer Olen Ham, 90 as he led the crowd in a chant of "We want a contract! We want a contract!"

Hoffa spoke for a few minutes during the rally.

"This whole situation feels like David and Goliath. But we don't need more slingshots - we need bigger rocks. James P. Hoffa is our really big rock," Teamsters Local 332 President Nina Bugbee said shortly before the rally to support about 1,000 Genesys nurses embroiled in contract negotiations since Feb. 21.

Country music blared from a tent overflowing with crowds of union sympathizers waving a sea of protest signs as rain poured down in the parking lot at Trillium Theater.

Hoffa was joined on the makeshift stage by Democratic union supporters Lt. Gov. John Cherry and Sen John Gleason, as well as UAW Region 1-C Director Duane Zuckschwerdt.

"This is bigger than what's going on at Genesys. This is about an attack on workers in every industry," said Bugbee. "Mr. Hoffa is here to lock arms with all unions to expose corporate greed and to help hang on to the American Dream of middle-class America."

Union and management negotiators agreed to a 30-day contract extension on May 9 to continue negotiations but members have been meeting with union leaders to discuss the possibility of a strike vote in the coming days or weeks.

"What I've seen here today tells me Flint is still the strongest bastion of union belief and power in America," Hoffa said at the rally's end.

"This is the cradle of unionism and the reason why the Genesys nurses will be successful. And the International Teamsters are in it with them all the way."

(mlive.com)

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