10/4/07

Bay Area strike enters 4th month

On Friday September 21, striking workers from Valley Power on Adams Avenue geared up for their 12th week of picketing with a solidarity breakfast on the picket lines. Family, friends, and representatives from the Alameda County Labor board turned out to show their support over coffee and toast.

In the last month, the picket line went mobile, visiting the Sacramento and Fresno locations, while garnering the support of city representatives throughout Alameda County and the state.

In August, striking workers from Valley Power went before the National Labor Union Relations Board in Oakland. During the hearing, Robert Humphreys, a partial owner of Valley Power Systems North, stated that the company was not hiring new employees because there is little work for them.

Moises Alcarecca and strike co-captain John Griffin, who are out on the picket line daily, estimate that 90 percent of the company’s business at the Adams Avenue location has come to a halt.

“Maybe one or two trucks might slip in once a week, but it’s not enough to pay the bills,” says Alcarecca. “We pretty much shut this place down.”

This month Valley Power was added to the “Do Not Patronize” list maintained by the AFL-CIO. On September 11, Berkeley City Council member Kriss Worthington’s resolution to boycott Valley Power Services passed unanimously. Berkeley is the first city in the Bay Area to pass such a resolution.

When Valley Power took over Stewart and Stevenson in 2005, they revoked workers’ pension plans and health benefits. Union workers who became employed by Valley Power as a result of the acquisition are asking that their benefits be returned. They have been on strike since July 10 and say they will remain on strike until their contract is honored.

In the meantime, striking workers have taken part-time jobs, and rely on the “Hardship Strike & Lock-Out Fund” to help with health care costs.

(ebpublishing.com)

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