Teamsters weigh national strike v. bankrupt bakery

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters is considering a strike against Interstate Bakeries Corp. after labor talks between the Twinkie maker and its largest union broke down. Teamsters official Rick Volpe said 800 of the union's members in Southern California may be the first to go, but a strike would likely be honored by the more than 9,000 other Teamsters working for Kansas City-based Interstate Bakeries across the country.

Such a move would make it harder for the company, which has been under bankruptcy protection since September 2004.

"The barn is on fire, but I don’t know if anyone is coming to put it out," Volpe, the union's international director, told The Kansas City Star for a story in today's editions. "If they walk in L.A., they'll spread their picket lines to every facility Interstate has, and knowing the Teamsters, they'll honor the picket lines. I can't speak for the other (unions) but then push comes to shove. Do we let the company burn up? I'm hoping someone gets a little smarter before that happens."

Interstate Bakeries spokeswoman Sandi Sternberg said a work stoppage would only make things worse.

"Any labor activity would only compound the company's problems and reinforce Mr. Volpe's lack of concern for Interstate's employees, many of whom the Teamsters represent," Sternberg said.

Interstate Bakeries has been trying to cut its costs by asking workers for pay and health care concessions as well as streamlining its distribution system, which it says is outdated.

The proposed "path-to-market" plan would separate job functions for many Teamsters who now sell and distribute Wonder bread, Hostess snack cakes and other products. The union has called the proposed distribution plan untested and said it won’t help improve the company's operations.

Volpe said the union's members already have agreed to 4 percent pay cuts and wage freezes. He said the company now wants to cut wages up to 25 percent for half of its workers and require Teamsters to pay a portion of their health care coverage.

Sternberg said the company's new distribution system will save money through increased productivity, not wage cuts. She acknowledged that about 20 percent of the company's positions would see lower wages, but the plan's two- to three-year rollout and annual turnover at 17 percent mean “our current employees would be minimally affected, if at all."

She also said that while the company was seeking $20 million in health and welfare concessions, those cuts could be offset by either redesigning the company’s current health care plans or using consumer plans that offer the same coverage for less money.

Sternberg said the company is aware of the sacrifices its employees have made while the company has tried to survive three years of bankruptcy.

"The fact is, however, that the company remains in Chapter 11 (bankruptcy protection) and lost $113 million in its latest fiscal year ending in June 2007," she said.

Two weeks ago, Interstate Bakeries said it would exit the bread market in Southern California, closing four plants and laying off around 1,300 people. The Teamsters said about 800 of its members will be affected while Interstate said 575 of those eliminated jobs belong to Teamsters.

Volpe also accused Interstate Bakeries of ignoring two potential investors in the company, which he identified as Los Angeles-based investment company Yucaipa and an equity firm affiliated with J.P. Morgan.

The company said in a news release that the potential investors it thinks the union is referring to had asked Interstate Bakeries to provide confidential information, which they then planned to share with the Teamsters "and interject themselves into the negotiating process between the company and unions representing some of its employees."

Interstate said its lenders have told any potential investors they can participate in discussions to restructure the company, but they must agree not to divulge confidential information.


NJ GOP offended by D's picket line crossing

Atlantic County (NJ) Republican chairman Keith A. Davis today accused the county Democrat party leadership and its candidates of "remarkable insensitivity if not outright hypocrisy" in ignoring a labor union picket line established at a Linwood office complex in which the Democrat headquarters are located. Davis said that a carpenters union local has established a picket line at the Cornerstone Commerce Center office complex on New Road in a dispute over a project underway there.

"Assemblyman Jim Whelan and Assembly candidate Joe Wilkins are dues paying members of a labor union, yet have ignored the picket line and failed to speak up and convince their party's leadership to close down its office in recognition of the carpenters local dispute," Davis said. "While the Democrat party has attempted to portray itself as a friend of working people, it actions fail to match its words," he said. "The Republican party candidates have labor-friendly credentials superior to the Democrats."

Davis said that even though the picket line is restricted to one of the office complex three entrances, "the Democrats cannot argue with any credibility that, by using a different access, they are not technically crossing the picket line."

"They are aware the picket line is there and they are just as aware that it extends to the entire complex, not merely one entrance," he said. "The party chairman and candidates - but particularly Whelan and Wilkins - should be ashamed of their actions. Any talk from any of them about solidarity with working people is phony and deceitful."


Gov't unions gain upper hand over taxpayers

Colorado state employees earn about 25 percent more than their counterparts in neighboring states, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics, and their average salary of $51,753 ranks ninth in the nation, 9 percent higher than the national average for state employees.

So why is Gov. Bill Ritter's office hosting a working group on "partnership legislation" that unions hope will include collective bargaining? The answer points to a vast philosophical chasm between pro-union Democrats and union-averse Republicans.

Follow the money, as they say, and the answer also points to the fact that unions pay big bucks to get Democrats elected.

Unions and Democrats in favor of partnership legislation point out that their latest appeal is not just about collective bargaining, where union representatives lobby management for higher wages and benefits.

"Employee partnerships are not about money," said Evan Dreyer, Ritter's spokesman. "They're about partnering with employees to give them a greater voice in state government. . . . From a taxpayer's perspective, it's about better customer service."

The Service Employees' International Union, which has met repeatedly over recent months with Ritter's staff, says that collective bargaining is just a starting point for discussion.

"I think what we're talking about is much more mature labor relations," said Mitch Ackerman, director of SEIU Local 105. "It's more about solving problems and less of a conflict-oriented model."

They says that despite competitive wages, problems are rampant in the state work force, including a high turnover rate and tens of millions of dollars being wasted on problems that employees could fix or prevent if they felt more engaged by management.

But the fact remains that collective bargaining is in the mix.

The SEIU made that intent clear in a memo released by Ritter's office last week in response to a request for records of talks between unions and the Ritter administration.

In the memo, which an SEIU representative asked officials to keep private, the SEIU identified "improving wages, benefits and working conditions for all employees" as an "appropriate issue for the Partnership Agreement." Those agreements "shall be enforceable as binding contracts on the State, Representative and the employees," it said.

Dreyer declined to say whether Ritter would include collective bargaining in his proposal.

"The evolution of a policy idea into actual policy takes time and vetting. We are still in that process," Dreyer said.

Collective bargaining is a radioactive concept for many Colorado Republicans, who warn that it will bust state budgets.

The SEIU and some Democrats say the GOP is distorting the issue and blocking real progress in state government by focusing solely on the collective bargaining aspect of partnership legislation.

Nonetheless, collective bargaining is the seed from which the SEIU's partnership model has grown. Collective bargaining almost always leads to higher wages and benefits for employees, said Richard Kearney, a professor at North Carolina State University who studies public sector unionism.

"The evidence is very conclusive on that," he said. "But maybe it's worth it."

The SEIU has found great success in the private sector with its "creative and innovative" partnership model, and it is starting to gain a foothold in organizing government employees, Kearney said.

Partnerships appeal to corporate CEOs and government administrators alike because they provide for a formal, structured voice for public employees to give feedback to management, he said.

Colorado is one of only 10 states in the country without a law addressing collective bargaining for state employees. With the governor's office and both houses of the legislature now under Democratic control, it's a ripe target for unions.

New Mexico's Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson reinstated collective bargaining for state employees in 2003 and believes it is making government there more efficient.

"If management always says, 'Management's right, and employees are wrong,' management is missing a whole big part of the story," said Brian Condit, Richardson's deputy chief of staff. "It's a lot easier to troubleshoot problems if you have an agreed-upon structure."

But at what cost?

Washington state employees are getting the biggest raises they have seen in decades thanks to new contracts negotiated by Gov. Christine Gregoire's office and approved by a legislature controlled by fellow Democrats, The Seattle Times reported in July.

Salary and benefit increases for the state's 110,000 workers will cost almost $1.6 billion in state, federal and other funds over the next two years, the Times reported.

The SEIU and Ritter's office argue that nothing close to that will happen in Colorado, mostly because state workers here, unlike in Washington, are already paid well.

And the budget is lean here, compared with a surplus in the billions of dollars in Washington, the union says.

For now, the union says it wants to see increases to the state's health insurance benefits, which are at 85 percent of Colorado's private sector.

State GOP leaders, meanwhile, say that Colorado's state workers are doing just fine already, without the union's help.

Their retirement benefits, for example, allow 50-year-old employees with 30 years of service to retire and collect 75 percent of their highest salary.

More to the point politically, Republicans want to weaken the unions that helped Democrats take control of state government.

"The governor has some serious questions to answer," said Sen. Shawn Mitchell, R-Broomfield. "The numbers prove state employees already have a good deal, on top of amazing job security.

"There's simply no reason to set up a union with collective bargaining except as a payoff to his campaign backers and to cycle more employee dollars into Democratic campaigns."


Cemetery union's split-shift: work, then strike

Montreal’s Notre-Dame-des-Neiges cemetery seemed mostly deserted Monday, on the first day back for gravediggers and maintenance staff after a four-month lockout. Workers will be on the job four days a week, while going on strike every Friday until the dispute is settled.

"I haven't seen any work being done at all," said Erika Roseneder, 67, who walked from one end of the cemetery to another Monday. Roseneder was out of town since before the dispute began May 16 and was surprised to see the cemetery in such a sorry state.

The path she walked on was surrounded by overgrown yellow grass, felled trees and branches, as well as weeds and dandelions, some of which had grown almost a metre tall. "It's normally very tidy," she said.

The hangover from the dispute will last for several months, cemetery officials say. A call centre has been set up to contact the families who have been waiting to bury loved ones since the dispute began.

Monday, workers were said to be cleaning up the site and checking equipment to prepare the cemetery for its first burials Wednesday. But the cemetery seemed eerily quiet, with very few trucks driving through the grounds.

"I think there are more media here today than there are employees," said Yoland Tremblay, general manager of the Fabrique de la Paroisse Notre-Dame-de-Montreal, the corporation that manages the cemetery.

Tremblay said it will take about three months to clear the backlog of bodies waiting for burial, and to do so general maintenance work will be cut back. Don't expect the cemetery to be restored to its former glory until next spring, Tremblay said.

As of last week, there were 347 coffins and urns waiting to be buried, while the remaining 151 are to be stored in a new mausoleum to be built by October.

The cemetery performs burials right through the winter. However, 59 bodies must be buried in the next few weeks because their graves are in parts of the cemetery where the hilly terrain makes it impossible to dig when the ground is frozen, Tremblay said.

"The workers are happy to be back at work," said Daniel Maillet, president of the union representing workers at the cemetery. "But there is definitely some bitterness. People would prefer that the dispute be settled definitively."

Maillet said he's pleased the two sides were able to avoid a government-imposed settlement, saying it would have set a bad precedent for Quebec to get involved in what he called a private matter.

The 129 gravediggers and maintenance workers have been without a contract since Dec. 31, 2003. They earn $24 an hour, on average. Management says salaried employees make $49,000 a year; seasonal workers, $27,000.

The union has asked for a four-day work week, a guarantee of 36 weeks of work for seasonal employees, a supplementary retirement plan and sub-contracting of maintenance projects.


Steelworkers' destructive B.C. forestry strike

A fire crackles in a rusted oil drum outside the gates of Western Forest Products' Alberni Pacific sawmill. A handful of striking workers warm themselves around it, waiting for the morning fog that shrouds the Valley to lift.

This is a bitter strike, over issues that have little to do with money. The picketers, members of the United Steelworkers union, are veterans, mostly in their 50s. They are fighting to get back what they lost three years ago in an arbitrated contract settlement that delayed, but did not resolve, issues that have cut through the coastal forest industry like a fault line.

Global markets and the demands of capital for a low-cost environment have pitted companies against workers, who see their lives being dragged down in pursuit of the bottom line. The picketers are out here to end company control over shifts and lack of severance pay for partial mill closures. Longer shifts are destroying their family lives and are a factor in safety, they say. The partial mill closures allow companies to shut down operations in stages to reduce final severance packages to just a handful of employees.

The strike has put 7,000 B.C. coastal workers behind picket lines around 34 companies, all but three of them members of Forest Industrial Relations. But it's an incomplete strike, as a number of companies - some union, some non-union - are still operating, quietly keeping an unknown number of loggers at work. Except for the pickets, it would be hard to notice that there's a forest industry strike underway in this resource-dependent town.

In the bush, particularly on the remote B.C. coast, the strike and its impact is even more fuzzy. Crews that were once unionized and employed by large companies are now likely to be non-union and employed by contractors. The logs they harvest are floated in booms to the Lower Mainland, where non-union specialty mills process them, or they are barged across Juan de Fuca Strait to mills in the U.S.

The workers on the picket line say the issue is not just their jobs at stake but the jobs of their friends, neighbours and relatives as well.

"It's the brotherhood of the union that keeps us here," said maintenance worker Dean Kemps. Despite shifting changes imposed on sawmill workers that disrupt family life and rob even senior workers of their weekends, the loggers are having an even tougher time because of longer working hours, he said.

"I have family working in Port Alberni as well. My brother works in the bush, and I've got to support him. That's the way it is."

Colleague Dale Fitzgerald says the workers understand the companies are having tough time. But he says they have gone too far in making workers shoulder the cuts.

"We all understand that the companies have to do what they have to do to survive. But when they start hurting guys, there's no way we are going to take it," he says. Yet there are visible signs that this forest workers' strike is having little real impact in the broader economy. You don't have to go far to find it.

At the local chainsaw outlet, L.B. Woodchoppers, manager Bill Kirschner says business is down, but not the way it was in the past when a strike choked more than 50 per cent of the store's revenues. Loggers are still working despite the strike, and the construction sector, which uses similar equipment, is strong.

"Everything is slower, but there are still a lot of guys working," Kirschner says. As if to make his point, a construction worker with a cut-off saw in need of repair walks into the store.

West of town at what was once MacMillan Bloedel's Sproat Lake division headquarters, non-union workers load logs on trucks driven by non-union drivers. They pass unmolested through town, largely because in today's coastal forest industry, there is no clear line between union and non-union companies.

The Sproat Lake division logs used to be loaded by union workers, but now, says Steelworkers member Wayne James, most companies run both union and non-union operations.

"They have a union side and a non-union side, and when they run into trouble on the union side they start up the non-union side and work somewhere else. "It's a lot to do with the forest policy changes and the fact that companies can contract-out in smaller and smaller lots."

James sees it as part of a larger ideological battle that is being waged on the coast. He believes the union itself is at stake in this strike. "If the companies are successful in breaking the union, then the next step is that the contractors are going to be paid less."

Currently, most contractors have rights to specific volumes of timber that were grandfathered into the Forests Act.

Contractors themselves have also expressed concerns that they see themselves as next in line, placing some contractor-employers in the same camp on this issue as the workers striking against them.

"In addition to the issues the Steelworkers have rallied against, we're concerned that some companies are seeking even more concessions designed to further weaken contractors," said Dave Lewis, executive director of the Truck Loggers Association in a recent Vancouver Sun article.

James said the strike appears headed into the fall, and that he knows of some forest workers who have left the industry for the oilpatch. There, he said, they are welcomed by employers offering incentives to keep them.

Workers are leaving the industry, confirmed Bill Routley, president of Steelworkers Local 1-80 at Duncan.

"We've had some of our guys heading off to find other work," Routley said. Many of the jobs are in the local construction industry, and Routley expects the workers will return when the forest strike is over. He estimates 25 to 30 per cent of the union's members are employed doing something else during the labour disruption.

Routley believes a breakdown in respect between companies and their workers is a significant factor in the strike. There's no longer a sense of working toward a common goal - in the case of coastal loggers, getting as much wood in the water as they can. It doesn't take long hours or changed shift schedules to accomplish that, he said.
Rick Jeffery, CEO of the Coast Forest Products Association, believes it is the union that has given up working toward the common goal of restoring the industry to profitability, a prerequisite to attracting investment for new equipment.

"We need more time to make this thing work, and these guys want to go back on the deal," Jeffery said in an interview.

At Interfor, which recently exited the West Coast of the Island by selling its timber rights to Clayoquot Sound First Nations, company president Duncan Davies says the issues that workers are fighting over are matters of survival for the industry.

The strike has shut down Interfor's two coastal sawmills in the Lower Mainland. "The key thing everybody has to put in context here, and that the union continues to miss, is that very little of our product is sold in British Columbia," Davies said in an interview in Vancouver. "Our product is sold in a global marketplace, by people who are more competitive than we are.

"There are a whole variety of different reasons why they are more competitive, but one of them is the inflexibility of our rules around operations and shift-scheduling. We cannot afford to put ourselves in a position where we are less competitive than those folks who are selling similar products to ourselves. Pure and simple."

Davies said companies need that flexibility because markets change and if competitors can adjust more quickly, they they will take market share at the expense of B.C. companies.

"There's different circumstances at different times and we require is the flexibility to move arrangements to suit the circumstances. What worked in 2006 in a strong market doesn't necessarily work in 2007 in a weak market. What works when lots of logs available might not work when there aren't many logs available.

"We require degrees of flexibility and we don't want to put ourselves in a position where you are held at ransom by the union on any changes in shift schedules that erode the benefits that you might otherwise gain by moving in that direction."
In a Port Alberni coffee shop, logger James said companies appear to want what their competitors in the U.S. Pacific Northwest have: A non-union workforce earning less money and having less job security.

In the mid-1980s, he said, B.C. forest workers broke with the old International Woodworkers of America over wage cuts and working conditions that their U.S. counterparts were ready to accept.

Now, two decades later, he said the same battle is being waged on the B.C. coast. "They broke the union in the Pacific Northwest. Now they want to do it here. The sad part is, I don't think a lot of people in this town realize how serious this is. Young people in particular can't afford to stay here and go through what's happening. So you've got the older guys here who have their mortgages paid off and the kids gone," said James.

"My concern is this: After it's all over, who's going to be left?"


Si Newhouse sides with leftists, unions

The natives are restless at The Wall Street Journal. Reporters at the bible of capitalism will be hitting the picket line in a couple hours to flex their collective muscle. They've been working without a contract since January, and say the new one being offered by management will depress their earnings.

This time, it won't be so easy to hide the evidence of discontent from the new boss (who's doing quite well for himself, thank you very much).


New York's financial district will see an unusual sight today - normally staid Wall Street Journal reporters picketing and chanting slogans in front of their offices at 200 Liberty Street from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

As Rupert Murdoch prepares to take control of Dow Jones, the Journal's parent, the reporters have been forced into the street by their long-running contract dispute with Dow Jones management. The increasingly angry dispute is a nasty problem that is hanging over the transfer of ownership to Mr. Murdoch. Reporters have been working without a contract since the end of January. They are increasingly angry because, at a time when Dow Jones is offering multi-million dollar pay packages and "golden parachutes" to executives, not to mention the $32 million pay package recently announced for Rupert Murdoch himself, Dow Jones is trying to more than double health premiums and hold down salaries in a way that will cut the real, inflation-adjusted take-home pay of many Dow Jones employees.


UFCW calls strike over proposal

Workers from a plant that manufactures frozen Mexican food products went on strike this morning to protest proposed healthcare employee cost increases by the company. Located on Pleasant Street in Riverside (CA), Windsor Foods produces such items as burritos. The company has been in negotiations with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1167, the union representing about 450 workers at the plant, since April.

The worker's contract expired in May, according to union representatives. More than 150 were walking a picket line this morning. The company has offered a wage increase but want the workers to pay 15 percent of their healthcare benefits, said Bill Lathrop, union president. "Raises don't make up for the healthcare costs," he said. Workers have been picketing outside the plant since 2 a.m. this morning.

Union representative Matt Bruno said employees are prepared to keep striking as long as it takes.

"We're just looking for something that's fair and reasonable," Bruno said.

Lynn Sutter, vice president at Windsor Foods, said the company is not prepared to discuss negotiations with the media.

"We are disappointed that the UFCW has seen the need for this action," she said in a released statement. "Our employee compensation and benefit package are highly competitive and we have enjoyed many years of successful relations. We will do the best we can to reach an equitable agreement with the UFCW, but we have a business to support and will make arrangements to continue to service our customers as needed."

The last strike held at the plant was in 1990, over similar healthcare benefits issues. That strike lasted five weeks, Lathrop said.


Strikers' demands pose onerous burden for city taxpayers

As one-third of September has passed without a resolution to the civic labour dispute, Vancouverites have every right to feel frustrated. However, as the chair of Vancouver council's city services and budget committee, I want Vancouverites to be aware of the potential financial burden to taxpayers from elements that are delaying a settlement.

Bear in mind that the above-inflation salary increases that both sides have already agreed upon will cost the average Vancouver homeowner around $300 over the five-year term of the contract, and an average business owner $3,290. This is without adding the cost of benefits still being negotiated.

Meanwhile, CUPE Local 15 is demanding that additional auxiliary shifts should be assigned solely based on seniority. It also wants no layoffs for five years and, in an unprecedented move for any municipality in this region, wants the city to forfeit the option of contracting out services.

This means the city's longstanding option of contracting out some services (already done in trucking, paving, janitorial, catering and other areas) would be removed, taking away the benchmarking opportunity that ensures our staff are matching private sector standards of efficiency. This end to contracting out would become the template for all other municipal unions in Metro Vancouver.

It's not as though workers don't already enjoy a high level of job security. Over the past decade, in a workforce of 3,500 employees represented by CUPE, the city has laid off just 10 employees. Workers already enjoy priority placement into other jobs, bumping rights, recall rights for a year, and a severance package that the city has offered to increase from 18 weeks of compensation to a maximum of 26 weeks.

CUPE is refusing to allow us a convenience that exists in all other Metro Vancouver municipalities, to simultaneously advertise inside and outside for jobs that become available so we can quickly fill the openings, in an ultra-competitive job market, that are coming on stream with pending retirements.

As for the 2010 Olympics Partnership Agreement, CUPE wants to limit opportunities for employees and volunteers to participate, and to claim exclusive union jurisdiction over all Olympic sites.

We're also fighting the expectation that the 2010 Olympics will open the door to a better-than-expected deal, as witnessed by a leaked union memo saying that the city workers deserve a 2010 signing bonus.

Are we bargaining in good faith? Here's an excerpt from city manager Judy Rogers's Aug. 31 letter to CUPE Local 15 president Paul Faoro:

"During this round of bargaining the union rejected the city's offer of private mediation, opted out of mediation at the Labour Relations Board, initiated a strike, rejected eight employer offers, and twice walked away from critical settlement opportunities to stage media events. More recently, CUPE has engaged in tactics of public rallies and open personal denigration of city managers and politicians, rather than focusing on constructive dialogue to end the dispute."

CUPE is asking more in Vancouver than it asked from the other municipalities that have settled as of this writing. (Contrary to reports, Vancouver is not the only municipality without an agreement: 10 others are still negotiating.)

Our workers are well paid and have benefits most private sector employees (and many CUPE provincial employees) could only dream of:

- 51 paid days off a year for inside workers, including holidays and earned days off, but not including an average of nine sick days off a year.
Email to a friendEmail to a friendPrinter friendlyPrinter friendly

* *
* *
* *
* *

- Flexible work weeks -- all but four of our CUPE 15 employees have a shortened work week -- either a four-day week or a nine-day fortnight, with many employees taking advantage of job-sharing and telecommuting options.

- A generous medical, dental, life insurance and extended health care plan whose costs have doubled in the past 10 years.

- Preferential day care services.

- Free parking at city hall.

There's no question we must provide our workers with a fair deal that respects their dedication to their jobs and their right to be fairly treated and compensated at competitive levels.

However, council also has the responsibility to the citizens to make sure that city services are delivered as efficiently and affordably as possible. When the union leaders agree to accept that balance, there will be a quick settlement.

Peter Ladner is a Vancouver city councillor.


Vancouver strikers made poor economic choice

Vancouver's outside government employees entered the 52nd day of their strike Sunday, and picketer Charlene Cranton found herself ever closer to financial trouble. "Times are getting tough out here. It's getting stressful," she told CTV British Columbia.

A recent YouTube video has taken a satirical look at the strike. Done in the style of a 1960s educational video, it shows a little boy named Bobby Burnaby whose father has given him a plate of pasta, garlic bread and glass of milk.

The boy's sister, Vicky Vancouver, only get an empty plate. But to fix the discrepancy, the father gives her a glass of water with powdered milk, along with a huge helping of flour and ketchup. "You've got a plate with one pound of food on it, just like your brother!" the narrator exclaims. "But in case Vicky complains to her friends that this is not fair, her father will prepare a graph to tell her that one pound of food is equal to one pound of food."

To Cranton, the strike has lost its humour -- if it had any in the first place.

"Times are getting tough out here. It's getting stressful," she said.

On Sunday, she took her daughter Montana with her to the picket line, so she could save money on a babysitter.

"The mortgage needs to be paid, the bills need to be paid, the kids need to be fed and things are getting tight," she said.

And while Montana just started another year at school, Cranton was unable to buy as many new supplies or clothes as usual.

"It's hard for her because we can't do the things that we used to do without the money," she said.

Meanwhile, fellow picketer Doug Taylor has had to dip into his savings to make ends meet.

He had hoped the strike would end two weeks ago, and says he'll be in trouble if it continues next month.

"I thought, 'I won't go and look for a part-time job,' and now I'm sort of regretting I didn't," he said.

Strike pay is about $250 a week, but some contract employees aren't earning any pay at all. Many are relying on credit to pay their bills.

Cranton is trying to remain optimistic.

"We'll survive. My employer will not starve us out," she said.


Forced unionism harms workers, employers

Related Posts with Thumbnails