SEIU Janitors Win Another One, Steelworkers Turn Up the Heat on CEO Keegan
by Matt Stoller, Thu Dec 14, 2006 at 01:44:00 PM EST
There's mixed news on the labor front. Ensuring labor survives and thrives is number seven on the list of rules to build a progressive America. And on that note, SEIU janitors won another impressive victory.
Simon Property Group said it signed an "agreement in principle" with the Service Employees International Union aimed at improving work standards for more than 3,000 subcontracted janitors at Simon shopping centers across the country, including over 150 in the Indianapolis area.
"We want to ensure all our properties have labor peace. We want to make sure people are treated fairly," John Rulli, chief operating officer of operating properties for Simon, said today.
A delegation of Indianapolis clergy, working on behalf of the service union, met with Rulli this morning at Simon's Indianapolis headquarters to thank Simon for signing the agreement.
Other local companies that have agreed are health benefits company WellPoint Inc., real estate developers Duke Realty Corp. and Kite Realty Group, and drug maker Eli Lilly and Co., according to Interfaith Worker Justice, a Chicago group that is organizing clergy support of the effort.
The alliance between local clergy and working class union members is an intriguing and important piece of the puzzle.
Meanwhile, the United Steelworkers are still fighting their horrible mediocre marketing-driven CEO Robert Keegan to ensure that he follows through on his company's promises. A few years ago, workers took wage and benefits freezes to help Goodyear through financial hardship. In return, apparently, Keegan broke his promises to employees and is now cutting job and health benefit cuts after the company returned to profitability. Rather than negotiating, of course, Keegan borrowed a billion from the capital markets to see his company through the strike, throwing in a bonus to his executives even as he ruined labor relations and put his company on a fiscally unsound footing. This is of course typical Republican management by greed and sacrificing other peoples' families. Anyway, this time it turns out that Keegan is also hurting the troops.
The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday urged Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. and the United Steelworkers to work out a deal for about 200 striking workers in Topeka to return to work making tires for the military.
Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., said the military needs the tires for its Humvees, the workhorse vehicle in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"My recommendation is to immediately allow the 200 United Steelworkers at the Goodyear facility in Topeka, Kan., to return to work," Hunter said in a letter to Goodyear and the union, which represents Goodyear employees.
"Production levels have been reduced by approximately 35 percent, creating a shortage within the military," Hunter said.
About 12,000 Goodyear workers in the United States and Canada went on strike Oct. 5. In September, the company received a $17.7 million contract for Humvee tires.
The union in November told the company it would return to negotiations only if the Akron, Ohio-based company was willing to drop plans to close plants and cut health care.
The company's Topeka facility is its only plant producing Humvee tires and is accustomed to working around the clock with 1,600 employees. Nearly 1,400 have been on strike.
Goodyear, the world's third largest tire maker, has been using salaried workers and temporary hires to produce the tires in Topeka. Goodyear spokesman Ed Markey declined to confirm production levels since the strike.
That's Duncan Hunter, Republican, who is calling on Goodyear to resume production of tires. Let's see what happens in a Democratic Congress, and pressure on greedy monsters like Keegan who like to commit economic violence to thousands of working class families during the holiday and jeopardize troop lives increases. Oh, and by the way, strikes are immensely difficult and stressful periods for families, made doubly so by the holidays. Join in their day of action if you can.