Berkeley Foundry Axes Benefits; Workers Strike; Cops Injure Pregnant Woman



More photos by David Bacon, including original for above rendering, at source


Wednesday Mar 23rd, 2011 1:45 PM
BERKELEY, CA 3/22/10 -- A strike of over 450 workers in one of the largest foundries on the west coast brought production to a halt Sunday night, at Pacific Steel Castings. The work stoppage, which began at midnight, has continued with round the clock picketing at the factory gates in west Berkeley.

FOUNDRY WORKERS STRIKE TO SAVE THEIR HEALTHCARE 
Photos and text by David Bacon [photos at the source - ed.]

BERKELEY, CA 3/22/10 -- A strike of over 450 workers in one of the largest foundries on the west coast brought production to a halt Sunday night, at Pacific Steel Castings. The work stoppage, which began at midnight, has continued with round the clock picketing at the factory gates in west Berkeley. 

Local 164B of the Glass, Molders, Pottery, Plastics and Allied Workers International Union (GMP) has been negotiating a new labor agreement at Pacific Steel for several months. The old agreement expired on Sunday night. 

The strike was caused by demands from the company's owners for concessions and takeaway proposals in contract negotiations. Those include: 

- requiring workers to pay at least 20% of the cost of their medical insurance, amounting to about $300 per month per employee. 

- a wage freeze for the first two years of the agreement, and tiny raises after that. 

- eliminating the ability of workers to use their seniority to bid for overtime, allowing criteria including speedup, discrimination and favoritism. 

"All eight other foundries in the Bay Area have agreed to a fair contract," said Ignacio De La Fuente, GMP international vice-president. "Workers at Pacific Steel haven't had a raise in the last two years, in order to help the company pay for increases in health plan costs. Pacific Steel is now alone among the rest in trying to make its workers give back $300 a month." 

The $300/month would mean an approximately 10% cut in wages for most workers at the foundry.

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Please filter the following update through the propaganda decoder:





The two clashing sides in the Pacific Steel Casting strike returned to the bargaining table on Wednesday, a day after Berkeley police resorted to tough tactics to push back a group of strikers from a warehouse on Fifth Street.

On Tuesday, about 100 strikers gathered outside a warehouse to prevent a truck filled with parts from the Pacific Steel foundry from leaving. Police attempted to clear away the protesters and a pregnant woman claimed she was struck in the stomach by an officer during the confrontation, according to Sgt. Mary Kusmiss of the Berkeley Police Department. She was treated at a local hospital and released.

“Today at a couple points, CMT (Crowd Management Team) members were asking the crowd/picketers to move back, stop blocking the roadway and the entrance to the shipping/freight business,” Sgt. Kusmiss wrote in a press release. “The crowd was asked to get back and many warnings were given. Each time a member of a skirmish line moves forward as a group, they are trained to say, “Move!, Step Back. Move.!” Force was used. A woman (who shared that she was pregnant) was at the front of the crowd and was pushed back on the shoulder a couple times by a CMT member. The crowd began to surge and the woman said she was struck in the stomach by an officer.”


Crowd Management Team?


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