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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Starbucks US union first: Red Review #35 -- International Left and Labour News

Updated: Dec 13, 2021

The thirty-fifth edition of our weekly review of international left and labour news with stories from the US, Australia, the UK, Nepal, Argentina, Canada and elsewhere. There is also a section related to the ongoing Kellogg's strike in the US.

Starbucks workers celebrate historic first US union win -- photo via Twitter

December 4:

The General Secretary of the KKE delivered a speech at a political event in honor of the 1871 Commune at AGECA Paris on Saturday afternoon. The event, titled "Paris Commune 1871: The glorious harbinger of a new society - Legacies for the modern, revolutionary workers movement", was also attended by representatives of the communist movement in France, including the Pole of Communist Revival in France (PRCF), Revolutionary Communist Party of France (PCRF) and others.

CPN-Maoist Centre Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal today stressed the need to forge unity among all communist parties.Addressing the Press Centre Nepal's Fourth National Convention in Bharatpur, Chitwan, Dahal reiterated that unity among all communist forces in the country was a must. "I appeal to all honest and genuine communist forces to be united for the sake of the country and people. Let all communists be united," Dahal appealed. Recounting the merger between the CPN-UML and CPN-Maoists Centre, Dahal said that they had merged the two parties to make a potent communist force for political stability.

December 7:

Yesterday the General Assembly of the United Nations recognized the credentials of the government of President Nicolás Maduro as the legitimate representative of the nation of Venezuela.

These statements were released by Venezuela’s United Nations ambassador, Samuel Moncada, who explained that the recognition of constitutional government of Venezuela occurred during the voting process carried out every year by the General Assembly in order to determine the legitimacy of each country.

Tens of thousands of teachers went on strike across New South Wales on December 7, with rallies against staff shortages and for sustainable workloads with competitive salaries. In Sydney, more than 15,000 teachers and principals gathered in Hyde Park and marched to the NSW Parliament where they heard from their colleagues and union officials.

The NSW Teachers Federation (NSWTF) defied an Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) order to cancel the strike to demand the government listened. It was the union's first major industrial action in more than a decade.

Workers of all six subway lines in Buenos Aires said on Tuesday that as of next Thursday they will hold a protest due to the lack of responses regarding working conditions.

IT WAS NO BLUFF. And the Cargill bosses knew it. They knew the 2000 members of UCFW Local 401 who work at the Cargill slaughterhouse in High River, Alberta were more than ready to strike. So the bosses kept negotiating.

There was no strike. The members of UCFW Local 401 voted 71% in favour of a new contract on December 4.

None of it came easy.

December 8:

“Prostitution,” said Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez in his closing speech at the Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) congress in October, “is a practice that enslaves women.” The crowd stood and roared, applauding Mr. Sanchez’s call for the abolition of one of the world’s oldest forms of systemic oppression.

The RMT is preparing to ballot its members for industrial action, with the union anticipating compulsory redundancies are highly probable at train operating companies and Network Rail. Such redundancies would mean “trains are coming to a halt”, the TSSA union said after it failed to get assurances over jobs.

Unions have been in talks since June over plans to reduce costs in the industry. While broad voluntary redundancy schemes have been introduced, negotiations have taken place under an agreement to rule out forced job cuts until 31 December. Pay rises are also yet to be agreed, with inflation rising rapidly.


Three New Democrat MPs are putting new pressure on party leader Jagmeet Singh through a petition calling on him to demand that the B.C. NDP government and Ottawa pull RCMP officers out of Wet'suwet'en territory.

The petition, which has received more than 1,000 signatures, includes an expression of support for a statement by Young New Democrats of Quebec that urges Singh and the deputy leader, Alexandre Boulerice, to call on their B.C. counterparts and the federal Liberal government to end the RCMP's operations protecting the Coastal GasLink pipeline.

December 9:

A group of baristas at the Elmwood Starbucks store in Buffalo, New York voted to unionize, becoming the first of the coffee chain giant’s 9,000 corporate-owned stores in the country to do so.

The election was a landslide victory for the union with 19 workers voting in favor and eight workers voting against unionizing at the Elwood Starbucks store in Buffalo. The union lost the election at a second location, known as Camp Road, where workers voted 12-to-8 against unionization.

A third election at the Starbucks’ airport location in Buffalo has not been called yet. Fifteen workers voted in favor of unionizing and nine workers voted against the union, but seven votes were challenged by the parties and will be reviewed by the National Labor Relations Board. The union needs a majority of votes to win that store.

Orange County sanitation workers Thursday formed picket lines at Republic Services facilities in Huntington Beach and Anaheim, as unionized employees initiated a strike over alleged unfair labor practices being perpetrated by the Phoenix-based company.

Organized by Teamsters Local 396, the demonstration follows a Nov. 23 vote during which some 420 employees authorized a strike as negotiations stalled beyond a Sept. 30 contract expiration.

A group of Activision Blizzard workers calling itself A Better ABK Workers Alliance announced that its members are taking part in an open-ended strike "until demands are met and worker representation is finally given a place within the company."

"We encourage our peers in the Game Industry to stand with us in creating lasting change," the worker group tweeted Thursday morning.

December 10:

In terms of trade promotion, China would open “green lanes” for African agricultural exports to China and work to reach $300 billion in total imports from Africa in the next three years.Chen said: “China will provide $10 billion of trade finance to support African export.

“We will build in China a pioneering zone for in-depth China-Africa trade and economic cooperation and a China-Africa industrial park for Belt and Road cooperation.

Argentina's Sports Minister Matías Lammens has announced his country's full support to the Beijing Winter Olympic Games due to start at the Chinese capital on Feb. 4, 2022, after the United States and some of its closes allies said they would boycott them.

Fast food giant McDonald's is facing class action that alleges its franchises in Australia did not give staff their entitled 10-minute paid rest break.

The class action was filed by Shine Lawyers, which claimed that the company breached the McDonald's Australia Enterprise Agreement 2013 (EBA) and the Fast Food Industry Award 2010 (Award).

"The class action alleges McDonald's operated a system of work which operated to deny workers their right to paid breaks in breach of the EBA and the Award," said the group in a statement.

December 11:

Workers employed by the outsourcing giant Mitie, working on a contract at the Vauxhall factory in Luton, have suspended strike action following the offer of a new pay deal put forward by the company.

Around 30 workers, who are employed in cleaning roles as well as in the jig and tool departments, were due to strike during December in a dispute over pay.

After Mitie refused to make a pay increase anywhere approaching the workers’ expectations, a strike ballot was called and the workers, who are members of Unite, the UK’s leading union, recorded a 96% vote in favour of strike action.

The strikes have now been suspended following an increased backdated pay offer being made. Discussions with the company will now take place over other outstanding issues, including shift premiums, job grading and holiday entitlements. If the talks fail, new strikes to take place in 2022 will be scheduled.

Kellogg's Strike:

On Tuesday, December 7 the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) announced that its Kellogg's Members, on strike since October 5, had overwhelmingly voted to reject the company's latest offer.

In the wake of the rejection the company has said that it will replace the 1,400 striking workers permanently.

This has sparked outrage and a widespread call for a boycott of Kellogg's products by labour groups and progressive organizations and politicians.

The Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International (BCTGM) Union said on Tuesday that an overwhelming majority of workers voted down the five-year offer, which also would have also provided cost-of-living adjustments in the later years of the deal and preserved the workers' current health care benefits.

"The members have spoken. The strike continues," union President Anthony Shelton said.

After Kellogg’s announced plans to hire hundreds of employees to replace workers who have been on strike for more than two months, social media users have pledged to flood job application websites and company boards with bogus applications in solidarity with striking union members.

Users on the r/antiwork subreddit channel – which has more than 1m members and recently mobilised to hack receipt printers to promote their group – have been summoned to send out applications, and a TikTok user said he wrote a code that automatically send false applications to job sites.


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