Saturday, November 18, 2006

Update On The Class War: Houston TX and Tarheel NC

Stories about the Houston janitors strike and the walkout at the Tarheel North Carolina Smithfield meatpacking plant that I wrote about yesterday are making their way through the blogosphere.

To update both stories, the 1,000 Smithfield workers who walked off the job Thursday to protest the recent firing of immigrants are back at work and Smithfield officials say they won't be disciplined.
The agreement to return to work came late Friday after Smithfield representatives met with leaders from a Roman Catholic Church to discuss the workers' grievances.

Among those who returned to work were workers who had been fired, said Smithfield spokesman Dennis Pittman. The company is giving the employees more time to sort out problems with Social Security documents, which prompted the firings.

But Pittman said Smithfield is still committed to following immigration laws.
Meanwhile, the day after Houston police on horseback brutally broke up a demonstration of striking janitors and their supporters, the two sides are back in negotiations, according to SEIU spokesperson Lynda Tran.
"It's probably not a coincidence that during a week of historic civil disobedience, when the eyes of the country and the world are on Houston, cleaning companies came back to the negotiating table," Tran said.

The union says several people were injured Thursday by mounted police who were trying to break up their blocking of an intersection. The union has halted all acts of civil disobedience until it completes an investigation into the incident, Tran said
Meanwhile, several blogs are covering the issue:

Matt Stoller at My DD has photos and a video, and makes a plea to politicians:
I don't care if you don't like unions. This is insane. And if you are a politician reading this site, or a 2008 candidate, now's your chance to stand up and issue a strong statement condemning these actions and demanding that Chevron and Hines Interest pay these people responsibly.
Ezra Klein points out that this is what class war looks like and has eyewitness commentary from a striker.

Lindsay Beyerstein at Majikthise has a first-hand account by Union organizer Anna Denise Solis and another post about the striking Smithfield workers where she notes that
I think the truth is that the Democratic victories and the resurgence of organized labor are part of the same phenomenon. Americans are sick and tired of the divisive, racist, union-busting status quo, and they're making their voices heard at the ballot box and on the street.

Digby educates us about life in America (or at least in Texas:
In an unprecedented transparent attempt to severely limit the right to peaceful protest and freedom of speech of low-wage Houston janitors and their supporters, a Harris County District Attorney has set an extraordinarily high bond of $888,888 cash for each of the 44 peaceful protestors arrested last night.


The combined $39.1 million bond for the workers and their supporters is far and above the normal amount of bail set for people accused of even violent crimes in Harris County. While
And Susie Madrak at Suburban Guerrilla wonders
Is it the job of police officers to maintain order - or to act as bullies for corporate interests? There’s a long and dishonorable tradition of the latter in this country, and it sure looks like the good old days