On the morning of Sunday, July 19th, members of Boston Revolutionary Socialists attended the Veterans’ Transportation workers’ strike in Everett in solidarity with the rank and file. The workers were in their eighth day of the strike and were holding strong in front of their place of work. Teamsters Local 25, the union that represents these workers, was active in contract negotiations throughout this time, and we wanted to learn more about what was going on. We spoke to a Veterans’ Transportation worker about what was at stake in their struggle.
The worker spoke at length with us about management’s plans to increase employees’ responsibility for their health insurance plans, making health insurance unaffordable for many people. On top of this, we learned that the $1,000 bonus workers were expecting to receive this year was going to be contingent on punctuality and conduct. For example, for every minute late an employee arrived to punch in for their shift, money would be deducted from their bonus. Employees with disciplinary records also would have money deducted from their bonus. The implications of management’s watchful eye over every movement a worker makes sounded even more disgusting. This type of disciplinary micro-management style severely disadvantages workers, and was unconscionable to the union members. The worker told us they would not sign a contract that came with these two regressive proposals.
The workers formed their picket line in the entrance to the parking lot of their workplace in Everett. They had developed strike tactics to agitate their employer. Located in the same complex as a rock-climbing gym, anytime a car would pull up to enter or leave the parking lot, the striking workers walked in a circle counting down from 30, preventing the car to enter or leave for that duration of time. When the car of a Veterans’ Transportation supervisor or manager was recognized entering or leaving, the workers counted down from 60. BRS members joined in these acts of protest. On one occasion, a patron from the rock-climbing gym was trying to drive out and we quickly formed a circle as the workers counted down from 30. The driver of the car was visibly agitated with the demonstration and the small inconvenience of time, and accelerated the car so close to us that it nearly struck us. For this, a BRS member stood directly in front of the car staring at the driver, as the workers added extra time to the countdown. While many drivers entering and leaving the complex seemed apathetic towards the picket line, the strike received support from drivers passing by on Air Force Road, as they honked their horns, waved, raised fists out their windows, and shouted.
During our time at the picket line, we learned from the workers that there had been a text sent out by union officials asking the entire membership to attend a contract ratification meeting that Sunday afternoon at 4pm. The feeling on the picket line was hopeful and somewhat skeptical. Workers voiced their concerns that they hoped union leadership didn’t capitulate or agree to the points of contention holding up the contract (the deductions from their bonuses and health insurance cost increases). BRS left the picket in good spirits, wishing our new friends in the struggle the best of luck at their ratification meeting.
On the night of Sunday, July 19th, the Veterans Transportation Workers brought their strike to an end when they ratified their contract. BRS reached out to Teamsters Local 25 to get more information on what was agreed on and more specifically on the two major points of contention. Local 25 sent back a response: “Thank you for reaching out, and supporting the workers on the line… All of our issues were resolved because of the strike.” One thing we know for certain here at BRS: Direct action gets the goods!
Congratulations to the workers of Veteran’s Transportation on their victory!