At the base of the Going St. hill, just down by Mocks Landing, is the Cummins NW Portland Facility, 4711 N. Basin Ave. On the side of the building that I ride by there were five folks out front picketing. I stopped to find out more about their strike and to hopefully bring some attention to their struggle. Cummins NW does a variety of work on heavy and light vehicles, the Portland workers said some of their customers include Tri-met and C-Tran busses, and Emergency Vehicles such as ambulances and fire engines. |
On of the first things I had asked the folks there was if they had gotten any media attention yet, it had been nearly a full week and I assumed that the media would break the story. They said I was the first reporter to stop and ask questions...but I wouldnt be the last.
The Machinists Union is striking in Portland, Spokane, Pendleton and Seattle. The Portland folks said that there were about 25 machinists striking at their facility. They estimated 45 folks in Seattle, 12 in Spokane, and 4 in Pendleton. They are striking becuase the new owners are not honoring the machinists contract. The workers recently found out that the new management was not paying into the workers pensions, which is a violation of their contract. The management didnt find this payment stoppage important enough to notify the workers, and when the unions found out, a strike was planned.
I didnt have much time on my way to work, so I got some info and left. I returned after work to find that the strikers had their biggest day yet! They had over 40 supporters throughout the day and Channel 6 came to do a story. They were very excited about the activity and thanked me for breaking the media "ice." The Union is meeting with the management at each striking facility, and they are standing solid with each other making sure that each meeting has a representative from all the striking facilities. The next meeting at the Portland facility is next Friday, the strikers plan to be on strike all of next week and appreciate supporters.
For more information visit their websites: Portland IAM 24, Renton IAM 160, or call the IAM Information line: 503-239-4800.
The most recent strike at Cummins NW was in the Parts Department. They went on strike in in February 1999, and after 115 days on the picket line voted to end it, after the company hired "permanent replacements" and filed for union decertification, which eventually went through. The Portland folks that I talked with remembered that strike and hope to not have the same result.