They will never stop us striking


By GRAHAM TRAINOR, Oregon AFL-CIO president

Graham Trainor
Graham Trainor

On June 1, the U.S. Supreme Court showed its true anti-union colors yet again in their wrong-headed ruling on Glacier Northwest v. Teamsters Local 174. In this case, they sided against unionized truck drivers who walked off the job and left their trucks loaded with wet concrete. But when the facts are revealed on remand, we are confident that it will be clear the union acted properly and the truck drivers’ strike was protected by federal law. 

Working peoples’ most powerful weapon to make gains in a rigged economic system — our right to strike — has been on the books for nearly 100 years. We see in news stories just about every single day both the bravery it takes and the power it brings when working people strategically withhold their labor. Just think about it. Writers are still standing strong after over a month on the picket line fighting for a fair contract where the demands of the 11,500 members for an entire year cost less than just one of Jeff Bezos’ super yachts. Over 340,000 Teamsters at UPS are currently taking strike authorization votes as they fight for an equitable contract with a company that made over $26 billion in profit during the pandemic alone. Nurses at St. Charles in Bend recently settled an historic contract that takes a serious step towards addressing the chronic staffing crisis that plagues our entire healthcare system, only made possible by workers being strike-ready. Strikes work, and they always have.  

That’s why when the Supreme Court sided with corporations in Glacier, it was disappointing but not surprising. Workers in every corner of our country are fed up and exercising their rights at a greater and greater clip. This court and these justices continue to do the bidding of billionaires and union busters, but working people will never back down or give up our power. 

Glacier Northwest v. Teamsters Local 174 concerned a strike by Teamster-represented concrete truck drivers in Washington state. Drivers work staggered shifts delivering concrete to job sites. When the strike was called, some drivers were on the road with trucks still containing unused concrete. Drivers returned their trucks to the yard and left the drums rotating to avoid damage to the trucks. Managers and non-represented workers then emptied the trucks, leading to the loss of some concrete. 

In the disappointing 8-1 decision that ensued in the case, the majority of justices declared that the Teamsters were at fault and responsible for that damage. Despite this setback, the court’s opinion does leave intact the federally protected right to strike. Corporate America and greedy CEOs had every intention of winning a major victory and rolling back our rights even further this time, but lost on this count. 

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson shared powerful and uplifting words in her lone dissent: “The right to strike is fundamental to American labor law. Workers are not indentured servants, bound to continue laboring until any planned work stoppage would be as painless as possible for their master.” 

We couldn’t agree more with Justice Jackson, and despite what billionaires and bosses would like to think, the spirit and resilience of working people is unshakable. Throughout history, no court or politician or corporation has ever or will ever stop the never ending struggle of the working class. And no modern twist or trick or anti-union court supermajority will stop us now from exercising our fundamental rights on the shop floor, in legislatures, at the ballot box, or in our communities.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Read more