CRJ Construction Workers at UW Organize to Hold Bosses Accountable
Struggling construction workers at the UW became a local face for Labor’s revived fight for human rights in the workplace, ignited in Wisconsin. Organizing to form a union with the Painters and Allied Trades (IUPAT) and the Cement Masons (OPMCIA) at the CRJ contractor, the workers linked arms with campus unions and allies to call on UW Administrators to declare “No Wisconsins in the UW community.” Renewed worker solidarity is emboldening an escalating campaign for justice from CRJ bosses and UW Administrators.
Washington State JwJ played a central role in hosting and organizing the coalition that launched 2 rallies at UW campuses, amassing 500 total activists, 2 marches on bosses, and scores of unions and community groups represented during the April 4 national day of action. The events also featured the ferry worker fight for collective bargaining (IBU), the public worker defense of essential services (SEIU & UAW & AFSCME), and retail and hospitality worker Downtown Tacoma campaigns for the right-to-organize (UFCW & UNITE-HERE) placed by Tacoma NAACP President Christopher in the context of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination while organizing for the right-to-organize with Memphis sanitation workers.
Shortly after the rallies, UW President Wise acknowledged the march to the UW-Tacoma Chancellor’s office and that state investigators had begun to hold UW bosses accountable to monitoring CRJ’s compliance with worker rights. President Wise declined to mediate and try to resolve the mess.
Since, the IUPAT union initiated multiple court liens against CRJ’s UW construction projects to address liability stemming from the state investigations, alleged CRJ retirement account ERISA violations, or federal lawsuits. Recently, the federal Labor Board has issued 54 indictments to prosecute against CRJ bosses for worker mistreatment. Non-union contractors in CRJ’s industry are now seeking labor harmony and offering union recognition to workers as they watch CRJ’s experience.
The April 4 rallies were also a growth event for JwJ. In Seattle, JwJ leaders collected more activist pledge cards than all 2010 actions combined. In Tacoma, rally participation surged to over 300 despite a cold downpour as over 100 Tacoma Longshore union members (ILWU 23) reciprocated the solidarity that brought victory in the Rite Aid campaign.