News & Commentary

May 15, 2023

In today’s News and Commentary, United Airlines pilots protest for higher pay, the Oakland, CA teachers union reached a tentative agreement ending their 7-day strike, Iran arrested eight people accused of leading a workers’ strike at the world’s largest gas reserve, and the Writers Guild of America denies a Broadway request to allow the broadcast of the Tony Awards ceremony to move forward as scheduled.

United Airlines pilots marched on picket lines last Friday calling for salary increases and time-off protections. United pilots could be the third major US airline to authorize a strike, following affirmative votes from American and Southwest Airlines. US law requires that a federal mediator declare further negotiations pointless before airline workers can legally strike or companies can legally lock workers out. The United Airlines pilots have worked without a raise for four years while negotiation a new contract. American, Southwest, and United’s pilot unions have baselined their current negotiations against the Delta Air Lines deal ratified in early March. In addition to higher salaries, the unions are seeking limitations on management’s ability to require pilots to fly on their days off. The industry anticipates record-breaking travel this summer. Busy summer flight schedules, along with a shortage of pilots and these strike authorizations puts the unions in a strong bargaining position.

Oakland Unified School District’s 34,000 students will return to the classroom this Tuesday, after a 7-day educators strike. Early this morning, Oakland Education Association (OEA) announced that they had signed a tentative agreement with the school district. The union’s demands included pay increases and more student support resources. Early negotiations idled due to disagreement over some of the teachers’ common good demands. The tentative contract provides OEA the ability to appoint 8 of a 13-member steering committee managing a $66 million state grant for the creation and bolstering of “community schools.” Community schools provide wraparound services for students and families in addition to fulfilling their education mission. The union also negotiated for more resources to support schools with a 40% or higher black population, free bus passes for all district students, and a new process for carrying out school closures. Schools are open today for a “transition day,” and normal class instruction will resume tomorrow, with nine days left of the school year.

Iranian authorities arrested eight workers accused of inciting strikes at South Pars/North Dome mega-field, the largest gas reserve in the world. The strikes began earlier this year with workers calling for a 79% increase in wages, freedom of association, and an end to discriminatory practices. The reserve employs nearly 40,000 people. Authorities announced efforts to replace approximately 4,000 workers striking for better wages and working conditions.

The Writers Guild of America (WGA), entering its third week of striking, denied a Broadway request to allow the Tony Awards to air as scheduled. Though the award ceremony is a minor event for Hollywood, with only about 4 million viewers last year, it is one of theater’s biggest marketing opportunities. Broadway attendance has yet to return to pre-pandemic levels and many shows were relying on the boost that the Tony Awards often brings to ticket sales. The Tony Awards Management Committee are considering alternative options including postponing the awards until after the strike or hosting an untelevised ceremony on the original date – June 11th.

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