On the muggy, overcast early morning of Friday, September 15th, members, leaders and organizers from multiple Teamster locals rallied in support of their brothers on strike at Independent Piping in Canton MA. They were joined by a broad and impressive coalition of unions from every sector. Members from MA Building Trade Unions, MNA, Teamsters Local 671 and many other organizations rallied in solidarity and support of the ongoing strike.
The strike is maintained by over thirty-six Teamsters Local 25 members at the Canton facility and the Boston Pipe site in Somerville. They are entering their seventh week on strike for a healthcare benefits, a viable pension plan and a long overdue wage increase at Independent Pipe.
In a meeting with a federal mediator, Jeffrey Nierman, President and CEO of Independent Pipe was quoted saying “…those men on the picket line… they’re crumbling.” On Friday, the 15th of September, it seemed anything but, as amplified voices boomed from a podium and speaker system on the side of a Teamsters Local 25 tractor trailer truck. The truck, stationed directly across from the factory, provided a platform to speak to assembled crowd whose resounding cheers reinforced the stamina and intent of the striker’s movement.
Frank Callahan, President of the MA Building Trades Council (MBTC) spoke of solidarity among all pro-union and pro-labor movements in MA. He spoke of the MGM Casino project in Springfield, MA and of the lateral influence unions can have in support of the strike. In the council’s projects, Callahan made clear that “union goods, made by union workers, transported by union trucks” would be the sole providers for the Council’s projects, barring private, uncooperative business like Independent Pipe from providing materials.
Steve Tolman, President of MA AFL-CIO spoke movingly of the increasing wage gap between trades workers and the 1%, citing a 200% average salary increase among the elite and a national trend of intentionally “stymied wages” amongst the working class:
“There is something wrong in America when a company like this is making millions of dollars… and now they want your healthcare (contribution) to be another mortgage. Do you think they want you to have a good pension?… We know and (corporations) know; that if they do it here, they’re coming there. They won’t stop with the truck drivers and the Teamsters.”
When Teamsters Local 25 President Sean O’Brien took the podium, he fully agreed, “this fight is not about just here, this is about the labor movement in general.” He urged Independent Pipe’s corporate leadership to “get a deal done, get back to work and start restoring the pride that once was in this workplace.” He spoke of the utter commitment and deep resources that the Teamsters have pledged to this fight. As he wrapped, the audience took up the striker’s chant, “Every Day. Every Day.” O’Brien also shared the stage with Rich Rogers, President of the Greater Boston Labor Council and Julie Pinkham, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA) as well as several other speakers.
The seven-week strike will continue at Independent Pipe as negotiations continue and until a fair contract is agreed upon. Support and aid is being accepted in solidarity with the strikers’ and their sustained efforts. Contact Jim Donovan, Director of Training at Teamsters Local 25 for more information at 617-241-8825.