The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Workers on Strike

Jan 15, 2024

Illinois Teamsters Strike US Foods

On January 8, 130 Teamsters of IBT Local 705 struck US Foods’ operation in Bensenville, Illinois, adjacent to O’Hare Airport. Their contract expired on December 29.

Strike authorization at Bensenville was unanimous. For the last two years, US Foods, a national supplier, took record profits out of the workers’ low wages, poorly funded healthcare, and unsafe working conditions.

US Foods claims a national distribution network of 250,000 restaurants and food service partners. But the “essential workers” who delivered all that food to all those places during the pandemic are not honored any more but are pushed around to keep delivering those high profits, regardless.

The company has not only targeted workers’ wages and healthcare. The fox wants to guard the entire henhouse. US Foods says that it and it alone will determine what constitutes a ‘serious accident.’ This means that management alone will decide on discipline and discharge of drivers or others involved in accidents. Bad brakes? Bald tires? Worn-out steering? Never a problem! Fire the driver!

Teamsters locals at other US Foods sites may be called out in solidarity. Many Teamster contracts allow it.

Minnesota State Court Interpreters

About 100 freelance interpreters for the courts of the State of Minnesota organized themselves to refuse assignments starting January 8.

Since the freelancers are classified as “independent contractors,” they must pay their own taxes, Social Security payments, insurance, equipment, certification, etc. “It’s actually not tenable for many, many people,” said a striker, explaining why there is a shortage of state court interpreters. The private sector pays much better, and so do federal courts.

The state’s latest raise to only $65 an hour sparked the strike. “All we’re asking for is not even a raise,” she said. “What we are asking for is to have our purchasing power restored to what it was in 1997 when they established a rate of $50 per hour.” Merely catching up with inflation would mean a raise to $96.50!

The court administrator blames the state legislature for not giving courts enough money to operate. But certified interpreters are necessary if people who need language translations are to enjoy any form of justice in civil or criminal cases.