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Maryland I.T. Workers Begin Strike With IWW, File Multiple Unfair Labor Practice Charges

By Benjamin Charles - Baltimore IWW, May 26, 2016

FREDERICK, MD-- Workers at True Technical Experts LLC (TTX), an IT subcontractor for major retailers, have gone on strike today demanding an end to wage theft and harassment, and demanding recognition of their union, the Industrial Workers of the World. The workers have submitted a list of demands, which includes raising wages to the industry standard, regular hours, and an anti-harassment pledge from the business’s owner, David Gerlak. IWW workers at TTX have struck twice in the past two months over unpaid wages, winning their back pay both times, although Gerlak has refused to recognize the union. Minutes after being contacted by an IWW representative, Gerlak declared that he had fired two striking employees, in obvious violation of federal labor law.

TTX is a small IT subcontractor whose workers install cabling and other hardware for some of the nation’s largest retailers, such as Target and CVS. As is often the case, their work is handled by a complex chain of contractors and subcontractors, producing a “race to the bottom” where wage theft and poor working conditions are common. For over a year, workers at TTX have organized underground for job stability, respect at work, and an end to substandard wages and conditions.

“We’re tired of being treated like machines,” said TTX field technician Andrew K. “If David won’t treat us like human beings, with basic respect and dignity, we’ll just have to force him to. We are prepared to stay out on strike for as long as it takes.”

This is not the first time these major retailers have had labor issues with their subcontractors. Following years of protests and strikes by a Minneapolis-based workers’ center representing janitorial workers, Target agreed to language stipulating that “cleaning companies it works with cannot interfere with workers’ organizing rights, must follow wage-and-hour laws and must establish worker safety committees.” While no such language currently exists for their IT subcontractors, TTX workers are confident that, with a little encouragement, Target will soon extend its ideals to them as well.

Gerlak has made repeated threats to fire two workers who are members of the IWW, and even threatened to shut down the business in retaliation for union activity. The Baltimore IWW is filing Unfair Labor Practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board against TTX for these blatantly illegal threats.

The workers are asking supporters to stand in solidarity by donating to their strike fund. Donations can be made at https://www.crowdrise.com/support-trutech-workers-organizing

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