slaughterhouse fight: a look at the hormel strike

Hormel Foods Corporation Type Public (NYSE: HRL) When strikers are outside on picketlines, they are an easier target for cop violence and management has a free hand inside the plant. <> Only 1,750 workers were employed in the new plant when it opened in 1982 — less than half as many as worked in the old plant. Local P-9 had originally considered sending out pickets to other plants in October. <> But the Communist Party registered the leftist retreat the earliest and clearest: “The local leadership’s attacks on the leadership of the UFCW has played into the hands of the corporations’ union busting strategy and will be used to split and divide other locals and be used as ammunition against the union in organizing drives…” (Daily World, 2/6). Slaughterhouse Fight: A Look at the Hormel Strike By Steve Boyce, Jake Edwards and Tom Wetzel - published in Ideas & Action #7 , Summer, 1986 When the airline unions and the AFL-CIO let the air controllers go down to defeat, the message to the employing class was, "You can do what you want; we won't organize a fighting solidarity." George A. Hormel (born 1860 in Buffalo, New York) worked in a Chicago slaughterhouse before becoming a traveling wool and hide buyer. For five months, they kept the heat on Hormel with an effective, resourceful, well-run strike. All that Hormel does is package meat and it has been doing this very profitably from 1891 to the present. 5 0 obj The plant normally employs 800 workers. But in the fall of ’83, Hormel decided to take advantage of the concessions fever then sweeping the industry and announced that it was lowering wages in pursuit of the UFCW’s “national standard” which had already become a pathetic joke. The shut down came on August 7th and stretched through the fall and into winter. Even boring speeches were interrupted by standing ovations again and again. Several hundred strikers amassed at the main gate, chanting, hurling insults at the cops. The UFCW had justified this as a means of regaining lost ground. Geo. P-9’s roving pickets against First Bank were being monitored and photographed for future legal action against the local. P-9 listened, and believed, and did not strike. UWWUYYW[\\WVTY[[Y]X\\_][^_[Y_]ac^]\\`bb`ddbfgba`dgfdhchjigklgfljnglnjnqomqsnmqoslqstrvwrqotvxvzsxz|xvv{}|z}z~��}|�~�|��~���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������\ Hormel sells food under many brands, including the Chi-Chi's, Dinty Moore, Farmer John, Herdez, Jennie-O, Lloyd's, SPAM and Stagg brands, as well as … Hormel handled the production side of the business and his partner, Albert Friedrich, handled the retail side. Ellis was one of a number of IWW butchers who migrated around the midwest from job to job in those days. What the surprised membership of P-9 discovered, when they got a copy of the contract from the International, was that the alleged provision prohibiting wage reductions was missing. On May 9th, the Executive Board of the UFCW International ordered a trusteeship for local P-9, with the Region 13 director Joe Hansen appointed as the International’s dictator in Austin. This has not stopped the UFCW from trying to seize the support group funds, however, which indicates how determined the UFCW is to crush P-9’s rebellion. What is needed is a new form of organization in which the rank and file directly manage the struggle and the local organizations are linked together in horizontal, worker-to-worker solidarity. At that point, Four hundred men, many of them armed with clubs, sticks and rocks, crashed through the plant entrance, shattering the glass doors and sweeping the guards before them. %PDF-1.7 %���� Most unionized supermarket clerks belong to the UFCW. Nonetheless, they’re still making money and hundreds of P-9 defectors and new hires continue to labor in the Austin plant on the company’s terms. The roving pickets had less success at the other Hormel plants. endobj Hormel handled the production side of the business and his partner, Albert Friedrich, handled the retail side. From the public record, it seems that brother Anderson does not engage in the truth, but this time he was right on the mark. Rogers argued that if the strikers didn’t practice non-violence, the National Guard would be brought back in. Hormel sells food under … <>15]/P 21 0 R/Pg 58 0 R/S/Link>> This eventuality had never really been confronted or planned for by local leaders. Initially “Original P-9” was the proposed name of the independent, but the NLRB rejected this name on the grounds that it would be confused with the official P-9, now controlled by the International’s trustee. “Party members from Twin Cities would regularly come down to sell the Militant outside the plant at shift change, helping us get to know workers beyond the departments we worked in,” Trowe said. 58 0 obj The 1982 master contract for the Hormel plants had contained a clause that permitted re-opening the contract in 1984, before the contract’s expiration in September 1985. But instead of asking retail clerks to refuse to handle Hormel products, the International demanded unconditional surrender by P-9. The rationale for the trusteeship was local P-9’s refusal of the International’s order to end the strike. The corporate campaign didn’t work because it didn’t stop Hormel from continuing to make money from packaging meat. This last step was the most significant in that it would prevent Hormel from shortages of product should the Austin plnat be shut down. <>stream Within the local a core of dissenters publicly attacked Rogers and Guyette and from UFCW Region 13 headquarters came veiled threats of putting P-9 into receivership. At best this could only work to bring a particularly nasty employer up to currently prevailing level of exploitation and arrogance among employers. It eventually became part of the United Packinghouse Workers Union of the CIO. application/pdf His pledge was exposed as a dishonest stalling tactic. On Saturday, April 12th, another 3,000-strong rally assembled in Austin, with supporters from all over the country. x��{T[י>���4��ud��u|�dYs��������ةB�8�\�M����סZ�`. What’s that spell?” Rogers told them again and again that they had the power and he would help them use it. And when the pig-brain machine made workers sick, they got canned. Since then his track record has been mixed — some wins, some losses but nothing approaching the publicity of the J.P. Stevens campaign. It changed its name to Hormel Foods in 1993. On June 9th petitions were filed with the National Labor Relations Board, signed by 800 P-9 strikers, to decertify the UFCW International in favor of an independent union. Supporters of the new independent estimate that there are between 12,000 and 30,000 meatpackers in 30 locals across the midwest who may be willing to leave the UFCW for an independent union. The strikers quickly ran throughout the plant to chase out non-union workers. ��k�J�C�]J�����}"s �!�k��X�5�h@�;�O$��^$w��Kd}ն��d]d�&k}bThHy��q����Ŀaxr=C1����G��RTX㮪�/0?�gա8y�k��7�P���`�N\/��+Bt�8p�Z~�np���)�@�뢻��-��d�o��p���p�w��O� �X�$�uw.x& }��h��K����׌�{�pK{�o���'F�_[Y�ˮq���Wfټ��s5�eu�Xq�?�s�qrGt�)a�x_��=����a���?������l�clA���7> The problem with “civil disobedience” is its pacifism, which leaves the bosses’ law and order effectively unchallenged. The International leaders are attempting to set up a “dual union” of the bureaucrats, to replace the real union of P-9 strikers, and negotiate a new constract with Hormel over the heads of the workers. They have often had to fight against the union hierarchy as well as the employer. ��Ҙ)M����o��N����%���pS�#7�}�&o���>k�D֘�j D���e䌢��u�Z���nr����L��X��oY�C���S+-��î؞+6����[�I�θ|3���l���R>�!��~X�{ The history of the Hormel struggle demonstrates once again how the present top-down union Internationals are bound to be in conflict with the rank and file who want control over their own movement and militant solidarity against the employers. The plan had been to block the roads leading to the plant with circles of cars. The model for Corporate Campaign is Rogers’ campaign for the Amalgamated Clother and Textile Workers Union (ACTWU) against J.P. Stevens, which achieved union recognition against a notoriously nonunion Southern employer. A Second Look at the Hormel Strike While receiving strike pay of $40 from the International and $25 from Region 13, money was running low in Austin and striking families were facing a grim Christmas. At that point the strikers’ numbers and enthusiasm were at a peak, and the “forces of order” could have been taken by surprise.

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