slaughterhouse fight: a look at the hormel strike
6 0 obj Teams of volunteers went door to door canvassing in the suburbs of Minneapolis and St. Paul. That this could even be considered a matter of serious debate was a disgrace. 42 0 obj The rule of thumb in meatpacking today is that each company will squeeze or discard the UFCW for the lowest wages and the worst conditions it can get. THE HORMEL strikers blew it. “CD” only produces arrests, it does not produce any power for the workers. These vertical bureaucracies often work to oppose direct, horizontal solidarity between workers since it imposes risks and costs (such as strike benefits) to their organizations, disrupts cozy relationships with employers, and challenges their top-down control. It ended as aâ¦ <>37 0 R]/P 6 0 R/S/Link>> endobj The strike, beginning August 17, 1985 and lasting until September 13 of the following year, is considered one of the longest strikes in Minnesota history and ended in failure for the striking workers. The weakness of P-9’s position has been its inability to close down operations at the Austin plant. endobj In the Twin Cities area an informal group of local union officials, rank and file activists, sympathetic academics, revolutionary veterans of the ’30s and assorted leftists had become the Metro Support Committee. 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. Nor are we saying that workers should abandon the struggle within the AFL-CIO-type unions against top-down bureaucratic control and against sell-outs. A Publication of the Workers Solidarity Alliance. On February 8th a rally of some 2,000 unionists, their families and supporters was held in Ottumwa. In the Workers Solidarity Alliance's print version of ideas & action Steve Boyce, Jake Edwards and Tom Wetzel penned an excellent, article, "Slaughterhouse Fight: A Look at the Hormel Strike" In recognition of the 25th Anniversary of the struggle, I am providing a link â¦ 15 0 obj Protest plans for Hormel’s annual shareholders meeting panicked the executives into moving the meeting to Atlanta. 53 0 obj The new plant experienced a 120% increase in worker injuries. The shut down came on August 7th and stretched through the fall and into winter. Web. The problem with “civil disobedience” is its pacifism, which leaves the bosses’ law and order effectively unchallenged. The UFCW’s trusteeship was upheld by federal District Court judge Edward Devitt on June 2nd and the UFCW then changed the locks on the union’s offices, seized all files and funds, and ousted the elected leadership. The rationale for the trusteeship was local P-9’s refusal of the International’s order to end the strike. To do that it was necessary to stop production. After all the media attention and the hundreds who have attended the support rallies, what’s left is the remnants of a proud local union fighting a lonely battle against company greed and AFL-CIO betrayal. Hormel was particularly vulnerable to this strategy since it is not a conglomerate that can bleed off profits from one industrial division to prop up another during a strike. Hormel handled the production side of the business and his partner, Albert Friedrich, handled the retail side. The Watsonville cannery strike is one of these struggles, the Hormel strike is another. Ideas & Action, 7. When strikers are outside on picketlines, they are an easier target for cop violence and management has a free hand inside the plant. The line producing Hormel’s most popular new product — hot dogs stuffed with chile — was dismantled and moved to Houston. Hormel recently announced that its profits were down 25.7% from the second quarter of last year, due to the strike. endobj The proposed contract was defeated by a small majority in both ballots. 52 0 obj 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. Hormel attempted to re-open the plant in January. Hormel Foods Corporation Type Public (NYSE: HRL) endobj What P-9 members got was a $3 per week assessment to pay for a $40,000 deal with Corporate Campaign, Inc. Rogers and his staff of ten make $425 a week with year-end bonuses of $1,000 (if business is good). What was achieved, through several decades of struggle, were improved conditions and a national wage standard adhered to by all producers. With a large part of the workforce locked out, there was little production at the Ottumwa plant. The strikers quickly ran throughout the plant to chase out non-union workers. The Hormel Strike led to an effort of meat packing workers to form a new, national worker controlled union in that industry â based on experience of the way the UFCW paid apparatus acts to thwart the development of an effective struggle against the employers. The usual argument against a new union is that it would be “divisive” while so many other workers in the same industry remain within the “official” union, in this case the UFCW. One of the upper Midwest’s financial giants, the St. Paul-based bank looked like the ideal location of the “doorsteps of power.” First Bank was descended upon with pickets at branches in three states and protesters at their shareholders meeting. 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. As of June , P-9ers were claiming that only about 700-to-800 people were working in the Austin plant; the company, on the other hand, claims it now has 1,050 people working. Hormel Foods Corporation is a food company based in Austin, Minnesota that produces Spam luncheon meat. 47 0 obj P-9 then sent out roving pickets to spread the strike and shut down production at the other plants in the Hormel chain. In other words, the union apparatus must be preserved, even against the workers themselves. Some 25 years ago the workers at the Austin, Minnesota plant of the Hormel Corp. embarked on a long and brave fight. The UFCW replied by calling him the Ayatollah of Austin. <>/P 35 0 R/S/Link>> Over 1,500 had been employed there before the strike. The 1985â86 Hormel strike was a labor strike that involved approximately 1,500 workers of the Hormel meatpacking plant in Austin, Minnesota in the United States. SUNDAY, AUGUST 15, 2010 Hormel Strike. AppendPDF Pro 6.3 Linux 64 bit Aug 30 2019 Library 15.0.4 <> <>21]/P 23 0 R/Pg 58 0 R/S/Link>> But surely the UFCW International has proven itself to be an obstacle to worker solidarity. Get your 100% original paper on any topic done A Second Look at the Hormel Strike . Most of the actual strike support and fund-raising has been done under the auspices of the United Support Group, which is formally independent of the union. <>17]/P 45 0 R/Pg 58 0 R/S/Link>> Abstract [Excerpt] The dispute between the United Food and Commercial Workers and its Local P-9 over the long strike at Geo. <>25]/P 24 0 R/Pg 58 0 R/S/Link>> The mayor of the town told the rally, “You’ve got the right not to cross that picket line.” Another mass rally in support of the Ottumwa workers took place on May 10th, including hundreds of P-9 members bused in from Austin. But the track record of consumer boycotts in this country is not very encouraging. Montross’s hatchet job, prepared by leftists at the International’s headquarters, tried to portray the UFCW as the defender of “progressive” unionism while P-9 was denounced for “isolation, individualism, and division.” In the International’s eyes, “solidarity” means obedience to their orders, even if those orders ban actual solidarity. endstream One…group crashed through the doors of a conference room where Jay Hormel and five company executives were meeting and declared “We’re taking possession. The UFCW had justified this as a means of regaining lost ground. Free shipping for many products! The final company offer waas for $10 per hour for the current workforce. Speaker after speaker from National Rank and File Against Concessions pledged undying support for a fight to the end. Some of the new technology had inadequate safety features — like automatic back saws with no safety guards. <>stream P-9 listened, and believed, and did not strike. <>stream But instead of asking retail clerks to refuse to handle Hormel products, the International demanded unconditional surrender by P-9. This time he conceded that it was going to be difficult to sell wage cuts to the Austin workers given the profitability of the company. All that Hormel does is package meat and it has been doing this very profitably from 1891 to the present. The day the plant opened there was no mass civil disobedience or publicity campaigns. 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. Wages were cut in Austin from $10.69 to $8.25 per hour on October 8, 1984. As long as the company still recognized the UFCW and kept wages in the $8 per hour range, nobody at the International really cared. This committee then initiated the Naional Rank and File Against Concessions (NRFAC) to give P-9 leaders a national platform. ������������������������������������������¿�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������\ A Second Look at the Hormel Strike Appligent AppendPDF Pro 6.3 The company changed its name to Hormel Foods Corporation 102 years later in 1993. . 24 0 obj Ellis was one of a number of IWW butchers who migrated around the midwest from job to job in those days. 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. When youâre talking about meatpacking strikes in Minnesota, the Hormel strike just comes up. The honorable governor was worried about the political fallout from a major confrontation between the Guard and large groups of strike supporters. In their union meetings and rallies, in their travels to other unions around the country, the message of the Austin meat packers is that it’s time to re-orient the labor movement, it’s time for a real fight against employer arrogance. 2. seniority rights) that defended workers against arbitrary management power. Several hundred strikers amassed at the main gate, chanting, hurling insults at the cops. Though the negotiations did eventually raise the wage offer to $10 per hour, the company’s “final offer” in January still contained a lot of givebacks that would essentially give management the right to do anything it wanted in the plant, and wipe out all the past practices and procedures (e.g. And obviously Rogers’ strategy did not avoid arrests or police violence. :9A@?=@A?C=ACD@?CAEFDGHDCBFHGEIIGKLHFEJLNIHLJMIMONLOPLJRNMQNRLQSSQUUQPUSWXSRQ\ Workers’ first concern may be their on-the-job situation but the International union heads do not share those conditions and their first concern is the survival of the union as a bureaucratic institution. endobj A sit-down strike would have been the most effective way to shut down production and force Hormel to take the strikers’ concerns seriously. The corporate campaign failed because it was based on flawed assumptions. The UFCW mailing included a form letter, addressed to Hormel’s personnel manager, which states that the applicant is willing to take any job unconditionally. <>/Metadata 2 0 R/Outlines 5 0 R/Pages 3 0 R/StructTreeRoot 6 0 R/Type/Catalog/ViewerPreferences<>>> The new union’s name was then changed to “North American Meat Packers Union.”. <>4]/P 6 0 R/Pg 58 0 R/S/Link>> 36 0 obj (See Strategy of Appeasement.) Hormel sells food under â¦ The plan had been to block the roads leading to the plant with circles of cars. Later, William Wynn and Lane Kirkland stood cheek to jowl for the press while Wynn dencounces the “fascist tactics” of P-9. Discontented workers in the hog kill department got together with with an experienced Wobbly (IWW) organizer, named Frank Ellis, who was working as a foreman in another department. The differential in pay between what P-9 wanted and what Hormel offered had been steadily narrowed by arbitrators’ rulings before the strike and mediators proposals after the strike began. As one commentator has described it: Everyone’s work was changed, sped up, pressured, and tied to external pacing and new standards. Though Minnesota’s Farmer-Labor Party governor at the time, Floyd Olson, denounced the strikers’ “illegal possession of the plant,” the company threw in the towel after four days of worker occupation of the plant. It was not going to be easy selling this deal. On August 17, 1985, about 1,500 Hormel Foods Corporation workers went on strike at the meat-processing plant at the companyâs headquarters in Austin, Minnesota. <>3]/P 6 0 R/Pg 58 0 R/S/Link>> <> The IWW had led a major strike of mine workers on the Messabi iron ore range in Minnesota in 1916. uuid:6d952d5a-ad52-11b2-0a00-20aff525fd7f A look back at the Hormel Strike. Reaves, Brian A. We are not saying that workers should automatically avoid the AFL-CIO-type unions, even when no other mass organization is feasible. On February 15th 3,000 strike supporters from unions throughout the midwest marched in the streets of Austin and ralled at the high school. To develop an effective challenge to the employing class and unionism self-managed by the rank and file, it is going to be necessary to develop new organization. âSlaughterhouse Fight: A Look at the Hormel Strike. But Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party Governor Perpich hadd removed the National Guard in February only after hundreds of supporters from other unions had been mobilized to support the strikers in Austin. The rally was fired up by the fact that 400 strikers and supporters had shut the plant down for several hours on Friday, beforre being dispersed by riot cops. A. Hormel & Co.'s meatpacking plant in Austin, Minnesota has put labor activists on two sides of an emotional and strategic divide. endobj If transport workers and retail clerks refused to handle Hormel products, that would be a more effective form of boycott. The Hormel strikers proposed a new national union that would not have power concentrated in a national executive board, but would have coordination through a rank-and-file delegates council. They had made givebacks in the past. On National Public Radio Lewie Anderson said that the problem now at Hormel was that the workers made too much money and this would make the company unprofitable and lead to loss of jobs. 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. To the employing class, Hormel’s callousness and arrogance are just “smart business practices.”. The corporate campaign didn’t work because it didn’t stop Hormel from continuing to make money from packaging meat. They made a deal with William Wynn, who pledged to approve the roving pickets if negotiations with Hormel failed. The strike was a long process with many turns and developments; the story did not unfold overnight, and there were many points during the negotiations at which both the company and the union got to make important decisions; ... Slaughterhouse fight: A look at the Hormel strike. AUSTIN DAILY HERALD. The immediate response to the wage reduction was a call for strike action — against the contract, the company and anybody else who was trying to gut their wages. Slaughterhouse Fight: A Look at the Hormel Strike. Guyette and 150 strikers shouted him down and announced that they would take their own vote. The rate was so fast that they could only sharpen their knives on the upswing, before plunging downward into another ham. A Hormel & Co. threatens to move meatpacking operations out of Austin. Instead there were hundreds of union men and women blocking the gates and the scabs did not pass that day or the next. On Saturday, April 12th, another 3,000-strong rally assembled in Austin, with supporters from all over the country. But in the current climate of employer aggression, Hormel is just following the present trend, justified among business leaders as a “battle to become more competitive.” The leaders of Continental, Iowa Beef Processors, the Chicago Tribune and Phelps-Dodge would certainly not say that Hormel is particularly “unfair” to its workers. Another twist in Rogers’ emphasis upon “public opinion” is the consumer boycott of Hormel products. They wanted some safety provisions in a plant which has become a slaughterhouse for human beings as well as livestock. <> The strikers, members of United Food and Commercial Workersâ Local P-9, cited a wage freeze, dangerous working conditions, and a wage cut as the reasons for the strike, which continued for thirteen months. $80,000 worth of barbed wire was purchased and a marketing agreement signed with FDL Foods in Iowa. Despite their sincere effort to be peaceful and avoid violence, local P-9 has been subjected to physical violence from the cops and National Guard and many have been arrested. This led to the formation of the Independent Union of All Workers (IUAW). Hormel was not motivated by financial losses since it was — and remains — highly profitable. Yet direct action by workers to defend their picket lines against the job-stealing of the scabs is perfectly legitimate, no matter what capitalist legality may say about it. On February 16th about 200 pickets from P-9 showed up at the FDL Foods plant in Dubuque. Local P-9 had wanted to restore the old $10.69 per hour standard wage. Slaughterhouse Fight: A Look at the Hormel Strike - How Hormel and the UFCW sabotaged Rank & File unionism in the P-9 Strike - By Steve Boyce, Jake Edwards, and Tom Wetzel (Summer 1986) A Strike by Any Other Name - By Natasha Moss-Dedrick (September 28, 2004) Alternatives to Reformism Within Existing Labor Law: 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. The Metro Support Committee organized caravans bringing tons of food to Austin, as did Region 13 of the UFCW. %PDF-1.7 %���� Meanwhile, local P-40 in Wisconsin and local P-6 in Albert Lea, Minnesota, are refusing to pay their per capita dues to the International until the trusteeship is removed fromm local P-9. 1 0 obj Prince 12.5 (www.princexml.com) The 400 former P-9 members who returned to work after Hormel restarted production in January were particularly damaging to the strike since they had skills and experience needed to bring production back to normal levels. After announcing in March that it was ending sanction for P-9’s strike the UFCW International sent a letter to P-9 members cutting off strike benefits for strikers who refuse to go back to work on Hormel’s terms. Only about 65 workers stayed out when pickets showed up at the Fremont, Nebraska plant. 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