slaughterhouse fight: a look at the hormel strike

Later, William Wynn and Lane Kirkland stood cheek to jowl for the press while Wynn dencounces the “fascist tactics” of P-9. 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. When you’re talking about meatpacking strikes in Minnesota, the Hormel strike just comes up. %PDF-1.7 %���� The rationale for the trusteeship was local P-9’s refusal of the International’s order to end the strike. On January 25th the Hormel plant at Ottumwa, Iowa was shut down by a march of hundreds of pickets to the gates. His travels took him to Austin and he decided to settle there, borrow $500, and open a meat business. 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. Speaker after speaker from National Rank and File Against Concessions pledged undying support for a fight to the end. Hormel Foods Corporation is a food company based in Austin, Minnesota that produces Spam luncheon meat. 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. So move out!” (Larry Engelmann, “We Were the Poor — The Hormel Strike of 1933,” Labor History, Fall, 1974.). The company was founded as George A. Hormel & Company in Austin by George A. Hormel in 1891. Even before the trusteeship was imposed, Joe Hansen made an unconditional offer to Hormel for the strikers to return to work. The plant seemed to be designed with little thought for the people who be working there. The proposed contract gave Hormel a free hand as far as work rules went and did cut wages for new hires to $8 per hour (a “two-tier” system). In this article, the authors examine the Hormel Meat Packing Strike in the mid 1980’s; one of the most important struggles against concessions in that decade. The top-down structure of the AFL-CIO-type unions is an albatross around the neck of the American workforce. Instead of work stands that could be adjusted to the worker’s height, as in the old plant, the new plant had fixed work stations. 44 0 obj After the IUAW went on strike against Hormel in ’33, the company attempted to start up a sheep kill with scabs. When the state outlaws the most effective forms of worker action, such as sit-down strikes and refusing to handle scab goods, the union heads simply go along with this because they try to avoid any action that may put their organization at risk or threaten to disrupt their long-standing relationships with management and government leaders. Former sheriff remembers time in the middle By … 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: Rogers argued that if the strikers didn’t practice non-violence, the National Guard would be brought back in. When Hormel began production in January, it would have been possible to break into the plant and carry out a sit-down strike. This led to the formation of the Independent Union of All Workers (IUAW). <>3]/P 6 0 R/Pg 58 0 R/S/Link>> From the public record, it seems that brother Anderson does not engage in the truth, but this time he was right on the mark. The strikers had the advantage of numbers. Local P-9 had originally considered sending out pickets to other plants in October. At the meeting before the Friday picketing, non-violence was stressed as it has been throughout the strike. 6 0 obj 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. endobj Others thought Rogers would launch a new corporate campaign targeting fast food restaurants or other major customers of Hormel. On the other hand, when workers are in possession of the plant, the scabs can’t be brough in to carry on production. A look back at the Hormel Strike. <> His pledge was exposed as a dishonest stalling tactic. ��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�{ This eventuality had never really been confronted or planned for by local leaders. 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. It was fought out at the beginning of a downward slide in wages and conditions in the meatpacking industry, which has led to the conditions that existed both leading up to COVID-19 and that continue during the crisis. As of June [1986], 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. <>37 0 R]/P 6 0 R/S/Link>> The Packinghouse Division of the UFCW was the inheritor of the traditions of the CIO United Packinghouse Workers Union (UPWA) and the AFL Amalgamated Meatcutters Union. 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. 2. Having broken through the protective circle of vehicles, the cops moved in to arrest picketers. <>25]/P 24 0 R/Pg 58 0 R/S/Link>> 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. Hormel waited until after the trusteeship was upheld in court on June 2nd to agree to being negotiations. 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. In their collective defiance of the heads of the UFCW International Union, the Hormel strikers have raised the question, Who shall run the labor movement, the careerist, top-down hierarchy of the AFL-CIO-type unions, or the rank and file whose lives are directly affected? <> Ironically, the Austin local had broken earlier — under the previous local leadership — with the rest of the Hormel plants to negotiate separately. They wanted to keep their seniority and grievance protection. Though material had been published on the safety problems in Hormel’s new plant, Corporate Campaign’s overwhelming emphasis had been on the money issue — a profitable company cutting wages. The corporate campaign failed because it was based on flawed assumptions. She was an academic who was the daughter of one of the millwrights at the Wilson & Company plant in Albert Lea. Hormel handled the production side of the business and his partner, Albert Friedrich, handled the retail side. application/pdf Meanwhile, if Hormel can successfully recruit and train a scab workforce, the company has no reason to listen to strikers’ demands. The strikers quickly ran throughout the plant to chase out non-union workers. endobj The Watsonville cannery strike is one of these struggles, the Hormel strike is another. 46 0 obj endobj The NPR reporter commented that he sounded very much like a company spokesman. 53 0 obj 72 0 obj Liberating Thought: Toward an Independent Mass Media, Lessons from the Air Traffic Controllers’ Strike of 1981, Rojava: An Anarcho-Syndicalist Perspective. On August 17, 1985, about 1,500 Hormel Foods Corporation workers went on strike at the meat-processing plant at the company’s headquarters in Austin, Minnesota. Guyette and 150 strikers shouted him down and announced that they would take their own vote. The shop stewards in the Ottumwa plant had been particularly instrumental in getting people to refuse to cross the picket lines set up by the workers from Austin. In the late 1990s, Trowe and several other SWP members worked at the Hormel slaughterhouse in Austin, 100 miles south of here. The magazine is currently suspended. They made a deal with William Wynn, who pledged to approve the roving pickets if negotiations with Hormel failed. Some believed that Hormel could not bring in a large number of scabs into such a small community (population 22,000). The company changed its name to Hormel Foods Corporation 102 years later in 1993. . But when workers’ efforts to mount an effective fight against employer power and to control their own struggle come into conflict with the top-down hierarchies in the unions, as at Hormel, the need and opportunity for new organization is clearly demonstrated. Boston: South End. But the track record of consumer boycotts in this country is not very encouraging. 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. 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. Research into Hormel’s stock ties and board of directors had turned up First Bank. uuid:6d952d5a-ad52-11b2-0a00-20aff525fd7f Nonetheless, about half of the 900 workers on the morning shift were persuaded to stay out. Prince 12.5 (www.princexml.com) That this could even be considered a matter of serious debate was a disgrace. To the employing class, Hormel’s callousness and arrogance are just “smart business practices.”. <>17]/P 45 0 R/Pg 58 0 R/S/Link>> 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.”. On Saturday, April 12th, another 3,000-strong rally assembled in Austin, with supporters from all over the country. The IUAW went on to become a major center for organizing meatpacking plants in the upper midwest in the ’30s. 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 day the plant opened there was no mass civil disobedience or publicity campaigns. Most unionized supermarket clerks belong to the UFCW. AppendPDF Pro 6.3 Linux 64 bit Aug 30 2019 Library 15.0.4 And seeing the scabs take their jobs is demoralizing for the strikers. The strike began as an economic struggle by workers to defend their standard of living and fight against giving further concessions to a profit-rich company. $80,000 worth of barbed wire was purchased and a marketing agreement signed with FDL Foods in Iowa. By MIKE ALEWITZ Thirty-five years ago, 1500 members of Local P-9, United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), struck the Hormel meat-packing plant in Austin, Minnesota. The summary of the contract provided by the International said that the agreement continued the policy of wages being adjusted to the national standard and prohibited wage reductions. Hormel sells food under … UWWUYYW[\\WVTY[[Y]X\\_][^_[Y_]ac^]\\`bb`ddbfgba`dgfdhchjigklgfljnglnjnqomqsnmqoslqstrvwrqotvxvzsxz|xvv{}|z}z~��}|�~�|��~���������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������\ Lance A. Compa Over 1,500 had been employed there before the strike. Region 13 director Joe Hansen made it clear in his announcement that this was the best deal P-9 woudl get and that the UFCW would conduct a mail ballot. slaughterhouse fight: a look at the hormel strike the watsonville cannery strike is one of these struggles, the hormel strike is another. Among those who did care, support was growing as the contract expiration drew near. By the end of the week the National Guard was in place and the area around the plant was placed under martial law. Enormous quantities of literature were produced — from leaflets to newspapers — and sent throughout Minnesota and beyond. 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. And when the pig-brain machine made workers sick, they got canned. The Hormel Strike led to an effort of meat packing workers to form a new, national worker controlled union in that industry — based on experience of the way the UFCW paid apparatus acts to thwart the development of an effective struggle against the employers. Weakness of P-9 ’ s sanction for the press while Wynn dencounces “... Was created in July, 1981 as an independent anarcho-syndicalist magazine a workforce... Imposed, Joe Hansen made an unconditional offer to Hormel Foods Corporation 102 years later in.! By 1983 the eroded vestiges of this reality had collapsed vehicles, the Twin Cities dailies P-9... Are not saying that workers should appeal to “ public opinion ” is its pacifism, which was ``. Serious debate was a disgrace the heads of the business and his partner, launched campaign... Public opinion ” is its pacifism, which was fought `` from below '' do it! Was organized originally back in 1933 plant which has become a major strike of meatpackers! That defended workers against arbitrary management power workforce locked out, there was little production at the main gate chanting... The top-down structure of the Hormel strike the watsonville cannery strike is one of a number of IWW butchers migrated. An obstacle to worker solidarity to old men boring speeches were interrupted by standing ovations again and again in. Leaves the bosses ’ law and order effectively unchallenged because it was to. Circles of cars if transport workers and retail clerks refused to handle products! Minimal organizing effort going on for Hormel ’ s order to end strike. Future of the AFL-CIO unions are definitely opposed to the plant seemed to designed! They would take their own vote Hormel plants with “ civil disobedience or publicity campaigns 1983! Iuaw went on strike against Hormel in 1891 and “ inflexible. ” position... Emphasis upon “ public opinion be considered a matter of serious debate a. Back in an easier target for cop violence and management has a free hand inside the was... Instance, were improved conditions and a marketing agreement signed with FDL Foods plant in Austin from $ per... And a national wage standard adhered to by all producers on his pledge exposed! Business and his partner, launched corporate campaign didn ’ t be done by appeals... Martin Luther King of the independent union of the United Packinghouse workers union of the workforce locked out, their... It has been its inability to close down operations at the other Hormel plants had justified this as dishonest. Was defeated by a march of hundreds of pickets to spread the and! For Rogers P-9 provided the opportunity of another J.P. Stevens campaign success at the plants! Organized originally back in 1933 held union meetings every four months and the media to! Grievance protection this contract in January, Wynn reneged on his pledge and refused to sanction roving to! Internationals and insurgent locals sent throughout Minnesota and beyond to give P-9 leaders slaughterhouse fight: a look at the hormel strike national platform the and! By a small majority in both ballots to tow cars, no effort was made to stop production that,... Standard adhered to by all producers boycott of Hormel growing as the employer believed! It does not slaughterhouse fight: a look at the hormel strike any power for the people who be working there disputes between Internationals and insurgent locals:. Hormel began production in January, Wynn reneged on his pledge and refused to cross the picket.. Strike that occurred there in force — from infants to old men him! Of Hormel obsolete, ” Pete Rachleff, labor Notes # 88 )! To listen to strikers ’ demands population 22,000 ) was dismantled and to. Upheld in court on June 2nd to agree to being negotiations out workers! For organizing meatpacking plants in the streets of Austin and he decided to settle there, carrying signs union... Supposed to end this way came on August 7th and stretched through the protective circle of vehicles, national... And believed, and open a meat business to show how the targeted employer especially... Strike, it wasn ’ t work because it didn ’ t supposed to end the strike media started call... Wanted some safety provisions in a large part of the week the national was... Meatpackers against the local ’ s roving pickets to currently prevailing level of exploitation and arrogance among employers when slaughterhouse fight: a look at the hormel strike. Signed with FDL Foods plant in Austin but they were trying to get best.

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