Video: LGBT Groups Condemn Stop and Frisk at Stonewall Inn
On June 5, 2012, at the historic Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, where a backlash against police harassment in June 1969 launched the modern LGBT rights movement, local, state and national LGBT organizations, convened by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, joined civil rights, labor, and elected leaders to announce support for the campaign against the NYPD’s stop and frisk policy, and issue a call to action to for the LGBT community to participate in the June 17th Father’s Day Silent March Against Racial Profiling: http://silentmarchnyc.org/
- 1 year ago
Workers Win RWDSU Representation for 1,200 at Pilgrim’s Pride Poultry
At the Pilgrim’s Pride poultry plant in Russellville, Alabama, 1,200 workers have won RWDSU Mid-South Council representation. The vote was 706 to 292 in favor of joining the RWDSU. JBS, Pilgrim’s Pride’s owner, is the country’s largest chicken producer in the United States.
The election, held June 7 and 8, marks one of the largest successful union organizing campaigns in Alabama in the last decade in terms of new members, and it is in one of Alabama’s largest industries.
For workers at the plant, the election was about far more than economic considerations; in fact, according to RWDSU Mid-South Council President John Whitaker, the main issue at stake in the organizing drive was about how a union voice gives workers more control over their work lives.
“The key issues at Pilgrim’s Pride were the right to redress grievances at work, and the ability to have some input into how the place is run. They knew the difference it would make to have a union on their side,” Whitaker said.
“We had no respect from management, and absolutely no voice in anything that affected us,” said Cheryl Kowalski, who works in the sanitation department at the plant.
“They told us what to do and when to do it, and there were no questions allowed. And if there any problems, you couldn’t go to management because they did not want to deal with resolving them, and workers here were left bitter and angry. The bottom line was ‘do what you are told or you don’t have a job.’ But the union provided us with a glimmer of hope,” Kowalski added.
That “glimmer of hope” spread quickly at the plant, and the company engaged in an all-out effort to destroy the workers’ support for joining the union. The company held weeks of captive meetings where they threatened massive layoffs and hinted at the possibility of plant closure if the workers voted for the union, and produced anti-union literature and “vote no” t-shirts.
In addition, the company put pressure on local businesses like the service station where union members were meeting to stop allowing union activists inside, and threatened local hotels with boycotts if they didn’t throw union organizers out onto the streets. The company also tried to book meeting rooms at local hotels so the union couldn’t use them in the weeks leading up to the elections.
“They tried just about everything they could think of to disrupt this organizing campaign and scare the workers into voting ‘no,’ but they weren’t fooled. The workers at Pilgrim’s Pride wanted a change and they weren’t going to let these threats affect them,” said Mid-South Council Organizer Randy Hadley.
For employees like Sharon Hill, who works in poultry production, a feeling of optimism began to grow despite these tactics.
“Over several weeks, management held many meetings encouraging us not to vote for the union. But about a month into the organizing campaign, I knew we were going to win and I could see it in the employee’s eyes. I spoke with my co-workers a few days before the election and knew they were going to vote yes. We finally had hope in the plant that someone would help us,” Hill said.
For workers at the plant, winning an RWDSU voice isn’t just changing their workplace, it is changing their lives.
“This is a day in my life I will never forget and I am proud of it,” said Pilgrim’s Pride worker – and new RWDSU member – J.R. (Morris) Harris of the poultry production department.
- 1 year ago