The national standard was necessary to prevent wages from being undercut by competition from low-wage producers. Research into Hormel's stock ties and board of directors had turned up First Bank. 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. What's that spell?" It was on that understanding that the contract was ratified by Local P-9. The strike follows months of feuding between the union and Hormel, which last October cut workers’ base wages 23%, from $10.69 to $8.25 an hour, in what it said was an effort to remain competitive. A variety of buttons documenting the 1985 strike at Hormel Foods hang on the wall of the Local United Food and Commercial Workers Union, or P … The day the plant opened there was no mass civil disobedience or publicity campaigns. “The idea that an employer is the lord and master of his own business is … The labor struggle in the meatpacking industry has faced some of the most brutal, dangerous, racist and unsanitary conditions in American industry. 15, No. Union workers physically remove Jay Hormel from the company’s general offices and shut down the refrigeration system, causing the meat to spoil. There was conflicting information about this strike, as it lasted for three days, from November 10th, 1933 to November 13th, and some listings suggested it started on the 13th. 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 official disapproval sent a chill wind through the leftwing cheerleaders who had been hailing P-9 and the corporate campaign. In Labor History, vol. Published 9:57 pm Saturday, August 14, 2010. The shut down came on August 7th and stretched through the fall and into winter. Others thought Rogers would launch a new corporate campaign targeting fast food restaurants or other major customers of Hormel. With Jesse Jackson, Juan Munoz, Ray Rogers. But in 1984 the International proposed a $1.69 per hour wage cut for Hormel workers outside Austin (from $10.69 to $9 per hour). Instead there were hundreds of union men and women blocking the gates and the scabs did not pass that day or the next. Hormel had already announced that a defeat of this proposal would trigger the opening of the plan with scabs and as many P-9 members as were willing to cross picket lines. As long as the company still recognized the UFCW and kept wages in the $8 per hour range, nobody at the International really cared. With a large part of the workforce locked out, there was little production at the Ottumwa plant. Chronicles the six-month strike at Hormel in Austin, Minnesota, in 1985-86. The model for American unions came together in the late 1850s. Prior to the strike at Hormel, workers in the hog-slaughtering plant were distraught over a wage and benefit freeze and dangerous working conditions. All Rights Reserved. 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. 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. In the case of the J.P. Stevens campaign, Rogers' campaign dwelled upon the fact that Stevens had more violations of labor laws than anyone else. 15, No. 'A Real Threat' Kim Moody, publisher of … 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. At that time they had gotten a better deal than everybody else. Enormous quantities of literature were produced -- from leaflets to newspapers -- and sent throughout Minnesota and beyond. Below is a timeline depicting the events of the Hormel strike of 1985. At that point the strikers' numbers and enthusiasm were at a peak, and the "forces of order" could have been taken by surprise. In 1933 the meatpackers at the Hormel plant launched the plant's first labor strike. This law, which bans advocacy of sabotage or industrial violence to affect social change, was passed in 1917 for the purpose of outlawing the Industrial Workers of the World. First Bank was descended upon with pickets at branches in three states and protesters at their shareholders meeting. ‘We were the poor people” the Hormel strike of 1933. Some believed that Hormel could not bring in a large number of scabs into such a small community (population 22,000). 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. In 1933, there was a strike that formed the Packinghouse Workers 9 local union in Austin, Minnesota. For current info about the state of the U.S. labor movement today, check out Labor Notes, In These Times, or the exceptional work of David Bacon. The line producing Hormel's most popular new product -- hot dogs stuffed with chile -- was dismantled and moved to Houston. The IWW had led a major strike of mine workers on the Messabi iron ore range in Minnesota in 1916. When strikers are outside on picketlines, they are an easier target for cop violence and management has a free hand inside the plant. Workers striking at Hormel Packing Plant, Austin, 1933, via Minnesota Historical Society On November 8, members of the Independent Union of All Workers (IUAW), formed that July, presented Hormel with five demands. 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. From the public record, it seems that brother Anderson does not engage in the truth, but this time he was right on the mark. Jay Hormel was called a tyrant during a 1933 labor strike, which ended with a 52-week pay schedule. One of the upper Midwest's financial giants, the St. Paul-based bank looked like the ideal location of the "doorsteps of power." 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. Some of the new technology had inadequate safety features -- like automatic back saws with no safety guards. It was not going to be easy selling this deal. 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. People were not happy. Twenty-five years ago today, workers at the Hormel meatpacking plant in Austin, Minn. went on strike, bringing the struggles of the national labor movement home to southern Minnesota. "We Were the Poor People" -- The Hormel Strike of 1933, by Larry D. Engelmann. The rationale for the trusteeship was local P-9's refusal of the International's order to end the strike. Members elected leaders to negotiate with employers and see th… Rogers' strategy towards the strike has been to push non-violent "civil disobedience," rather like Martin Luther King in the civil rights movement or the anti-nuclear protesters who sit down in front of nuclear plants with the intention of getting arrested. Published 9:57 pm Saturday, August 14, 2010. Hormel Foods Corporation is an American company founded in 1891 in Austin, Minnesota, by George A. Hormel as George A. Hormel & Company. In response to one of the union actions, Hormel attempted to bring scabs in to replace the workers and the sitdown strike began. And seeing the scabs take their jobs is demoralizing for the strikers. On January 25th the Hormel plant at Ottumwa, Iowa was shut down by a march of hundreds of pickets to the gates. By 1983 the eroded vesgiges of this reality had collapsed. The proposed contract was defeated by a small majority in both ballots. Having broken through the protective circle of vehicles, the cops moved in to arrest picketers. But when the cops finally began to tow cars, no effort was made to stop them. The success of this strike re-invigorates the labor movement, which had been in decline through the 1920s.” Now the new leaders of P-9 were faced with having the lowest wages and yet they could no longer count on the united strength of negotiating with the other Hormel locals. He can be reached at email@example.com. Fortunately for the workers, the Minnesota governor’s office was at that time occupied by a friend of the working man, Floyd B. Olson, a member of the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party. Most unionized supermarket clerks belong to the UFCW. 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. Sitdown strikes were soon adopted elsewhere, though they were often not as successful. 1933 “Workers at George A. Hormel and Company stage the first sit-down strike in the U.S., taking over the Austin meat-packing plant for three days. 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. But the track record of consumer boycotts in this country is not very encouraging. November 10th, The Hormel Meatpackers' Strike of 1933 I apologize for the untimely post. Visit the current IWW website at iww.org ▸, ‹ How the IWW Differs from Business Unions, IU 640 Restaurant, Hotel, and Catering Workers. 4, pp. The UFCW had justified this as a means of regaining lost ground. Event: 1st modern sit-down strike, Hormel meat packers, Austin, Minn. More Notable Events on November 13: 1994 Sweden agrees to join European Union 1982 Vietnam War Memorial dedicated in Washington D.C. 1956 Supreme Court … The UFCW only held union meetings every four months and the location of the meetings was 40 miles from the plant. After the rally people filed out, pushing their way past legions of Trotskyists selling newspapers, pamphlets, and discussion bulletins. Browse historical events, famous birthdays and notable deaths from Nov 13, 1933 or search by date, day or keyword. Workers from all industries were there, carrying signs, union banners and the American flag. One . 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. 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. Another twist in Rogers' emphasis upon "public opinion" is the consumer boycott of Hormel products. 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. The company survived a bitter labor strike in 1933, during which disgruntled union employees, armed with clubs, physically removed Jay Hormel from the company's general offices and shut off the plant's refrigeration system. The success of this strike re-invigorates the labor movement, which had been in decline through the 1920s.” To the employing class, Hormel's callousness and arrogance are just "smart business practices.". P-9's roving pickets against First Bank were being monitored and photographed for future legal action against the local. 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. What was achieved, through several decades of struggle, were improved conditions and a national wage standard adhered to by all producers. Teams of volunteers went door to door canvassing in the suburbs of Minneapolis and St. Paul. For Rogers P-9 provided the opportunity of another J.P. Stevens and Corporate Campaign threw themselves into this like there was no tomorrow. That this could even be considered a matter of serious debate was a disgrace. Olson refused to send in the National Guard to break up the strike, as Hormel requested. First Bank blandly denied that it had anything to do with management decisions at Hormel. 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