[Marxism] Smithfield Strike

Jon Flanders jonflanders at jflan.net
Wed Nov 22 17:02:10 MST 2006


Good article from the Peoples Weekly World on the Smithfield victory.


"Between 500 and 1,000 workers from both first and second shifts stayed
in the parking lot all day on Thursday, Nov. 16, and until late at night
on Friday, Nov. 17. Thursday night, about 40 of the strike leaders met
to plan their strategy and demands. They got help from the UFCW and from
the Catholic Archdiocese, and prepared a list of demands that included:
No retaliation or disciplinary action against those who walked out. Stop
using the “no-match” letters to fire workers. Reinstate all the fired

On Friday things were jumping. A meeting to bargain a solution was set
for 4 p.m., but the company jumped around and kept changing its mind
about who it would sit down with to resolve the crisis. Many of the
workers felt the company was waiting to see if they would break ranks
and return to work on their own. Production in the plant was crippled. 

Meanwhile, a worker who had heard about the walkout on the news, and who
had been fired himself from a Smithfield distribution center in Clayton,
N.C., drove to Tar Heel to join the walkout. He reported to the rallied
workers that Smithfield had fired five people in Clayton the same way.
He also reported to great cheering that his distribution center normally
got about 40 trucks of pork a day from the Tar Heel plant and on
Thursday had only gotten three. Supporters still in the plant said
production was down to one line running much slower than usual. 

Friday evening things got even tenser. The crowd in the parking lot
swelled as second shift workers joined in and expectations rose. It was
a long day, as most of the workers who walked out had been in the
parking lot since 5 a.m. Finally at around 8:30 p.m. a great uproar rang
out from in front of the plant. The workers had won. 

Smithfield agreed to increase the time allowed for employees to respond
to “no-match” letters. Employees who had been fired for failure to
resolve Social Security issues can return to work while the issues are
sorted out. There is to be no more firing. Smithfield's Human Resources
Department will designate a staff member to help process "no-match"
Social Security issues and respond to questions. No disciplinary actions
of any kind will be taken against those employees who participated in
the walkout. And most important of all, Smithfield agreed to meet with a
14-member committee elected by the workers on the basis of one per
department from both shifts to deal with concerns raised by the

A young Latino worker leaving the plant summed it up nicely: “We won and
we’ll keep on winning until we get the union.”"

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