Sep 12, 2005
Last week, Farmer Jack supermarket workers in Michigan voted to ratify a contract full of concessions, including a ten% pay cut.
This vote came after the workers, members of UFCW (United Food and Commercial Workers) Local 876, had voted the same contract down once already.
Unhappy with the first result, the Local president, Victoria Collins, chewed the membership out and told them they had no choice but to ratify the contract. "Keep voting until you get it right," is essentially what they were told.
At the same time, Teamsters Local 337, representing Farmer Jack warehouse workers in the area, announced that its members had voted to approve a ten% pay cut.
This may or may not have had an effect on the second UFCW vote. But it's easy to see how, in the midst of an attack by their Local leadership, the news that another group of workers had given in would make workers who had voted "no" change their minds the second time. It's difficult to fight alone, and people know that.
It's not the first time union leaders have rammed concessions down workers' throats.
But what's notable is the unions involved in this attack: the Teamsters and the UFCW.
Both the Teamsters and the UFCW were among the unions that broke away from the AFL-CIO earlier this year, saying new, different organizing strategies were needed to confront the 21st century.
So where were the new strategies? These unions didn't propose for the workers to fight this attack, or to make a common fight with others. They only repeated the same tired old lies about how taking concessions now will save jobs in the future.
And they used the same old strong-arm tactics to give the company what it wants.