How the Staley Workers Can Win a Fair Contract Sample

We have been locked out for a long time and for a reason! We need to keep fighting and we cannot give up our rights! This is not simply a labor dispute! Our family need us, they need us to take care of them. We are facing overboard works and more work shifts. In addition, we cannot stand on those worse working conditions that are placed by Tate and Lyle to our workers. We need to win this battle, and I believe none of us is satisfied with the current contract. We are fighting for our dignity and for the dignity of all American workers.

(Ashby and Hawking, 248) GOSS: I agree that the conditions that Tate and Lyle want to place on the workers are unfair and I do agree with you that our workers are suffering right now. However, we need to realize that a fair contract means the company would take it as well. The employees have been locked out for two years now and there is no sign that the company will surrender to the union’s demands for a fair contract. Now that the plant continues to operate with scabs that have been hired, it is the workers who stand to lose and not the company.

Note that the labor law supports employer’s decisions to lock out employees until they can come to terms with their conditions and go back to work (Wilson, 133). For how long can these workers wait yet it is already two years and no hope in sight? The best thing for the Staley workers to do is to accept the company’s demand and end the lockout once and for all. Instead of causing a fight that will risk losing the local it is better that the union acquiesces to the company’s concessions. Furthermore, other locals have tried to protest but eventually they have found themselves going back to the same conditions (Ashby and Hawking, 216).

It has never been easy winning over employers especially where they have international control and a history of trade unions in America will confirm this (Smith, 87). To begin with, the union has a failed strategy and it is at no position to negotiate a better contract. Remember that the power of a union lies in the negotiation power of the leaders and their ability to conduct collective bargaining with the management which this union lacks (Ashby and Hawking, 216). WATTS: The view on the strategy is quite mistaken and so is the one on the inability of the union leaders to negotiate for consideration of our demands.

Yes, the union has a strategy and it will not be taken back by discouragement that will disorient us from our set purpose. Let me at this point note that times are changing and unions are no longer bound by traditional business unionization (Outwater and Brossman, 8). This is the kind that you refer to when you talk about collective bargaining and negotiation by leaders. It is the kind of unionization where the members walk the picket line and do nothing while the union leaders negotiate on their behalf (Ashby and Hawking, 216). Union members can now take part in bringing about a solution to a labor dispute.

Social movement unionism has come to liberate the workers. We believe that the issues surrounding this protest do not affect Staley employees only. This is an issue that is affecting many in different sectors and our victory could mean better social and economic conditions for all the workers. Giving this up would give employers all over America a key to oppressing their employees. We are lobbying for local support. It does not matter how long it takes to win this battle. We have survived it for two years and we are willing to do more to guarantee the employee’s future.

Many could be worried about their benefits but no need to worry because The Labor relations code under section 155 protects the employee’s benefits, pension funds and insurance funds (Wilson, 12). The union will make sure that the payments are made to every employee. But we must accomplish the mission for which we are set to achieve. GOSS: I could call this a case of chasing invisible dreams. We all know the problems that the unions face today. Unless the management is really willing to change its stand in a trade dispute, all the union’s efforts are just useless (Smith, 20).

Furthermore, the law does not provide that the company must respond to the union’s demands; just another of the unions problems. Union leaders are subject to constant frictions with the law and will compromise to the management in order to save their necks. Remember that this is just a local union and in today’s world, only powerful and influential unions can actually succeed in lobbying for their members (Smith, 51). There is nothing much left to do but to give in to the company’s demands. The social movement unionism cannot work at any cost.

Even if you placed your hopes on local support, it is probable that there will be little impact on the negotiations. WATTS: It seems that what you, Goss cannot get right is that there is power in social movement unionism. Probably the best way to bring us to a consensus would be to give a scholarly definition of social movement unionism. This kind of unionism is defined by Outwater and Brossman (9) as a situation where workers including non-unionists, trade unions and the community as a whole come together to fight for economic and social justice on issues that generally affect them despite their backgrounds.

In our case, it is a lockout that has not only caused suffering for our members but also shown the country just how unconcerned employers are to their workers. There are human rights issues at hand and the community supports this. We have already ganged up support from various unions. AFL-CIO has let us down by refusing to require all their unions to support us but even though, we plan to do it ourselves (Ashby and Hawking, 224). Religious activists, student bodies and social groups such as the Hispanic and African American groups are all going to be part of this campaign and the union is working day and night to gain their support.

The women rights group supports us entirely. They feel part of this group and a letter signed by 29 wives indicates that they feel so much part of the union (Ashby and Hawking, 239). You must have noted that a lot of people are on our side and sympathizers are always extending a helping hand to those who are suffering most from the lockout. We are building a national solidarity campaign aimed at freeing the American worker from workplace oppression. GOSS: I think there was a misunderstanding when I mentioned that social movement will have no impact on the negotiations.

I properly understand the meaning of social movement unionism more so being a union leader. I should also point out that I confidently propose the business unionism as opposed to social movement unionism. It is better placed to rescue the members rather that waste time and resources lobbying for support from companies, unions and other employees. My point is that I do not expect people to join this movement because it does not concern them at all. This is just a case of a union that has failed in its attempt to negotiate their way into getting a favorable contract and now wants the public to help them.

The same public which is not wasting their time chasing after better deals which they know their companies will not approve and have preferred to stay at work and earn their money! We do not sincerely expect them to leave their jobs to join you in your demonstrations. What is happening here is that the union now wants to establish gang warfare. To create a hill out of a mole hole instead of sealing their own deal or simply accepting the company’s conditions. I would not even understand how members will participate in the movement in the first place. Haven’t we witnessed how the surrender crowd is rising?

Every day a union member is quitting and getting an alternative job because they need to survive (Hill, 7). With every exit, the union gets weaker and weaker. If the union cannot sustain its own members, do you expect that the public will continue to offer their support? My point is that the social movement strategy is totally misplaced and cannot work for this case. WATTS: I can prove Goss wrong on this. I am quite sure that you have seen the massive number of supporters who have come up in our campaigns. On June 25th, the fourth national protest at Decatur attracted seven thousand supporters (Ashby and Hawking, 241).

As indicated earlier, the women support group is so much on our side and so many other social and religious groups. As for our members, education and mobilization will do this trick for us. We plan to continuously educate members about their rights, requirement of the U. S labor laws and the occupation health and safety laws. The public needs to feel our woes and to do this we will give them as much information about our problems and the stumbling blocks standing in our way to achieving our goals one being companies that are still purchasing from Staley.

We need to instill confidence and determination in our union. Our members must not quit and we if we have to win this fight. It is true that we have witnessed members getting jobs to sustain themselves. This however does not mean that they should turn against the union. Their support is what we need and will do everything possible to mobilize members and promote solidarity. Even then, leaders of UPIU Local 7-837 have the ability to negotiate and are combining social support with vigorous negotiations.

The union is almost sure that negotiations are hitting a solid wall and that soft talk is not going to work to our advantage. The union is ready to do everything possible to win this battle. Tate and Lyle needs to be provoked the union will lead the workers in destabilizing the supply of fructose corn syrup to Pepsi one of its biggest customers contributing to 30 percent of its sales. Union leaders have already engaged in talks with Pepsi to ensure that the company’s contract with Tate and Lyle is not renewed. This tactic by the union could eventually pay off when Tate and Lyle realizes that we mean business.

When Tate and Lyle make losses they will most definitely lend their ears to our demands. The best thing is that the employees are ready to boycott Pepsi in a bid to put forth their demands should they be called upon by the union leaders. GOSS: I only know of two conditions that are allowable when a striking workforce or one that is on a lockout takes on picketing as a way of expressing their dissatisfaction. They must not interfere with other companies other than their employer and the process must be peaceful and orderly (Wilson, 16).

To say that you will boycott Pepsi is going against the law. The Pepsi is not directly related to Tate and Lyle and if the union wants to solve its problems it must do so by dealing with their employer alone. Again, I am aware that your negotiation with Pepsi did not work out and the CEO Wayne Callaway never replied your letter requesting him to back off from renewing its contract with Tate & Lyle (Hill, 35). This is a clear indication that Pepsi is not buying your idea and neither is any other company you intend to include in your corporate campaigns.

Such kind of protest may not work to your advantage and the results could be many arrests and police harassment as is the case with most union strikes (Smith, 117). Take an example of the Decatur fifty. It was a peaceful demonstration yet supporters found themselves answering to civil liability charges (Ashby and Hawking, 245). This strategy just like the others is unworkable. In short, this union has no strategy. WATTS: I can see your concern Goss and I cannot oppose that the union needs to deal solely with the employer.

I will repeat my previous sentiment and which the union has thought over before the issue of Pepsi came in the limelight: Tate and Lyle won’t listen to us. What they need is an action that will paralyze their business and make them listen! It is unlawful to do so but at times, unions have to use civil disobedience as a tactic to drive their point home (Outwater and Brossman, 6). They have to cross that line and break the law in order to win the fight. Even though the labor law prohibits civil disobedience, there is every reason to risk because peaceful demonstrations actually may never work in such difficult situations (Smith, 123).

Action is the right answer to a fair working contract. Let us look at civil disobedience from a critical point of view. This strategy is meant to put pressure on the company and arouse public support (Outwater and Brossman, 7) If we demonstrate against Pepsi, the company will probably cut its association with Tate and Lyle since the demonstration is likely to pressure the Pepsi management. More has already been done and the hunger strikes undertaken by our members is gaining support for this movement.

For example, AFL-CIO has made a promise to make a forty member committee to push the Pepsi campaign after Dan Lane who has been on hunger strike for 65 days put forth our sentiments (Hill, 3). As it is now, we are focusing on putting pressure on Pepsi and the negative publicity created by banners and slogans depicting Pepsi as a company that supports worker oppression will soon be too much to bear. GOSS: You seem to ignore the fact that civil disobedience does not amount to a solution and that use of violence during union demonstrations is prohibited by the law.

All your strategies seem to have a shortcoming and I do not foresee a fair contract with such weak strategies. What a union needs is to have concern for their members. If the fight gets too tough, even the strongest of armies are bound to surrender, go home and make their men stronger for a battle in the future. This union is not influential and its strategies cannot measure up to the influence that Tate and Lyle, an international company possesses. WATTS: Firstly, We will not surrender. Secondly this union is strong and united. Thirdly, we insist on the Pepsi boycott.

The essence of the demonstrations is to replace the previously peaceful corporate campaign in which we sought to seek Pepsi’s support. However, Callaway on behalf of the company has chosen to join Tate & Lyle in oppressing Staley workers. As a result, we are taking a more aggressive way to make them support us and to make Tate & Lyle more aware of our grievances. This strategy is going to work. We have already gained the support of Miller Brewing Company and it no longer gets its sweeteners from A. E. Staley. Pepsi should be on our side soon enough and so will Coca Cola (Ashby and Hawking, 247). The members of the union are united.

The union continues to lobby for the support not only from the workers but also from other parties. Educating members on their rights is foremost in this campaign. We believe that uniting and mobilizing our members will ensure that no members divert from the union goals. At UPIU Local 7-837 we lay a strong emphasis on solidarity which is our greatest source of inspiration. It is the same kind of spirit that we are going to pass on to our supporters in the outside world. I do believe that with a little more patience, a fair contract can be won. End this lockout and give the employees better working conditions.

Citation Ashby Steven. Lessons of the Staley Fight: A Solidarity Pamphlet. Retrieved on May 8, 2009 from http://www. solisarity-us. org/staley Ashby Steven and Hawking, C. J. Staley: The Fight for a New American Labor Movement. U. S: University of Illinois Press, 2009 Hill Jack. Lessons of the Staley Struggle. From the Communist Voice #9, August 1, 1996. Outwater Lynn, Brossman Denise. Deflecting Union Activism. Human Resource Executive, February 1, 2008, p. 5-9. Smith, P. In search of better working conditions: Unions and their plight. London: SAGE, 2001 Wilson, J. Modern Labor Law. The Guardian, March 6, 1999