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On the picket line

August 31, 2001 | Page 15

V & V Supremo Foods
Davenport Machinery
Bay Area Rapid Transit



NEW YORK--Amy Goodman, host of the left-wing radio show Democracy Now!, has been suspended without pay in the latest chapter in an ongoing struggle at the WBAI radio station.

Following repeated harassment and a reported physical confrontation with station staffers, Goodman refused to record her daily news show at WBAI's studios, producing it instead at an independent studio. Management retaliated by refusing to air live editions of Democracy Now! and suspending Goodman and her staff.

WBAI is part of the Pacifica Radio network, whose pro-corporate board has been trying to tighten its grip over member stations through a campaign of firings and intimidation.

Bob Knight, Robert Lederer and Angela Davis are among the latest victims of Pacifica's purge at WBAI, which began late last year. Goodman, whose Democracy Now! is Pacifica's main national news show, has faced ongoing harassment for helping to lead opposition to the board.

In mid-August, Goodman says that she found two WBAI staffers going through personal possessions of fired WBAI Program Director Bernard White. This led to a confrontation with station manager Utrice Leid, who took a camera from Goodman and shoved her, Goodman reported.

After enduring a yelling match with WBAI Operations Director Sidney Smith and morning show host Marjorie Moore, Goodman and her staff decided not to record at WBAI.

Pacifica is claiming that this breaks a contract provision in the station's agreement with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA). But the union has backed Goodman, stating that it's "no longer satisfied that the WBAI studios are a safe and appropriate working environment for the Democracy Now! staff."

WBAI workers and listeners who support them are fighting back--with plans for a National Day of Solidarity on August 28.

Live editions of Democracy Now! can be heard on the Internet radio station For more information, go to

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V & V Supremo Foods


CHICAGO--Teamsters Local 703 members have been on strike for nearly three months against V&V Supremo Foods.

Throughout the summer, the cheese factory workers have stayed on the picket line--and few have scabbed on the strike. Politicians, union members, and community and student activists have joined workers at various rallies in their support.

But the August 24 rally at the V&V Supremo warehouse was noticeably smaller and less enthusiastic. Although no more workers have crossed the picket line, many were absent because they were working other jobs to make ends meet.

The union has left them little choice. Although the local has called for consumer boycotts and organized rallies of hundreds, negotiations with the company have produced little.

V&V Supremo refuses to discuss salaries, which workers feel is key. Workers also need solidarity action from locals, such as Teamsters stopping deliveries of V&V Supremo products and United Food and Commercial Workers members refusing to handle them.

The Chicago Day Labor Organizing Committee has committed itself to refuse temporary work at V&V Supremo. "We're not going to be their scabs or help this company out," said organizer Dennis McFarlane. "We stand with you 100 percent."

But a victory will depend on whether the union comes up with a strategy to put more pressure directly on V&V Supremo.

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Davenport Machinery


ROCHESTER, N.Y.--Davenport Machinery is typical of small manufacturers feeling the bite of the U.S. economic slump, and its answer is to make workers pay. But 75 members of International Association of Machinists Local 1868 are saying, "No way!"

Their last contract with Davenport expired more than a year ago, but work continued under a 15-month extension that won the union a guaranteed staffing level of 82.

"The goal was to keep everyone working," explained Lloyd, Local 1868's vice president. "We went down to a 32-hour week, and then a 24-hour. For this contract, management wanted us to lose 30 jobs right up front. That's almost half of us."

The bosses also want to scrap seniority to be able to pick and choose workers. They want changes in workplace rules to be at their whim, instead of having to bargain with the union.

And they want to get rid of the "succession clause," which promises that union representation and collective bargaining rights would continue if the company gets sold to a new owner.

But Davenport has a fight on its hands. Sentiment for the strike was overwhelming among workers, who voted 69 to 4 to walk. Strikers set up 12-hour picket lines on August 14, and within a couple of days, boosted them to 24-hour pickets.

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Bay Area Rapid Transit


OAKLAND--Chanting "We did it before, we'll do it again!" more than 300 union employees of Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) rallied on August 15 to demand a decent contract.

The rally was called by Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1555, which represents 800 station agents and train operators; SEIU Local 790, which represents 1,700 maintenance, clerical and professional workers; and AFSCME Local 3993, which represents 230 professional workers.

The unions have been in negotiations with BART management since March, but the two sides remain far apart over wages, benefits and BART's use of temporary workers and consultants to fill union positions.

The unions are calling for a 26.5 percent pay raise over three years to catch up with the Bay Area's soaring cost of living. BART has offered 11 percent over four years.

In July, Gov. Gray Davis imposed a 60-day "cooling-off" period on the two biggest unions, which expires on September 4.

Four years ago, BART workers struck for six days to win their demands. Workers at the rally made clear that if management refuses to budge, they are prepared to do the same again.

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