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We can't delay the fight for our union jobs

February 27, 2004 | Page 4

Dear Socialist Worker,
"We need to streamline our operations, cut back the overtime, be more productive and tighten our belts. Wal-Mart is moving into the grocery business, and they are not union." That was my warehouse manager three years ago.

Last Sunday, I got a call from a former coworker saying that they have 60 days until the warehouse was going to close. That's 187 Teamsters out of work.

During the period of time I worked there, Supervalu (later sold to C&S) changed our hours, the way we did our jobs, production rates, attendance policies, the way people were hired and flat out violated our contract–in the name of "Wal-Mart," but really to increase their profits.

Sadly, the union leadership pushed the company line. They said we couldn't fight it because if we did, the company would close the doors. The givebacks to the company were disgraceful. At one point, the union leadership told us that we had to report to work on contractual holidays.

At times, we revolted, only to have our union leaders intimidate and divide us. The union gave in, gave in, and gave in some more. Shortly, there will be no more union at that warehouse, and at many other barns just like it, because we gave it away.

The Wal-Martization of America is real, and as the labor movement, until we start fighting effectively where we can (union shops)–we won't be able to fight where we can't. In the name of my brothers and sisters back in Rhode Island, I want to pledge solidarity to those fighting in the California grocery strike who are refusing to give away our rights and living standards.

My experience in the labor movement pushed me back to political organization. Building a working-class political organization that fights for another type of society and understands the brutal dynamics of capitalism is the central task if we are going to put an end to Wal-Martization and an end to corporate power.
James York, APEA-MTA, Amherst, Mass.

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