485UNITE!--VICTORY at Los Angeles Hollander Strike!!!!!!
- May 19, 2001UNITE!--VICTORY at Hollander!!!!!!
Date: 5/18/01 3:41:29 PM Pacific Daylight Time
From: isbilln@... (Bill Neal)
SI SE PUEDE! YES WE CAN!
STRIKING GARMENT WORKERS WALK AWAY WITH "TOTAL VICTORY"!
May 18, 2001
by Bill Neal, ISO
After 10 hard weeks 450 Los Angeles garment workers have scored what they
call a total victory in their strike. The company, Hollander Home Fashions,
finally caved on attempts to hold down wages and granted $0.30 to $0.90
raises per hour. The workers, represented by UNITE!, voted overwhelmingly to
approve the new contract.
More importantly to the workers, Hollander agreed to provide a 401K
retirement plan. Many of the workers have been there 20 - 30 years and still
make only $7 - 8.00/hour--hardly enough to save for retirement. The company
once told the union they would rather fold than grant them a retirement
plan. Not only did they give in, but they agreed to make co-payments on the
plan--an indication of how badly they were beaten.
Union officials say that the victory was largely because Hollander couldn't
get out quality or quantity product with scab labor. Two South Central Los
Angeles factories make pillows and comforters for JC Penney's, IKEA, WalMart
and other retail stores. Almost no workers crossed the picket line, so the
company turned to the union busting temp agency Labor Ready Inc to provide
bus loads of replacement workers. The number of trucks leaving the factory
was dramatically lower than pre-strike levels, and the union suspects than
many were part full or loaded with empty boxes.
Crucial to the victory were work stoppages at two other location owned by
the company. Workers at a Pennsylvania plant walked out over similar issues
on May 1. At a Hollander factory in Georgia an all African American
workforce honored the strike by refusing to go to work. In a fantastic show
of solidarity, Black workers resisted the companies attempts to divide them
from their mostly immigrant counterparts in LA. That unity was key to the
The news was reported to students from 5 different campuses at a
demonstration early Friday morning. The students had gathered for rally at
the offices of Labor Ready scab agency at 4:30am. Dozens of students greeted
the news with cheers. Angry scabs started a fight, but the the ruckus
couldn't dampen the pride and enthusiasm felt by all. Students plan to show
up Monday morning to support the workers at a planned "victory march" back
into the factories.
This strike shows that, despite the hardships faced by low wage immigrant
workers, if you fight back, and stay united, you can win. And that is a
victory, not just for the Hollander workers, but for thousands garment
workers and low wage immigrant laborers throughout the Los Angeles area.
Anti-globalization activists also learned a lot from the workers. The
strikers came to speak out on campuses and at the big "Stop the FTAA"
demonstration at the US-Mexico border on April 21. Through their example,
students discovered the power of linking the struggle against corporate
greed in general, to the struggle of workers in their own communities. The
win for the union was also a win for this movement.