Support Striking Workers at Rubber Stampede!

scott figgins (figgins@dnai.com)
Fri, 3 Jan 1997 11:07:13 -0800


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The first piece appeared in the December issue of Wildcat!, the local organizing bulletin of the San Francisco Bay Area branch of the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World). The second piece is the text from a flyer printed for the ILWU (International Longshoremen's & Warehousemen's Union) Warehouse Union Local 6 in Oakland, California, USA.

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Rubber Stamp Strike

ILWU Warehouse Union Local 6 workers of the Rubber Stampede company recently walked off the job on strike. Workers claim that owner Sam Katzen has engaged in unfair labor practices for over six years, including discrimination of minorities and women. Recently wages were also cut by Katzen. Instead of being paid wages per hour workers are now being paid by piece work, in which their income has been dramatically reduced while company profits have increased. Workers are calling for community support. Owner Sam Katzen can be yelled at at home (510) 549-2446 or at work (800) 632-8386.

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In an unusual labor action, about 140 factory workers spontaneously wlked off their jobs November 13, without warning and without union representation or contract protection.

Employees at Rubber Stampede, an Emeryville-Oakland company that makes ornamental rubber stamps sold in stores around the world, are fighting for their lives against a union-busting employer.

Mostly Latinas, the workers saw their hopes of unionization dashed last April, when Warehouse Union Local 6, ILWU lost a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) representation election after the company hired about 15 new management employees and threatened and harassed many workers into not voting. The union election was lost by 13 votes.

Since the April election, the union has charged the employer before the NLRB with various violations of federal labor law, including threats, intimidation, and discrimination against employees. After an investigation, the Board issued a complaint against the company for coercing workers during the organizing drive prior to the election. A hearing is scheduled before an administrative law judge on January 27.

Workers were already outraged that their bosses were stalling on settling the unfair labor proctice charges that the union had filed on their behalf. But when Rubber Stampede recently retaliated against workers by cutting back their wages from an hourly rate to piecework -- the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back -- the workers walked out...and then contacted the union for support.

Since the strike began, pickets have complained of threats (including one death threat) and verbal harassment from management officials outside the plant. Some women strikers have received obscene phone calls from management personnel during the wee hours of the morning. And windows of four strikers' cars were smashed during a single night recently, near their homes in the East Bay.

Owen Marron and the Alameda County Central Labor Council have been very energetic in organizing support for Rubber Stampede workers, and ILWU Local 6 is throwing all possible resources into winning this strike. But support from other trade unionists and the community at large is essential to defeat this brutal employer and force a new union recognition election. This crucial struggle can and must be won!

You can help! Rubber Stampede workers are in need of:

--Picketline Reinforcements: The picketline is being maintained 14 hours a day. Greater numbers are needed to cover the plant's four different warehouses located over several blocks. Supporters are urged to join the picketline at any time. Volunteer pickets who can commit to a regular shift would be greatly appreciated.

--Donations of Food & Coffee for the Pickets: Let's keep our sisters and brothers alert and fed on the picketline. Please donate coffee, cream, sugar, bagels and cream cheese, etc.

--Christmas Toys for Kids: Many of the strikers are Latina single mothers, making gift giving this holiday season a difficult or even impossible task. Donated toys will brighten the hearts of strikers' children, keeping the magic of Santa and the warm glow of the holidays alive during this trying time.

--And, of course, Financial Contributions: Please help with a donation of whatever amount you can afford. Every little bit will help ease the hardships of these fighting workers' families this winter.

To make financial contributions, contact the Alameda County Central Labor Council. If you can help in any other way, please call the Rubber Stampede Strike Support Hotline, leave a message, and a member of the Rank-and-File Solidarity Committee will contact you.

ILWU Local 6.............99 Hegenberger Road, Oakland, CA 94621 Rubber Stampede Strike Support Hotline...........(510) 819-3339 Alameda County Central Labor Council.............(510) 569-1426

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