August 25, 2008
Community Support Needed to Win Justice
Workers at the Moncure Plywood factory in Chatham County are under attack by their bosses and were forced out on strike. Now they need the support of our community.
What: Rally to support Moncure Plywood Workers
When: Tuesday, August 26th, 5:30pm
Where: downtown Pittsboro, NC
The workers voted overwhelmingly to strike on July 20 after bosses gave a take-it-or-leave-it final contract offer that would mandate 60-hour work weeks, weaken the seniority clause in a way that could lend itself to favoritism, discrimination and racism, increase health insurance premiums by over 300 percent, and give fewer holidays off. Workers also raised concerns about unfair labor practices and safety violations.
The striking Moncure Plywood workers in Chatham County are organized in the union IAM local W369.
“With a 60-hour mandatory clause, they could work people seven consecutive days for weeks without a day off,” said Melvin Montford, IAMAW business representative, to a reporter with the News & Observer. “Even the slaves got off on Sunday.”
IAM local W369 President, Lewis Cameron expressed concern that community members may think they were striking just to get more money, although well deserved, he reiterated, “we are just trying to secure our rights to a decent job and to work with dignity.”
Unsafe Working Conditions
Last year the company was fined $37,000 for safety violations. Some wood cutting machines had no guards leading to one worker losing his thumb. There were holes in the concrete and water on the floor around dangerous machines. The plant was also found to have too much dust, a similar condition that contributed to the death of 25 workers in a fire at Imperial Chicken plant in Hamlet, NC in 1991.
There have been seven serious injuries in the past year and two workers were out of work for operations from repetitive motion injuries. Many workers are also forced to work when they are sick.
Bosses Using Racism to Divide Workers
In a plant that was 60% African American and 30% Latin@ before the strike, there was only one African American supervisor. Three African American supervisors were fired two years ago with little reasoning.
Bosses had told Latin@ workers that if they joined the union, they would be fired. The first time the bosses published any literature in Spanish, was just before the strike to tell lies about the union.
Since the strike, bosses have stated that they would not hire any more Black workers. In an atmosphere of anti-immigrant hysteria whipped up by the media to demonize immigrant workers and increased raids by armed Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers on work sites hiring many Latin@ workers, it is understandable how easy it is for bosses to intimidate immigrant workers and make them fearful of joining the union.
The bosses are using this to hold back all workers – Black, Latino and white! We must unite to overcome this racist attack.
Solidarity Support Needed
Now is the time for us to show our solidarity with the union members at Moncure Plywood. Local Lodge W369 is asking for our help, including water, food, and supporters to walk the picket line. The plant is located at 306 Corinth Rd, Moncure, NC in Chatham County – about a 30 minute drive south-west from Raleigh.
The striking Moncure workers also need our financial support. You can make a contribution by sending a check to:
IAMAW Local Lodge W369
P.O. Box 318
Moncure, NC 27559
For More Information Contact: Melvin Montford (901) 619-1967 or IAM W369 President Lewis Cameron (919) 770-5836
Visit our photostream for pictures from the strike line .