Home > Labor > Ottumwa & Dubuque Pickets during the Hormel Strike, 1986

Ottumwa & Dubuque Pickets during the Hormel Strike, 1986

From IWW.org

On January 25th the Hormel plant at Ottumwa, Iowa was shut down by a march of hundreds of pickets to the gates. Hormel retaliated by firing 478 workers who refused to cross the picket lines. The plant normally employs 800 workers. With a large part of the workforce locked out, there was little production at the Ottumwa plant. On February 8th a rally of some 2,000 unionists, their families and supporters was held in Ottumwa. Support in the community is fairly strong. The mayor of the town told the rally, “You’ve got the right not to cross that picket line.” Another mass rally in support of the Ottumwa workers took place on May 10th, including hundreds of P-9 members bused in from Austin.

The shop stewards in the Ottumwa plant had been particularly instrumental in getting people to refuse to cross the picket lines set up by the workers from Austin. Instead of backing the fired shop stewards, the UFCW has lately been organizing elections of new shop stewards among the Ottumwa workers who weren’t fire.

On February 16th about 200 pickets from P-9 showed up at the FDL Foods plant in Dubuque. The local union president, Mel Maas, stood at the plant gates, along with representatives from the UFCW International, telling workers this was not a sanctioned picket and that they should go to work. Nonetheless, about half of the 900 workers on the morning shift were persuaded to stay out.

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