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Vol. 72/No. 6      February 11, 2008

Salute Dakota unionists’ victory
Supporters of the labor movement everywhere welcome the victory scored January 25 by meatpacking workers in United Food and Commercial Workers Local 789 in South St. Paul, Minnesota. They beat back a company-supported union decertification drive by a nearly 2-1 vote. Their resounding victory at Dakota Premium Foods is a boost to all workers confronting unsafe line speed, back-breaking work, company abuse, and employer attacks on our living standards.

The success at Dakota is due to the fact that the ranks have repeatedly used their collective power and taken control of their own struggle. In June 2000, when the plant was nonunion, workers held a seven-hour sit-down strike to demand the company slow down the dangerously fast line speed and stop forcing employees to work while injured. The company backed off. Workers then launched an organizing drive for representation by the UFCW—and won. Then, after a two-year fight, they won a contract.

At the time the contract expired last June, a company-backed petition was circulated to try to decertify the union. The bosses thought their unceasing efforts to undermine workers’ confidence and solidarity would allow them to get rid of the union. Then they would have a freer hand to push back wages and job conditions even further. But the company didn’t count on one thing—that pro-union workers would organize a campaign and fight back.

Now, because of what they accomplished, workers at Dakota are more confident to fight and to use their reinforced union power. At a time when the capitalists will use the threat of a recession to step up their attacks on our jobs, wages, benefits, and working conditions, the Dakota victory sends an important message to all working people: by organizing, it’s possible to fight the bosses and win.
Related articles:
Minnesota meat packers vote 2-1 to keep union
Defeat company-backed decertification drive
Socialist candidate: union victory at Dakota is example
Calero joins with meat packers in Twin Cities  
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