On the Picket Line

Workers at Indiana construction site walk out against racist firings

By Seth Galinsky
September 3, 2018

More than 3 million people got a glimpse of the power workers have when we unite and act together against attacks by the bosses, thanks to welder Antoine Dangerfield. He videotaped a July 31 walkout he joined by about 100 of his Latino construction co-workers who were building a major warehouse hub for UPS in Plainfield, Indiana. He posted it on Facebook, YouTube and other internet sites.

Dangerfield told the press that the stoppage began when a supervisor, widely viewed as racist, got upset when none of the Latino workers who speak English would agree to translate into Spanish for him during a safety meeting. All the workers, including Dangerfield, were hired by Contractors Resource Inc. and Material Handling Systems Inc.

The supervisor “got mad, real red-faced,” Dangerfield said. “Next thing you know, he dismissed the meeting. So he’s walking around just sending them home, trying to fire them. So he sent like five or six of them home.”

What happened next took the company — and Dangerfield, who is Black — by surprise. The Latino workers — millwrights, welders, and conveyor installers — started packing up their bags.

Dangerfield’s commentaries captured the walkout. “They are not bulls—ting!” he narrates, “They sent a couple of them home and they all packed up their s— and shut this motherf—er down! This is what Black people should be about. They are packing their s— up!”

“They said, ‘Aw, yeah, we rise together, homie!” Dangerfield laughs.

“Ain’t no grinding, cutting, welding. This motherf—er dead ass quiet,” Dangerfield says, as he films the now almost empty warehouse.

By the next day, the workers were back on the job, but the supervisor who sparked the walkout was not. Dangerfield was also out of a job. The construction company owners were “real mad” about the video, he said. “They tried to pay me $250 to take it down.” He refused and they fired him.

Dangerfield says he’s not upset about being fired. “It’s 5 million people who saw that. And it might change their view on things,” he says. “So me losing a job is nothing compared to the big picture.”

A GoFundMe account set up on his behalf raised $30,000 in two days. “It really goes to show how much we as a people want to and can stand together,” he said.