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Strike Endorsed by King County Labor Council

Thursday, March 16th, 2001

(Seattle)- Support in Seattles labor community continues to build for Washington ACORN organizers at the end of their third week on strike. On Wednesday, March 7th the ACORN 5 met with the executive board of the King County Labor Council to ask for an endorsement. After their presentation, Norma Kelsey, president of O.P.E.I.U. Local 8, offered to sponsor a motion to the delegates council to endorse the strike. Local 8 had borne the brunt of the union-busting campaign at El Centro De La Raza, another progressive non-profit in Seattle. Doug Bloch, head organizer of Washington ACORN had been invited to give managements testimony in the labor dispute, and was promptly laughed out of the Labor Temple. At the delegates meeting the night of March 7th, the endorsement passed unanimously and with a standing ovation for the strikers.

Members of the Joint Council of Carpenters, Ironworkers Local 86, the Boilermakers and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union have dropped by the picket line to show support for the workers and speak with manager Bloch. Letters of support for the striking workers were issued by SEIU 1199 in Wisconsin, AFSCME, Out Front Labor Coalition, Portland Jobs with Justice, and over 20 local chapters of AFL-CIO affiliated unions in Seattle. With unanimous support of labor in Seattle, ACORN membership support, supportive press clippings in both weekly papers, and 100% solidarity amidst the workers, Bloch faces increasing pressure to recognize the union of his workers.

Managements refusal to recognize the union and the bringing in of scab replacements is offensive to the labor movement and disgraceful for an organization that claims to fight for the rights of working people. The Greater Seattle Area Local of the APWU-AFL/CIO stands in solidarity with the striking workers, reads a letter written by Local president Jeff Mansfield in a signed letter to the employer.

Labor unions in Seattle are equally disgusted that ACORN publicly professes to be labor friendly. Not only does Wade Rathke, chief of national ACORN, sit on the general executive board of S.E.I.U., but ACORN runs a living wage campaign and moved its office in Seattle from Reiner Valley to Burien to locate closer to union offices.

In Section VIII of ACORNs own peoples platform on the ACORN website reads, Workers in unorganized work sites should be able to join unions, and receive the benefits of union membership. All workers, whether public or private, in small or large numbers, should have the legal right to: Organize; Bargain Collectively; Strike when necessary; and these rights should be under the full protection of the law.

The striking ACORN workers have filed for an election with the National Labor Relations Board and filed unfair labor practices with the NLRB, citing violation of employees section 7(a) right to organize under federal labor law. Workers chose to unionize based on issues in the workplace such as unpaid overtime, sexual harassment, late and short paychecks, lack of promised health care benefits, a poor safety policy and no respected lunch break.