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Week 2 for Striking ACORN Workers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - March 5th, 2001

(Seattle)-Workers on strike at the Washington ACORN office started week two of their strike, and pressure for the employer to recognize the union continues to build. Workers organized into the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW or "Wobblies"), and demanded union recognition on February 26th. They struck after the employer committed Unfair Labor Practices and refused to bargain with the union.

The strikers remain optimistic however, as support for the strike continues to build from the membership of ACORN, and local unions begin to take notice. The president of the American Postal Workers Union local 28, who rents office space to Washington ACORN, remarked in a letter to the employer that "...Management's 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". On the fourth day of the strike, Doug Bloch, head organizer and manager for Washington ACORN, brought in a replacement worker from ACORN's office in Portland, Oregon, and subsequently moved the office to an undisclosed location, the strikers allege.

The IWW filed unfair labor practices with the National Labor Relations Board, citing violation of employees' section 7(a) right to organize under federal labor law.

The original demands were over unpaid overtime, sexual harassment, lunch breaks, health care and safety. With the employer actively trying to bust the union, the strike has taken on a new characteristic, that being over the right to organize. The union has repeatedly approached the employer to initiate negotiations, but Bloch is not returning phone calls.

"I am amazed at Doug Bloch's reaction to the union", says IWW Organizer, John Persak. "He will be held accountable by his peers in the labor and activist community, and so it is only a matter of time before he either has to bargain with the union, or not work in Seattle at all."

Three Myths ACORN management wants you to believe:

1) "ACORN can't recognize the union at Washington ACORN. It would be illegal"-Wade Ratkhe, Chief Organizer

FACT: The employer is able to recognize this shop legally. Many companies have unions on a shop by shop basis, and the Labor Board has ruled in favor of this continuously since 1962 (Dixie Bell Mills Inc., 1962, NLRB)

FACT: If the employer was really concerned with following the law, then why are they violating labor law and have charges filled against them in two cities with the NLRB? Why have they refused to pay overtime to workers in Washington State, in accordance with Labor and Industries?

2) "There is not a majority of workers wanting a union".

FACT: ACORN is making this statement based on their employee numbers nationally; there is a majority in the Seattle shop; 5 out of 6 joined the union and signed cards.

3) ACORN workers are "volunteers"

FACT: ACORN organizers are employees; they are not asking for raises, only for what they have already earned and no more.