Ravenswood: The Steelworkers' Victory and the Revival of American Labor

By Tom Juravich; Kate Bronfenbrenner | Go to book overview

8
A SECOND CHANCE

Throughout the winter the union bargaining team continued to meet with management and the mediator in court-ordered bargaining. Although the union had revised and dropped many proposals in an attempt to reach a settlement, the company refused to budge. Instead, RAC management dug in their heels by hiring more scabs and filing more legal actions against the union.

On January 9, 1991, RAC manager Don Worlledge and company spokesperson Debbie Boger held a press conference inside the boardedup administration building. They announced a new RAC Scholarship Fund and reported that through the “outstanding performance” of the replacement employees the company had broken a number of prelockout production records in both output per man-hour and output per machine. According to Worlledge, “I don’t know whether it’s higher motivation or what, but they [the replacement workers] are outperforming our previous workforce. They are not fettered by work rules. There is none of this ‘it’s not my job’ talk. It is obvious we can do what we have been doing with a lot less people.”

Worlledge and Boger stated unequivocally that all 725 replacement workers were now considered permanent employees and that the company would not negotiate with the union over their status. As far as RAC was concerned, even if a settlement was reached, at least 700 union workers would be left out in the cold. In Boger’s words, “It is our intention that the permanent workers will stay. Yes, a two-month worker could edge out one of the union workers.” She added that the company was committed to hiring even more replacement workers, which would further reduce the number of jobs available to union members if they were ever to return.

Stidham’s reply was swift and to the point: “If we don’t all go back, none of us go back. None of us will ever work with a scab and we don’t intend for any scab to take one of our jobs. I don’t think we could ever reach an agreement where the scabs stay in. We have put our blood, sweat, and tears into that plant and some of us have given our lives. We helped build the plant up and have worked there for thirty-plus years to

-60-

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Ravenswood: The Steelworkers' Victory and the Revival of American Labor
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction ix
  • 1- Heat Stress, Heat Stroke 1
  • 2- Machines in the Garden 4
  • 3- New Owners, New Management 11
  • 4- Bargaining 22
  • 5- Locked out 29
  • 6- Holding Together 39
  • 7- Civil War 49
  • 8- A Second Chance 60
  • 9- Jump-Start 66
  • 10- Penetrating the Veil 75
  • 11- The Campaign Widens 81
  • 12- Small Victories 91
  • 13- Turning toward Europe 102
  • 14- In Marc Rich’s Backyard 110
  • 15- The Tide Turns 120
  • 16- Escalation 132
  • 17- Keeping Up the Pressure 142
  • 18- Picket Line around the World 156
  • 19- Boyle’s Retreat 170
  • 20- Settlement 185
  • 21- Back through the Gates 199
  • Epilogue 207
  • Notes 217
  • Acknowledgments 235
  • Index 239
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