BCTGM Workers

Solidarity with Locked-Out Workers

For nine months more than two hundred workers organized in BCTGM Local 48G in Keokuk, Iowa have been locked out by their employer, Roquette, for the “crime” of seeking further negotiation on a collective bargaining agreement rather than meekly submitting to a concessionary contract. Despite the fact that it is the workers of the plant who create its productive wealth, the company is trying to lower the living standards of their employees and break the power of the union. Roquette demands that new hires at the company be paid $4 less per hour than their counterparts with seniority, both violating the principle of equal pay for equal work and creating a two-tier division in the union itself. In addition, Roquette is demanding the introduction of open-ended insurance premiums and the right to bring in subcontracted workers in order to circumvent paying for labor at the prevailing union wage.

BCTGM WorkersLocked-out workers have bravely picketed outside the plant gates since the struggle began, standing up to employer intimidation, scabs crossing the picket lines, and even physical violence. Our brothers and sisters can’t win this battle alone. The Hawkeye Labor Council, representing unions in seven Eastern Iowa counties including Linn County, took an important step forward in building a presence at a BCTGM 48G solidarity rally in March. This effort must be repeated and intensified across Iowa. Should Roquette break the resistance of its employees it would set a dangerous precedent for workers’ rights statewide. But just as an injury to one is an injury to all, so too is a victory for one a victory for all. The success of the Keokuk workers would provide a powerful impulse for the whole of Iowa labor. Their struggle is our struggle!        

Following on AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka’s declaration of labor’s “political independence” from the Democratic Party, the Workers International League believes that the Keokuk Labor Temple should cut off all funding for Democratic Party representatives and candidates, who claim to be “friends of labor” but who in reality have done precious little to support the struggle.

To safeguard and expand the rights and living conditions of working people, the unions should instead direct their resources towards bold organizing and solidarity efforts as well as the construction of a Labor Party to fight in the workers’ interests on the political front.

The WIL extends its solidarity to the workers of BCTGM 48G and pledges to help build support for their struggle.

• Mobilize labor’s power to defend our brothers and sisters! For a Keokuk Defense Committee to build and coordinate picket support, solidarity rallies and material aid.

• Stop the picket crossing! Fraternize with and organize the scab workers to win them away from Roquette’s bribery.

• Build a political solution! Break with the Democrats and build a Labor Party to sweep away anti-union laws and adopt measures that benefit all working people.

• No to concessions! The locked out workers have suffered enough and deserve to return to the job with an even stronger contract than before.

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