frontline 13

"Victorious" UFCW head quits, hands reigns to P-9 buster

Two days after claiming the UFCW had won "one of the most successful strikes in history," union president Douglas Dority announced his retirement, which some insiders see as evidence of internal dissatisfaction with the handling of the strike. Also quitting (and lending further credence to this theory) was Michael E. Leonard, International Executive Vice President and International Director of Strategic Programs.

But don't expect any change in policy from the shakeup. The new president will be Joe Hansen, who the International sent to Austin in 1987 to be its local pointman in busting the strike of Local P-9 against Hormel. He was the local's trustee, signed a sweetheart deal with the company, seized the union’s hall and other assets and painted over the famous mural on its wall depicting solidarity activities.

The press release announcing his accession to the throne boasts of his understanding of the importance of "organizing and representing the new wave of immigrants... filling the packinghouses and food processing plants of the Midwest and South,” and his role in fighting for immigrants' civil rights. Not mentioned is the fact that the conditions faced by the mostly-immigrant workforce in meatpacking can be directly traced to the UFCW's role in sabotaging national pattern bargaining in the 1980s and '90s.

But just as the heavily immigrant and Black meatpacking workforce of the early 20th Century fought heroic battles against bureaucratic resistance, we can expect the same from today's new workforce.