Arts & Video
News Archives
About LaborNet

From: Mike Griffin mgriffwzef@insightbb.com
Date: Mon, 20 Jun 2005 

To Carpenters For A Democratic Union International...
Know Your Enemy!

The following article is based on events in Decatur IL, Headquarters of Archer Daniels Midland Company [ADM]. I have lived in Decatur 38 years and worked in the Wet-Milling industry 30 years until my local union was locked out in 1993 by AE Staley for three years. Decatur has lived in the shadow of ADM since they moved their corporate headquarters here in the early seventies. Decatur IL is owned and operated by several corporations including ADM and their assault on organized labor has been catastrophic.

ADM MOVED THEIR CORPORATE headquarters to Decatur in the early seventies, some say, to escape the shadow of Cargill and to find a city they could own and control. No sooner than they moved in, the assault on union labor began. ADM gave birth to several rat contractors in Decatur and paved the road to destruction for union craftsmen. Soon after their arrival, a major rally at ADM by local skilled trades was met with a heavy hand by deployment of the National Guard. It became clear that ADM was chartering a course for other Decatur manufacturers to use non-union labor, seek substandard contracts, and break organized labor. It was clear as well, that ADM?s political power was strong enough to sick the federal dogs on ordinary working people. Rat contractors from Decatur have since been deployed across the Midwest throughout the Wet Milling industry and other major employers.

For years there has been reasonable suspicion that a coalition of Decatur employers have been meeting to plan the demise of the union, with ADM believed to be the ringleader.

As a corporation, ADM has operated as a corporate thug, engaging in one illegal enterprise after another. ADM was charged with price fixing in the FOOD FOR Peace Program. In the late eighties, Dwayne Andreas, CEO of ADM was convicted of illegal campaign contributions. In the early nineties, the FBI swarmed the gates of Staley and ADM in large vans to seize records in a massive price fixing probe involving Lysine, Citric Acid, and High Fructose Corn Syrup. ADM pled guilty and Andreas? son, Michael was sent to prison. Hundreds of millions in fines was paid. In a class action lawsuit filed by their customers, hundreds of millions more was paid to settle the damages last fall. I worked for more than two years for the Chief Investigator on those cases. My job was to find and interview potential witnesses and gather research and intelligence on the five companies charged with Anti-Trust violations.

Today, union contractors do very little work in any of their plants. Even the rats are subjected to the worst treatment by ADM management. Contractors must allow ADM to audit their books to make sure they are not making too much profit. Non-union contractors have told me of being harassed and fired by ADM management while at work for a contractor. ADM has the most dismal safety record imaginable. There have been millions in OSHA fines nationally for the deaths of scores of workers. In Decatur, there is a candlelight vigil held every Christmas for the needless deaths of Decatur workers, most of them contractors. In Decatur, workers often quip about the letters ADM, Andreas? Death Machine, Another Dead Man, are two most commonly used. Many of those workers died because they were performing work they were not qualified to do.

ADM has a complex internal security force and system to spy on employees. During the price fixing probe, witnesses for the government, a former ADM VP, told of ADM security using questionable tactics to spy on competitors. The ADM mantra, the customer is the enemy and competitors our friends, was brought to light during the investigations. More can be found on ADM in A book titled, Rats In The Grain.

Perhaps that would explain why ADM produced products for Staley customers after Staley locked us out in 1993.

At the same time we were locked out, the UAW at Cat struck and not long after that, the Rubberworkers at Firestone struck, returned to work and was then locked out. Later Scab built tires were the subject of a massive lawsuit involving many deaths of Firestone customers. During the three years of struggle in Decatur, we saw our communities assaulted by corporate thugs, invaded by scum sucking scabs from all over America, our families assaulted by police goons, and our hopes and dreams shattered by the ill-gotten power of the employing class. Families have been divided forever when some scabbed picket lines and others fought with dignity and faith in the union. The Decatur Firestone plant closed over two years ago. We saw our unions divided by mindless so-called union leaders obsessed with their own comfort corruption and the power they stole from their members.

Perhaps the most tragic dynamic of these valiant struggles were the actions of the skilled trades in abetting these corporate criminals who launched an all-out assault on the union. All three companies involved in the strikes and lockouts used union skilled trades as scabs to break the strikes. At Firestone in Decatur, 35 Millwrights from my current local, through a so-called union contractor, performed maintenance to keep production going. A millwright told me that Firestone led them to believe they would receive a contract when the strike was over that gave the contractor the maintenance in the plant and took it away from the rubberworkers. At Cat in Decatur, several craft unions crossed the picket lines to help keep production going. In Peoria IL, a so-called union contractor who is a member of local 1051, took Millwrights across UAW picket lines for the duration of the dispute and only recently Cat has been weaning them from their facilities. That same contractor often hires people off the street, requires our members to have CDL licenses, to operate Carry Decks, Lulls, Semi-Trucks and other equipment normally operated by other unions. Cat no longer needs their services, no strike to break and they can get rats cheaper. When I joined local 1051 after I finished the price fixing probe in 1997, some members of the local bragged about crossing UAW picket lines, running their cars at picketers, and laughing at workers whose jobs they had taken. When I shared my views on Solidarity and real union values, I was no longer welcome at their break table. A couple of years ago there were three strikes in our jurisdiction and local 1051 crossed every picket line. In spite of a willingness to scab, the trades have been mostly shut out of nearly every plant in Decatur.

My purpose in this history lesson is to help you understand just how low it is to make a deal with the devil. This article was provoked by a member of this network who seemed impressed at the idea of a major project at the ADM plant in Clinton Iowa. If ADM treats the rats that bad in Decatur, squeezes the contractors on the work preformed, intimidates contractor employees openly at the job sites, how do you think they will treat union Carpenters and Millwrights that they have a hatred for? This contract and every national agreement McCarron has signed has been another giant step in the race to the bottom.

It is long past time to keep score on McCarron?s failures and outright anti-union behaviors. To the National Erectors Association he said, ?It is the contractors jobs, let them decide who does the work. Our contractors know what they want, it is our job to give it to them?.

In his letters to John Sweeney prior to disaffiliation from the AFL-CIO, he demanded that Sweeney ignore the articles governing jurisdiction of work in the AFL-CIO constitution. No matter what the AFL-CIO would have agreed to, it would not have been enough to satisfy McCarron and his Contractor Friends?. To the public he insisted that organizing was his main beef with the federation. At the Millwrights conference in Palm Springs CA earlier this year, he told employers and his paid goons, how the contractors were going to be allowed to circumvent the out of work lists. No rank and file members were welcome. Now he is telling the media that UBC members will perform whatever work they are assigned in the ADM agreement. The articles of the AFL-CIO constitution no longer apply because we are no longer members. The protection of our work no longer applies either and many of the other trades are outraged by the ADM agreement, and rightly so.

There has never been any question for some of us as to where the great dictator was taking us: a wall-to-wall job service with no union protection. The ultimate Rat Contractor, UBC Inc. ?The kind of union I like, says George Bush, the biggest union-buster to ever grace the halls of the great white corporate whorehouse in Washington. The National Manufactures Association, Business Week, The Business Roundtable, and many more are applauding Cash McCarron. This has got to be worth another ride on Air Force One with slugs of his own ilk! Kind of makes you wonder what the hell is wrong with us, don't it?

As a Viet Nam veteran, and a veteran of a number of labor struggles, I was outraged to see pictures of McCarron and Bush in the Las Vegas training center. It was appropriate to see Bush with a screw gun in hand after he has made a career of screwing American workers and veterans. I can picture George W parachuting into our convention this year with his cheap Chinese made Black and Decker strapped in his work holster into the arms of his friend, Cash McCarron, amid the cheers of thousands of contractors. Really, what the hell do we need delegates for? They really are making me a cynical old bastard!

Mike Griffin, UBC local 1051
Decatur IL

contact LaborNet

copyright 2005 © LaborNet