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June 11, 2004

Labor 2004 Rally at Albuquerque Civic Plaza brings together representatives from more than 20 locals to hear Linda Chavez Thompson, AFL-CIO National Vice President. 

Christine Trujillo, AFL-CIO/NM President also brought Congressional, Judicial, and PRC candidates to the podium to add their encouragement to members to change the direction of the country through this year's election.


La Monta�ita Food Co-Op dispute
from The Alibi, Feb. 5-11, 2004
Compiled By Sara Hiatt

Union? No. The fight for a union at La Monta�ita Food Co-op is over and workers have lost. Pro-union workers, sounding sad and defeated, have reported that the union representing them has stopped unionization efforts before it came to an employee vote because of lack of support.

The International Aerospace and Machinists' Union (IAM), which is representing the workers, requires a pre-vote poll to see if the majority of workers support a union. If enough workers had signed their names, pledging that they would vote for a union in the upcoming election, the process would have continued as planned and the election, scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 4, would have occurred.

But IAM bylaws dictate that if enough signatures are not collected--in this case, only 40 instead of the 50 needed--the process must stop and the election not happen. That way, employees can try again in six months to form a union. But if the election occurs and employees vote to not have a union, workers must wait a full year before organization efforts can begin again. This is after the two-thirds employee vote required by the National Labor Board to file for a union in the first place.

Pro-union employees, with the help of IAM members, had spent this past weekend drumming up support for the union. They spent Thursday, Jan. 29 through Saturday, Jan. 31 visiting some employees at their homes and calling others with the hopes of getting the 50 signatures required by the IAM to continue to an election.

And on Friday, Jan. 30, they held a teach-in at the Co-op's Nob Hill annex, a last-ditch effort in the long battle between some Co-op employees and the company's management.

Pro-union employees have been angry over management's tactics to dissuade employees from voting for the union, including offering discussion meetings for which employees are paid and where management explains why they feel a union isn't right for the grocery stores. Anti-union literature has been given out with paychecks as well.

In response, for several weeks these employees, including Shoshana Handel, one of the organizers of the employee movement, had been asking store management to allow John Lamar, an IAM representative to speak to employees. The reason, Handel said, is because she wants fellow employees to be able to hear a pro-union side of things at their place of employment, since they were already hearing the anti-union side.

She also said there were many misconceptions among employees about the union, such as that benefits, especially for part-time employees, would be lost if a union formed because all benefits would have to be negotiated from scratch. Instead, employees would have complete control over what happened with benefits, because they would vote on things like benefits every step of the way, Lamar said.

Management had previously refused to allow a union representative to speak at the store. But last week, the Co-op's general manager, C.E. Pugh, announced that employees could invite a union representative to the annex for an informational session.

And while the employees this weekend were welcome to hear what Lamar had to say, the public and Co-op members were not. Two employees stood sentinel at either side of the entrance's big doors, having been given strict instructions to unlock the doors by punching in the pass code for Co-op employees only.

Last week, pro-union employees held a question and answer session at the IAM union lodge on Pine Street, but only about 15 workers showed up. Holding a meeting at the Co-op's annex, a kind of conference room at the back of the store, had a greater turnout because it's an easy meeting place for employees, Handel said. It also sent the message that learning more about the unionization issue isn't a crime, and that's important for some employees who say the store's climate of hostility and tension makes being pro-union uncomfortable.

But despite their best efforts, the pro-union workers were 10 signatures short of their requirement, with only 40 employees pledging to vote for the union. Handel says she can count where those votes were lost: five people who signed the original petition to unionize were excluded because they were considered middle management by the company or were clerical workers and could not join the union. Another five quit since they signed the original petition.

She said she was disappointed in her fellow employees who chose not to vote for the union, but added that management was so heavy handed with anti-union propaganda that she could see how many of the Co-op's 108 employees could be dissuaded.

Handel said she was tired after fighting hard to convince her fellow workers and probably won't stay with the company long enough to try again in six months. She gave up all of her free time to concentrate on the union, she said, and didn't have time to even clean her house.

But, she added, all it takes for a union to happen is for other workers to band together.

"There needs to be 10 people who aren't afraid," she said. "Then I could see it happening."

� 1996-2004 Weekly Alibi



January 18, 2004
La Monta�ita Food Co-Op dispute
Our COPE chair, Mark Rudd, expresses concern

Dear Friends:  You may or may not know about this, but there's a big battle going on at La Monta�ita Co-op around the attempt of the employees to form a union.  The shocking thing is that what should be a natural and legal right of all workers, to join together to bargain with management on wages and working conditions, is being actively opposed by management and, presumably, the Board.  What is most disturbing, of course, is that this is happening at a business founded under moral and ethical principles:  respect for the environment, respect for our community, respect for ourselves and our bodies, etc.

What you can do          

The following paragraph, written by an employee who is pro-union, will give you a brief summary:

La Monta�ita Co-op Management is aggressively trying to stop its employees from unionizing.  When management heard that employees were interested in joining a union they immediately hired a "union avoidance" consultant named Paul Sommerville who "educated" managers on how to prevent workers from organizing.

Fortunately, two thirds of Co-op employees signed a petition to request an election to join the Machinist's union and sent it to the National Labor Relations Board prior to Mr. Sommerville's arrival. Management has stated to us in writing that they "... will resist this and any other attempts to organize La Montanita associates to the fullest extent possible under federal law". So far, they have been doing just that. 

We have been inundated with a constant stream of anti-union propaganda as Management attempts to manipulate us into voting against the union.  Management also hired a notorious anti-union lawyer named Bill Tinnin to represent them before the Labor Board. As a result, the vote was delayed and many employees were excluded by management from being able to vote.  C.E. Pugh, the General Manager, has spent thousands of dollars in his attempts to stop us from organizing and is creating an atmosphere of fear and doubt.  The election is scheduled for February 4th.  It is important to TELL MANAGEMENT that we, the members, oppose our money being used to deny workers the right to organize.

Mark continues:  I have seen some of the material and talking points circulated by management, and they are a standard fabric of lies used by all anti-union employers, public and private:  unions are inherently violent, unions take away workers' individual freedoms, unions force people to pay dues against their wishes, unions force people to strike, unions are deceitful, unions destroy the happy family of the organization. 

Speaking of happy families, you may be surprised to learn, as I was,  that many employees at the coop are paid in the 7.00/hr range and also that their hours are limited to "part-time" (35 hr/./week).  Management's biggest argument against the workers organizing is that a union will "destroy the co-op."  Presumably this means that unions will demand higher wages for employees that the business cannot pay, prices will go up, and members and customers will defect to Wild Oats, Whole Foods, Walmart, and whoever else is a non-union employer. 

But what is at stake right now is the basic RIGHT of workers to organize.  This right has got to be supported by all members (and the Board) if we are to be true to our principles of respect for each other and moral principles at the core of the co-op idea.  We have to believe that the employees will bargain for wages that will not destroy the co-op anymore than managers will not grant themselves too high salaries (and destroy the coop) or that the Board will not tamely go along with management and themselves destroy the coop. 

What seems to be happening now is that the coop ideal is being destroyed.

WHAT TO DO: First, let the Board know that you, as a member, support the right of employees to organize a union.  There will be a Board meeting Tuesday, Jan. 20, at 5:30 PM at Immanuel Presbyterian Church, 114 Carlisle SE (around the corner from the co-op).  If you can't attend the meeting, call the Co-op for a list of Board members. Second, tell the employees that you are on their side.  There will be a meeting to support the right of employees to form a union Monday, Jan. 19, at 6:30 PM at the Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice, 202 Harvard SD. Please speak out, and also let other people know what's going on.  Please circulate this message to your own lists.

Mark Rudd 877-5017



September 1, 2003
Heroes Banquet Honors Local Workers

The Central New Mexico Labor Council honors the following at their second annual Rank-and-File Heroes Banquet this Labor Day:

bulletFormer president of the New Mexico Federation of Labor Neal Gonzalez
bulletThe late Jeanne Guana, former head of the SouthWest Organizing Project
bulletFormer New Mexico governor Dave Cargo
bulletWriter Rudolfo Anaya
bulletAll members of the International Association of Firefighters Local 244



Repeating in Feb and Apr 2003
New Course about the Labor Movement in New Mexico

This 6-week Emeritus Academy class runs Friday evenings (6-9 pm) from  Feb. February 7 thru March 14 at Montoya Campus and in a 2nd section Saturdays (10 am-1 pm), April 5 thru May 10th at South Valley Campus. It is taught by TVI Employees member Richard Landavazo. Cost of the class is $50.00, including all materials. All ages welcome. Cost of the class is $90.00, including all materials. All ages welcome. Register by calling the Emeritus Academy at 224-5506 or 224-5504. Click here to see the course description and more on NM Labor history.

August 2002
Albuquerque Area Labor Council Endorses Candidates

The Central Labor Council, the coordinating group for unions and locals in Bernalillo, Sandoval, Torrance, and Valencia counties, has endorsed candidates for county offices.  In Bernalillo, Alan Armijo and Joseph Inman, Jr. are recommended for District 1 Commission and County Assessor.

In Sandoval County, recommendations include William Sapien, Terry Kopcak, Rudy Casaus, Mary Humphrey, Fred Eichwald, and John P. Trujillo for Commissioner (District 1 & 3), Assessor, Magistrate Judge (Div 1&2), and Sheriff positions.

Pat Golden was endorsed for Torrance County Sheriff.

Joan Artiaga is recommended for Valencia County Commissioner of Dist. 3

July 2002
Channel 41 is Bad News For Its Workers

In early February, the employees at KLUZ-TV began to form a union, which cost the job of the main organizer.

Since that time, there has been a clear pattern of retaliation against those who supported the Union.

On April 26, the employees at KLUZ-TV voted for CWA local 7011 to be their bargaining agent.

It began with the termination of the inside organizer on March 28, and continued with the interrogation of employees, negative campaigning, and threatening and pressuring workers to change their vote. The worsening behavior of KLUZ Channel 41 culminated in the following outrageous actions of June 28, 2002:


KLUZ "reorganized" their news operation. Without any notice to the employees and effective immediately, its two senior news producers, one editor and one of two photographers were fired. 


Another employee's hours were cut in half, completely eliminating all benefits. 


When the dust cleared, KLUZ management had fired the most experienced half of its news staff. In an all too familiar scenario, all of these employees are strong Union Supporters and advocates of having a stronger voice at work.

KLUZ produces the only Spanish speaking newscasts that serve the entire state of New Mexico and southern Colorado. Not only is it a disservice to the Spanish community but also to the working families of KLUZ. The station has now hired freelance workers to replace the terminated employees.

Your support and help is needed. Call KLUZ's General Manager at 341-6111 to protest the loss of service to the Spanish community and the biased treatment of loyal employees who want a Voice at Work.

April 2002
Workers Memorial Day

To honor those who have died on the job and to emphasize the efforts of those who work to prevent worker injuries and deaths.

A memorial observation was held in Albuquerque at the Workers Memorial Park, 1900 San Mateo NE on Sunday, April 28th. The observance began in 1971; the local mini-park was renamed and dedicated in 2000.

Websites to visit:

Check out the 2002 Death on The Job report with new state-by-state data on workplace safety and other Workers Memorial Day resources on the AFL-CIO Safety and Health website at the link below. #

Send a fax to your senators. Tell them to support protection from ergonomic injuries--like carpal tunnel syndrome and back injuries--the most widespread job safety problem in America.  #

Visit the Working Families e-Activist Network page and see the legislation they support to improve/maintain better lives for workers.

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