Aleta Johnsons was operating a bagging machine on the line at the Tyson Foods Processing Plant in Glen Allen, Virginia when she heard a co-worker yelling “Stop, stop, stop! Please help — stop the line!”
Running to the conveyor belt, Johnsons – a shop steward for UFCW Local 400 -- saw five-pound bags of chicken piling up and falling on the floor; she immediately pulled a switch and stopped the line.
Just 10 days earlier, this would not have been possible; only managers had the power to stop the line. But thanks to a recently instituted reform worked out between Local 400 members and Tyson management, any worker now has the power to halt the entire production line if he or she witnesses a safety hazard. “There are (still) things we need to work on,” Johnsons says, “like better-staffed lines and an end to 10-hour work days—but it’s coming along. And our union has been so helpful in all of this.”
On today's labor calendar,
Consumers love their smartphones, tablets and laptops. By 2020, four billion people will have a personal computer. Five billion will own a mobile phone. But this revolution has a dark side of deadly environmental and health costs, explored in today's LaborFest film, a free screening of "Death by Design: The Dirty Secret of Our Digital Addiction" today at noon at the AFL-CIO; complete details, as always, at dclabor.org, click on Calendar.
Here’s today's labor history:
On this date in 1824, men and women weavers in Pawtucket, Rhode Island staged the nation's first "co-ed" strike.
In 1937, Ford Motor Company security guards attacked union organizers and supporters attempting to distribute literature outside the plant in Dearborn, Michigan, in an event that was to become known as the “Battle of the Overpass.” The guards tried to destroy any photos showing the attack, but some survived—and inspired the Pulitzer committee to establish a prize for photography.
Today’s labor quote is by George M. Cohan, the legendary Broadway producer who said that “I will drive an elevator for a living before I will do business with any actors’ union” after the Actors’ Equity Association was founded at a meeting in New York City’s Pabst Grand Circle Hotel on this date in 1913.
A sign later appeared in Times Square reading: “Elevator operator wanted. George M. Cohan need not apply."
Union City Radio is supported by UnionPlus, which is committed to improving the quality of life for all working families; find out more at unionplus.org.
Please support WPFW and Union City Radio by pledging today; listener support has kept alternative voices on the DC airwaves for more than 40 years and those voices are needed now more than ever! Call 202-588-9739 or 1-800-222-9739 or pledge online at wpfwfm.org. Tell ‘em Union City Radio sent you!
Union City Radio is proud to be supported by UnionPlus, which has been working hard for union families since 1986.
Union City Radio is part of The Labor Radio/Podcast Network
UC Radio airs weekdays at 7:15a on WPFW 89.3 FM; subscribe to the podcast here.