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According to the case at hand, some of the most important lessons of labor history that the P-9 workers and the labor movement needed to know in order for the Hormel workers to have won their strike could be borrowed from earlier cases such as the one witnessed in 1946. This was a national wide railway strike that stopped all trains. President Harry S. Truman was however able to take over the railways and was able to contain and settle the dispute.
Faced with the most serious strike in its history, the U. S. was hard hit by this strike of railroad men.
Although it was delayed for five days, the strike finally began with trains being idle, transportation being seriously crippled, and passengers getting stranded in stations. The matter in contention was the extent to which wage increase awarded to the same workers in other states would flow on to the tradesmen in workshops and running sheds. The government could however not meet the needs due to budgetary constraints.
On the other hand, the unions were being pressurized to defend the principle of comparative wage justice.
In Australia, the government’s behavior included implementation of major lockout, declaration of a state of emergency and passing of the industrial law amendment act. These policies were supported by commissioner of railways dismissing the striking employees and subsequent denial of social security benefits to such employees. Similar tactics were applied by the Hormel food corporation especially through the intervention of the governor through the guards.
The employees were however divided in that some made themselves available for employment at even worse conditions.
Had they remained united, just like those from the railway, they would have been able to provide a common front to the employer. They therefore needed to have been aware of the factories act of 1891 and its revised form of the industrial and arbitration act which deals with protective legislation whose aim is to regulate the working conditions in industries. Such conditions include safety conditions, working environment conditions, terms and conditions as well as remunerations. On February 1st, around 1000 striking workers of the Hormel Corporation overwhelmingly rejected a third mediator contract proposal.
This can only be interpreted as a sign of being unaware of the 1878s trade unions act. This was the first industrial legislation that was lifted from English statutes and recognizes unions. This has later been given more impetus by the Employment relations act that shows governments commitment through the return of government support of unionism and collective bargaining. In the Hormel food corporation, the absence of governments support is evident. The working conditions are unsafe while job security is not guaranteed.
The government still does not come to the rescue of the workers but instead sides with the employers. On the other hand With an assumption that D. Hamilton Jackson, an American labor leader who lived between 1884 and 1946 had been alive and was a leader of the United Food and Commercial Workers, Local P-9’s international union, in 1985being in the helm, the labor conflict might just have taken a different turn altogether. He was an important personality in the struggle for an increase in civil liberties and workers’ rights.
He fought for the freedom of the press and even fought for citizenship for islanders in Danish West Indies. Being aware of such laws as mentioned above, he would have made the company management learn to accept, appreciate and respect the rights and liberties of the workers. he also would have shown the striking employees the importance of solidarity and unionism thus increasing their bargaining power. As such, the company would probably have had a different approach such as to reduce the number of employees while those that remain continue to get the same amount of wages.
In addition, the most pressing issues such as safety at work would probably have been addressed long before things got out of hand. The unsafe conditions in the work place would have been challenged long before the strike. This would have saved the situation and the strike would have ended a little bit earlier as the terms being negotiated on would have been lighter with the safe working conditions. Lastly, the subsequent dismissal and hiring of new employees with significantly lesser wages would have been challenged and probably not have happened.
This would have been through his workers’ rights and liberties advocacy. He would have campaigned against, and opposed to hiring workers at a lower wage and yet under the same unsafe, insecure and almost inhabitable working conditions.
Marot, Helen. American Labor Unions. New York: H. Holt, 1914. Fink, Gary M. Labor Unions. Michigan: Greenwood Press, 1977. Richberg, Donald Randall. Labor Union Monopoly: A Clear and Present Danger: Denver: H. Regnery Co. , 1957.
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