''Never in my experience as a union representative has a better group of members been so poorly served by inexperienced, inflexible local union representatives,'' says William H. Wynn, president of the parent union. The fight has involved abusive language and fierce hatreds that have shattered this once placid community. The Hormel strike symbolized the fight back against this new corporate agenda, not just because of the injustice of the corporate demands but also because of the heroism of the strikers. Strike leaders appear to be planning to join forces this summer with like-minded unionists who will be in bargaining between Hormel and the international union on contracts that expire Sept. 1. At the same time he asked Olson to place all of the children of officers of the company under special state guard and that they all be transported out of Austin on the following morning. Throughout the plant there were grumblings about denials of requests for a day off to attend the birth of a child or a funeral of a friend or family member or to care for an ill spouse or child. Jay Hormel’s spread –the- work scheme produced its share of dissatisfaction also. Jay returned to Austin at the war’s end in 1918 but continued his contact long-distance with Germaine. He felt that command of the situation was firmly in the hands of the union workers and that Hormel would buckle under within a matter of hours. In an effort to keep plants from closing, many instituted wage cuts. To preserve these articles as they originally appeared, The Times does not alter, edit or update them. I will not be guilty of having anyone come here to take the place of these Austin people,” he said, “and to throw brick bats at other Austin people and cause friction and trouble. Scores of children were employed in many departments of the plant at 25 cents an hour – some of them the sole support of an entire family. “For many workers at Hilton, two jobs is a norm,” says Jonathan Rezada, a bellman at the Hilton Grand Vacations timeshare. While Shoemaker was speaking, Olson assured Ellis that the Industrial Commission’s decisions would be favorable to the union. In Austin, Olson uncompromisingly asserted his intention to uphold his oath of office as governor and to enforce all of the laws of the state of Minnesota. What rights are always conceded as a result of any labor struggle? Following Ellis’s speech several other men addressed the assembly from a park bench. There was no slackening of picketing around the plant during the hours of the conferences held between the governor and the union and plant officials. Upon moving to California in 1927, Hormel donated his home to the local YWCA.] He brought three of his brothers to Austin to work in the plant and a fourth became the minister of Austin’s large Presbyterian Church. The strike stunned Jay Hormel and Austin's elite. The plant managerial staff, not unlike some packinghouse Pinkerton organization, was given broad powers in hiring and firing workers as well as determining the conditions of work in each department of the plant. He needed their help and the men needed to work together, he told them. It was imposed with a minimum among of explanation to the men and women working in the plant. Occasionally the digitization process introduces transcription errors or other problems; we are continuing to work to improve these archived versions. Jay’s most successful professional musical enterprise was his organization of an all-girl song and dance group called ‘The Hormel Chili-Beaners,” which barnstormed the Midwest performing and advertising Hormel Chile Con Carne in the mid-1930s] He began working in the plant where his father expected him to learn first-hand every operation of the meat-packing business from the bottom up. In his later years Jay confessed that he had always been somewhat awed by his father’s achievements and by the duties he was expected to assume when his father stepped down as president of the company. The cause in the six-month strike of 1,000 meatpackers against the George A. Hormel Co. in Austin, Minn., may have been just. The Farm Holiday Association sided with the IUAW strikers who had recently backed their efforts to withhold perishable agricultural commodities from the market in order to raise prices. Hormel replied to the union demands in an open letter of November 10, 1933, explaining that the company prices in the open marketplace were determined by production costs. But a scrap of meat on the floor was something else again.”. Governor Floyd B. Olson, however, had requested and received from the state legislature a law making the use of injunctions illegal in labor disputes. Word quickly came back to the union hall that the workers inside the plant had left their jobs and were on the picket lines. Hormel not only came into close contact with his employees in the plant but also with their families and relatives in the community outside the facility. After a brief and heated discussion, the union leadership called for an immediate strike. When newspaper reporters approached Hormel for a statement regarding his ejection from the plant, he told them only that “we had intended to make a statement to our employees, but in view of this happening, I do not feel that we have any employees to whom I could address a communication.” Confident and resolute strikers, buoyed up by their conquest of the plant facility, told inquiring reporters that they would “fight it out along this line if it takes all winter.”. ▶ Bookmark articles to your own reading list Larger and larger groups of men came to listen to Ellis during the secret noon hour meetings and he began to suggest to them that there was a solution for their common grievances. Disturbed by his son’s lack of serious academic effort at Princeton, George Hormel concluded that tuition was a poor investment in his son and Jay was brought him to Austin and the packinghouse. THE HORMEL strikers blew it. While his father hoped Jay might study law and someday become an attorney, Jay had distinctly different interests and became manager of the university’s laundry service. Many of those laid off were embittered because only a few weeks earlier they had given up lesser-paying but ore-secure positions in Austin and the neighboring communities to accept the $20 per week that Hormel offered in his new department. “To be frank with you,” he continued, “you were in illegal possession of the plant. He learned from them that the strikers were prepared to allow the shipment of 550 unweaned calves from the plant to some other facility. Jay was musically talented and was known locally as a virtual one-man band. Olson then hurried back to John Hormel’s home. He gathered together several workers from the immediate vicinity of the transgression and tore up the facsimile of a dollar bill. But the fight, which dates to the mid-1970's, when Hormel demanded concessions to build a new plant here, was always about more than wages. Your officers are not afraid of going to the penitentiary in your behalf because some folks right here in Austin have been on the verge of starvation in the past few weeks. Here Jay Hormel and his top company officers met with city and county officials to discuss a strategy. Hormel was helped onto the table and from that platform he addressed the strikers. On August 17, 1985, about 1,500 Hormel Foods Corporation workers went on strike at the meat-processing plant at the company’s headquarters in Austin, Minnesota. Three men working in the department were told by their supervisor to sign up for the deduction for the company insurance plan. In fact, not until after the 100,000th hog had been slaughtered in the plant, in 1901, did he trust anyone else with the difficult task of splitting carcasses. Workers striking at Hormel Packing Plant, Austin, 1933, via Minnesota Historical Society On November 8, members of the Independent Union of All Workers (IUAW), formed that July, presented Hormel … Ellis rose rapidly through the ranks of the IWW as he traveled throughout the country organizing local branches of the organization and listening to the grievances of working men and women. “I know the Commission members will be fair. These men worked with him in the casing room first and when they were ready he sent them to other foremen with a good reference. Mr. Leopold called the Hormel strike ''an expression of protest from the bottom to do something about the weakness of the trade union movement.'' The strikers scattered in panic at first but then quickly and angrily reconverged on the guards and he supervisors. The policies of many foremen and straw bosses undermined the encouraging words and benevolent intentions of Jay Hormel for his workers. Wages in the plant in 1933 started at 25 cents an hour, but weekly hours ranged from six to ninety. Both parties would agree, under the Olson settlement, to accept the verdict of the Commission on all disputed issues. Jay worked in the plant for two years. Frustrated workers in the hog kill department at the Hormel plant in Austin, Minn., went on strike in 1933. A. Hormel & Company, as well as the town establishment, many of its citizens, and the Austin workers' parent union, the United Food and Commercial Workers. By early Saturday afternoon, Sheriff Syck conceded that he had been unsuccessful in finding what he considered to be the necessary number of men to deputize in order to keep order in the town and county. But now Hormel’s frustration began to get the better of him. He suggested that Hormel would like to work out an accord with the union's national leaders. An increase in the hourly rate for all workers who are members of the union of 20 cents an hour over and above the rate of November 1, 1933. Critics of Mr. Rogers say his career as a consultant is at stake and that he has placed his career above the welfare of the Hormel workers. Most of the men working inside the plant at the time did not resist the strikers. The working out of the Master Plan involved wage increases and some significant new fringe benefits for the workers. He was clearly smitten by the girl. For several months Ellis had been hiring former union members from the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and the IWW from throughout the Midwest. Noté /5. The Austin local disappeared in mid-1922. Ellis gave the man permission to go into the plant and turn the refrigeration system on. After nearly three hours of talks with the union group, Olson summoned Hormel to the hotel for what turned out to be a two-hour meeting. Organize all of the producing classes. That autumn the IUAW leadership decided it was time to press their demands further with the Hormel Company. The Austin strike was far from an ordinary labor dispute: For the 1,500 P-9 families and their supporters, it was nothing less than a crusade to defend the Middle American way of life. Jay Hormel signed the agreement as president of the company. Laborers in the plant fortunate enough to maintain their jobs even on a part-time basis were “requested” to tax themselves on a sliding scale and contribute to a fund for the purchase of coal and groceries for the needy and the unemployed in Austin. A member of Corporate Campaign, Inc., the company led by Ray Rogers that assisted the P-9 local, Green emphasizes the responsive chord P-9 struck with workers all over the country. In the ensuing disorderly melee, several plant supervisors threw tear gas canisters into the ranks of the strikers. 5. The IUAW waited only two weeks before pressing for more extensive agreements with the company. Two Views of the Strike in Austin The dispute between the United Food and Commercial Workers and its Local P-9 over the long strike at Geo. Some strike critics say the leaders have a hidden goal of forming a new national organization. The First World War provided a temporary respite for Jay away from Austin and the family business. But unknown to Shoemaker or to Hormel, Ellis had secretly sent engineers into the plant every few hours to turn the refrigeration system on and to monitor it carefully in order to keep the temperature in the plant high enough to prevent breakage of the system and low enough to prevent spoilage of the meat. Sign in to YouTube. Although the Hormel Company was among the last of the meatpackers to adopt across-the-board wage reductions, it finally fell into line in 1931. Late Saturday evening, while the bonfires of the pickets burned brightly around the entrances to the Hormel plant and while company officials anxiously awaited the results of their appeals for federal and state troops, union members gathered at the union hall for a Saturday night dance and discussion and took turns transporting coffee and sandwiches to the men and women on the picket lines. Foremen temporarily shut down entire departments in order to instruct workers on how to vote in local and national elections and threatened them with layoffs whenever Democratic or Farmer-Labor candidates emerged victorious from an election. Thomason went to prison for his crime and Hormel went to a special meeting of the company creditors in Chicago to bargain for a special credit extension. Even during his own lifetime, Hormel’s reputation as an extraordinary businessman assumed legendary proportions in Austin. 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