MAC: Mines and Communities

Violent Attacks Followed Election of New Leadership

Published by MAC on 2002-01-15

Violent Attacks Followed Election of New Leadership

Workers began organizing for independent unions in both of the Alcoa Fujikura plants in January 2002 to protest a wage agreement negotiated by the management-supporter CTM union leadership representing them at the time.

The wage agreement was never ratified by the membership and resulted in givebacks of important contractual gains, including customary seniority-based wage increases.

When, on February 22, workers from Plant #2 elected a new union leadership, the former leadership, run by Leocadio Hernandaz (a supervisor at Alcoa), reportedly violently attacked two women workers outside the meeting area. Two days later, the workers loyal to Hernandaz entered the factory and attacked union supporters during work hours. They then announced, with the support of management, that six workers have been *fired* from the union (and, thus, the company) due to suspicion that they sympathized with the democratic union movement.

Despite the violent repression, a second vote was held that confirmed the ousting of former CTM leadership on March 4.

The next seven months passed with continued anti-democratic union movement activities including harassment, Alcoa sending private security guards to videotape activists in meetings held off company property, and massive "therapy" sessions against the democratic movement inside the plants. However, the new leadership, in a show of its diplomacy and strength, was able to negotiate a Mother's Day celebration on factory property with some gifts contributed by the company. The new leadership also won a campaign promise and succeeded in negotiating the reduction of union dues withheld from paychecks.

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