Perasso, his campaign supporters, and many co-workers in the plant say this is an attack on the union. The company refused to grant Perasso a leave of absence to campaign full time for three weeks. United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 789, which represents Dakota workers, is filing a grievance against the companys refusal to grant Perasso the leave.
Perasso and Rebecca Williamson, Socialist Workers candidate for St. Paul School Board, campaigned outside the plant with several supporters this afternoon. Dozens of workers stopped to speak with the candidates about Perassos fight to be reinstated and to wish both candidates luck in the campaign. Eight workers bought the Militant, some driving up and holding their money out the window.
The company seeks to weaken the union struggle in the plant, said Perasso in a statement released to the press today. I have been part of efforts by UFCW Local 789 to resist speedup attempts by the company.
On June 1, 2000, workers in the boning department gathered in the cafeteria and refused to work for seven hours until the company agreed to limit the line speed. Since then, there has been a victorious union-organizing drive to win UFCW representation and years of resistance that continues to this day. Last week 26 workers from the kill floor gathered at the union hall to discuss ways to defend themselves against the company speedup, Perasso said.
One reason so many co-workers signed the petition for my leave of absence is that they wanted to help protect a fellow union fighter, he continued. During these five years the company has been going after individual union militants, seeking to buy them off, intimidate them, or fire them.
During the three weeks Perasso was absent from work he was attending the 16th World Festival of Youth and Students in Venezuela. Since returning, he has visited the picket lines of the striking Northwest Airlines mechanics at the airport here. On the eve of the walkout, he spoke at a rally of these mechanics.
SWP candidates back Northwest strikers
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