The Betrayal of Local 14

The Betrayal of Local 14

by Julius G. Getman
     
 

International Paper, the richest paper company and largest landowner in the United States, enjoyed record profits and gave large bonuses to executives in 1987, that same year the company demanded that employees take a substantial paycut, sacrifice hundreds of jobs, and forego their Christmas holiday. At the Adroscoggin Mill in Jay, Maine, twelve hundred workers

Overview

International Paper, the richest paper company and largest landowner in the United States, enjoyed record profits and gave large bonuses to executives in 1987, that same year the company demanded that employees take a substantial paycut, sacrifice hundreds of jobs, and forego their Christmas holiday. At the Adroscoggin Mill in Jay, Maine, twelve hundred workers responded by going on strike from June 1987 to October 1988. Local union members mobilized an army of volunteers but International Paper brought in permanent replacement workers and the strike was ultimately lost. Julius G. Getman tells the story of that strike and its implications-a story of a community changing under pressure; of surprising leaders, strategists, and orators emerging; of lifelong friendships destroyed and new bonds forged.

At a time when the role of organized labor is in transition, Getman suggests, this strike has particular significance. He documents the early negotiations, the battle for public opinion, the heroic efforts to maintain solidarity, and the local union's sense of betrayal by its national leadership. With exceptional richness in perspective, Getman includes the memories and informed speculations of union stalwarts, managers, and workers, including those who crossed the picket line, and shows the damage years later to the individuals, the community, and the mill. He demonstrates the law's bias, the company's undervaluing of employees, and the international union's excessive concern with internal politics.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
When paper workers in Jay, Maine, Lock Haven, Pa., and DePere, Wis., went on strike against International Paper in 1987, the issues seemed so clear-cut that they could not imagine defeat. IP, the richest paper company in the world and the largest landowner in the U.S., was making demands that seemed outrageous: at the Androscoggin Mill in Maine, for example, IP wanted to eliminate time-and-a-half for Sunday hours. And in a giveback worthy of Scrooge, IP wanted to force workers to labor 365 days a year, relinquishing their Christmas holiday. Law professor Getman focuses on paper workers' Local 14, the Androscoggin union, and offers a brilliant, layered exegesis of their ultimately unsuccessful 17-month struggle. Dozens of workers, as well as IP management and representatives of both the local and international unions, speak throughout the text. The result is a well-researched journalistic account of one labor battle that sheds light on a plethora of larger themes: the strategic use of strikes; the effectiveness of corporate campaigns; the battles between local unions and large, bureaucratic internationals; the impact of a strike on every facet of community life; and the current state of the labor movement. While Getman clearly poses IP as the workers' major foe, he gives needed attention to the international union's lack of material and political support for the local. A call to arms for union democratization and a focused look at antilabor laws that allow hiring "permanent replacements," Getman's book is an extremely readable, insightful look at the plight of workers throughout the U.S. 15 b&w photos. (July)
Library Journal
The giant International Paper has dominated the life of Jay, ME, for generations. The Jay workforce--many of them the grandchildren of papermakers--operated a mill that ran around-the-clock every day of the year but Christmas and belonged to the long-accommodating Local 14 of the United Paperworkers International Union. In 1987 the controlling interests of International Paper apparently decided to break the union, demanding that workers, who averaged more than six days a week at the plant, Sundays included, had to work on Christmas, without extra compensation, in addition to accepting layoffs and a speedup plan. Local 14 went on strike; overnight, its members were permanently replaced by unskilled laborers largely imported from the South. For two years the grass-roots leaders of Local 14 led a strike that at times was only tepidly supported by the International Union. Getman (Univ. of Texas Law Sch., Austin), who is unabashedly pro-worker, recounts that bitter, sacrificial, and ultimately losing struggle. Although he spends most of this book on union politics, Getman's most gripping passages touch on how one employer and one sort of job can define an entire town's people. A moving and angering book, this is recommended for academic libraries and for public libraries in industrial communities.--Scott H. Silverman, Bryn Mawr Coll. Lib., Pa.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780801434761
Publisher:
Cornell University Press
Publication date:
05/28/1998
Series:
11/27/2006
Pages:
260
Product dimensions:
6.21(w) x 9.18(h) x 0.93(d)

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