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Why Workers in Seattle Struck so Quickly

Commentary by "Joe Hill" written on April 20, 2001

A typical complaint that ACORN management and its apologists have about the IWW organizing drive is the way it was conducted, particularly the short period given to Dough Bloch in Seattle to respond to the union's challenge. This is evidenced in this rather sarcastic comment from Joe Slovo:

That was the organizing staff who walked out without once giving their supervisor a chance to redress the grievances before handing in demands, who went on strike 30 minutes after handing in cards, and who did an action against a Board member (therby showing loads of respect to ACORN's membership).

The fact is that ACORN advocates a law that would force any boss to recognize a union if presented with authorization cards from a majority of workers. The fact is that Doug was presented with authorization cards from 100% of the organizers and when they asked if he would recognize the union he refused. He actually told the King County Labor Council that he was afraid ACORN national management would fire him if he followed ACORN's publicly stated principles.

From the second he was presented with the cards to the moment you read this, Doug has had the ability to recognize the union, and that is in fact the only principled course of action he could take.

After ACORN management recognizes the union, that is the point when it makes sense to talk about how to deal with the ACORN workers' grievances, and what is and isn't possible. That's the whole essence of collective bargaining.

Legally, ethically, and according to ACORN's fundamental principles, when the majority of workers at a workplace want to negotiate collectively with management, the manager is obligated to recognize the union and then negotiate in good faith.

Management might think their employees don't deserve the right to collectively bargain, or that their employees are too stupid to choose their own union, or that unions are good in other workplaces but not in their own backyard -- sure, they are entitled to their opinion, and it's true that 99.9% of bosses feel the same way -- but that don't make it so. Legally, ethically, and according to the publicly stated principles of ACORN, workers have the right to decide on their own, regardless of what their boss thinks.