From In These Times:
“Juanita Hart has worked as an operator at the Lipton Tea manufacturing plant in Suffolk, Virginia, for 25 years. She’s seen a lot of change in that time, but nothing like what happened last month.
“I was crying like I had won the lottery,” Hart told In These Times. I was so glad and I was so happy because I’ve been told for all this time, all these years, that it would never happen. And when it happened, I had so much joy that all I could do (was) cry.”
She was talking about workers’ decision to join a union.
They voted, 108-79, in an election held by the National Labor Relations Board on August 26. More than 200 workers at the plant, which makes nearly all of the Lipton Tea sold in North America, will now be represented by United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400.
The organizing drive came after years of declining benefits—loss of sick pay, supplemental time off and a downgrade in insurance coverage considered too expensive for what it offered.
“We’re hoping that maybe we can get some of this back,” says Robert Davis, another 25-year veteran at the Lipton plant. “I don’t know if we will or not. We would like to try.”
Another important issue that affected most workers was what is alleged to be forced overtime work, also known as “drafting.” Workers at the Suffolk site have been known to work a routine of 12-hour shifts for 13 days before getting a day off.”
Click here for the full story from In These Times.