Monday, November 22, 2010

Workers and supporters block traffic in Center City Philadelphia in protest of Del Monte's efforts to undermine fair workplace standards

Nearly four hundred people, including dockworkers, their families, and Philadelphia Jobs with Justice activists joined together in Love Park today as a part of a National Day of Action to protest Del Monte Fresh Produce's elimination of family-sustaining union jobs at the Port of Philadelphia.

In other cities around the country, from Coral Gables, FL, to Galveston, TX to Denver, CO, hundreds of activists rallied in solidarity with the laid-off dockworkers of ILA Local 1291. Workers in Portugal and Spain also demonstrated in a show of support.

Prominent Philadelphia leaders including Councilpeople Jannie Blackwell and Bill Green, Johnny Dougherty (business manager of IBEW Local 98), President Pat Eiding of the Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO, and John Meyerson (political director, UFCW Local 1776) joined family members of laid off dockworkers at the Love Park rally, sounding a clear call for a boycott of Del Monte goods.

The rally culminated with the three year old daughter of a laid-off longshoreman joining the director of Philadelphia Jobs with Justice onstage to tear the Del Monte logo off of a giant prop pineapple, ripping it to shreds.

The spirited crowd spontaneously took to the streets, occupying the entirety of John F. Kennedy Blvd., an arterial Center City thoroughfare, then took over a local Wawa supermarket (Wawa is a major purveyor of Del Monte fruit in the Delaware Valley area). Kicked out by management, the crowd of hundreds took to the streets once again. Motorists honked and clapped in support as the crowd marched around City Hall several times, completely halting the flow of traffic through the critical intersection during the noontime rush.

Once again, workers of Philadelphia have made it clear that we are a city of people that believe that all people deserve good jobs with fair wages and benefits. Workers in other parts of the country--and the world--have also shown their strong support for the longshoremen's cause.

I can say this with certainty: Del Monte is in for one hell of a fight.

Interested in finding out more about ILA Local 1291 and the Del Monte boycott? Visit the boycott website to find out more.


Anonymous said...

This sounds like it was a really passionate and energetic rally- the part about the three year old daughter of a laid off longshoreman was especially touching. I will not be buying Del Monte Fresh Produce, and I will encourage my friends and family to do the same thing. Solidarity!

Anonymous said...

Philly hasn't seen this kind of labor militancy - that pushed aside six lanes of oncoming traffic in a march through Center City - in quite a long time! And the additional show of solidarity with the nearby Phila. Unemployment Project event is noteworthy. It is heartening to see labor solidarity reborn in Philadelphia!

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