Hats Off to AWG Workers

“No clear-cut winner in Associated-Teamsters dispute, several experts say,” was the headline the editors put on a Randolph Heaster story in the Kansas City Star. Actually this piece by Randy, who did an excellent job reporting on the lock-out of 1200 Teamsters, was a bit more balanced than that.

If you'll recall AWG, a co-op owned by big grocery outfits in the region, said they were contracting out their warehouse and trucking operations and their Teamster employees no longer had any right to jobs there. AWG hired professional strikebreakers to come in to run the services supplying most Kansas City area supermarkets. Things looked pretty bleak for the Teamsters.

But the Teamsters fought back. They filed charges against the company for violating labor law—and those charges were upheld by the National Labor Relations Board. And—even more importantly—they asked working people to boycott the scab-supplied grocery stores.

In the end, AWG did get to contract out the management of the warehouse—but all workers were retained, with their seniority and a new union contract. AWG dropped their attempt to make their truck drivers “contractors,” and the drivers also retain their seniority and union conditions. And, AWG had to cough up over three million dollars in back pay to settle the NLRB charges, and grievances. Most folks would say this settlement sounds like a clear-cut win for the workers.

Solidarity still works.