Rally marks first year of union strike

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 11, 1999

&uot;They’ve been supporting us, and now we’re going to support them.&uot; Those words, from Steelworker Bob Thompson of union Local 164 in Des Moines, Iowa, were echoed by dozens of union members from throughout the nation who converged on Local 303L’s Natchez headquarters Saturday for a rally.

The event marked the one-year anniversary of the local union’s strike against Natchez’s Titan Tire plant, which began shortly after Titan bought bankrupt Condere Corp.

Repeated talks between Titan and the union on issues like working hours, benefits and seniority have not yet reached a conclusion.

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Union members drove from Washington, Ohio and Oklahoma to attend, and members from Montevideo, Uruguay, also the site of a Titan plant, flew in to offer support.

&uot;Despite the distance, we’re still Steelworkers, … and we still have the same problems,&uot;&160;Carlos Frumento, president of the Sindicato de FUNSA, said through an interpreter. &uot;We will unite unions in solidarity around the world.&uot;

&uot;That’s what we’re about – supporting each other in any way we can,&uot;&160;said Zelda Brown of Local 850, which will have been on strike from a Continental Tire plant in Charlotte, N.C., for one year later this month.

Union notables speaking at the rally were Leo Gerard, international secretary/treasurer for the United Steelworkers of America; John Sellers, executive vice president of the Rubber Plastic Industry Conference; and Homer Wilson, USWA District 9 director.

&uot;Brothers, you’re not in this struggle alone,&uot;&160;Gerard said. &uot;We’re standing up for what’s right and just. Ain’t nobody for us but us.&uot;

But Lt. Gov. Ronnie Musgrove, Democratic candidate for governor, and Amy Tuck, the party’s candidate for lieutenant governor, also vowed support for Local 303L and unions in general.

&uot;(Workers)&160;are sick and tired of being at the bottom of the barrel,&uot;&160;Musgrove told the crowd. &uot;We want companies to prosper, … but we want the working people of Mississippi to prosper as well.&uot;

Leo &uot;T-Bone&uot;&160;Bradley, Local 303L president, said he appreciated the support union members showed for the rally. &uot;We’re here for the same reason, fair jobs and justice in the workplace,&uot;&160;he said.