Since July 20, 2008, workers of the Moncure Plywood LLC factory in rural Moncure, North Carolina have been striking for their basic rights to a decent job with safe working conditions. In the past eight months, the striking union members have been confronted with overt racism, replacement by strikebreakers, a virtual media blackout of their heroic actions.
Last summer, the bosses of Moncure Plywood announced that these skilled workers would now have to work 60 hours per week, while also saddling the workers with increases in health insurance premiums by a staggering 300 to 400 percent. In order to prevent any worker fight-back, the bosses imposed new changes to seniority policies, allowing for managers to practice favoritism, racism, and outright discrimination against the predominantly Black workforce. The plans to depress wages and discriminate against Black union members only add to the notoriously unsafe working conditions at Moncure, where last year alone the plant was fined over $37,000 for safety violations.
The striking workers, who produced high-quality plywood frames for furniture giants including La-Z-Boy and Ethan Allen, among others, are represented by the International Association of Machinists Local W369 (AFL-CIO). Since going on strike, the company bosses have tried to break the workers’ unity and determination by using a number of tactics of racist intimidation, including dangling a hangman’s noose from a fence near the picket line. The company has also hired predominately Latin@ workers, many of whom were recently laid off by Pilgrim’s Pride Chicken Company, to permanently replace the strikers, a divide and conquer strategy by the bosses intended to drive a wedge between Black and Brown workers and break the multinational unity of the workers—the very unity of the working class that offers the greatest threat to the power of the bosses.
The support by local rank-and-file unions, including North Carolina Public Sector Workers Union UE Local 150, as well as the work of various forces in the local People’s Assembly and community allies, all have been crucial in providing support in advancing this struggle as elemental to the efforts of workers in the historically anti-labor, Jim Crow South. While corporate media cares little about striking workers in rural North Carolina, it is very necessary for the movement in the South to push this struggle forward as a key case of how racism, a lack of Black and Brown unity, and attacks on workers livelihoods during periods of crisis weaken the interests of all workers.
The victory of the workers of UE Local 1110 at the Republic Doors and Windows factory in Chicago last December provides a hopeful precedent for the continued efforts of the Moncure strikers. One way for workers to win their basic rights back is through unified, militant action. The striking workers at Moncure need the support of class-conscious workers and organizers in the community as well as throughout the world, as their situation reminds us of the ruthless devastation caused by the bosses’ worldwide attack on workers’ rights known as capitalist globalization.
As a new front in the daily struggle against manufacturing layoffs, the use of racist policies to break Black and Brown unity, union-busting, and off-shoring of manufacturing, the fight by the Moncure strikers for a decent job is connected to a larger fight-back against the broader forces of capitalist boom-and-bust production and exploitation. Through condemning the racist noose hangings and attacks on working conditions at the plant, the workers at Moncure continue their monumental effort to demand a safe, dignified job as a basic human right. As the current depression inevitably deepens, spurring further attacks on workers’ rights, it is crucial that we show solidarity with the heroic efforts of the Moncure strikers on the picket lines and throughout our work.
Victory to the workers at Moncure Plywood!
Organize the South!
A Job is a Property Right!
Build your local People’s Assembly!
Bail out the People, Not the Banks!