When employees of Moncure Plywood went on strike in July, the issues were typical for most labor disputes: benefits, wages and working conditions.
But as the strike enters its eighth month – four seasons, now – it’s becoming clear that it’s a really a human rights struggle.
This month, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers filed a class action complaint against the company, Connecticut-based Atlas Holdings, alleging human rights violations. The company intimidated the strikers by allowing a rubber tube fashioned as a noose to hang on company property within sight of the picket line for four days. An independent truck driver eventually removed it.
The company also has hired replacement workers, and refused to negotiate with those on strike, many of whom had worked in the plant for 30 years or more. Union bylaws require that the rank and file must approve any agreement, but who would vote for a contract that cost them their job?
The union, North Carolina A. Phillip Randolph Institute, and other supporters plan a full day of support on Monday, March 16, beginning with a lunch with the strikers, a 5 p.m. rally at the Chatham County Courthouse, and an appearance at the Chatham commissioners meeting where we’ll ask for a resolution opposing the company’s tactics.