A Lesson in Solidarity

Passion, dedication and the IAM Spanish Leadership classes were ingredients that gave life to an inspiring show of solidarity during an organizing drive in Medford, OR.

In trying to organize workers at the fruit and gift basket-making company Harry and David, IAM District W1 organizers realized they needed Spanish-speaking housecallers. They sent out a call for volunteers. And members at IAM Local Lodge 2005 working at Foster Farms, a chicken processing plant in Livingston, CA, quickly responded. The local had sent many of its members to Spanish Leadership programs over the last four years, including longtime union volunteer and steward Abundia Romo.

Unfortunately, Foster Farms did not want to approve union leave for any of its workers, and only at the last minute agreed to let three members off work.

Faced with her employer’s opposition to a reasonable request, Romo, who was not approved for leave, felt so strongly about volunteering, that after her shift she bought a Greyhound ticket and bussed over 400 miles north to make it to the second day of the organizing blitz. Romo paid her own way and did not receive any compensation from the Local.

At the blitz’s last volunteer meeting, Romo and the other Local Lodge 2005 members were recognized for their extraordinary effort. Romo was asked to speak.

“In a room of 80 Machinists, small, soft-spoken Abundia Romo gave a stirring speech that brought many of us to tears,” said IAM Education Representative Anne Wiberg. “You could hear a pin drop. Her sacrifice, dedication to the IAM, and solidarity with workers who badly needed a union is unparalleled.”

Spanish Leadership classes are provided at the William W. Winpisinger (WWW) Center in Southern Maryland. For information on how to enroll, contact The Winpisinger Center at 301-373-3300.