REAP formed – Research, Education, Advocacy and People, rank-and-file movement to reform leadership and policies of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union – Developments in industrial relations
Michael H. Cimini
With about 300 members in attendance, the founding convention of Research, Education, Advocacy and People (REAP) elected a slate of officers, including Lewie Anderson as president (without opposition), Jim Lyons as secretary/treasurer, and Gary Clever as recording secretary. REAP iS a self-proclaimed rank-and-file “reform movement” formed to challenge and to reform the leadership and policies of the United Food and Commercial Workers union, whose 1.3 million members include, among others, packing house and grocery store employees. REAP was formed to function within the United Food and Commercial Workers, not as a new union. (Anderson had been the union’s packing house director before he was fired by the union in January 1989. He still serves as a vice-president of the union.)
The issues prompting the formation of the movement, according to REAP representatives, are the United Food and Commercial Workers alleged policy of accepting labor agreements granting wage, benefit, and work rule concessions to employers (termed “sweetheart deals”) and undercutting local unions’ bargaining power by discouraging strikes and encouraging the locals to negotiate separately.
Demands of the movement, which were formulated at the convention and presented to the union, include:
* Holding United Food and Commercial Workers national conventions every 2 years, instead of 5, and locating the conventions near centers of the union’s membership.
* Amending the United Food and Commercial Workers constitution to provide for popular elections of top international offices, rather than through delegate voting.
* Returning to uniform national contracts in the packinghouse industry.
* Decreasing national officers’ salaries and building up strike funds.
* Adopting a resolution condemning contracts granting concessions to employers.
* Lobbying for expansion and better enforcement of safety inspections.
According to Anderson, REAP’s founder, the organization has 2,500 members and is growing, drawing dissident United Food and Commercial Workers members from all over the country. The organization, which is based in Gaithersburg, MD, will hold its next general convention in 2 years.
COPYRIGHT 1990 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
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