For Immediate Release
June 18, 2004
For More Information, Contact
Luis Tlaseca 610-444-9696
Nelson Carrasquillo 856-881-2507
Kaolin Workers Win Big
Victory Reaffirms Workers’ Trust in the Union
Employees of Kaolin Mushroom Farms voted today on whether or not to keep the Kaolin Workers’ Union as their bargaining representative. When the votes were tallied, and the results announced at approximately 2:00pm this afternoon, the Kaolin Workers Union (KWU) came out on top. Workers voted 210 to 124 to retain KWU, reaffirming the confidence they have in the union and in their own ability to represent themselves in negotiations with Kaolin Mushroom Farm’s owner Michael Pia.
At a press conference held in Pennock Park last Thursday afternoon, one Kaolin employee, Jesus Juarez, said, “We won the right to have OUR Union in 1993, we did it, and we achieved it, detaining the abuses in our work. Now we are here to show Pia our affirmation of our Union….” The vote today shows that a majority of workers at Kaolin Mushroom Farms feel they have a stake in the union, and a mechanism to represent themselves and their interests.
After a nine year struggle, the Kaolin Workers’ Union signed their first contract with Kaolin Mushroom Farms on January 2, 2002. Over the two and a half years of this contract, the company has increased pressure on individual workers, implemented many new and restricting work rules, and recently, as the workers geared up for contract renewal negotiations, the company claimed that the KWU was not valid and applied for an election to try to decertify the union.
In 1993, workers at Kaolin won their union election for representation. In December 1998, after five and a half years of appealing the court decisions that certified the union, the company was ordered by the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court to negotiate with KWU, and finally in January of 2002 a contract was signed. The contract has historical importance because the Kaolin Workers' Union is the first of Pennsylvania's mushroom companies to organize and win the right to collectively bargain for a contract.