J.P. STEVENS, the nation's most flagrant violator of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), has calculated that it is more profitable to break the law systematically and pay its relatively small fines than to give the workers the right to unionize. There is now a movement afoot to pressure Stevens to change its attitude through boycotts of the company's products. Today, college students throughout New England will be participating in demonstrations of support for J.P. Stevens workers. At Harvard, the Friends of the United Farm Workers, a group with a history of boycott experience, is spearheading this anti-Stevens drive and sponsoring a rally scheduled to take place today at 1:30 p.m. on the steps on Memorial Church. We strongly support the demonstration and urge students to participate.
As of now, 44,500 Stevens workers have effectively been denied the right to a union by a company that cares more about money than about the quality of human life. Stevens has violated the NLRA over 100 times. In Statesboro, Ga., the National Labor Relations Board judged that free union elections were impossible and issued a bargaining order mandating that Stevens negotiate with the union. Rather than negotiate, the company closed the entire plant, and transferred all its machinery and personnel to other factories, as a graphic warning to workers with ideas about organizing a union.
The undefended Stevens workers suffer terrible working conditions, chronically low wages and starvation-level pension payments. Thousands are slowly dying of the disease byssinosis, or brown lung, caused by cotton-dust levels three times higher than standards set by the federal government. Stevens employees are paid at rates 31 per cent below the national average for factory workers. Retired Stevens workers then spend the last years of their lives in poverty. One man who had worked at a Stevens plant for 40 years was rewarded with a pension of $15 a week.
THE BOYCOTT serves a two-fold purpose. First, if it catches on, it may cut into Stevens's profit margin; in this case, the old adage, "money talks," is unfortunately apropos. More likely, though, the boycott will succeed in bringing broad-based political pressure to bear on recalcitrant executives; it might even force the government to take more drastic action in enforcing the law
We again encourage students to join in the demonstration to help bring economic and social justice to J.P. Stevens workers. We also urge you not to buy Steven's products, which are marketed under the following brand names:
SHEETS & PILLOWCASES
Peanuts (comic strip figures)
Utica & Mohawk
Yves St. Laurent