Library

HISTORY TOPICS

1985-1986 Hormel P-9 Strike (Austin)

Protest Use of National Guard to Break P-9 Strike. Location no. HG3.13 a1In December of 1984, the members of United Food and Commercial Workers local P-9 initiated a campaign against wage and benefit cuts at the Hormel Company in Austin, Minnesota. By the summer of 1985, they were involved in what many observers would come to regard as the strike of the decade, both because of the energy and imagination of the union members and the nationwide response to their cause. Committed to solidarity and the conviction that one generation's sacrifice will result in a better life for the next, the revolutionary workers of Austin fought a dual battle against a powerful corporation bent on breaking their resistance and against their own unsympathetic international union.

GET STARTED WITH SECONDARY SOURCES:

  • Hard-Pressed in the Heartland: The Hormel Strike and the Future of the Labor Movement, by Peter Rachleff.
    Boston: South End Press, 1993.
    MHS call number: HD 5325 .P152 1985 .A877 1993.
  • No Retreat, No Surrender: Labor's War at Hormel, by Dave Hage and Paul Klauda.
    New York: William Morrow and Co., 1989.
    MHS call number: Reading Room HD 5325 .P152 1985 .A874 1989.
  • On Strike at Hormel: The Struggle for a Democratic Labor Movement, by Hardy S. Green.
    Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1990.
    MHS call number: Reading Room HD 5325 .P152 1985 .A873 1990.
  • Packing It In!: The Hormel Strike, 1985-86: A Personal Perspective, by Michael T. Fahey.
    St. Paul, Minn.: Kirwin & Sons Pub., 1988.
    MHS call number: Reading Room HD 5325 .P152 1985 .A872 1988.
  • We're Not Gonna Take It, directed by Pamela Yates.
    [Newport, Minn.]: Skylight Pictures, 1986.
    Documentary about the strike against the Geo. A. Hormel Co. in Austin by the United Food and Commercial Workers Local P-9 in 1985-1986.
    MHS call number: Videotape 145 (1 15-minute color videocassette).
  • "A Wobbly-bred Campaign in Minnesota," by Ken Gagala.
    Photocopy of an article from an unknown source; published in 1985?
    MHS call number: HD 5325 .P152 1985 A8723 1985.
  • Women, Community, and the Hormel Strike of 1985-86, by Neala J. Schleuming.
    Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1994.
    MHS call number: HD 6079.2 .U52 M567 1994.

PRIMARY RESOURCES:

  • Boycott Hormel: Live from Austin, produced by Larry Long and Carrie Gerendasy.
    Minneapolis, Minn.: Waterfront Records, c1986.
    This cassette contains songs relating to the strike and comments by striking workers, plus a list of Hormel products to boycott on the container.
    MHS call number: Audiotape no. 27 (in the A-V Collection; 1 52-minute cassette).
  • Bill Brust Papers.
    Brust's papers document his life and career as a Minnesota Trotskyite and modern language scholar. His "Political Activities and Writings" include a series of memoranda and other papers related to his arrest during the Local P-9 strike at the Hormel meat packing plant in Austin (1986).
    MHS call number: P2143; see the green Manuscripts Notebooks for more details (there are 4 boxes of material, but only Box No. 3 has information about the Hormel strike); or use an electronic version of the inventory.
  • Kenneth E. Tilsen Papers.
    This collection consists of legal files for selected cases documenting Tilsen's career as an attorney in St. Paul, including the legal aftermath of the 1985-1986 Hormel meatpackers strike (Hansen v. Guyette and the Austin Labor Center case). The United Food and Commercial Workers Local P-9 cases were just a few of many legal disputes that erupted when United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local P-9 members, all employees of the Hormel meat-packing plant in Austin were ordered by the UFCW International to cease a strike that had initially been authorized. When the Local refused to end its strike as ordered, the International placed the Local in trusteeship. Tilsen's cases concern a dispute between the Local P-9 and Joseph Hansen, the trustee appointed for the Local P-9 by the International in May 1986. Much of the dispute focused on control of the Local P-9's headquarters, the Austin Labor Center, which was run by a separate corporation, the Austin Labor Center, Inc., and the corporation's assets. The trustee also brought suit against James Guyette and other former officers of the Local P-9, accusing them of violating court orders by obstructing the trustee from taking control of assets. Tilsen represented the Austin Labor Center, Inc., and the Local P-9 members in these cases, which were eventually dismissed or settled after more than two years of legal wrangling. Files consist primarily of a chronological series of pleadings, affidavits, orders, and other court documents. In addition the series includes correspondence, interrogatories, and research files. The correspondence files include color snapshots of the Austin Labor Center mural, which was destroyed by vandals during the legal dispute.
    MHS call number: See the green Manuscripts Alpha Notebooks—filed under Tilsen, Kenneth E.—for a detailed list of boxes and locator numbers (there are 23 boxes of material, but not all relate to this topic); or use an electronic version of the inventory.
  • Newspapers that may be useful for this topic:
    • Austin Daily Herald
    • Minneapolis Star-Tribune (an index for articles published after 1970 is located in the Hubbs Microfilm Room)
    • St. Paul Pioneer Press Dispatch (an index for articles published in 1967 or after is located in the Hubbs Microfilm Room)
  • Visual Resources Database subjects that may be useful for this topic:
  • Check the library catalog for other materials.