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September 05, 1980 - Image 156

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1980-09-05

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Copier boycott continues

Wordprocessors has not suffered
financially from a consumer boycott
started by some former employees in
July, one of the owners of the State
Street copying store, Jim Smith, said.
"In fact," Smith said this week,
"business from businessmen has
picked up because they don't think what
the people (picketers) are doing is ap-
SMITH EXPLAINED that smaller
orders that normally would have been
placed may not have been because of the
boycott, but the larger commercial or-
ders have increased. He said he is not
yet sure whether his student-related
business will be hurt.
Suzanne Napoleon, a former worker
who has been picketing, said the con-
sumer boycott was set up to "let the
customers know just how unfair the
owners are." She added that, the
picketers are former employees and
The two-year old Ann Arbor business
has had employee-relation problems
since last year.
On August 28,1979, Wordprocessors
employees voted whether tobe
represented by the Industrial Workers
of the World union, or no union at all.
That vote ended in a tie..
MICAH KAMINER, a former em-
ployee, said that in April, several em-
ployees walked off their jobs because
management either laid-off, fired, or
harassed until they quit almost every
union advocate in the shop who voted in
the August election.
"People were giving their blood for
the business to keep it going. They
would work 50 to 60 hours per week," he
"After no sign of appreciation and af-
ter the company started laying off or
firing employees because they were
making too much money, and hiring in-
competents to fill their places, the em-
ployees decided to strike," Kaminer

During the April walkout, he con-
tinued, striking employees organized
their own independent union, Em-
ployees Against Arbitrary Action, and
disassociated themselves from IWW.
OWNER SMITH said he does not
consider EAAA a bonafide labor
organization because it does not involve
all the employees of Wordprocessors.
He explained that not all employees
were allowed to vote on whether, to ac-
cept the union.
"Furthermore," he said, "employees
not favoring the union have been
harassed by EAAA union sym-
Smith also denied the charges that he
was ousting union sympathizers from

employees were in favor of a union,"
Kaminer stated. He said management
would harass employees until they quit
rather than lay them off when the per-
son was no longer needed.
They were also discriminatory in
their treatment of employees, he ad-
Napoleon cited an incident in which a
pro-union employee walked in late and
received a written reprimand. No ac-
tion was taken against an anti-union
employee who walked in behind the
other, she said.
SMITH CALLED this charge
"blatantly and totally untrue." He ex-
plained that in one case that the pro-
union people use as an example, the

'I've worked in Ann Arbor for a long-
time. Most of the shops are more or less
the same. You find you're just a rubber
ball for someone's convenience. If you
ever want to make a decent living you
have to organize or you're impover-
ish ed.'
-Jim Forrester,
former Wordprocessors employee

The payroll problems have been
corrected, he said.
Kaminer also said some employees
were not scheduled for as many hours
as they were led to expect when they
were hired.
workers would be on the schedule,
come into work, and then be told to go
home because there was not enough
work for them. They would not be paid
even though management was respon-
sible for changing the schedule, he
"It is reasonable and logical to send
people home if there's no work. This is a
profit-making business," Smith rebut-
ted. "But I don't recall sending anyone
home much before the April strike," he
In their new organizational effort,
Smith said, the owners were trying to
have the employees help each other
complete jobs. He said 'the old em-
ployeeswanted tospecialize and were
not willing to help in other departmen-
"FOR EXAMPLE, the print shop
might be working overtime to get a job
finished, while the copy center had
nothing to do and employees would
stand around because the print sop
was not their job," he explained.
Forrester objected, saying some
division of labor was caused "by the
facts of life" and not because workers
wanted departmentalization. He ex-
plained that the machines were expen-
sive and skilled labor was involved.
Forrester said he and another laid-off
print shop employee would have been,
able to help in any other department,
but were never called back to work.
"MANY OF THE charges brought
against, Wordprocessors are documen-
tarily false," Smith emphasized. He
added that his lawyer "was in-
vestigating perjury charges against
Ben Mattison (a former employee and
spokesman for the group)."
The National Labor Relations Board
has been investigating EAAA's com-
plaints since April and has found
enough evidence against Wor-
dprocessors to file a complaint against
the company. The court hearing is set
for December 8. Another set of com-
plaints is currently being investigated.
Forrester summed up his reasons for
unionizing: "I've worked in Ann Arbor
a long time. Most of the shops are more
or less the same. You find you're just a
rubber ball for someone's convenience.
If you ever want to make a decent living
you have to organize or you're im-

the shop. He explained that the store
had not been in "a profitable situation"
for some time. To rectify the situation,
he said, the, owners made
organizational changes.
HE EXPLAINED that limiting the
number of hours the shop would be open
and cutting back the number of em-
ployees were some of the changes.
"Low pay, no benefits, and no job
security were other reasons why some

employee who was not reprimanded
was not on a specific time schedule.
"What they (the pro-union em-
ployees) don't like, they consider
harassment, whether it's justified or
not," he said.
Jim Forrester, an ex-employee, cited
monetary goals as an issue that united
many of the employees at Wor-
He explained that the company has
used three banks since April, 1980, for
payroll checks. Employees would
deposit their checks and then be infor-
med Wordprocessors had ihsufficient
funds to cover them, he added.
OR ELSE, HE explained, the owners
would tell their employees not to cash
the checks until after the weekend or
until waiting a few days.-
Smith agreed Wordprocessors had
problems with payroll checks. The
problems were not due to insufficient
funds but were a result of lack of under-
standing of one of the bank's policies,
he explained.

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I __________-






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