CALPINE WORKERS HONORED
FOR THEIR EFFORTS TO ORGANIZE
Mike Farmer, Lisa Jones, Jay Hepper, Brian Gleason and John Mummert recognized by the North Bay Labor Council
PETALUMA, CA – Five Calpine workers were honored at the annual North Bay Labor Council holiday dinner at the Petaluma Sheraton Hotel where 250 labor and political leaders gathered.
Calpine Organizing Committee members Mike Farmer, Lisa Jones, Jay Hepper, Brian Gleason and John Mummert represented Calpine workers who began forming their union with IBEW Local 1245 in late August. Earlier in the day, they were joined by more than 50 labor and political allies when they filed for secret ballot election at the National Labor Relations Board in San Francisco.
Calpine worker Mike Farmer thanked the assembled labor and political leaders on behalf of the Organizing Committee for their solidarity and reiterated that the driving motivation for forming a union at Calpine is to have a meaningful voice and a place at the table. Farmer introduced the other Calpine workers at the event to a rousing ovation.
Many of the political leaders present from Lake and Sonoma counties have written letters to Calpine CEO Jack Fusco, calling upon Calpine management to stop the use of anti-union consultants whose primary purpose is to discourage unionization. Calpine has hired the Arizona-based Alignment Group, a consulting firm that specializes in union avoidance. The TAG has been conducting mandatory meetings and one-on-one conversations with workers on a daily basis, claiming unionization is futile and that the company will never agree to a contract. It has warned workers that they could lose what they currently have.
Farmer won the heart of the crowd when he shared the riveting story of his 91-year-old, Mexican-American mother who taught him the meaning of solidarity. As a young worker at Sky Chef in El Paso, Texas Mrs. Farmer worked an assembly line preparing meals for airlines. Her shift began at 5 a.m. and required taking two buses, until she secured an old car to cut the travel time to and from work. One day her car broke down. Instead of calling in sick, she took public transportation and arrived to work, albeit an hour late, only to be publicly rebuked by her supervisor who, attempting to make an example of her, told her to go home if she was going to be late and ordered her off the premises.
“Every single other worker walked out the door with my mother and refused to return to their work station until management allowed my mother to return with them. That’s the meaning of solidarity. That’s the meaning of the union,” Farmer said. In the end, upper management came outside and begged the women to return to their work stations, Mrs. Farmer included.
Jack Buckhorn, President of the North Bay Labor Council, reiterated the resolution passed by the council on Oct. 11, promising the wholehearted support of the 30,000 members of the 71 labor unions who are affiliated with the council. He encouraged all gathered to join the Calpine workers at their next action, Friday, Dec. 9, at the Calpine offices in Sacramento, where workers will rally for a free and fair election process.
For more information visit www.calpineworkerstogether.com.