Monday, June 26, 2006

Unions and community groups show solidarity with Gillette workers

From the June 27, 2006 IUE-CWA Local 201 Electrical Union News, By Rand Wilson, Local 201 Organizing Director

Gillette recently announced that in October it is closing part of its razorblade packaging center affecting more than a hundred jobs. The decision is the latest in a series of job cuts by Gillette's new owner, the giant multi-national conglomerate Procter & Gamble based in Cincinnati, OH.

The labor-backed Merrimack Valley Project (MVP) sponsored a march and rally on June 17 demanding that Gillette provide a fair severance for workers and compensation to the community for the economic and social costs of the plant closure. There was an impressive showing of support for the workers from many local unions including IUE-CWA, SEIU, Teachers', UNITE-HERE and the Merrimack Valley Labor Council. MVP is a regional organization of religious congregations, labor unions and community groups.

The Gillette "pack center" is located at Devens Industrial Park (on the grounds of the old Army base near Ayer). Devens is managed by a quasi-public agency, MassDevelopment, which aggressively pursues companies to locate business in the park using a mix of development subsidies, tax breaks and streamlined permitting.

Gillette took advantage of these deals to set up its razorblade packaging center. Many other companies including General Electric, American Superconductor, Netstal Machinery, Nichols Aircraft, UPS and Xinetics have also set up facilities at Devens.

Gillette has also not renewed its lease on the larger remaining pack center operation employing 350 full-time and as many as 700 temp employees. A social impact study showed that if Gillette closes both plants, it could affect as many as 1,825 jobs in the area and cost taxpayers at least $26 million.

MVP has been organizing workers at the packaging center for several years to pressure Gillette to create more permanent full time jobs and stop discrimination against the largely immigrant work force hired by its subcontractors.

Although Gillette has more than 3,000 employees at its South Boston, Andover and Devens facilities, none are united in a union. Now that it's owned by P&G, local Gillette workers have no voice in decisions about their future that are being made by managers in Cincinnati.

A survey of P&G's operations shows that many of its 110,000 workers in the U.S. and around the world are members of unions. Thousands of P&G's employees at its Clairol, Folgers, Sundor and pharmaceutical subsidiaries are union members. So are hundreds of Gillette workers in St. Paul, MN and Janesville, WI. If Gillette workers in Massachusetts are ready to stand up and fight back, they can count on help from Local 201 and the support of other unions to gain a voice with this giant company.

For a copy of MVP's Economic Impact Analysis and an overview of unions at P&G, contact Rand Wilson at the union hall (781) 598-2760 or by email at


Post a Comment

<< Home