V and V Supremo

Strikes/Riots

Video of Sarita Gupta Describing Jobs with Justice and the V & V Supremo Strike

In the spring of 2001, the 150 workers at V & V Supremo Cheese Company, went out on strike. Two-thirds of the workers were in production and fought for recognition, while the one-third were distribution workers who had union representation but no contract. As Sarita Gupta explains, the workers -- most of whom were Mexican immigrants, many undocumented -- were organizing through a core union, but needed to fight the widespread presumption that low-paid immigrant workers could not be organized. Teamsters Local 703 worked with Jobs With Justice, St. Pius Church, U.S. Representative Luis Gutierrez, and many other community and faith-based groups. Together, they won public support through articles in the Latino press, and through at least forty-five actions at local stores where they pressured consumers and storeowners to refuse to purchase V & V products. The union also used non-traditional organizing tactics such as the card-check, an alternative to the National Labor Relations Board bargaining process that allows workers to secure union recognition if a majority of employees in the bargaining unit sign union cards within a given time frame. In January 2002, the V & V workers gained recognition for their Teamsters Local 703 union. Still, the owners of V & V Supremo refused to bargain with the union.

Labor Trail

US

IL

Chicago

Cook

2100 S Throop St

Labor Trail

The Chicago Center for Working-Class Studies (CCWCS) is proud to present the Interactive Labor Trail, made possible by a generous grant from the Illinois Humanities Council. This on-line history resource builds on “The Labor Trail: Chicago's History of Working-Class Life and Struggle,” a map of 140 significant locations in the history of labor, migration, and working-class culture in Chicago and Illinois. The Labor Trail is the product of a joint effort to showcase the many generations of dramatic struggles and working-class life in the Chicago area's rich and turbulent past. The Trail's neighborhood tours invite you to get acquainted with the events, places, and people -- often unsung -- who have made the city what it is today. In addition, the statewide map is just a starting point for further exploration of Illinois' labor heritage. This Interactive Labor Trail expands the number of locations and provides a greater depth of information, while giving map users the chance to add their knowledge of locations and events in the Chicago area’s working-class history.

We invite all individuals, groups, and institutions interested in the labor and working-class history of Chicago, Cook County, the Calumet Region, and Illinois to contribute to the map. Users can add new sites, edit or build upon existing entries with additional text, photographs, primary sources, audio and video files, as well as links to related websites.

Easy-to-use instructions for adding to the on-line version of the map are available at www.labortrail.org.

More information on the Chicago Center for Working-Class Studies is available at: www.workingclassstudies.org

The Labor Trail: Chicago's History of Working-Class Life and Struggle

Project Director:
Leon Fink, University of Illinois at Chicago

Project Advisors:
Tobias Higbie, Newberry Library
Lisa Oppenheim, Chicago Metro History Education Center
Liesl Miller Orenic, Dominican University

Administrative Director:
Jeffrey Helgeson, University of Illinois at Chicago

Project Assistants:
Aaron Max Berkowitz, University of Illinois at Chicago; John H. Flores, University of Illinois at Chicago; Erik Gellman, Northwestern University; Dan Harper, University of Illinois at Chicago; Emily LaBarbera-Twarog, University of Illinois at Chicago

Web Design:
William Atwood and Melissa Palmer