Diamond Workers Strike
STOCKTON-The workers at Diamond Walnut Co. chalked up a big
"W" in their three-and-a-half year struggle Jan. 20. The
National Labor Relations Board, citing unfair labor
practices, threw out the results of a 1993 election in which
permanent replacement workers tried to decertify Teamsters
Local 601.
"We have prevailed," said Local 601 Secretary-Treasurer
Lucio Reyes. "Diamond Walnut better think again if they
think this fight is over. We'll bring them to their knees."

This was the second time the NLRB had nullified an attempt
to expel Local 601. In 1992, a decertification election rife
with voting irregularitries was thrown out.

The strikers, 70 percent of them women of color, were
exuberant over the ruling. Besides preserving the union, the
decision took a giant step toward forcing the company to
reinstate the workers who were replaced when the strike
began.

Nearly 500 workers represented by Local 601 walked out in
September 1991 after Diamond Walnut proposed severe wage and
benefit reductions. The workers had already accepted wage
cuts of 30-40 percent in 1985 when the company was having
financial difficulties. Thanks to these sacrifices and a
change in management, Diamond regained its momentum and
enjoyed record profits. For the next four years it raked in
revenues in excess of $204 million, becoming the largest
walnut company in the world.

Management was so incensed that the strike coincided with
the beginning of the harvest season they immediately hired
replacement workers-mostly young white men. These hires were
to last for the harvest season only, but the company decided
to keep them on, paying them less than the 1985 wages.
Fewer than 40 of the original 500 strikers have returned to
work. To enlist public support, strikers sent out nationwide
bus caravans, fasted, and called a boycott of Diamond
walnuts that spread across the U.S. and to Europe. Quaker
Oats, Godiva Chocolates, Nabisco, Dreyers Ice Cream and
Fannie Farmer Candies are among the companies refusing to
buy Diamond Walnut products.

The NLRB recommended a new election free of discrimination
against pro-union employees. It could occur this fall when
the Diamond Walnut workforce is at its peak. The company may
appeal the ruling in federal court.
For info on the boycott or strike support actions: Local
601, (209) 948-2800.-Nancy Snyder