In their own words: Former P-9 Union membersby Elizabeth Baier, Minnesota Public Radio
Judy Himle, Ken Dalager, Bob Taylor are part of a group former Local P-9 union members who have been meeting since the meatpackers strike in 1985. This was a recording of a conversation during their breakfast meeting on May 18, 2010.
JUDY HIMLE: This isn't a deal about disliking Mexicans. It's a deal about disliking Hormel for continuing to keep low wages, and they are abusing those people just the way they abused us. I mean, they're using them the same way.
KEN DALAGER:: They're using this generation, like our forefathers used the blacks.
BOB TAYLOR: Four years ago my granddaughter got beat up by four Mexican girls. She ended up at the hospital with a concussion. And they tried to get the gal and she left town because they couldn't find her.
KEN DALAGER: Probably like you, she probably deserved it. (Everyone laughs)
JAN HOI: They had to send law enforcement to the high school on the south side where the buses are because they had two young girls on the bus that were fighting and they couldn't get them apart. KEN DALAGER: Well, you can see how they cater to the Mexicans. They had a wing ding here for Cinco de Mayo and there wasn't one damn word published about Syttende Mai yesterday for the Norwegians.
CAROL KING: I read that somewhere. I read that somewhere. If it wasn't in Austin, it was in the Minneapolis paper. JAN HOI: What do the Norwegians celebrate? OTHERS:Syttende Mai, 17th of May.
JUDY HIMLE: You know, I've been looking through some of the scrapbooks and picture books, trying to get enough stuff to get together if we want to that CD for the anniversary and I'm not sure I'm there yet, that we'll be doing anything. But when I was looking at some of my scrapbooks at home, I used to save the letter to the editor that different people here had written. And, I'll just... this is from forever...I guess I didn't even look to see when the dates when some of these were written. But I know that was in the 90s. I just took out a couple different snippets from some of them because it's like, we've been saying this forever and ever and it's just like it falls on deaf ears. This one's about immigration, when the immigration thing here became a problem. It said 'The scheme of promoting low wages with the phony cover of cultural enrichment, all it has done in town is been increased crime, created greater demand for social services, employers of low wage workers should be responsible for their burden upon the county. And it went on. This is when they were starting to build the new jail here and was talking about the cost of that...So it was very vocal about who should be paying for the jail because the people that are in there are their employees.
VINCENT MALONEY:We've got Eagles Club, Elks Club, Legions Club, vets club, and when they first really started coming in here about 10, 12 years ago in big numbers they would rent those clubs out and then they would practically destroy them. Now, there ain't a club in Austin that'll rent to the Mexican population. Not a club. (UNINTELLIGIBLE COMMENT)
VINCENT MALONEY: Well, that's what they are. They call themselves Mexicans. That's not a racist word, Mexican.
JAN HOI:No. They're from Mexico.
VINCENT MALONEY:That's what they are. Mexican. We're American. Olger's Norwegian. (everyone laughs.)