Time period notes
Methods in 1st segment
- Princeton Univ. students send “open letter” to R. Manning Brown, chair of Exec. Comm. of Princeton’s Board of Trustees, asking him to explain his seat on the Stevens board
- boycott endorsed by the International Federation of Textile, Garment and Leather Workers (Brussels)
- Group of 14 clergy from North Carolina Council of Churches endorsed the boycott
- at Princeton University
- ACTWU launched boycott of J. P. Stevens products
- Princeton U. students and faculty chanted and carried signs outside home of R. Manning Brown, Chair of the Exec. Comm. of the Princetion Board of Trustees and a director at J. P. Stevens
Methods in 2nd segment
- union leaders from New Zealand, Mexico, Japan, France, and Australia issue public statement supporting the boycott
- Stanford Univ. students petitioned the university to vote in favor of ACTWU-backed resolutions at 1977 stockholders meeting
- ACTWU issued at least a dozen different pamphlets that contained graphic images and stories about workers’ injuries, illnesses, and mistreatment
- NOW’s NY chapter publicly burned Stevens sheets
- at New York Univ.
- ACTWU boycott of J. P. Stevens products
Methods in 3rd segment
- Avon Products chairman David W. Mitchell resigned from the Stevens Board of Directors after receiving a rush of mail and telephone calls questioning his affiliation with J. P. Stevens
- Six Catholic bishops from southern dioceses issue a statement against J. P. Stevens
- rallies supporting the boycott were held at Harvard Univ. and other sites
- Local 49 of BNAWU (see allies) withdrew $6.4 million from Manufacturers Hanover Trust bank accounts to protest its ties with J. P. Stevens; also, Teamsters Joint Council 16 encouraged its members to withdraw personal accounts
Methods in 4th segment
- A letter supporting the boycott was signed by three NY state senators and four assemblyman; support also expressed publicly by governors of several states, other state officials, and 56 members of the U.S. Congress
- Massachusetts Women's Committee for Justice for J.P. Stevens Workers held a drive to get Jordan Marsh credit-card holders to sign petitions opposing Jordan Marsh's selling and advertising of Stevens products
- Trinity College students and local residents presented local department store mgr with petition signed by 600 student favoring the boycott and asked that Stevens products be removed from the store
- Trinity College students marched to local department store to present store manager with petition supporting boycott and asked that Stevens products be removed
- Rallies/marches were held in 78 U.S. cities on "Justice for J. P. Stevens Workers Day," Nov. 30, 1978
- Rallies/marches were held in 78 U.S. cities on "Justice for J. P. Stevens Workers Day," Nov. 30, 1978
- Campaign supporters announced intention to nominate two outsiders to run for New York Life Insurance Board of Directors against the company’s slate unless it severed ties with Stevens; would cause the company time and money and set a preceden
Methods in 5th segment
- ACTWU organized national speaking tour for Crystal Lee Sutton, Stevens workers who was inspiration for the film "Norma Rae"
- the boycott was endorsed by Jane Fonda (actress); Myron Cope (sports commentator)
- Supporters from most major labor unions in NYC set up a “human billboard” twelve blocks along Park Ave.; a similar demonstration was held along Broadway
Methods in 6th segment
- ACTWU organized a nationwide speaking tour for Crystal Lee Sutton, the textile worker who was the inspiration for the film "Norma Rae"
- Several hundred campaign supporters marched into the Sperry company shareholders' meeting, led by Crystal Lee Sutton, to protest the membership of the CEO of Stevens (Finely) on the Sperry Board of Directors
Additional methods (Timing Unknown)
Notes on Methods
Murray Finley, president of the ACTWU
Jacob Sheinkman, secretary-general of the ACTWU
Ray Rogers, director of ACTWU's corporate campaign against J. P. Stevens
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
Boston College students
Cambridge, Mass. City Council
Catholic Bishops of the Diocese of Richmond and the Province of Atlanta
Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America
Central Conference of American Rabbis
Columbia University students
Congress of Racial Equality (CORE)
Cornell University students
Franciscan Missionaries of Mary
Franciscan Justice and Peace Office of Washington, D.C.
Harvard University students
Institute of Christian Doctrine
Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility
International Federation of Textile, Garment, and Leather Workers
International Confederation of Free Trade Unions
Interreligious Conference for Justice at J.P. Stevens (umbrella group that included Church Women United, the Unitarian Universalist Women's Federation, Catholic Committee of Appalachia, United Church of Christ, Catholic Clergy, United Methodist Church, American Jewish Congress, United Presbyterian Women, Disciples of Christ, and the African Methodist Episcopal Church)
Local 40 of the Beltmakers', Novelty and Allied Workers' Union (BNAWU)(New York)
Los Angeles Board of Public Works
Methodist Federation for Social Action
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
National Black Caucus
National Council of Churches
National Organization for Women (NOW)
National Coalition of American Nuns
National Council of Catholic Women
National Women’s Committee to Support J.P. Stevens Workers (umbrella group that included Coalition of Labor Union Women, NOW, National Assembly of Women Religious, National Council of Catholic Women, National Consumer League, National Council of Jewish Women)
New York University students
New York City Council
Princeton University students
Rutgers University students
Stanford University students
Synagogue Council of America
Teamsters Joint Council 16 (New York)
Trinity College students
United Methodist Church
United Auto Workers (UAW)
United Methodist Church, Women’s Division
United Methodist Church of Iowa
United Presbyterian Church
United Church of Christ
University of Illinois students
University of Pennsylvania students
Zensen Domie (Japanese textile union)
Involvement of social elites
56 members of the U. S. House of Representatives
7 New York state legislators (3 senators and 4 assemblymen; names not known)
3 Secretaries of states (names and states not known)
Michael Harrington (author)
Myron Cope (sports commentator)
Jane Fonda (actress)
John Kenneth Galbraith (economist)
Gov. Bob Straub (Ore.)
Gov. Hugh Carey (NY)
Gov. Ella Grasso (Conn.)
Gov. Wendell Anderson (Minn.)
Governor of Rhode Island (name not known)
Gov. William Milliken (Mich.)
Gov. Michael Dukakis (Mass.)
Governor of Maine (name not known)
Group of union leaders from abroad (New Zealand, Mexico, Japan, France, Australia)
Four lieutenant governors (names not known)
Conn. State Senator Joseph Lieberman
Coretta Scott King (widow of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.)
Group of 14 Clergy from North Carolina Council of Churches
Catholic Bishops from six southern U.S. dioceses
Roanoke Rapids Employee Education Committee (formed by anti-union textile workers at J. P. Stevens in fall 1976)
Stevens People and Friends for Freedom (formed by anti-union workers
Nonviolent responses of opponent
Public speeches (Stevens executives spoke publicly in defense of the company and against the ACTWU)
009. Leaflets, pamphlets, and books. 1977 - company distributed pamphlet entitled "Straightening Things Out"
Supporters signed cards
Groups in 1st Segment
Groups in 2nd Segment
Groups in 3rd Segment
Groups in 4th Segment
Groups in 5th Segment
Groups in 6th Segment
Additional notes on joining/exiting order
Students in 2nd segment: Stanford U., Trinity College, New York U., Harvard U.
Church groups in 3rd segment: National Council of Catholic Women, United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church, Women’s Division, Synagogue Council of America, United Methodist Church of Iowa
National and state legislators in 3rd segment: 4 NY state assemblymen, 3 NY state senators, 56 members of the U.S. House of Representatives
State governors in 3rd segment: Gov. Michael Dukakis (Mass.), Gov. Ella Grasso (Conn.), Governor of Rhode Island (name not known),
Gov. Wendell Anderson (Minn.)
Timing of joining not known for: Jane Fonda, Michael Harrington, John Kenneth Galbraith, Myron Cope
Timing of joining for Methodist Federation for Social Action and Central Conference of American Rabbis was 1977 (month not known)
Timing of joining for Coretta Scott King and Bayard Rustin was March 1977 or earlier
Timing of joining for United Auto Workers, National Council of Churches, and National Black Caucus was November 1979 or earlier
Timing of joining for NAACP and CORE was 1978 or earlier
Success in achieving specific demands/goals
Notes on outcomes
In 1974, workers at seven textile plants in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina owned by the J. P. Stevens company voted to be represented by the Textile Workers Union of America (TWUA). However, the company refused to sign a contract with the new union. In 1976, the TWUA merged with the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (ACWA) to form the American Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union (ACTWU). The new union immediately launched a campaign to pressure J. P. Stevens to sign a union contract. The hope was that once Stevens capitulated, the ACTWU would be able to unionize workers at the other large textile companies in the south. In addition, the ACTWU sought to publicize the company’s practices of racial and sex discrimination in promotion and pay and to the unsafe working conditions in the plants.
The ACTWU’s strategy was threefold: to conduct a nationwide consumer boycott of J. P. Stevens products; to pursue legal cases against the company, which had violated numerous labor laws; and to conduct a "corporate campaign" to use negative publicity to isolate the company from other corporations and banks. The union established boycott field offices states around the country. It created an organization headed by several prominent people, Southerners for Economic Justice, to promote the boycott in the southern states.
The boycott was quickly endorsed by religious groups, labor unions, women’s organizations, student groups, municipal governments, and prominent individuals who included religious leaders, elected officials, civil rights leaders, authors, and celebrities. Boycott supporters engaged in nonviolent action to persuade and pressure stores to stop selling Stevens products. These included writing letters, circulating petitions, picketing outside stores, and meeting with store managers. Activists also publicized the boycott to other consumers through marches, rallies, distributing literature published by the ACTWU, and the like. College and university students conducted teach-ins and demanded that their schools stopped purchasing Stevens products. The ACTWU declared November 30, 1978 as Justice for J. P. Stevens Workers Day, and activists in seventy-four cities held rallies and marches.
In March 1978, thirty national women’s organizations formed an umbrella group, the National Women’s Committee to Support JP Stevens Workers. In October 1979, religious organizations similarly formed the Inter-Religious Conference on Justice at J.P. Stevens.
One aspect of the corporate campaign involved large numbers of activists attending J. P. Stevens’s annual shareholders’ meetings and speaking out publicly about the company’s mistreatment of workers, as well as proposing related shareholder resolutions. Another was to pressure corporate officers from other companies to resign from the Stevens Board of Directors, and to pressure Stevens corporate officers to resign from the boards of other companies. This pressure was brought to bear by sending letters and making phone calls to the companies and to individual corporate officers, attending companies’ shareholders’ meetings and speaking out about J. P. Stevens’s mistreatment of workers, and withdrawing funds from banks that did business with Stevens, and other actions. Several corporate officers did resign from corporate boards as a result of this pressure.
The pursuit of legal action against J. P. Stevens is not considered nonviolent action so is not discussed here.
In 1979, the film "Norma Rae" was released, starring Sally Fields, which was loosely based on the experiences of Crystal Lee Sutton, a textile worker who helped organize the union at the Roanoke Rapids plants. This helped publicize the campaign, and the ACTWU organized a nationwide speaking tour for Sutton.
In mid-1978, representatives from J. P. Stevens entered into secret negotiations with the ACTWU. In October 1980, a settlement was announced. Stevens agreed to enter into a contract with the union that included a retroactive pay raise; seniority protection for workers; a check-off provision that allowed union dues to be directly deducted from workers’ paychecks; and a grievance procedure for workers that included independent arbitration. In return, the ACTWU agreed to end the boycott and the corporate campaign.
1. The boycott was influenced by United Farm Workers' successful boycott against grape growers (1965-197) and by Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America's successful boycott against Farah Manufacturing Company (1972-1974.
2. The "corporate campaign" strategy, pioneered by Ray Rogers and used first in the Farah campaign and then in the J. P. Stevens campaign, was subsequently used extensively by labor and human rights groups in the U.S.
http://www.corporatecampaign.org/history_actwu_jp_stevens_1978.php Accessed June 4, 2013.
The Associated Press, May 9, 1978.
The Associated Press, October 25, 1979.
"Committee Collects Signatures Against J.P. Stevens Products." The Harvard Crimson. March 10, 1979.
D'Au Vin, Constance. "Church Groups Lend Support To Textile Workers' Boycott." The Washington Post. April 21, 1978.
“J.P. Stevens Boycott.” The Washington Post, July 5, 1980.
Massad, Timothy G. “Battling the Modern Sweatshops.” The Harvard Crimson. May 3, 1977.
Minchin, Timothy J. “Don’t Sleep with Stevens!” The J. P. Stevens Campaign and the Struggle to Organize the South, 1963-80. University Press of Florida, 2005.
Minchin, Timothy J. "Don't Sleep with Stevens!": The J. P. Stevens Boycott and Social Activism in the 1970s.” Journal of American Studies, Vol. 39, No. 3 (Dec. 2005), pp. 511-543.
New York Times, July 25, 1977, Monday
Nicholson, Tom, with Pamela Lynn Abraham and Melinda Beck. “Labor: Squeezing Stevens.” Newsweek, March 6, 1978.
“Protesters Greet Alumni at Princeton." New York Times, Feb. 27, 1978.
Raskin, A. H. "Show 'Em The Clenched Fist!" Forbes, October 2, 1978.
Raskin, A. H., "J. P. Stevens: Labor's Big Domino." New York Times, Aug 15, 1976.
Stetson, Damon. "Stevens Labor Policies Assailed at Annual Meeting." New York Times, March 2, 1977.
Warren, James. "How the Union Conquered Stevens." Sunday Sun-Times, October 26, 1980.