This morning Tozen JCFL Local members, Tozen members, and supporters conducted a leafleting at JCFL in an effort to build our union there. Below is our report.
After gathering we walked together towards the school, put on our armbands, and got to leafleting. We began leafleting at 8:40. Several staffers immediately stood in front of the union members attempting to block them. The members kept their cool and persisted in leafleting, trying hard to get the leaflets to the students without touching the staffers. I tried to confront the staffers individually, informing them that this was a union action and they should not interfere. The staffers either ignored me or told me that they were outside to protect the students from cars, and that they are out there every day. Principal Iizuka said this several times as well. School staff, however, do not greet students in the street on a daily basis.
Some Highlights of Management Interference:
Management fakes an injury.
Early on one of our members made an attempt to hand a leaflet to a student. A staffer brushed into the member and then several seconds later the staffer made a show of rubbing his arm.
Management steals leaflets from students.
Few leaflets were actually handed out, and fewer were retained by students. We came with 100 leaflets, and in total 33 were handed out. Most of them were taken by management, and once or twice management actually handed the leaflet back to us. Some were taken despite resistance from students, sometimes by the principal.
Management refuses to meet with the Union Case officer to end the interference.
I tried several times to have a short meeting with Principal Iizuka during the leafleting, and each time he refused. One time, he responded angrily that I was interrupting him as he was speaking with a student. I replied that he was interfering with our work, and he needed to stop.
Management follows Union Activists after the leafleting.
The leafleting went on like this until 9:00. At that point, I called everyone into a huddle. We took the armbands and the leaflets from the JCFL teachers and they went in to work. The rest of us began leafleting again for about 10 more minutes. We then huddled again and finished the leafleting around 9:10.
As we were leaving the school, it became apparent that we were being followed and filmed by school staffers, including the school security guard. We stopped frequently on our trip back to the station to confirm that they were following us. We walked to the smoking area of the station, and four staffers were still watching us from across the street.
Mr. Nakazato, a Tozen supporter from Rohyo Union, wanted to return to work at his union office, so the remaining 3 members and I accompanied him. JCFL staffers continued to follow us to the Rohyo office, even following us down a very small side street. Finally, at one point we turned off the side street and they did not follow.
JCFL Union’s Next Steps
JCFL management’s clear interference with union activity, intimidation of students and union members, and outright stalking of union activists are clearly illegal.
Today we are drafting a protest letter to send to their lawyers and the school documenting everything. JCFL members have been considering taking more action against JCFL in the Labor Commission to fight JCFL’s union busting. JCFL management had a choice this morning. They could have demonstrated that they recognize our union rights by letting us conduct a leafleting in peace. Instead they chose to break the law.
The members of the JCFL local, the wider Tozen Union, and our attending activist showed discipline, solidarity, and courage today in the face of management bullying.
Case Officer for Tozen JCFL Local
Organizer, Field Director
Zenkoku Ippan Tokyo General Union