there,” Herrington said. In 1983 DHA applied for $54 million to rehabilitate West Dallas and HUD answered with $18 million on the condition that DHA apply for no more funds for rehabilitation in the West Dallas project. The $18 million has since been impounded because DHA has not been able to prove that West Dallas is a viable project. The funds will be released, by the terms of Buchmeyer’s court order, to remodel the 900 units that will remain after demolition. There were attempts to negotiate for complete remodeling of the project, Julian said, but the judge took the position that he could not order HUD to spend money that it did not have. \(The housing budget, since the election of Ronald Reagan, has been reduced from Yet a source in Washington, a staff member on a congressional subcommittee on public housing, insists that somewhere between last year’s $1.4 billion renovation appropriation and the $1.5 billion set aside for the same purpose this fiscal year, there should be $63 million required to bring all of the units up to standard. “Eighteen million is already allocated,” he said, “and it will cost five million to demolish the project. For an additional $40 million the project can be completely renovated. Those particular units, if renovated and properly managed will be good for another 30 years. They should not be removed from the existing housing stock and replaced with paper vouchers that could expire in 15 years.” A Committee to Save Public Housing has been formed and Tillie Baylor has been joined by Rev. Kenneth Hogg as named appellants contesting the consent decree. The committee has retained the services of Don Hicks, a young black attorney who has served as general counsel for the Dallas Chapter of the NAACP and Hicks is preparing an appeal to be submitted in mid-June. They have also enlisted the support of the Soutern Christian Leadership Conference. On May 15, SCLC leader Rev. Ralph Abernathy led a march through the projects and described the proposed demolition as another attack on a poor black neighborhood. “They want to take this housing away from us,” Abernathy said, “but we will not be moved. . . . Atlanta is segregated and nobody’s bulldozing Atlanta.” The dispute over West Dallas has deeply divided Dallas’s liberal community, pitting activists against theorists, housing and homeless advocates against civil rights organizers. So far, the attorneys and plaintiffs intent on taking advantage of the Section 8 voucher opportunities hold the upper hand. Even the New York Times has joined local dailies in three part editorial harmony praising the court decision as a bold move toward integration. There are no easy answers. Who is right? Fullenwider, who the New York Times described in an earlier story as the leader of a housing co-op that has provided more low-cost housing than any other group in the nation, or Julian and Daniel who are responsible for an earlier monumental desegregation victory in East Texas public housing. Villains here are easy to identify. Who are the heroes? \(Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of articles on cooperative business enterTyler ON A WARM May night, nine employees of an apparel company called Colt Enterprises, Inc., are seated around two long folding tables near a corner of their 40,000square-foot factory floor. Wayne Burnham, the plant manager, calls the leadership committee meeting to order, and soon the group is engrossed in a spirited debate on seniority matters. At one point, Essie Carter, the local union president, speaks up. “What’s our seniority policy on people who move in to the Levi’s line from the Walls line?” Bill Adler, a former editor of a workerowned newspaper in North Carolina, is currently an Austin-based freelance writer. Funding for this series was provided by a grant to the Texas Investigative Reporters’ Fund from Hands Across America. she asks, referring to the two clothing manufacturers from which the fledgling company has obtained contracts. No policy exists, and opinions vary. When no consensus emerges, Burnham finally expresses what turns out to be the majority view, that the company should operate on a plant-wide seniority system, rather than on individual job seniority. After the issue is resolved, Burnham, a veteran of the cut-and-sew industry, is clearly relieved. “We kick it around a little, then I sit back, prop up my feet, and think how glad I am I don’t have to make these decisions myself, like in my old company.” Burnham’s new company, Colt Enterprises, has just risen from the ashes of the 550-employee Levi Strauss & Co. bluejean plant in Tyler, which the company closed last September as part of an effort to “consolidate production and eliminate excess manufacturing capacity.” Colt is entirely owned, operated and governed by its employees, almost all of whom were union members at Levi Strauss. It is the first wholly worker-owned apparel plant in Texas, and one of only a handful in the nation. Colt also is a union shop, which makes it an even rarer enterprise, for organized labor has not heretofore been much of an ally with the movement for worker-ownership. “It’s our company. Now we have a voice, a say-so,” says Janet Miller, a sundries clerk for 14 years at Levi Strauss. “When we worked at Levi’s, major decisions that affected us came from San Francisco. Now we’re gonna make those decisions. But,” she added, “we still need a union to represent us.” Why a union in a business already owned by its workers? For starters, take a look at the terms of the contract signed by Local 1071-C of the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union guage probably unique to the apparel industry, including calling on Colt to: promote the rights of workers to organize democratic trade unions throughout Texas; help ACTWU promote cooperatives as an alternative to plant closings and under-employment; to the extent possible by law, encourage individual membership in the union; work together with ACTWU on issues of improved workers’ compensation, unemployment compensation, job training, affirmative action, child care, health care, and other issues of interest to working Texans. But beyond the near-utopian contract, the role of the union in birthing Colt To Reap What You Sew Apparel Workers Save Their Jobs by Buying the Company By Bill Adler THE TEXAS OBSERVER 9
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