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Striking Kaiser employees staying upbeat

By LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / November 25, 1998

GRAMERCY – Striking workers at Kaiser Aluminum aren’t going to let that keep them from a happy holiday season.

Tonight, at the St. James Reception Hall in Vacherie, union members andtheir families will gather for a Thanksgiving dinner. At the event, theunion will provide each family with a turkey for the holiday.

Meanwhile, strikers on the picket line had thoughts about the impending holiday season.

“It doesn’t seem to bother the plant manager much,” Kent Loupe of Grand Point said. “We’ll be OK, though. We’ve got a lot of support from family andfriends.”Loupe has two children, ages 17 and 21, so he said they understand the circumstances. “They’re just going to have a little less, that’s all.”Rupert Dinvaut of LaPlace pledged, “I’m not going to let it mess my Christmas up,” even for his 2-year-old daughter.

Ricky Keller of Reserve, with children ages 5, 10 and 14, admitted, “I’m concerned about Christmas. My daughter just told Santa Claus at a store,though, ‘I just want my daddy to get his job back.'”Margo Bordelon, whose husband, Vic, is a striking Kaiser employee, commented: “It’s tight, but with the loss of income we’re having, we find the material things don’t matter much. We’re closer this year then everbefore.”She said Veterans Day took on special meaning for the strikers, as many of them are veterans who fought for the rights of Americans. “We’re fightingnow for the same principles,” Bordelon said.

Kaiser spokesman John Jennings, asked about his holiday plans, beamed, “Lots of food and lots of football! Wonderful!” The union plans to suspend picketing on Thanksgiving Day, from 6 a.m. to 6p.m.

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