The carrot and the stick: December 11, 1968

DRUM's attack on the spectacle of the Chrysler Corporation's "milestone agreement" to "pour $1,000,000 into colored-owned banks in three US cities".

Submitted by Ed on March 13, 2009

(from DRUM Newsletter Number 24)

Last week while Chrysler Corporation executives were in Atlanta smiling and shaking hands with the Reverend Ralph Abernathy and all expressing their satisfaction with a "milestone agreement" on a plan to "pour $1,000,000 into colored-owned banks in three US cities (Atlanta, Los Angeles, Detroit)", another Chrysler executive, Gwain Gillespie­the general manager of Dodge Truck operations, also was smiling and shaking hands - with Detroit Police Commissioner Johannes Spreen, and expressing his satisfaction with another "milestone agreement" ­namely the gift of two Dodge Executive Suite Vans to the Detroit Police Department.

We of DRUM feel that the Chrysler Corporation's supposed plan to "pour $1,000,000" into those three black communities is indeed a new milestone - in bullshit and nonsense - since the combined population of those three communities is, roughly, two million black people. This means that even if the $1,000,000 were to be divided equally among the black people of the three communities, each person would get just 50C. If they should ever really want to do some good, perhaps some of the mini-brained executive pigs of Chrysler Corporation will devote some of their not-too-valuable time to correcting racist practices in their plants in Detroit and elsewhere, instead of using it to devise bullshit pacification programs that are nothing but rank insults to the black community.

We would also like to comment on that other "milestone" -the gift of two vans to the Detroit Police Department. We agree that this too is indeed a milestone - in honesty. It clearly reveals the contempt of Chrysler Corporation in particular and big business in general for the black community. The vans were given to the Police Department to aid them in recruiting because, according to Gwain Gillespie: "Recruiting good police officers is important to us at Dodge too, because police work is in our best interest."

We know goddam well that police work is in your "best interest"­since you have used the police repeatedly to harass and intimidate the black workers in general and DRUM members in particular in recent walkouts and demonstrations; to write unjustified parking tickets; and last but not least to physically attack DRUM members and other black workers on the street and inside the Union Hall with mace and even ax handles during the election of union trustees.

Further, we can only hope that these so-called "good" policemen won't be recruited from the same pig-pen that produced "defenders of law and order" like those who attacked the black students at McMichael Junior High School when they staged a walkout, or those who savagely beat black youths at a dance in the Veterans' Memorial Building, or the homicidal psychopaths that murdered in the infamous Algiers Motel.

DRUM maintains that both so-called milestones are nothing more than perfect examples of the Honky's "carrot and stick" policy whereby he offers a carrot ($1,000,000) to the oppressed black community with one hand, while the other hand threatens the community with a stick (the police force). The Chrysler version of the "carrot and stick" idea is doomed to fail as all other versions have failed, most notably the attempt to use it in Vietnam. The black community is not for sale and will not be intimidated by pig policemen, "good" or otherwise.

Within the space of two weeks two of our fellow black workers, young brother Gary Thompson and sister Mamie Williams, were murdered by the Chrysler Corporation. Attendance by Eldon employees at both of the funeral services was sparse, but perhaps that is understandable in view of the present economic situation. However it should be noted and noted well that not a single Local 961 union official attended Mamie Williams's funeral, and only two - Al Holly and James Cavers - came to Gary Thompson's funeral. Our Uncle Tom President and Supersonic Nigger Executive Board consisting of James Franklin, Leon Johnson, Dan Toomer, Big Davis, Charlie McNeeley, J. C. Thomas, and their ilk, along with the mass of so-called "black" stewards and committeemen, did not see fit to even send a telegram or wreath to the families of the deceased union members, much less attend the last rites.

We of ELRUM can make these statements because we were present at both of the funerals and are presently doing everything in our power to aid the families concerned. We say this not out of self-glorification, but out of a true and sincere feeling of concern for all of our brothers and sisters. The present union administration, from top to bottom, ha demonstrated time and again its lack of concern with the problems of black workers at Eldon, Its lackadaisical attitude regarding the deadly conditions in the plant, which have just recently taken two lives, shows that Elroy and Company are in partnership with management.

The time to break up this union-management partnership is now! The time to obtain BLACK representation is now! The time to stop all racist harassment, intimidation, degradation, and murder is right now!

Three Members of ELRUM Discharged
Three members of ELRUM (Eldon Revolutionary Union Movement) were recently discharged for their part in the safety work stoppage which took place at Eldon on May 27 and 28. The work stoppage was a direct response to the murder of Gary Thompson, the young black forklift driver who was crushed to death on Tuesday morning, May 26. Prior to this tragic occurrence the Eldon Safety Committee, a loose coalition composed by ELRUM, Eldon Wildcat, and several discharged union officials, had been putting out leaflets and papers exposing the hazardous conditions at Eldon. The Safety Committee responded to Thompson's murder with a safety work stoppage, a refusal to work until the plant is cleaned up and the deadly conditions are corrected. This action is covered under the National Labor Relations Act, giving workers the right to refuse to work under hazardous safety conditions regardless of union contracts and agreements.

Armed with this act the Safety Committee showed up at the gates on Wednesday morning with picket signs saying "Death Rides a J'itney", "No Safety, No Production", "Refuse To Work Until The Plant Is Sate", and "You Will Be Next". ELRUM had lawyers at each gate to deal with the police and any injunctions that might be issued, and the picketing began. The response from the day shift was fair, and nearly all of the afternoon shift stayed off work. However dissension within the ranks of the Safety Committee, particularly among Uncle Tom union officials, spelled failure for the safety work struggle. Management's response to the deaths of black workers and to the safety work stoppage was to call out the Detroit Police Department and request special patrols of their Tactical Mobile Unit. James Edwards, one of the discharged members of ELRUM, was arrested on bogus assault and battery charges. (Later the charges were dropped.) UAW Local 961 made no response at all to the work stoppage, their interest being the corporation's interest, as they have demonstrated time and again.

On Friday, May 29, Chrysler discharged Alonzo Chandler, Robert McKee, and James Edwards, all members of ELRUM, for an alleged violation of the "no strike" clause in the agreement between Chrysler and the UAW. This action was clearly another premeditated act on the part of Chrysler and the UAW designed to rid the plant forever of any voice that cries for justice for black workers. The racists of Chrysler Corporation even went so far as to send out letters to all of Eldon's employees expressing phony sympathy and concern over the recent murder of Gary Thompson and denouncing the people who participated in the work stoppage.

This week Harry T. Englebrecht, lackey plant manager of the Eldon gear and axle plant, sent out letters to all of the Eldon employees in regard to the recent safety work stoppage. Below is the Englebrecht letter and ELRUM's reply to it.

To: Eldon Avenue Axle Employees:
The events that occurred at our plant last week have been of deep concern to me, as I am sure they have been to you. Most disturbing, "of course, was the tragic accident which resulted in the death of Gary Thompson, one of our jitney drivers. Rest assured that our continuing -efforts to make our plant a safe place to work in will be intensified.

This, along with your observance of good safety practices, will prevent future accidents.

I am also extremely concerned because of the disruptions that have taken place at our gates at shift-change times, resulting in the loss to plant employees and their families of many thousands of dollars in wages. I am convinced that the vast majority of Eldon people want to come to work and perform their jobs conscientiously. Regrettably, however, there is a small group of people who seem not to care about their own welfare or the welfare of others. It appears that their aim is to disrupt our operations by any means possible.

Last Wednesday, May 27, our gates were obstructed by a number of people, many of whom were not our employees. These persons had no legitimate interest in or responsibility for what goes on in our plant. Most had nothing to lose by their irresponsible demonstrations. The fact that hundreds of our employees were deprived of their wages apparently did not concern them.
You should be aware that we have taken and will continue to take all legal steps needed to insure your safety and keep our plants operating. To this end, it was necessary to discharge those employees who were responsible for, or elected to participate in, disruptions at our gates.

Although deeply disturbed by the events of last week I am encouraged by the large numbers of loyal employees who came to work despite the outside protesters and disruptors at our gates. These employees are to be commended for their patience during this time of stress. Their continued responsible conduct will serve to preserve our security and ability to earn a living.

Very Truly Yours,
Harry T. Englebrecht Plant Manager
Eldon Avenue Axle Plant

An Open Letter to Funky, Flunky Honky Harry T. Englebrecht and White Racist Chrysler Corporation

Dear Harry:

You and the white racist corporation you work for have demonstrated beyond all doubt that you're nothing but a gang of one more axle, one more car, and suck the life blood of one more worker. You say that you are "concerned" about the "events" at "our" plant last week, that you are "disturbed" by the tragic "accident" which took the life of Gary Thompson.

Yes, you, Harry T. Englebrecht, stand before the black workers of Eldon with the fresh blood of Rose Logan, Mamie Williams, and now Gary Thompson dripping from your fangs and claws, and say that you are "concerned and disturbed"!

What is the nature of your "concern", Harry? Are you "concerned" about the family of Rose Logan, now motherless because of one of your brakeless high-lows? Are you "concerned" about the family of Mamie Williams, Harry? The same Mamie Williams whom you made leave a hospital bed and a doctor's care so she could return to the death pit of Eldon Avenue?

Are you "concerned", Harry, about the pregnant wife whose husband you killed, or about the 19-month-old son whose father you murdered ? Gary Thompson was only 22 years old, Harry; he survived 18 months in Vietnam, yet he could not survive a mere five months in your plant. But of course your "concern" will remove this huge burden of sorrow that rests on the families of those whose loved ones you murdered.

We suppose too, Harry, that you are "concerned and disturbed" about the outrageous and deadly conditions which exist in the Eldon Avenue gear and axle plant. We imagine it "disturbs" you to see high-lows with lopsided tires; broken horns, lights, and hydraulic lines; missing safety rails; and faulty or completely - non - existent brakes and emergency brakes. We suppose too that while you sit in your air-conditioned office sipping Cutty Sark and Chivas Regal, the dangerous oil-covered floors and the cluttered aisleways weigh like millstones on your humanitarian mind. Yes, Harry, when you sit in your cozy leather chair in your plush office and watch black workers coming into the plant bandaged in casts and splints, wrapped up like mummies, VICTIMS of your oil-belching, rusty, and unsafe machinery, we know your "concern" brings tears, crocodile tears to your eyes.

You say the observance of good safety practices will prevent future accidents - as if a flimsy pair of safety glasses can stop five tons of cold hard steel. You say that efforts to make the plant safe are being intensified - but we know that the only thing being intensified is the already-outrageous production. You say that you are "concerned" about the employees' loss of wages - as if their wages were more valuable than their lives.

Yes, Harry, we of ELRUM clearly understand the nature of your "concern" and the reasons you are "disturbed". We understand that the lives and limbs of black workers are meaningless to profit-hungry pirates like yourself. We understand why you and all the other racist criminals of Chrysler would spend thousands of dollars to send out hypocritical and deceitful letters, yet spend not one penny to correct the hazardous conditions which maim and kill black workers every day.

You praise the patience of the "overwhelming" majority of workers in these times of stress, but even you cannot see that patience rapidly turning to outrage and anger. Your discharge of Robert McKee, Alonzo Chandler, and James Edwards, along with other members of the Eldon Safety Committee, will not stop ELRUM from organizing that anger and outrage. The day when you could snuff out black lives with impunity is gone. No longer will we play the victims to your deadly plans of profit.

Yes, Harry, you say that you are "concerned and disturbed". Well, Harry, you will soon be in a panic - you will soon be pulling the hair out of your already-graying head, and the ulcers you now have will soon spread throughout your whole body. You see, Harry, we are concerned and disturbed, too; and we are making revolution; and we will win!

Uhuru na Umoja. Freedom and Unity.