First issue of the Libertarian Workers Group's agitational newsletter.
On the Line Vol. 1, No. 1 (1978)
Rank and File Resistance
Some drivers from Lucky, one of the garment center's largest movers, were complaining recently about how the union isn't taking care of the workers in their company. At least thirty people working on the trucks aren't members of Local 102, International Ladies' Garment Workers Union (ILGWU), which has the contract. People like the union benefits but say that they should be for everyone. The manager and an organizer from that local have been implicated in an attempt to bribe an independent union organizer in New Jersey, so maybe their hands are full looking for cover.
Maybe the issue of non-union workers doing union work hasn't been brought up at a Local 102 membership meeting because the members know about the riot at the contract ratification meeting of Local 98, also ILGWU, in February. "Niggers ain't gonna work for low wages these days. This ain't a plantation," said one black member after the membership turned down the contract. The contract was passed by the local executive board three days after the riot. The leadership blamed the Teamsters and radicals.
The hospital workers didn't strike this time. The last strike didn't get the workers very much and didn't prevent the sub-contracting out of work by the hospital administrations, which was the real issue at stake. The union, Local 1199, didn't explain about the sub-contracting issue to the public and so put off building a much needed worker and community coalition.
People were camping out in front of several union halls last month when some of the apprenticeship programs opened up. It reminded me of the Depression days. The lines in front of Local 3, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), got most of the attention in the papers. How the IBEW will train and find jobs for apprentices when construction is at a standstill in the New York area is anybody's guess. The IBEW has always been pretty conservative. Would the union be in the spot it is in today if it had fought for broad social change?
The New York daily papers have been shifting to automation and the workers affected can't do anything about it. The high wages the printers were getting won't mean much now. The strike at The Daily News was provoked by management and was crippled because of the hassles between the delivery drivers and the printers, who are in different unions.
The waiters and waitresses at Mellon's, the fashionable Upper East Side restaurant, have been complaining about their pay and working conditions. The kitchen workers, bartenders and floor help make different wages. The pay scale has been in effect so long that there is not much trust between the workers, who can be easily fired and replaced. Restaurant workers are among the most exploited, having to take a great deal of abuse and receiving as little as one dollar an hour and whatever tips come.
The Labor Law Reform Bill lost and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration received some important setbacks recently in legal decisions. The best way to organize and to insure that we're working on safe jobs is to be militant and to use tactics which the Bill would have outlawed or limited: direct action, sabotage, boycotts and wildcats. The anger and energy needed to pull off such militant stuff is certainly not in short supply this summer.
Substitute teachers get no protection from the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), which takes money out of every paycheck. The union isn't showing any interest in helping the subs unionize. The subs have to carry on the fight by themselves in the courts. They're fighting the Board of Ed.
We can all learn from the miners, steel workers and brewery workers. They've all been fighting the union bureaucrats and the employers by striking and showing their power on the job.
Repression in Spain
On March 14, Augustin Rueda Sierra, a member of the anarchist-syndicalist National Confederation of Labor (CNT) was beaten to death by police in Madrid's Carabanchel prison after he was accused of digging an escape tunnel.
Twenty-five year old Augustin was buried in his hometown of Sallents. Thousands of people attended the funeral. The CNT called a general strike in the Sallents area and has demanded the resignation of the Interior Minister. The warden of the prison and two senior officials have already been fired and ten wardens have been suspended without pay.
Following the the death of Augustin, the Director General of Prisons was assassinated by members of the semi-Maoist group GRAPO. The CNT has been accused of carrying out assassinations and bombings in the past and so it comes as no surprise that the union is once again being accused of murder. The CNT denies that it has anything to do with the assassination. The accusations are designed to setback the CNT, which is growing at a quick rate.
Twenty-three anarchists have been arrested in Spain recently in incidents apparantly unrelated to the Rueda Sierra case. We do not have particulars yet on the nature of the charges. Eleven of those arrested are from the CNT while the remaining twelve are from autonomous anarchist groups. It is important that protests be directed to the Spanish Consul in Washington, D.C. The special harassment of anarchists is due to the growing support inside Span for the CNT and libertarian ideas.
Our thanks to News From Libertarian Spain for the information in this article.
IWW Strikes Again
Members of the Industrial Workers of the World Industrial Union 440 won a major victory at Mid-America Machinery Co. in Virden, Illinois late in April. According to the June issue of the Industrial Worker, Administrative judge Robert E. Mullin issued a directed bargaining order in favor of IU 440. The judge, in a stringy worded decision, wrote that the owners of Mid-America carried out their operations in violation of the National Labor Relations Act. The judge noted that "Since July 27, 1977, the Union...has been the exclusive collective bargaining representative of the Respondants employees..."
Throughout the hearings the judge continually refered to the IWW's witnesses as credible, which at one point he referred to the testimony by Mid-America's owner Larry Jabusch as "manifestly incredibility." Mid-America's workers were able to prove that the company acted in violation of the National Labor Relations Act, Section 8: (a) (I) of the Act, which prohibits restraining, coercing, interrogating and spying on workers engaged in union activities; (a) (3) the company was found guilty of discriminatory laying off all its shop employees between July 26-August 1, 1977. The layoff was due to the active participation of a majority of the workers in the IWW organizing drive. The second violation was the confinement of a worker in the paint shop due to his union activities. The company was also found in violation of Section 8 (a) (5) for refusing to recognize the OWW as the bargaining agent of the workers.
A majority of the costs for this organizing drive is being carried by the IWW and funds are urgently needed. Please send all contributions to [address removed]. Thanks to the Industrial Worker for the info.
Longshoremen Show Solidarity With Chilean Workers
Members of the International Longshoremen's and Warehouseman's Union (ILWU) have acted in solidarity with their Chilean fellow workers twice by refusing to load 22,000 pounds of bombs destined for Chile.
On May 23, ILWU Local 10 and Ship's Clerk Local 34 received word that the S.S. Seajet was due to arrive in San Francisco on June 2 to pick up the cargo of bombs. Upon hearing the news members of the two locals announced that they would not load the bombs.
The cargo was moved to the U.S. military base in Oakland, CA, where it was re-scheduled to be moved later on. The ILWU issued a statement notifying the company and the U.S. government that the cargo would not be handled now or ever.
Government Threatens Postal Workers
Contracts between postal workers and the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) will expire on July 20. The USPS is threatening to bring in federal troops of a new contract is not accepted by the rank and file and of there is a strike.
The chief negotiator for the postal workers, La Penta, has stated that the postal workers are being "targeted" by the USPS and the Carter administration to exercise new federal wage controls. A spokesperson for the USPS refused to discuss the report that the Pentagon will intervene in the strike, but admitted that there are "contingency plans" in case of a strike.
Federal troops would be of little use in the event of a strike. Sixty percent of the postal system is mechanized. In 1970, when troops intervened to break the last postal strike, only a small percentage of the system was mechanized.
On the Line is an anarchist-syndicalist bulletin. We base ourselves on the following principles:
We are members of the Libertarian Workers Group, which is affiliated with the Anarchist-Communist Federation and the International Workers Association.
In order to keep up with the high costs of printing and postage we must ask a subscription price of $1.00 per year. Larger donations are always encouraged and welcome.
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