Second issue of the Libertarian Workers Group's agitational newsletter.
On the Line Vol. 1, No. 2 (1978)
Rank and File Resistance in New York
Local 23-25 of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union called a strike against Bandages By Gauze and Effects company on West 39th Street recently, which has work in union shops but which is not itself in the union. The strike is being lost because the union leaders hesitated and did not call the strike when the company had most of its work in the union shops. The boss is also paying wages slightly higher than those in the organized shops.
The workers at Bandages cross the picket lines every day. The union simply declared a strike against the company and then told the workers not to go in. No one in the shop was actually organized into the union or taken to the union office and told about the union benefits. This is a fairly common experience for the ILGWU and happens because the big jobbers will put small shops out of business of word gets around that a shop is going union. Once in the union an organized shop can only deal with other union shops. The union leadership, which prefers to stay on the "good side" of the law and the Manufacturer's Association, is mostly white and is generally not interested in organizing the black and Spanish speaking garment workers. We expect that the general strike in the outer wear shops. tentatively planned for next spring, will bring these workers into open conflict with the bosses and union bureaucrats.
Local 1101 of the Communication Workers' of America had to reinstate job steward Dave Newman after he took the union to court in July. Newman had been removed from his position as steward because he published an article in a workers' paper telling the membership about their rights. The union is appealing the decision.
The boss at Sctoco, the Sony repair shop on 39th Street, recently threatened to crack worker's heads because he suspect that one of the workers is ripping the company off. The boss is also an importer from South Africa and so it is possible he learned labor relations there. The people at Sctoco are unorganized and couldn't respond. The technicians are all Spanish speaking while the counterpeople are all American born. The pay is low and the hours are long. The boss does not usually compensate for overtime. Perhaps the Scotco workers can set their differences aside and organize.
Rent strikes and actions by tenants for clean and safe buildings are always happening in New York. The landlords just don't care about the tenants. One landlord, Isaac Mawardi, is particularly bad. He;s cut off basic services to the tenants at 107 MacDougal Street and 15 Minetta Street and has threatened them with lawsuits since taking over the building in October of 1976. One tenant even got a bullet through his door. He recently handed the building over to a dummy corporation which is pushing the tenants around. The harassment of the tenants continues as does the rent strike, which is the only way people can defend themselves against the landlords. Similar strikes are going on in the Tremont section of the South Bronx and on East Seventh Street on the Lower East Side.
Two Day Wildcat Draws 4,000
On July 8 a spontanous strike occured at the Republic Steel Company plant in Warran, Ohio and lasted for two days. The wildcat strike, as might be expected, was not sanctioned by the United Steelworkers Union of America, which claims to represent the workers. The USWA, which was organized in the 1930s, had traditionally been a "top down" union and is run by Lloyd McBride, a member of Social Democrats USA.
A number of unresolved grievances, most of them over safety issues, led up to the walkout. The strike began when a worker was suspended for refusing to perform an unsafe job. Some 1,500 workers on the four-to-midnight shift joined the wildcat, which had been initiated by the transport workers.
The strikers set up picket lines, which were honored by workers on the following four shifts. A court injunction threatening fines and jails sentences forced the workers back into the plant, but not before the company had agreed to expedite arbitration of the suspended worker's case.
$500 A Life
An explosion in the smokeless powder operation at the Carney Point Plant of the Du Pont Corporation on April 17th killed three workers and seriously injured a fourth. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited the company for safety violations and fined it $2,000.
Plant Manager E.O. Randolf Jr. said that the corporation would not contest the citation. With this meaningless "enforcement" how can one expect an end to the slaughter going on in U.S. industry?
Industrial Workers of the World Members on Strike
Members of the Industrial Workers of the World Metal and Machinery Workers Industrial Union 440, which is a revolutionary union dating back to 1905, are on strike in Virden, Illinois. The boss is so scared of the union that he fired a rank and file member of the union last year and is trying to build a new non-union plant. The picket lines are being honored, although one truck went through the picket line with the help of the state police. The Industrial Workers of the World must depend on contributions from friends and supporters within the labor movement to win this strike. Please sent contributions to: [address removed]
Direct Action Saves Jobs
The management of the Agar meat processing plant in Chicago has made several attempts to fire workers at the plant that it claims are not working fast enough. The workers have answered by walking out in support of a female worker employed by the company for 20 years and suddenly accused of not being productive. The workers have done the same for a young Mexican worker also charged with being too slow. Both workers have been reinstated because people stuck together and fought back. The workers are keeping management in line and are setting an example for the rest of us.
English Anarchists Arrested
During the past few months the police Anti-Terrorist Squad have carried out a number of raids that have resulted in the arrests of five English anarchists. These persons have been charged with "conspiracy to cause explosions". The conspiracy charges are part of a recently passed Criminal Law Act which has been used to stop terrorism in England.
The police have not yet produced hard evidence to back up the charges against the anarchists. The police found some weedkiller and wiring and are using this to frame the people who have been arrested. The police say that they will also bring armed robbery charges against three of the defendants. The police have also announced that more arrests are on the way.
The police are using an age old excuse - that some anarchists have advocated armed struggle - to repress the growing anarchist and anarchist-syndicalist movement in England. It is important for people in every country to protest this frame-up and to aid the defendants. Send funds and letters of support to: [address removed]
On the Line is the publication of the Libertarian Workers Group. We advocate the socialization and collectivization of all the means of production and distribution by the working class. We favor the use of the Social and General strike to abolish capitalism and the state. We seek to publicize and support the demands of autonomous worker's groups, to discuss anarchist-syndicalist theory and economics and to push for working class internationalism. Space is given over to building campaigns to free class war prisoners and to raising funds for many progressive causes. Subscriptions to On the Line are $1.00 a year. We welcome editorial and financial contributions. Address all inquiries to the following: [contact info removed]
We are members of the Anarchist-Communist Federation and of the International Workers' Association.