Chapter 8: The Current Scene

Submitted by Steven. on September 12, 2013

Shortly before his death in 1970, United Auto Workers President Walter Reuther reported, "There is a new breed of workers in the plant who is less willing to accept corporate decisions that preempt his own decisions. . . . There is a different kind of worker than we had twenty-five or thirty years ago."1 A recent New York Times article detailed the change:

The younger generation, which has already shaken the campuses, is showing signs of restlessness in the plants of industrial America. Many young workers are calling for immediate changes in working conditions and are rejecting the disciplines of factory work that older workers have accepted as routine.

Not only are they talking back to their foremen, but they also are raising their voices in the union halls complaining that their union leaders are not moving fast enough.

Leaders and young workers . . . said in recent interviews that they saw increasing dissatisfaction and militancy.

The new, younger workers, they say:

  • Are better educated and want treatment as equals from the bosses on a plant floor. They are not as afraid of losing their jobs as the older men and often challenge the foreman's orders.
  • Do not want work they think hurts their health or safety, even though old-timers have done the same work for years.
  • Want fast changes and sometimes bypass their own union leaders and start wildcat strikes.
  • And at the heart of the new mood, the union men said, there is a challenge to management's authority to run its plants, an issue that has resulted in some of the hardest-fought battles between industry and labor in. the past.

"The worker wants the same rights he has on the street after he walks in the plant door," said Jim Babbs, a 24-year-old worker who is a U.A.W. officer at Wixom. "This is a general feeling of this generation whether it's a guy in a plant or a student on a campus, not wanting to be an I.B.M. number," he said. . . . the president of U.A. W. Local 36 . . . pointed to a paragraph in a 1967 contract and said:

"If there isn't a change in this section soon there's going to be a revolt against the union here."

The section says that the company retains the sole right to maintain order and efficiency in its plants and operations; to hire, layoff, assign, transfer and promote employees, and to determine the starting and quitting time and the hours worked.

"To the young guy this means the company has all the rights and he's just part of the machinery.. . . They want to equalize things a little."

The young fight back, he said, by challenging the orders of foremen in the sprawling assembly plant that turns out luxury Lincoln and Thunderbird cars. . . . When they challenge a foreman, he added, they may be disciplined, and that raises another cry of injustice.

The foreman can immediately discipline a worker by barring him from the plant but a worker who feels he has been punished unjustly must follow a grievance procedure that sometimes lasts up to a year.

"They're willing to strike to win that one. . . . They want to change the idea that you're guilty until proven innocent. And just like the students they want it changed now."

A steelworkers union official said,

"Most of the older workers in my area are immigrants. They're somewhat afraid of authority. When a foreman pushes them around they take it.

The young generation coming in now won't take that. They want to be asked to do something, not to be told to do it."

He recalled that young workers had sparked several wildcat strikes over the way an employee had been treated by a foreman. Last month, he said, young workers led a three-day wildcat strike in a brick manufacturing plant after a foreman disciplined a worker for carelessness in operating a lift truck.

"The older generation would have filed a grievance," he said. "The young people have no faith in that. They want it settled right away. There's a big explosion coming in the industrial unions and the young people are going to come out on top."2

The argument that workers should be satisfied with the gains won by the unions cuts little ice with younger workers.

LW. Abel, the president of the steel workers union, said that one cause of the unrest was that "young workers don't appreciate what the union has built." "They didn't go through the rough times," he said.3

Young workers are far less willing to go along with the position of subordination, of accepting the employers' power, on which trade unionism is based. As U.A.W. education director Brendan Sexton complained,

“The style of the young is very different from that of the old-timers. . . . They understand a lot less about power, the potential and the limits." The young are impatient for change and more militant, said Mr. Sexton, while compromise is part of the union movement. "Even in the toughest unions there comes a time to settle," he said.4

The result has been the development of widespread action by workers - especially younger workers - independent of and even against the unions. It can be seen at many levels - resistance to management and union authority on the job, work stoppages, wildcat strikes, strikes over "local issues," and opposition to union-negotiated contracts. While these actions by no means yet constitute the kind of movement we have called a mass strike, nor even indicate such a period is necessarily on the way, they certainly reflect the same underlying processes we have seen in such periods in the past.

The Wall Street Journal reported in the summer of 1970 that workers were piling up so many grievances that "observers of the labor-management scene . . . almost unanimously assert that the present situation is the worst within memory." An official of a large U.A.W. local in Detroit complained, "I've had more grievances dumped on my desk in the past two months than I had all last year."

A large proportion of these grievances resulted from company efforts to cut labor costs in the face of the recession, through laying off and downgrading workers and through speed-up. As a Chicago shop steward put it, "A foreman with a fast monkeywrench can speed up a line quite a bit. It's a constant battle you have to fight, and it's gotten much worse lately."5

Significantly, workers did not respond to the recession by driving themselves harder in their work. According to the Journal, corporate officials have been surprised to learn that "morale in many operations is sagging badly, intentional work slowdowns are cropping up more frequently and absenteeism is soaring."6

Production workers in some facilities, long accustomed to fat paychecks due to overtime, began to stretch out their work to keep the overtime coming, and to forestall any layoff.

. . . men such as Mr. Burke at Otis [Elevator Co.] contend the problem [of declining worker productivity] is so widespread it's their major headache at the moment.

Another factor that contributes to lower productivity, according to Prof. Cummins at Case Western Reserve, is the pickup in "group therapy sessions," when employees gather around watercoolers and elsewhere to moan about layoffs, past or pending. An office worker at the Otis unit in Cleveland says he noticed that such sessions were well attended "almost every time I went to the men's room." . . .

A metallurgist at an Ohio steel plant that downgraded some workers says many felt the company was unfair to them and slowed down "to get even with the company."7

We can see here at work the very processes at the cell level of production - the work-group - that we have found underlying mass strikes. Although these processes have been accelerated by the recession, they were visible even before it. In 1968, a young man named Bill Watson went to work in an auto factory in the Detroit area. In the year he spent there he discovered what he considered a "new form of organization," informal, separate from the union, whose purpose was not negotiation with management, but "taking control of various aspects of production," introducing a virtual "counter-planning" by the workers opposing the plans of management.

One dramatic example concerned a six-cylinder model hastily planned by the company without any interest in the life or precision of the motor. It ran roughly, workers in the motor-test area complained, and workers submitted dozens of suggestions for improving the motor and modifying its design. Workers throughout the plant became interested, and were convinced that certain changes would solve the problems, but all suggestions were ignored.

. . . the contradictions of planning and producing poor quality, beginning as the stuff of jokes, eventually became a source of anger. In several localities of the plant organized acts of sabotage began. They began as acts of misassembling or even omitting parts on a larger-than-normal scale so that many motors would not pass inspection. Organization involved various deals between inspection and several assembly areas with mixed feelings and motives among those involved-some determined, some revengeful, some just participating for the fun of it. With an air of excitement, the thing pushed on.

Temporary deals unfolded between inspection and assembly and between assembly and trim, each with planned sabotage. Such things were done as neglecting to weld unmachined spots on motor heads; leaving out gaskets to create a loss of compression; putting in bad or wrong-sized spark plugs; leaving bolts loose in the motor assembly; or, for example, assembling the plug wires in the wrong firing order so that the motor appeared to be off balance during inspection. Rejected motors accumulated.

In inspection, the systematic cracking of oil-filter pins, rocker-arm covers, or distributor caps with a blow from a timing wrench allowed the rejection of motors in cases in which no defect had been built in earlier along the line. In some cases motors were simply rejected for their rough running.

There was a general atmosphere of hassling and arguing for several weeks as foremen and workers haggled over particular motors. The situation was tense, with no admission of sabotage by workers and a cautious fear of escalating it among management personnel.

In the end, the entire six-cylinder assembly and inspection operation was moved to an area at the end of the plant where new workers were brought in to man it. "In the most dramatic way, the necessity of taking the product out of the hands of laborers who insisted on planning the product became overwhelming."8

Just before the time for model changeover, the company attempted to build the last V-8's with parts rejected during the year.

The motor-test area protested, but management sent down representatives to insist that inspectors pass the motors.

It was after this that a series of contacts, initiated by the motor-test men, took place between areas during breaks and lunch periods. Planning at these innumerable meetings ultimately led to plant-wide sabotage of the V-8's. As with the 6-cylinder-motor sabotage, the V-8's were defectively assembled or damaged en route so that they would be rejected. In addition to that, the inspectors agreed to reject something like three out of every four or five motors.

The result was stacks upon stacks of motors awaiting repair, piled up and down the aisles of the plant. This continued at an accelerating pace up to a night when the plant was forced to shut down, losing more than 10 hours of production time. At that point there were so many defective motors piled around the plant that it was almost impossible to move from one area to another.

These actions aimed at partial control of what was produced.

Others were designed to get control of working time.

A plant-wide rotating sabotage program was planned in the summer to gain free time. At one meeting workers counted off numbers from 1 to 50 or more. Reportedly similar meetings took place in other areas. Each man took a period of about 20 minutes during the next two weeks, and when his period arrived he did something to sabotage the production process in his area, hopefully shutting down the entire line. No sooner would the management wheel in a crew to repair or correct the problem area than it would go off in another key area. Thus the entire plant usually sat out anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes of each hour for a number of weeks due to either a stopped line or a line passing by with no units on it.9

In other cases, large-scale contests and games, such as water fights with fire hoses on hot days were organized "to turn the working day into an enjoyable event."10

Likewise, workers imposed counter-plans of how to get the work done. For example, workers established

a complete alternative break system. . . whereby they create large chunks of free time for each other on a regular basis. This plan involves a voluntary rotation of alternately working long stretches and taking off long stretches. Jobs are illegally traded off, and men relieve each other for long periods to accomplish this. The smuggling of men through different areas of the plant to work with friends is yet another regular activity requiring no small amount of organization.11

On one occasion, management scheduled an inventory which was to last six weeks.

They held at work more than 50 men who otherwise would have been laid off with 90 per cent of their pay. The immediate reaction to this was the self-organization of workers, who attempted to take the upper hand and finish the inventory in three or four days so they could have the remaining time off. Several men were trained in the elementary use of the counting scales while the hi-lo truck drivers set up an informal school to teach other men to use their vehicles. Others worked directly with experienced stock chasers and were soon running down part numbers and taking inventory of the counted stock. In several other ways the established plan of ranking and job classification was circumvented in order to slice through the required working time.12

Management forced this process to a halt, even though it would have saved money, claiming that legitimate channels of authority, training and communication had been violated.

Watson notes that a majority of the workers were either black or newly arrived Southern whites. "Despite the prevalence of racist attitudes. . . these two groups functioned together better than any other groups in the plant. . . women were no less active than men . . . workers from eighteen to thirty-five were the most militantly anti-union and the most willing to go beyond the established channels in their work actions."13

What stands out in all this is the level of cooperative organization of workers in and between areas. While this organization is a reaction to the need for common action in getting the work done, relationships like these also function to carry out sabotage, to make collections, or even to organize games and contests which serve to turn the working day into an enjoyable event. . . . There is planning and counter-planning in the plant because there is clearly a situation of dual power.14

"Within these new independent forms of workers' organization," Watson concludes, "lies a foundation of social relations at the point of production which can potentially come forward to seize power in a crisis situation and give new direction to the society."15

It would be difficult to tell just how typical these actions are of other workplaces. No doubt, many have not reached such a high level of organization, but there can be no question that activities of this general type are today widespread.

Workers' desire for more control over workplace conditions has led to a steadily rising number of strikes over so-called "local issues." In 1970, General Motors, for example, received more than 39,000 "local demands."16 According to G.M., demands included

shift schedules, vacations, work assignments, entertainment or recreation for employees, providing legal advice, additional wash-up facilities, nursery care for (children) of working parents in the plant, employees' cars to be serviced and maintained at company expense, and health and safety.

Other demands dealt with assignment of overtime, speed of production lines, the amount of relief time, choices of work turns, the use of new technology and grievance procedures.17

These issues dealt with every aspect of life in the factory.18

In 1955, what was hailed as a great union victory over G.M. was unexpectedly followed by a coast-to-coast wildcat over "local issues" which crippled production; in response, union and management agreed to incorporate local issues into the national collective bargaining agreement and thus control such strikes. Nonetheless, as the Wall Street Journal wrote, "To the auto companies and the U.A.W.'s top leaders, these disputes have become a nightmare."19

Indeed, while headlines during strikes focus on wage issues, "local issues" have increasingly become the heart of labor disputes, in the auto industry above all. One measure of this is the fact that between 1955 and 1967, General Motors estimates that it lost 14.9 million man-hours of work in strikes over national issues, but 101.4 million man-hours in "local disputes."20

The right to strike over local disputes even during the life of the contract has become a major issue in the steel industry. Typical was the complaint of the president of Local 2698 in Monessen, Pennsylvania, who said that management had refused to use a better grade of coal in its coke ovens to cut down pollution. When workers refused to work in the polluted area, the company used supervisors to replace them. In order to get more influence over company policy and regain control of such wildcat actions, the local union leadership demanded the right to strike. Steelworker President I.W. Abel persuaded a conference of 600 local presidents in March, 1971, not to vote on a motion to allow such strikes, although Abel conceded that a majority would have voted for it.21

The strikes over "local issues," like the informal control of production described above, represents a reaching out for control over the production process itself. So far this movement has not been explicitly formulated by those who take part in it as a struggle for control in the workplace, let alone in society. It is impossible to foretell whether this movement-starting off like the black and student movements protesting particular results of powerlessnesswill, like them, discover in the process that its problem lies in the fundamental division of social power, and resolve to challenge it.

Nor has the independent action of workers been limited to single workplaces; we have seen a series of national strikes independent of the official labor movement. Perhaps the most dramatic of these-and the recent event most resembling the pattern of past mass strikes examined in this book - was the postal wildcat of March, 1970, the first major strike in the history of the Post Office, indeed of the Federal government.

A government study in 1968 had reported "widespread disquiet" among postal workers as a result of "antiquated personnel practices. . . appalling working conditions . . . and limited career opportunities. . ."22 The explosion finally came in New York City, where high living costs forced many mailmen onto welfare to supplement incomes eroded by the inflation of the late 1960's, and where several small wildcats had already been pulled, such as a "sick-out" the year before by seventy-two or more employees at the Kingsbridge Station in the Bronx.23 Letter carriers voted March 17th, 1970, to strike, and set up picket lines around the city's post offices which were honored by 25,000 drivers and clerks, bringing postal operations to a standstill. The strike began to spread almost instantly, with workers throughout New York State, New Jersey, and Connecticut joining within a day or two. The strikers organized themselves through informal channels; by March 19th, the New York local said it had received unsolicited telephone calls from letter carriers in fifty-eight communities in a number of states saying they would join the strike.24

Government and union officials moved quickly against the strike. The walkout was of course illegal from the start, since it is a felony for government employees to strike, and the courts quickly issued an injunction against the New York strikers. James Rademacher, head of the letter carriers union, announced he would send a telegram to Gus Johnson, president of the New York local which launched the strike, warning that the union's executive council was considering expelling the local because of its strike action, which was contrary to union policy. Johnson in turn urged members to go back to work.

Postmaster General Blount stated that national leaders of the postal unions had assured the Post Office of their cooperation.25

The government also promised concessions if the wildcatters returned to work. On March 20th, "The Administration won an agreement from postal union leaders . . . to urge their striking workers back to work in return for prompt consideration of their demands."26 That night, however, 6,000 mailmen in Chicago - the postal system's central distribution point-ignored Rademacher's urgings and voted to join the strike, and the next day New York postal workers "voted almost unanimously to defy their leaders and the back-to-work agreement":

Branding their national union leaders "rats" and "creeps" for urging a return to Work, the rank and file . . . roared their refusal to accept the proposed settlement.

Signs behind the rostrum in a Manhattan armory where the employees met read "Hang Rat-emacher" and "We won't take rat poison." An effigy of the union president hung nearby.27

Rademacher nonetheless predicted that "reason will prevail over emotion. . . and ninety percent of the mail will be moving on Monday."28 But the action of the New York letter carriers had crystallized discontent throughout the country; by March 21st, the strike had spread to more than 200 cities and towns from coast to coast, including Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Denver and Boston. "We're very close to paralysis," said a Post Office official. "What is still functioning is hardly worthy of calling a postal system."29 At the Post Office's emergency command center, "increasingly thick clusters" of flashing red lights indicating struck areas blinked in twelve states. "No blue lights-indicating struck areas where employees were returning to work-flashed on the big map."30

Even more alarming, the strike seemed on the verge of spreading to other government employees. John Griner, head of the American Federation of Government Employees, reported that he had to intervene personally to prevent several strikes by his locals.

Nathan Wolkomer, head of the National Federation of Federal Employees, said that N.F.F.E. locals throughout the country had indicated that they wanted to strike in support of the postal workers.31

"There's no doubt that our members are in complete sympathy with the postal workers. The strike definitely could spread throughout the Federal service."32 Alan Whitney, vice-president of the National Association of Government Employees, reported that "tremendous pressure" was being put on the union to authorize strikes, especially in "one of our biggest locals whose primary duty is to supply our war effort in Southeast Asia." Whitney added,

We have been receiving phone calls from our various local presidents in various agencies throughout the government and throughout the country. They have watched events of the past days and have seen postal workers striking with a degree of impunity, and their question to us is, if they can do it, why can't we?33

The union leadership was able to head off any spread of the strike beyond the postal workers, but the groundwork was nonetheless laid for future strikes of government employees. As one government strike advocate was quoted in the Washington Star, "We've learned from the postal workers that if practically everybody strikes, then nobody is going to be hurt. . . After all, they can't fire everybody."

The postal strike itself, meanwhile, continued to hold. In most cities, other postal workers refused to cross letter carriers' picket lines, ignoring another plea from the Administration and from the seven major postal unions that they return to work.34 In all, over 200,000 postal workers in fifteen states joined the wildcat. They ignored injunctions throughout the country.

And so the President, turning to his last resort, declared a national emergency and ordered the U.S. Army and National Guard into New York to break the strike at its most militant point. In a nation-wide television address, he echoed Grover Cleveland's declaration in sending Federal troops to break the 1894 Pullman strike that "the mails must go through," and stressed that the postal workers were striking "not only . . . against the best interests and the best traditions of their service, but against the recommendations of their national union leaders."35 Soon some 25,000 state and Federal troops arrived and began to sort the most pressing commercial mail, whose stoppage had threatened to close business and even the stock exchange. Though the Administration maintained its stance of refusing to negotiate until the postmen returned to work, Congressional spokesmen emphasized that they would act immediately on pay increases as soon as the strike was over.

In the midst of this squeeze play, Rademacher called 500 local union officials to Washington. These officials recognized that the strike was being forced to a close, but ordered Rademacher to call a new nation-wide strike unless their demands were quickly met. A week after they had struck, the mailmen returned to work and negotiations began, with the New York local constantly threatening to trigger another strike, even calling a rump meeting of local leaders throughout the country to discuss plans for a slowdown.36

In strictly financial terms, the strike was a modest success, forcing Congress to grant an immediate six percent pay increase to all government workers and an additional eight percent for postal workers on passage of the postal reorganization plan. It also represented a new stage in the current action of American workers.

It was the first nation-wide strike of government employees, and the first nation-wide strike in recent times to be carried on not only independently of, but in opposition to, the national union establishment.

The strikers did not play by the rules of the game. The risks they took were considerable. Striking against the government is a felony, punishable by a year and a day in jail and a $1,000 fine.37

For the unions, opposition to the strike was a matter of institutional survival. Rademacher warned that continuation of the strike would put the union "practically out of business," since government unions whose members strike lose their right to the dues checkoff by which members' union dues are automatically collected by the employer. Fortunately, for the union officials, the government was fully aware of union efforts to break the strike, and therefore tried to strengthen its hand. Indeed, in the new postal reorganization, the government has gone out of its way to build the authority of the major unions that supported it against the postal strikers in 1970.

This development of rank-and-file independence from the trade union leadership and from orderly collective bargaining was likewise illustrated in the 1970 Teamsters wildcat. After what was described as the "most orderly series" of negotiations in Teamsters' history - credit for which management officials gave to acting Teamsters President Fitzsimmons38 - union and management agreed to a new contract granting $1.10 in wage increases over thirty-nine months. But drivers in sixteen cities, including such central distribution centers as San Francisco, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Cleveland, Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Harrisburg, Akron, Columbus, Toledo, Buffalo, Kansas City and Milwaukee quickly wildcatted against the agreement in what the New York Times described as "a revolt against the national union leadership and a $1.10-an-hour raise that has been accepted in a national contract."39 The strikers quickly established mobile pickets to enforce the strike. The head of Lee Way Motor Freight, Inc., complained, "We've been unable to operate into the East because of the Teamsters union in St. Louis, whose roving pickets have stopped all our drivers at various Mississippi River crossings." He said the company had tried to route its truckers across the Mississippi at Cairo, Illinois, but they had been stopped there, too.40 From Cleveland the New York Times reported,

Strikers here have set up a roving patrol system that they say can muster 300 men within an hour to stop any truck moving goods in the area. The strikers are allowing trucks carrying food, drugs and beer to continue, but they have become outraged when they have found food trucks carrying other cargo.

There has been rock throwing, windshields have been smashed, tires slashed and air hoses cut.41

Mayor Stokes of Cleveland stated that violence had been associated with the strike in two-thirds of the counties in Ohio.42 United Press estimated that a half-million people were out of work as a result of the strike.43

As the wildcat spread, acting Teamster President Fitzsimmons sent telegrams to 300 locals, urging members to return to work.44 (Fitzsimmons had pledged, "We will never tie up the over-the-road freight operation of this country."45 ) A spokesman for the employers vowed, "We'll stay out till the snow falls" rather than accept the rank-and-file wage demands, and stated that the Teamsters union was "standing by" the agreement it had negotiated.46 Local and national Teamsters officials unanimously endorsed the agreement, and the director of the Federal Mediation Service issued a statement urging all striking truck drivers to return to work pending a vote to ratify the contract-all to no avail.

Since none of the walkouts were legally sanctioned, trucking companies secured numerous injunctions against the strikers. In California, workers who were enjoined from striking simply called in sick.47 Teamsters in St. Louis ignored an injunction against them for a month, then were cited for contempt until they returned to work.48 In Los Angeles, where strikers ignored a court back-t-owork order, the conflict developed a special bitterness. Teamsters initially struck over the "local issue" of lack of sick pay. The companies responded by sending 10,000 strikers telegrams telling them they were fired, presumably so they could rehire them without seniority. The workers responded by demanding not only ten days' sick leave with pay but a full amnesty.49

Meanwhile, the Governor of Ohio ordered 4,100 National Guardsmen to duty to combat the strike and put the rest of the 13,000-man force on standby alert to combat what he called "open warfare" on the highways of Ohio.50

Helmeted troops, armed with M-1 rifles, were stationed in pairs on some overpasses, while other Guardsmen rumbled along on patrol in quarter-ton trucks.

Guard officers said their men were also guarding truck terminals and, in response to requests from truck companies and the state police, had escorted about four convoys of from 5 to 20 trucks.

. . . 200 rock-throwing strikers drove back about 50 policemen and guardsmen and the three-truck convoy they were attempting to escort out of the Yellow Freight Line terminal.51

The 145th Infantry-which had intervened in four or five ghetto riots in the previous two years and was soon to be rushed to Kent State University - patrolled west of Akron, where a number of truck terminals were operating in defiance of the strike.

They sought out and neutralized the strong points, identifying two bars where striking teamsters hung about and from which they poured out to heave everything from invective to rocks whenever trucks moved out of nearby terminals. The National Guard simply set up squads to meet the Teamsters as they rushed out.

One Guardsman reported, "They'd pull up short, stare at us for a while, and then go back into the bar for another drink."52

Despite the combined opposition of union, employers, courts and military, the strike held firm. After twelve weeks, employers in Chicago capitulated, undermining the entire national contract, forcing a wage increase two-thirds higher than union and management had originally agreed to.53 This victory in turn strengthened the resistance of workers throughout the society to the policy of solving current economic problems by holding down wages.

Wildcat actions have become endemic in a number of other areas. A notable example is the coal industry, where, as a recent Fortune article pointed out, "the aims, interests, and policies of the union and the companies became inextricably intertwined. . . and the threat of a strike in the coalfields disappeared from the land," during the 1950's and '60's. According to Monsignor Charles Owen Rice, "The union that once protected the men from the bosses has become the union that protects the bosses from the men." As union president Boyle described union policy, "The U.M.W.A. will not abridge the rights of mine operators in running the mines. We follow the judgement of the coal operators, right or wrong."54 In response, the miners' traditional solidarity has become divorced from the union and has emerged in wildcat actions; as Fortune put it, "Pensions, health, and safety are issues so close to a miner's heart that he will strike for them at the sight of a single picket sign, whoever carries it."55 Management is therefore faced with "the problem of dealing with a work force that is no longer under union discipline. . . "56

Perhaps the most dramatic example was the Black Lung wildcat in West Virginia. One cold morning in February, 1969, a miner

at Winding Gulf District Mine in Raleigh County, West Virginia, fed up with the lack of progress on health and safety conditions, spilled his water out on the ground. This act of rebellion was the traditional appeal to other miners to join in the strike. His fellow-workers quit working, and within five days the wildcat spread to 42,000 of West Virginia's 44,000 coal miners. They continued to strike for twenty-three days until the state legislature finally passed a bill to compensate victims of pneumonoconiosis - Black Lung - the miners' most dreaded disease.57

Sporadic wildcats have continued on other issues. Three thousand miners in southern Illinois struck and ignored union back-to-work orders in a dispute over filling a repairman's job.58 On June 22nd, 1970, 19,000 miners in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia struck to protest non-enforcement of the Federal mine safety act. The Wall Street Journal reported that "the nation's coalfields are seething with anger and disappointment over the new law."59 "Rebel miners and others charge that the Bureau [of Mines] is acting in concert with the Boyle leadership and coal operators" to undermine implementation of the law.60 A court order drove many of the miners back to work. Similarly, a series of three wildcats in Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky, eventually involving 15,000 workers at ninety mines, was met by union opposition and court restraining orders. The strike's primary aim was union hospital benefits for disabled miners and widows.61 A simultaneous wildcat in Pennsylvania was ended when a court ordered the miners to go to work "or go to jail."62 All these cases followed the miners' traditional pattern of walking out of the mines when roving pickets appear.

In other industries, discontent has simmered without yet boiling over into large-scale wildcats. In March, 1970, for example, railroad shopcraft workers were so fed up with repeated delays in settling work-rule issues that William P. Winpisinger, chief union negotiator, reported them "right on the rigid edge of being out of control," and warned of a "carbon copy of the current Post Office strike," in which, as the Wall Street Journal added, "the rank-and-file workers defy efforts of union leaders and the government to keep them on the job." Labor Secretary Shultz agreed that "though wildcat strikes have been contained, thanks to the action of responsible union leaders, I fear another delay might fuel the fires of impatience."63 Similar situations exist in a wide range of industries.

To date, all of the wildcat movements have eventually been brought back under control. But the cost has often been great. The government's economic "game plan," based on restoring profits by reducing wages through unemployment, was essentially defeated by the wildcat Teamsters strike, which broke the previous pattern of wage settlements based on the General Electric contract of early 1970-ofwhich Walter Reuther said the gains weren't enough even to offset what workers had lost in purchasing power because of inflation in recent years.64 In the year following the Teamsters wildcat, real after-tax wages for the average worker increased by 1.8 percent despite inflation and unemployment, "because of the large wage increases that have taken place."65 This reversed the decline in real wages of the previous four years.

The government has had repeatedly to pit its power against workers through injunctions, wage policies, National Guard and Army, undermining their previous deep commitment to the state.

This shift was symbolized by the construction workers who had beaten up students in support of Nixon's Vietnam policies in 1970, but were picketing against him a year later, side by side with students, to protest his wage policies for the construction industry.

Employers' plans to extricate themselves from the narrowest profit squeeze since 1938 by de facto wage cuts have been defeated in many cases, at least hampered in others. Finally, the unions have been largely discredited with their own members, especially the young.

If the economy is able to provide workers a constantly rising standard of living without forcing a further deterioration of working conditions, the unions will be able to contine to "win gains" and retain some support. If the economy fails to do so, the unions will be forced to accept and enforce wage cuts and speed-up in a way which will present them as the direct enemy of the workers.

In the course of recent strikes, union and management officials at the bargaining table have often appeared as partners trying to devise a formula and a strategy which will get the workers back to work and keep them there. As the New York Times wrote of the July, 1971, telephone strike, "Union and management. . . were manifestly less concerned about any real differences between them than about how to fashion an agreement that would satisfy the inflated expectations of a restless union rank and file."66

The strike itself is sometimes actually part of the strategy to control the workers -albeit a costly one. A fascinating series of articles in the Wall Street Journal described "union-management cooperation" to get the workers back to work and build up the authority of the union in the course of the 1970 General Motors strike. According to the series, after U.A.W. President Reuther died suddenly, "G.M. had to consider the crisis at Solidarity House, the U.A.W.'s headquarters, and the problems of a new union president-problems that could influence U.A.W. control over the men in G.M. plants."67 G.M.'s "goal was union help to bolster productivity."68 From the union-management viewpoint, a strike was necessary for three reasons. First, a long strike would

help to wear down the expectations of members, expectations that in the current situation have been whetted by memories of recent good times and by the bite of inflation. This trimming of hopes eases the difficult task of getting members to ratify settlements leaders have negotiated. (More than one of every 10 agreements hammered out by union officials is rejected by union members.)69

As one U.A.W. official put it privately, "The guys go out on strike expecting the moon. But after a few weeks of mounting bills and the wife raising hell about his hanging around the house all day watching TV while she works, the average worker tends to soften his demands."70

Second, a long strike would "create an escape valve for the frustrations of workers bitter about what they consider intolerable working conditions imposed by companies' single-minded drive for greater production and profits."71

Third, a long strike would

foster union loyalty and pull together various rank-and-file factions by uniting them against a common enemy, and strengthen the position of union leaders, who must stand for re-election regularly by a membership that is constantly turning over and that is wary of leaders in general, union leaders included.72

The strike "permits union leaders to assert their manhood-at least in the eyes of their followers. It is the best way they have to demonstrate that they are 'tough' and thus to refute the assertion, common among workers, that the union's leaders are really in bed with management."73

But, the Journal points out, it is not only union leaders who recognize these functions of official strikes.

Surprisingly, among those who do understand the need for strikes to ease intra-union pressures are many company bargainers. . . . They are aware that union leaders may need such strikes to get contracts ratified and to get re-elected. In fact, some company bargainers figure strikes actually help stabilize fragmented unions and, by allowing workers to vent their "strike need," actually buy peace in future years.74

Unfortunately, from the union-management point of view, this approach nearly backfired in the General Motors strike. In order to generate pressure for settlement of "local issues," "top negotiators for both sides. . . indicated they won't return to serious bargaining on national issues until the bulk of the union's 155 local bargaining units reach agreement with G.M.,"75 Even though "company and union officials say they can reach a national agreement after settling local issues in about ten days. . . "76 Cooperation was so close that General Motors lent the U.A.W. $1O million to pay the medical insurance bills of the striking workers.77 Both sides want G.M. to be able to resume operations quickly after a national agreement is reached."78 But workers simply refused to agree to local settlements, raising the spectre of a long strike going out of union control and defeating its original purpose.

Both sides agree that if the strike had dragged on past Thanksgiving, it would have paved the way for an epic dispute continuing into the new year. Such a possibility could have tipped the scales within the U.A.W. from a "heroic struggles" strengthening of Mr. Woodcock to a messy strike beyond the control of the top leaders.79

To forestall this threat, top G.M. and U.A. W. negotiators went into secret talks to settle the national contract despite the unresolved local disputes. The contract did not fulfill G.M.'s dream of cutting labor costs by strengthening work discipline, but, wrote the Journal, the company received as "consolations" -

the knowledge that peace is probably assured when it next bargains with the U.A.W., in 1973, and perhaps for many years thereafter (at least over national contract issues); the prospect that the U.A.W. . . . emerged stronger and thus may be able to speak more confidently for its members who are younger, less loyal and increasingly distrustful of employer and union alike."80

Though we can see in these developments the beginnings of the mass strike process, there is no guarantee that the result will be a renewed sense of solidarity in revolt among all kinds of workers which has marked mass strikes in the past.

It is often suggested that today's renewed labor militance differs from that of the past in that today's strikers are "only out for themselves," rather than seeing their actions as part of a broader struggle. This is often expressed in the phrase that today's strikers are not "socially conscious." There is considerable truth in this view, and it reflects one of the main weaknesses of the present movement, since it means that the gains of one section of workers are easily taken out of the rest, and workers are not able to draw on each others' strength. But as we have seen, solidarity is not a static attitude; it is something that develops with the process of struggle itself. During the relative labor peace in the post-World War II period, workers' revolt was sporadic and isolated. The tendency was strong to identify with the present system and its rulers, rather than with other workers. The present renewed militance of particular groups of workers is the first step toward a broader solidarity, for only when workers are actually struggling can the fact that they need each other for that struggle become apparent.

Workers are also very much divided today - black and white, young and old, male and female, skilled and unskilled - and these groups are easily played off against each other. Whether the need for solidarity will overcome these divisions, as it has to some extent in past periods of mass strike, remains to be seen.

It is likewise argued that the affluence of today's workers makes a repetition of the bitter conflicts of the past unlikely. There has indeed been a substantial increase in the incomes of industrial workers. For example, the real spendable earnings of the average private production worker with three dependents increased from $60 per week in 1949 to $78 per week in 1969.81 Yet the image of the affluent, satisfied worker is exaggerated to say the least-in part because of the high wage rates of a few skilled crafts. The average production worker in 1969 made $5,980.82 before taxes.82 This is substantially below the level the government describes as "modest but adequate" for an average family of four. One index of what such income levels mean is the statement of George Romney, head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, that fifty percent of the people in this country can't afford a decent home.83

However, the continuing stability of even this level of incomes has now become questionable. Real wages of industrial workers declined steadily from 1965 to 1970, a period which included both boom and recession. Further, the widely held view that depressions are now a thing of the past has been badly shaken. In 1970, for example, not only did unemployment top six percent and the stock market plunge, but corporate profit margins hit their lowest rate since 1938.84

The dominant position of American goods on the international market since World War II has been seriously undermined, a leading cause of recurring international financial crises. The resultant drive to make American goods more competitive is already generating substantial pressure to reduce wage rates which are high in relation to other countries. The conditions shaping the long postwar expansion - which has allowed workers to expect wages to be a little higher each year-seem to have been reversed. The introduction of wage and price controls in August, 1971, may well follow the pattern we have observed during World War II, in which wages were effectively frozen, while prices continued to rise. As the Times wrote, November 7th, 1971, "the essential purpose of the whole complicated system of boards, commissions, and councils created to manage the drive against inflation" was to "tighten the knot on future wage settlements and increase pressure on unions to acquiesce in the arrangement."

The image of the affluent worker has largely been based on that of unionized, white, male workers who entered the labor force in the 1930's and 1940's, and who, as a recent study points out, "have reaped a greater increase in standard of living. . . than any other group of workers in the history of American capitalism."85

They have indeed supported the status quo, at least until recently. But they are only a minority of the working class - roughly sixty-six percent of the labor force is composed of blacks, women, and men under thirty-five who entered the labor force after 1950.86 All these groups face depression-level unemployment. Blacks and women receive little more than half the wages of white men. And young workers' real incomes have been falling since 1957.87

Another common argument is that automation is making the working class an ever smaller and less important part of society.

There has indeed been a transformation of the American class structure. But its effect has not been to make workers less numerous or significant, at least if workers are defined as those who do not possess society's means of production and therefore must work for others who do. In fact, the most important change in American class structure has been the steady erosion over the past 100 years of the self-employed middle class from a majority of society to a small minority, transforming this traditional middle class into workers as we have defined them. The working class now represents at least eighty percent of the occupied labor force.

Of course, the composition of the working class has changed. White-collar workers have become more numerous than blue-collar. Service workers have increased relative to those producing goods.

Government employment has expanded far faster than private employment. But such changes are nothing new; as we have seen, each stage of capitalist development has brought new categories of workers to the fore and reduced others, and the decline in the proportion of production-line workers in the mid-twentieth century no more heralds the end of the working class than did the decline of industrial craftsmen at the end of the nineteenth. The growing sector of white-collar workers, indeed, is undergoing a transition similar to that which struck blue-collar workers with the rise of modern industry. A recent article in Fortune detailed changes which are levelling the status of white- and blue-collar workers:

The strong mutual loyalty that has traditionally bound white-collar workers and management is rapidly eroding. . . . Now there are platoons of them instead of a privileged few, and instead of talking to the boss they generally communicate with a machine.

. . . The younger white collars are swept by some of the same restlessness and cynicism that afflict their classmates who opted for manual labor. . . . All too often, the keypunch operator spends the workday feeling more like an automaton than a human being. . . .

Now that they are needed by the millions, white-collar workers are also expendable. The lifetime sinecure is rapidly disappearing as management experts figure out another way to streamline the job, get in another machine, and cut down overhead. . . . When an unprofitable division is closed or a big contract slips away to a competitor, layoffs are measured in thousands, and the workers usually hit the streets with no more severance pay benefits than management feels willing and able to provide. Production workers made an average of $130 a week last year and clerical workers only $105. . . . A 29-year-old secretary in a government agency in Washington says, "We're lower people. Down at our level we're peons, that's what they think of you."

Since 1965, a survey found, Worker satisfaction with job security has dropped by 17% and with pay by 45%. There has been a 30% decline in the belief that companies deal fairly without playing favorites, and a 39% decline in the belief that the company will do something about individual problems and complaints. As Fortune concludes,

There is a terrible, striking contrast between the fun-filled, mobile existence of the young opulents of America as shown on television, and the narrow, constricting, un-fun existence that is the lot of most white-collar workers at the lower job levels. You can't buy much of what television is selling on the salaries these young workers earn; about all you can do is stay at home watching those good things go by on the screen. The result is frustration, sometimes bitterness, even anger. Workers in this stratum cannot but notice that the federally defined poverty standard is climbing toward their level from below, while above them the salary needed to enjoy the glittery aspects of American life soars ever higher, further and further out of reach.88

In short, far from the workers becoming middle class, what was once the middle class has largely been transformed into workers. This is reflected in the forty-six percent increase in white-collar unionism from 1958 to 196889 , and the fact that teachers, hospital workers, government employees, and other white-collar groups have been the focus of the most significant unionization drives of recent years. It is also revealed by the turning of large numbers of non-industrial workers to the workers' traditional weapon, the strike. In the public sector, where most white-collar growth is concentrated, there were some fifteen strikes in 1958, two hundred and fifty-four in 1969.90

In evaluating claims that labor insurgency has become a thing of the past, it is important to keep in mind that such beliefs have been a commonplace of the periods of relative labor peace between mass strikes. In 1888 - two years after the May Day general strike and six years before the Pullman strike-the great analyst of American society James Bryce observed:

There are no struggles between privileged and unprivileged orders, not even that perpetual strife of rich and poor. . . . Not one of the questions which now agitate the nation is a question between rich and poor. Instead of suspicion, jealousy, and arrogance embittering the relations of classes, good feeling and kindliness reign. . . . The poorer have had little to fight for, no grounds for disliking the well-to-do, few complaints to make against them.91

Much the same has been said of today's workers.

But the labor insurgency of today is not simply a rerun of that of the past. For a number of new attitudes-albeit with precursors in the past-mark the action of today's younger workers. These changes in attitude are subtle, hard to pin down and harder to measure; any description can only be impressionistic. But they undermine some of the fundamental constraints that in the past contained mass strikes within the limits of the existing social structure.

Workers in the 1930's, for example, even when they engaged in such direct action as the sitdown strikes, saw the solution to their problems in building up the power of union and government officials, welfare bureaucracies, and the like, who would win for them more favorable conditions. Increasingly, people today experience the institutions that have been set up to "help" them - the unions, the schools, the welfare agencies, and the like to be --as alien and even hostile forces. They no longer look to such agencies to solve their problems, for the past failures of these agencies have become a dominant fact of everyday experience. So, instead, people are forced to begin solving their problems themselves; the kind of informal organization we have described in the auto plant is a striking example of this process. What is crucial, Bill Watson pointed out, is that "while sabotage and other forms of independent workers' activity had existed before. . . that which exists today is unique in that it follows mass unionism and is a definite response to the obsolescence of that social form."92

In the past, even when workers have engaged in direct action to gain counter-power over management, they have envisioned this power as embodied in a formal institutional structure-the trade union, which, in the words of Professor Jack Barbash, created "a system of bilateral, constitutional government through collective bargaining."93 But now it is just that structure which is called into question. So instead of trying again to create such a structure, younger workers today use direct action to force immediate solutions to their own problems. This still requires solidarity and therefore organization, but unlike trade unionism it does not require representation by a specialized leadership skilled in determining just what compromise can be made between worker and boss.

This is turn involves a basic change of attitude concerning the question of leadership. In the 1930's such figures as Franklin Roosevelt and John L. Lewis were viewed almost with reverence. Workers, out of their own weakness, felt the need for strong leaders; what they demanded was that their leaders be given a part in decision-making by business and government. This in part they won, only to find themselves still powerless over their own lives.

It is the union official who breaks up their wildcat strikes and the "pro-labor" politicians who fight for wage controls. Today there is an enormous cynicism about leaders and organizations of all sorts, whatever their rhetoric; even when workers vote for a politician or a union official, they often consider him a crook or a sell-out like his opponents.!!his cynicism often looks like apathy, especially to aspiring leadership groups like union insurgents and leftist parties trying to "activate the workers." But it also means that if and when large numbers of workers again move into action, they will be better innoculated against the appeals of "leader( and may try to keep control of the struggle in their own hands] If this happens, new movements will create something different from the bureaucracies that emerged from past struggles.

What that will be they themselves will have to determine; some of the possibilities are sketched in the last chapter of this book. We can get some idea of their starting point by analyzing the Akron sitdowns of the 1930's. Here the workers shop-by-shop became groups working together to control production on the basis of their own ability to stop it. This control started with the speed of production and spread to control of the number of workers employed in the industry as a whole by controlling the hours of work. Finally, it developed a counter-power to the Akron city government. These powers were held by the ordinary production workers, without any intermediaries, simply through their ability to halt production. We have already described the beginning of such developments today, such as the "new form of organization" described by Bill Watson.

But the difference is that today workers are far less inclined to hand these powers back over to outside leaders of any kind. This change is related to a pervasive change in current thinking about society. In the past, the alternative to the irrationalities of the status quo has usually been seen as increasing the realm of state authority and public bureaucracy. Liberals and social democrats proposed to do this by augmenting the present state, various revolutionary groups by creating a new state based on their own organization. Today the spontaneous tendency of social criticism and opposition is to transfer decision-making from the present authorities to those the decisions affect.

Current demands for community control, participatory democracy, black power, and women's liberation - their ambiguities notwithstanding, all reflect this tendency. .0ere is another shift in attitude, difficult to pin down but significant, especially among younger workers today. This is a breakdown of psychological identification with their job and their role as a worker. Their job, no matter how dull and deforming, was previously experienced by most American workers as the source of meaning in their lives, the proof of stature as a mature adult. This was revealed in the total collapse of personality that frequently followed unemployment in the early 1930's and the general feeling that being able to get and keep a job is the definition of a valid life.

The idea of a worker's "right to his job," so prominent in the 1930's, reflects this feeling perfectly. Today the sense of pride in the social role of the worker is much less important; concomitantly, the sense of shame at not working, living on public support, is far weaker than formerly. Work is just something unpleasant you have to do to earn a living; your identity is centered in living the rest of your life.

This attitude has several implications. It constitutes a revolt against the idea that man should serve the machine, that life should serve production, rather than vice versa. As such, it suggests that future working-class movements will differ from those in the past in aiming not to stabilize the position of workers through quasi-judicial protection in the shop and state intervention in the economy to guarantee full employment, but instead will seek to challenge the whole position of the worker as a servant of the production process. Lack of identification with the job also makes the worker less afraid of losing his job and therefore more willing to risk fighting back. On the other hand, this attitude leads workers to consider work life as relatively unimportant, something to be gotten through rather than something to change. This attitude leads away from the struggle to control the point at which social misery is produced.

These changes are part of the overall change in social values of which the "hippie" movement of the 1960's was the most visible, middle-class expression. At the most fundamental level, it is a response to the fact that modern technology has made the subordination of life to the needs of production obsolete and irrational.

The expansion of wealth and industrial production for its own sake is less and less seen as the great objective of society. Our society's imperative to accumulate wealth is now seen as the source of many of its greatest problems - its environmental pollution, its stressful and atomized way of life, its constant international conflicts. Industrial expansion, in the past considered a virtually unmixed blessing, is today perceived as a threat to health and life. Direction of production to meet needs, rather than continued expansion per se, is widely seen as the proper goal of society.

One other change undermines an important bastion of social conservatism. Traditionally, American workers have been motivated in part by a deep craving for respectability within the framework of middle-class society. Socially they were outcasts who wanted in. (This feeling was heightened among those suffering inferior status as immigrants.) Anger at the shame of social exclusion was a powerful force motivating workers' action. But it also made them reluctant to act in ways considered unrespectable by middle-class society. Even more important, it meant that they would welcome "concessions" of status- being addressed as "Mr." or "Mrs." at work, flattered by politicians, receiving an income that allowed the appearance though not the reality of a middle-class standard of life, and receiving a "recognition" for the union and its leaders, even though that recognition left the workers powerless as ever.

Such concessions cost the rulers little and left the workers in the same essential position as before. This sentiment is stilI visible as a driving force in the struggles that most resemble those of the 1930's-for example, the Hospital Workers' Local 1199, whose members are genuinely proud of their newly-won respectability.

But in most current labor struggles, respectability is no longer a major theme, especially among younger workers. A revealing case in point was the New York police wildcat of January, 1971, which the older strikers described as a demand for more respect for policemen, while the younger ones were unconcerned with that and primarily wanted the salary increases they felt they had been promised by the city. For them, as for younger workers in general today, respectability seems no longer to be the issue.

The challenge to existing institutions is not, of course, limited to the workplace but extends to every aspect of contemporary society. It can be seen in the series of bitter university struggles that started with the Berkeley strike of 1964 and became a virtual nation-wide student uprising at the start of the U.S. invasion of Cambodia in 1970. It is perhaps even more significant, if less visible, in high schools, where forty-five percent of teachers polled by the National Education Association in 1970 reported student unrest94 , and where a recent study found that the great majority of students are angry, frustrated, increasingly alienated by school. They do not believe they receive individual justice or enjoy rights of dissent or share in critical decision-making affecting their lives within the school. Our schools are now educating millions of students who are not forming an allegience to the democratic political system simply because they do not experience such a democratic system in their daily lives in school.95

The challenge to established authority has been seen in dramatic form in the great black riots that began with Watts and became a unified nation-wide movement in the 1967 upheaval following the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. Similarly, a number of American cities have seen street battles over control of turf-highlighted by the struggle to establish People's Park in Berkeley, which was suppressed only with helicopters and rifle fire. Rent strikes and squatters' movements reflect the same trend in housing.

Direct action has developed over welfare issues in dozens of cities.

The Women's Liberation Movement has made a direct assault on the institutions of male dominance, without waiting for legislation to "guarantee" equality-just as the black movement earlier moved from the courts to the streets. Prisons have become the scene of repeated revolts, often bloodily suppressed.

Even the idea of unconditional subordination to the foreign interests of the State has been seriously undermined in recent years.

From 1969 to 1971, workers, like the rest of the population, developed an overwhelming opposition to the Vietnam war. For the first time, the costs of American expansion abroad have come to mean a deterioration of conditions for American workers. Of special significance was the development of widespread resistance to authority and mini-mutinies among American soldiers in Vietnam-mostly working-class young men. In 1969 and 1970, soldiers gradually began to refuse to go on dangerous patrols and do other tasks they disliked. The normal punishment for refusing to obey an order under combat conditions is death. To prevent this, soldiers developed the technique of "fragging." The New York Times reported:

A growing number of incidents in which enlisted men have attacked their leaders because of hostilities caused by racial problems, attitudes toward the Vietnam war and what seems to be an increasing antagonism toward unpopular officers and sergeants. . . .

Some young soldiers resist orders to risk their lives and resent the attitude of the "Iifers" - career officers and noncommissioned officerswho are impatient with a lack of discipline. The incidents are called "fraggings," a term derived from the fragmentation grenade-the weapon most often used in such attempts on the lives of Army leaders because it destroys all evidence with its explosion. . . . in the 101 st Airborne Division near Hue, there were 42 "serious incidents" against officers and sergeants that resulted in at least 9 deaths last year.96

Senator Mike Mansfield reported that the Pentagon told him that in Vietnam of 1970 there were 209 incidents of American servicemen using fragmentation grenades to kill other Americans, usually officers or non-commissioned officers.97

In sum, we see a breakdown of the institutions which adapt people to the status quo, a rise of resistance to their authority, and organized efforts by ordinary people to impose their own, rather than the official, solutions to their problems.

The forces of repression have not been slow in responding to these developments. Police, National Guard, and Army civil disturbance programs have been greatly expanded, coordinated, and given the latest of technical gadgetry-often modelled on that developed for counter-insurgency in Vietnam. A secret directive issued by the Army in February, 1968, and uncovered by a Senate committee, reveals that senior officers at that time feared the development of "a true insurgency"; another from May, 1968, ordered surveillance of "strikes and labor arid civil disturbances of sufficient magnitude to indicate a probable employment of Federal troops to preserve or restore order." The order was based on what the Army called a long-standing tradition of rendering assistance to state or local authorities in peacetime.98 A command center was established to procure, evaluate, interpret, and disseminate . . . intelligence relating to any actual, potential or planned demonstrations or other activities related to civil disturbances within the continental U.S. which threaten civil order or military security.99

Testimony of Assistant Secretary of Defense Robert Froehike revealed that the program was initiated and supervised by the very highest civilian officials, including Attorney General Ramsey Clark, Secretaries of Defense Robert McNamara and Clark Clifford and special assistant to the President Stephen Pollak.100 In the twenty-nine months from January, 1968, through May, 1970, the National Guard was used on 324 occasions to suppress civil disorders.101 By 1970, 680,000 men of the active Armed Forces and Reserve components of the U.S. had been trained for civil disturbance duty.102

The actors for future dramas are prepared. But they will have to write their own lines.

  • 1Wall Street Journal. Apr. 20, 1970.
  • 2New York Times, June 1, 1970.
  • 3Ibid.
  • 4 Ibid.
  • 5New York Times, June 15, 1970.
  • 6Wall Street Journal, June 26, 1970.
  • 7Wall Street Joumal, Aug. 6, 1970.
  • 8Bill Watson, "Counter-Planning on the Shop Floor," in Radical America, Vol. 5 (May-June 1971), p. 78.
  • 9Ibid., pp. 79, 80.
  • 10Ibid.
  • 11Ibid., p. 82.
  • 12Ibid., p. 84.
  • 13Ibid., p. 85.
  • 14Ibid. Pp. 80-1, 82.
  • 15Ibid., p. 85.
  • 16Wall Street Journal, Nov. 24,1970.
  • 17Ibid.
  • 18Martin Glaberman, "Marxism, The Working Class and The Trade Unions," in Studies on the Left, Volume 4, Number Three (Summer 1964), Page 68.
  • 19Wall Street Journal, Nov. 24, 1970.
  • 20Ibid.
  • 21New York Times, Mar. 31, 1971.
  • 22President's Commission on Postal Organization, headed by Frederich R. Kappel, quoted in Wall Street Journal, Mar. 19, 1970.
  • 23 Ibid.
  • 24Ibid.
  • 25Ibid.
  • 26Washington Post, Mar. 22, 1970.
  • 27Ibid.
  • 28Ibid.
  • 29Ibid.
  • 30Ibid.
  • 31 Root and Branch, No.1 (June 1970), p.3.
  • 32John Griner, quoted in Washington Star, in Root and Branch, p. 3.
  • 33 Alan Whitney, radio interview, quoted Ibid.
  • 34 Wall Street Journal, Mar. 23, 1970.
  • 35Wall Street Journal, Mar. 24, 1970.
  • 36Wall Street Journal, May 1, 1970.
  • 37Wall Street Journal, Mar. 23, 1970.
  • 38Wall Street Journal, Mar. 23, 1970.
  • 39New York Times, May 1, 1970.
  • 40 Wall Street Journal, April 8, 1970.
  • 41New York Times, May 1, 1970.
  • 42Ibid.
  • 43Washington Star, May 6, 1970.
  • 44Wall Street Journal, April 8, 1970.
  • 45Wall Street Journal, Jan. 27, 1970.
  • 46 Wall Street Journal, April 10, 1970.
  • 47Wall Street Journal, April 8, 1970.
  • 48 Wall Street Journal, Apr. 10, 1970.
  • 49Wall Street Journal, Apr. 13, 1970.
  • 50New York Times, Apr. 30, 1970.
  • 51 New York Times, May 1, 1970.
  • 52New York Times Magazine, June 21, 1970, p. 64.
  • 53 Wall Street Journal, July 7, 1970.
  • 54Thomas O'Hanlon, "Anarchy Threatens the Kingdom of Coal," in Fortune, Jan. 1971, pp. 78, 82.
  • 55Ibid., p. 78.
  • 56Ibid.
  • 57 Paul Nyden, "In Memory of Joseph Yablonski, Coal Miners, 'Their' Union and Capital," unpublished paper, Jan. 22,1970, pp. 26-7.
  • 58 Wall Street Journal, Mar. 13, 1970.
  • 59Wall Street Journal, June 25, 1970.
  • 60Wall Street Journal, June 23, 1970.
  • 61 Wall Street Journal, July 23, 1970.
  • 62New York Times, June 26, 1970.
  • 63Wall Street Journal, Mar. 24, 1970.
  • 64 Wall Street Journal, Mar. 13, 1970.
  • 65New York Times, July 24, 1971.
  • 66Editorial, New York Times, July 21, 1971.
  • 67Wall Street Journal, Nov. 20, 1970.
  • 68 Ibid.
  • 69Wall Street Journal, Oct. 29, 1970.
  • 70 Ibid.
  • 71 Ibid.
  • 72 Ibid.
  • 73 Ibid.
  • 74 Ibid.
  • 75Wall Street Journal, Oct. 5, 1970.
  • 76 Ibid.
  • 77 New York Times, July 18, 1971.
  • 78Wall Street Journal, Nov. 20, 1970.
  • 79Wall Street Journal, Oct. 5, 1970.
  • 80 Ibid. See also "Notes on the Official Strike in 1970," unpublished paper by Joel Stein.
  • 81 Bureau of Labour Statistics, Handbook of Labour Statistics, 1969, Table 103, Page 209.
  • 82 Ibid.
  • 83George Romney, quoted in Newsweek, June 22, 1970, p. 69.
  • 84New York Times, Economic Review, Jan. 10, 1971.
  • 85Joe Eyer, "Living Conditions in the United States," in Root and Branch, No.2, 1971, p. 23.
  • 86 1969 Handbook of Labor Statistics, Table 4, p. 32.
  • 87Eyer, p. 24.
  • 88Judson Gooding, "Who's Down There?-III. The Fraying White Collar," in Fortune, Dec. 1970, pp. 78, 79, 109.
  • 89Ibid., p. 79.
  • 90"The U.S. Can't Afford What Labor Wants," in Business Week, Apr. 11, 1970, p. 106.
  • 91 James Bryce, 1888, quoted in Henry David, The History of the Haymarket Af- fair (N.Y.: Collier Books, 1963), p. 39.
  • 92Bill Watson, p. 77.
  • 93Jack Barbash, "The American Labor Movement," in Oberlin Alumni Magazine, Dec. 1962, p. 6.
  • 94National Education Association Press Release, Aug. 18, 1970.
  • 95Teachers College, Columbia University, Press Release, Sept. 1, 1970, p. 4.
  • 96New York Times, Jan. 11, 1971.
  • 97New York Times, Apr. 21, 1970.
  • 98 New York Times, Mar. 1, 1970.
  • 99New York Times, June 22, 1971.
  • 100 New York Times, Mar. 3, 1971.
  • 101Testimony of Major General Wilston P. Wilson, Chief, National Guard Bureau, before the President's Commission on Campus Unrest, 116 Congo Rec. E 7302 (daily ed., Aug. 4,1970), in "The National Guard and the Constitution," American Civil Liberties Union Legal Study, mimeographed, 1971, p. 1.
  • 102Sj ASj91 j 1, 1970 1 p. 293.