Which Party?

Jon Flanders 72763.2240 at compuserve.com
Mon Feb 19 19:46:24 MST 1996

 >> A few evenings ago I got the pleasure of witnessing the mayor of St. Paul,
who was backed by labor, but then turned on us, get effectively shouted down
and eventually escorted out of a Trades and Labor Assembly meeting and told he
was not welcome in the halls of labor. <<S. Ryan>>

 Thanks for stepping out of lurkdom, Sally. That's what I mostly do myself. I
vacillate between  fascination with the clash of tendencies, which must be
unparalleled, and with disgust with all the flaming over things like Peru,
where no-one on-list actually lives.

 It seems to me that there needs to be more reporting on the actual state of
the class struggle where each of us live and work. That is the real value of
cyberspace to workers.There can be cheap, available access to a variety of
experiences in our own countries and around the world without the editorial
interference of capitalist newspapers, union officials, or even our favorite
political group.

 Your story of the mayor of St. Paul and labor sums up the current situation
very well. Worker's support some politician or other, only find a knife
between the shoulder blades not soon after. Do our fearless union officials
learn anything from the experience?

 It will be interesting to follow Buchanan's progress. I am sure I will
encounter more heated debates about him at work. He is shaping his appeal to
the kind of hard-hat white male worker that predominates in my situation, and
the protectionist stance of the labor officialdom has greased the skids for
him. Their support for Clinton comes off as wishy-washy liberalism in the face
of Buchanan's forth-rightness.

 In my l*st of indicators of the rising temperature of the class struggle, I
forgot to mention the track worker's strike on Conrail about a year or so ago.
This was something of a sanctioned "wildcat" over safety, following the deaths
of two or three maintenance of way employees.

  The interesting thing about it here was the unscripted, unorganized
character that it had. The hastily notified picketers didn't even know whether
they were officially striking or not. Several of our local officers in the
shop raced off to make phone calls to find out. Our IAM committee-man, who is
prone to snap judgements, decided it wasn't a strike and went on in, only to
return an hour or so later, feeling rather sheepish.

  As a line of cars on the access road stretched out for more than a quarter
mile, we milled about discussing what to do. After it was ascertained that the
Brotherhood of Maintainence of Way had indeed officially called an action, I
rustled up a magic marker so that one of the strikers could change his sign to
actually indicate a strike.

  Another group of workers came out of the shop who had gone in another
entrance, thinking that the picket was informational. The yard, which
processes 3 to 4 thousand cars a day, grew quiet. The entire railroad shut
down for 13 hours, until an injunction was obtained by the corporation.

  This strike stands out in my mind because it's goal was in a sense
political. It took up something more important than bread and butter. It was
about the right to get thru your work day alive, in one piece, something that
no longer can be taken for granted in too many workplaces. Like the GM
overtime strikes, it contested the corporations right to manage the work as it
sees fit. When workers are forced into this situation, then yes, I can see a
radicalization coming.

 Best, Jon Flanders

  E-mail from: Jonathan E. Flanders, 19-Feb-1996

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