Teamster and student rebels

Tom O'Lincoln suarsos at alphalink.com.au
Sun Sep 14 16:57:46 MDT 2003


What a delight to see this post.

There was some student support for the Teamsters in the Bay Area too.
Wildcatters from LA sent a group of their biggest, toughest guys up to set
up pickets in Oakland, and some of us went out to support them. They were
the biggest guys I've every seen -- have a look at TV wrestling some time,
that was what they looked like. Although I'm almost 6 feet tall, I felt
dwarfed, and intimidated by their general muscular self-confidence... I
tried to compensate and fit in by saying "fuck" a lot, but to little
effect. Still , it was a very good experience, from which I should have
drawn two conclusions: a) it's good for students to link up with workers,
but b) we're not the same -- I was a total flop at pretending to be like
them.

Maybe I didn't learn the second lesson because there was a second
experience around the same time. The postal workers held a national wildcat
strike. It began in the east, rolling westward, but by the time it hit the
Pacific Coast it was losing momentum. A bunch of us, accompanied by I think
one genuine postal worker (an SWP member from the Berkeley Post Office,
which was on strike but of little strategic importance) went down one
morning to the main Oakland mail sorting facility. And we shut it down for
a shift! The workers there lacked organisation. They wanted to strike,
though, and when they turned up and saw a picket line, they seized the
opportunity to turn around and go home. I still have the "Tribune"
clipping.

A great experience as well, but tempting us to draw mistaken conclusions:
that students can substitute themselves for the working class. I only
learned the folly of this after convincing Australian socialists to go and
work in factories, and almost wrecking my small left group in the process.

BTW both of our Bay Area solidarity actions were at least partly organised
by the I.S., with Ken Paff playing a role I think. We weren't all bad...
:-)


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