[Marxism] Asher Harer
dwalters at marxists.org
Mon Feb 23 16:02:58 MST 2004
I've known Asher since when I joined Socialist Action in 1984. Indeed,
he was part of the Trotskyist opposition to Barnes, having become a
member of the Brietman tendency.
Asher joined the ILWU I think in 1936 and was around for every dockers
strike since then. Often, but not always, the lone Trotskyist on the
docks in union dominated by the supporters of the CP, it was not always
an enviable position. However, Asher's popularity as an erudite and
well learned "worker-intellectual", no unlike many of the CPers on the
waterfront, broke through many of these ideological barricades.
Longshore workers have their own culture, not beholden to outside
political factionalsim and Asher fit right in with his friendly
demeanor yet maintained a consistent opposition to the general politics
of the CP on the San Francisco and Oakland waterfont.
Asher played a critical role as ILWU Local 10's head of the "Education
Committee" during the 1948 dockers strike in SF, the last strike the
Pacific Maritime Association (the bosses) actually tried to run scabs
onto the dock. The Education Committee, as opposed to the Committee on
Education, was designed to help educate would-be scabs by paying
tutorial visits to them at home to educate them on the virtues of Trade
Unionism and Solidarity. Longtime socialist activist Howard Keylor
tells me that Asher probably played the most important role in winning
that years strike, which was when Howard joined the IWLU.
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