Stop The Liquidation Of The Trade Union Work!
“…to demand from the trade union bureaucracy, which is hunting for Communists, that the latter be benevolently installed to work with the necessary comfort, threatening the bureaucrats, if they refuse, the Communists will ‘strike’, that is refuse to do revolutionary work—to demand that is manifest nonsense.”
—Trade Union Problems in America, Leon Trotsky, September 23, 1933
Stop The Liquidation Of The Trade Union Work!
Break With The Robertson-Foster-Nelson Misleadership!
[Printed on June 25 1983. Copied form http://www.bolshevik.org/ETB/ET_1983_TU_doc.html ]
The resignation of the SL supported Militant Action Caucus stewards in Los Angeles and the Bay Area represents a qualitative shift away from the SLUS’ orientation towards the organized working class. There is a straight line from giving up on the fighting capacity of the organized workers, to flying during the PATCO strike despite the picket lines, to liquidating the trade union caucuses. The SL leadership is surrendering the Leninist/Trotskyist position of fighting within the reactionary-led trade unions for revolutionary leadership. The lessons of Left-Wing Communism, An Infantile Disorder are being thrown out the window. The union-centered caucuses, based on recruiting workers to build an alternative leadership in the unions, are being transformed. The primary orientation of the remaining shells will be directed away from the unions. Trade union work will be continued, but only to provide an economic base for the SL and an occasional orthodox veneer for its leadership.
The authority that the SL cadre in LI, T1, T2, II and BI accumulated through years of sweat, blood and persecution is being pissed away overnight; the SL leadership knows that the effects of this liquidation are nearly irreversible. The SL supported MAC stewards cannot walk back to their supporters some months from now and say ‘we made a mistake’ or ‘times have changed’, simply picking up at the point where they abandoned the workers. Union members have long memories. Just as bitter jokes and pointed questions followed Waters and Edwards out of the unions, the wholesale resignations of MAC stewards are already bringing them the reputation of being quitters. For example, talk about “…ritual suicide in front of 140 New Montgomery…”!! (If you don’t get the joke, read the Bay Area MAC’s April, 1983, convention election leaflet titled—ironically?—”Elect Fighters, Not Fakers.”).
Workers Don’t Trust Quitters
You don’t lead people into battle and then desert them. Yet that is just what MAC is doing. Having fought and won in Local 11502 to retain its stewardships, MAC thanked the many stewards and members who defended it…and quit. Also, in Local 9410, where just six months ago 1000 members rallied to Kathy’s defense, demanding an end to her trial and the recall of the bureaucrats, MAC is quitting. Stan, member of the SL-supported Militant Caucus, correctly put forward a motion, at a membership meeting, for a union stop work action to protest Nazi activities in Oroville. The motion passed. Then he was ordered to flip-flop, abjectly criticize himself, not go to Oroville, and attack those longshoremen who went and carried signs calling for Labor/Black defense guards to smash fascists. This abstentionism has fed into a pool of bureaucratically fanned resentment that made it easier for the leadership to discredit him.
Don’t kid yourselves, comrades. A MAC or MC member who stands on the sidelines criticizing, or who takes wildcat action to demonstrate militancy, will not possibly have the effectiveness or respect of a MAC or MC steward, who does daily battle with the company and the trade union bureaucrats.
Apparently, some MAC members realized this. In Los Angeles, one steward refused to resign from his position. MAC then demanded and received his resignation from the caucus. There continues to be opposition inside MAC to the liquidation.
Declare A Faction! Fight To Oust The Regime!
Comrades, the moment has come to act against the SL/iSt’s historic leadership before it totally destroys what it once built. It has gutted the Canadian, Australian, British and German sections. They have been reduced to mere satellites of the US, comparable to the relation between Healy’s SLL and the “sections” of its IC. Now Robertson & Co. are destroying the trade union work, completing the process of purging long term trade unionists, such as Waters, Edwards and Harlan. We urge the SL/iSt cadre to oust the present regime in order to return to the SL’s formerly correct orientation.
We urge those who still hold executive board and other official union positions, together with other SL cadre, to declare a faction. Refuse to resign your positions and demand that no more resignations be carried out until the upcoming National conference. This conference has the authority to halt the destruction of the trade union centered caucuses and international work. SL cadre must insist on their right to form a faction and their right to retain membership. If you are loyal to the traditional Spartacist program, it is time to stand up and fight, knowing full well that the SL leadership will immediately move to purge you.
Some of the leading cadre may have gone along with the leadership to this point hoping that the arbitrary organizational abuses would blow over. It is still possible for comrades to organize and fight for a return to the proletarian perspective to which so many were initially recruited.
Some long term unionists may believe that they can prove their loyalty and safeguard their SL membership by meekly following the leadership’s orders to discredit themselves in the unions. Comrades, don’t illude yourselves! Robertson & Co. have a great fear, as Foster has stated, that anyone who leaves the SL and remains in their union will be in opposition within a year. In the past this meant that they were first purged from the organization and then driven out of their union. However, this hasn’t always worked. In an effort to correct the shortcomings of this approach they are now ordering the trade unionists to discredit themselves in their unions before they are purged from the SL. Resist your political destruction while you still have a chance.
The critical task at hand, of putting the SL back on the correct political track and saving the trade unionists from extinction, cannot be done by passively acquiescing to the leadership—it must start with a conscious decision to fight. Comrades who may have wondered what it was like to have been in the SWP in the 1950s and early sixties as it incrementally slid away from Trotskyism are living through the beginning of the same process today in the SL. Sometimes it proceeds in ways that are hard to see when you are right up close, but the unmistakeable preparations for the complete liquidation of 15 years of LI work and 10 years of T2 work should set off bells in the heads of every cadre in the tendency, and should bring them out fighting against the liquidation of the trade union perspective.
There Is An Alternative To Suicide
Howard stood up to the leadership when it demanded that he commit political suicide in the union. He resigned from the Militant Caucus rather than quit the union Executive Board and throw away the authority and respect for the Trotskyist program that was gained over the years of work in the union. The MC’s purge of Howard marked its transformation from a transitional organization into a front group that is now largely abstentionist on union issues.
Howard began publishing the Militant Longshoreman and has twice been re-elected to the local Executive Board on a class struggle program, despite the fierce opposition from both the union bureaucracy and the SL. Today, he stands as a solitary but authoritative class struggle pole at a time when the union faces a critical test over the union-busting use of scab labor at Levin’s Richmond Paar 5.
In contrast, forced to perform flip-flops and to self-criticize his fighting instincts in print, Stan’s authority in the union has been eroded. Only those of us who value his nearly 25 years of committed work, time spent largely in defense of the revolutionary program, willingly and actively took up his defense in the union.
Questions must be posed regarding the ineffectual wildcat picket line at berths H, I & J against the Lafayette which led to Stan’s trial. There are at least two interrelated factors that we can see having led to the wildcat. First, the SL’s developing political disorientation on the unions. Second, the SL’s view that union leadership positions are not worth the time and trouble they cost the organization. So they undertook an action which they knew from past experience might very well lead to just the type of charges that followed.
The SL leadership approached the El Salvador boycott from the premise that elected union bodies are just “dens of thieves”. In Stan’s last election leaflet, Longshore-Warehouse Militant No. 17, January 14, 1985, he says of the union conventions and caucuses:
“I’m running for those positions because the membership needs a voice in those dens of thieves and an honest set of eyes to report all their sellouts back to you.”
Thus Foster, Nelson & Co. gave up in advance the possibility of winning an officially sanctioned stop-work action. Additionally, they did not want an officially-led action because they believed it would simply have refurbished ILWU President Jimmy Herman’s credentials (an argument that Faber made to Edwards in an attempt to justify not fighting for the abortive Oroville-related work stoppage in December 1982). So they pushed Stan and the others to mount a wildcat which, even though destined to be ineffective, would still plant their banner firmly on the side of internationalism. Substituting a handful of MC-members for the union was a conscious act.
The SL leadership knows how to do these things right: several times the SL—after weeks of lining up support inside the union—has mounted large picket lines at piers, keeping its caucus supporters in the background, precisely to avoid victimization.
More important, the fraction has had significant success in organizing actual stop-work actions by the union on international issues. First, the 1974 Chile boycott and second, less directly, the 1977 boycott of South African cargo. The Chile stop-work action took months to pull off. This work included a carefully constructed united front committee, combined with a fortunate political conjuncture. At the time, the SL hailed it as an exemplar of militant working-class action and used it as a basis for recruitment throughout the world. As a result of this united front action Stan returned to Trotskyism after a six-year hiatus during which he consciously tried reformism; Howard was recruited and the Militant Caucus was born.
The SL leadership’s determination to root out its old trade union strategy and to prove that any further union-centered caucus building would be a waste of time, is evident in Workers Vanguard 331, 3 June, 1983, where they write the Chile boycott out of history. Only a political leadership which has either no confidence in its membership or utter contempt for them, changes course by falsifying the past, rather than openly debating the new turn.
There are several indications that, if properly prepared and organized, the El Salvador (or South African) boycott could have been—and still could be—pulled off: First, the 23 signatures that Stan originally collected on the call for a port shutdown; second, the final outcome of Stan’s trial, which shows at least passive support for his position. However, only the most token effort was made to build a picket line, as proven by the fact that not a single other member of Stan’s local was on the picket line when it was thrown up.
Stan’s defense was waged in the same sectarian, ineffective and politically treacherous way right up until the membership meeting, when a last minute change in tactics ensued. Stan refused to accept the offer of long-time Militant Caucus supporter Fred A., who is widely respected on the waterfront, to act as defense counsel. Is this because Fred collaborates closely with Howard? Then, at the constituting meeting of the trial committee, Stan stated that he did not picket the berth but only the ship. So what were he and the MC and the SL doing at the entrance of berths H, I & J? Telling workers at berths I & J to cross their picket line? Is that why one of Stan’s own hand-picked witnesses testified at the trial that it was only an “informational” picket line? Is the SL leadership’s PATCO position finally being brought into the open through the back door? Dismissing the unions as essentially agents of the bourgeois state logically leads to a position that “picket lines mean cross!”
At the trial itself, Stan took the line that the local and international union leadership equals the CIA and Ronald Reagan. He attacked the trial committee as agents of the enemy, and, with his supporters, acted in the most provocative and foolish manner. Had they waged a sensible and politically correct defense, perhaps the trial committee would have voted for an outright acquittal. After all, they did vote down the bureaucrats’ demand that Stan be barred from office.
Only at the membership meeting, where Stan was ultimately acquitted, did he shift his ground from the argument that the union equals Reagan/CIA to focus on the real issues. There is a definite possibility that, had he not changed course, he would have been convicted. His victory provides a breathing spell, but it should not be exaggerated or misinterpreted. In the months before the trial, Fred A. and Howard encountered widespread hostility and/or scepticism from those who had voted for and even worked with Stan just a few short months ago. The 72 signatures gathered for the united front leaflet “NO TRIAL AGAINST STAN GOW!”, that Fred and Howard initiated and distributed widely throughout the local, were hard to come by. Throughout the weeks leading up to the trial and membership vote, Fred and Howard persisted in Stan’s defense. They spoke at membership and Executive Board meetings. They talked to a large number of members about the real issues of the frame-up charges. They informed members that the international, embarrassed by the publicity about Stan’s trial in the bourgeois press, had disassociated itself from continuing the trial. At the membership meeting they played a significant role in turning the attack against Stan into an attack against the local leadership, charging them with “conduct unbecoming a member”.
But only Stan’s last minute change of tone and approach, intersecting the membership’s rage at the calling of the cops on Jackie, their mistrust of a leadership which is not defending their jobs, and their untapped opposition to the US’ support to the blood drenched El Salvadoran junta, snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.
The outcome of Stan’s trial should be used as a springboard to build properly organized and effective action against El Salvadoran cargo and/or South African cargo. We continue to stand ready to participate in either of these actions.
The “den of thieves” longshore caucus split. Workers Vanguard 331, 3 June, 1983—without acknowledging the Militant Caucus’ earlier position—says the longshore caucus only:
“…narrowly backed a move by the bureaucracy to table the shutdown resolution, 34 to 25. This strong show of support from a body that has the power to implement Gow’s class-struggle call threw a scare into the bureaucracy and the purge trial is an immediate and direct result.”
The “CIA/Reaganite” trial committee also split. These splits should cause the SL to correct its course, return to its Trotskyist analysis of the contradictory nature of the union bureaucracy, and get on with rebuilding the union-centered caucus. The first step should be waging a serious local-wide effort in defense of Jackie’s job and the principle “picket lines mean don’t cross!” However, judging from Los Angeles Militant Action Caucus, where, having defeated the bureaucracy, the stewards quit, no such correction will occur.
Has The Nature Of The Unions Changed?
This brings us to the “theoretical” justification for why the MAC stewards were ordered to resign. In Militant Longshoreman No. 5 (February 4, 1983), Howard said of the Militant Caucus and its co-thinkers in Workers Vanguard:
“Rather than openly stating their reorientation and defending it politically, they are trying to camouflage it by extending their correct historic opposition to the union bureaucracy into a blanket condemnation of the union.”
In a recent article accurately entitled “Doug Fraser: Company Cop” (Workers Vanguard 330, 20 May, 1983), the SL suggests that:
“One can compare Fraser’s joining the Chrysler board with the German Social Democrats’ voting for war credits on August 4, 1914. At that point the Social Democrats became not just sellouts but direct agents of the Kaiser…”
This is not the first time the August 4 analogy has been floated with reference to the UAW. Such a reference unmistakeably implies an assessment that there has been a fundamental shift in the character of the UAW.
As we have already mentioned, the Longshore-Warehouse Militant No. 17 (January 14, 1983) characterized the delegated ILWU bodies as simply “dens of thieves”.
In the Militant Action leaflet (May 16, 1983) to CWA Local 11502 explaining their resignations, Britton and Delgadillo say:
“Appointed stewards are expected to play the role of policemen on the shop floor, enforcing company policy and preventing union members from opposing these policies or even defending themselves when victimized.”
If Fraser joining the Chrysler board qualitatively changed the union, why did the SL leadership always aspire to build a Teamster fraction and caucus after Fitzsimmons (with the tacit support of the entire AFL-CIO bureaucracy) joined Nixon’s Wage Board? Why did SL supporters hold executive board slots and stewardships in the ILWU when Bridges was sitting on the Port Commission, planning and carrying out Mechanization and Modernization (M and M), developing the skilled steadymen system, and openly collaborating with the employers to destroy the union’s job base? It is ironic that the same longshore caucus that the Militant Caucus described as “dens of thieves” according to Workers Vanguard 331 (3 June, 1983) only “…narrowly backed a move by the bureaucracy…”. You cannot have it both ways. If you are just disoriented, then admit it and reopen your ranks to a faction of former members who will be glad to help straighten you out.
Did the CWA just yesterday donate its headquarters to the AIFLD-CIA? Were Jane, Gary, Kathy etc. really just cops for the company all along? What has changed? CWA stewards have always been appointed. For a decade, MAC members achieved de facto election through petitions circulated in their workplaces, signed by a significant number of their fellow workers, demanding their appointment as stewards. Or do you think that the union bureaucrats would have appointed militants voluntarily? Who are you trying to kid? Or have you forgotten the dual nature of the union bureaucracy? The brothers and sisters who insisted on MAC members as stewards constituted a base of support far stronger than many electoral bases, and the bureaucrats knew it.
If all an appointed steward can do is be a cop, why did CWA 11502 stewards and members force the reappointment of MACers who were”
“…attempting to defend members suspended by the company for failure to comply with the brutal speed up of the new productivity quotas”
—Militant Action, May 16, 1983
Realizing that a blanket dismissal of appointed stewards as just cops would not wash, the SL leadership forced a shift in focus in the Bay Area MAC resignation leaflet. Suddenly it discovered that “factfinding” forced stewards to cross the class line. But factfinding has been in the contract for the last two and a half years while SL supporters served as stewards!
In Militant Action, San Francisco, 20 February, 1981, MAC stated:
“The new factfinding procedure guts what little protection our members had under the old contract. It strips union stewards of virtually any power to fight for the members”.
“No MAC steward will participate as a factfinder. We will not be parties to this class collaborationist scheme to screw the membership.”
MAC stewards have since February 1981 successfully refused to take part in factfinding. So we ask, what has changed?
What about the successful fight by a long time SL supporter, who now supports the External Tendency, to retain his stewardship in CWA Local 4304 last June? When the CWA district rep put out a bulletin announcing layoffs, this militant wrote on the bulletins “The Time to Act Is While We Still Have Jobs —For A Nationwide Strike to Stop Layoffs!—Dump the Democrats and Republicans—Build A Workers Party”. He was immediately suspended from his stewardship, but a mobilization of his local members and other stewards forced his reinstatement.
These incidents may not be formal elections but they are the next best thing. They are a hell of a lot more real than Britton and Delgadillo’s disingenuous claim that they”
“…look forward to standing for election by union members as a steward…”
—Militant Action, May 16, 1983
If the SL leadership can no longer tell the difference between a militant steward and a cop, the CWA membership certainly can and is willing to fight to keep the militants in their positions as stewards.
We wonder whether the basic surrender in the CWA explains the half-hearted defense of Kathy I. While the local campaign has been somewhat effective, there has been no serious effort to duplicate the successful, nationally organized defense campaign of Jane M. Where are the telegrams, petitions and resolutions in defense of Kathy from CWA stewards and members in Cleveland, New York, Chicago, Louisville, Portland, Los Angeles, Houston, and other locals where MAC still has union supporters, or who participated in Jane M.’s defense (UCASSH)? Certainly, if the SL leadership still believed that Kathy’s position on the executive board and the defense of MAC was really worth the effort, the support of more than one-fourth of the local membership for recalling the entire local CWA leadership could have been the springboard for a national campaign to drop the charges.
The SL leadership offers one other “proof” of the new role of the unions: concessions. But concessions are a linear outgrowth of simple trade unionism. If all you ask for is a bigger piece of the pie, when the pie gets smaller you ask for less. And when there is allegedly no pie at all, you pay to bake one.
In the caucuses on the West Coast, beginning with the wave of strikebreaking and scabherding in 1976, we always told the union membership that the logic of the bureaucrats’ position, “what’s good for the companies is good for the union” was to propose lower wages, no hiring hall, reduced benefits for pre-seniority workers, etc. Our predictions came true with a vengeance throughout the labor movement. But that is why we fought for leadership in the unions on the transitional program then and why we are—and you should be—fighting for it now.
It is hardly an accident that having given up on the capacity of the organized workers to transform their unions into fighting weapons, the SL leadership more openly bruits about the possibility of taking the unions to court, and not only to SL members.
“…in spite of the progressive degeneration of trade unions and their growing together with the imperialist state, the work within the trade unions not only does not lose any of its importance but remains as before and becomes in a certain sense even more important work than ever for every revolutionary party. The matter at issue is essentially the struggle for influence over the working class”.
—”Trade Unions In the Epoch of Imperialist Decay” by Leon Trotsky
Is the SL leadership arguing that quantity has turned into quality? Al Nelson’s statement to Jensen, that an entire ILWU local is racist, seems to indicate that the unions have changed so much that Trotsky’s description no longer applies. Does the SL believe that the ILWU, CWA, UAW (indeed, all US unions) have simply become company unions? If so, they have not proved their case.
In the McCarthy period, when the unions were infinitely more closed to reds than they are now, when Trotskyists and Stalinists were being beaten and physically thrown out of the plants if they showed up for work, the SWP leadership did everything possible to maintain its foothold in the unions. Yet today, when Trotskyist trade unionists fight local bureaucrats in Local 9410 to a virtual standoff, the SL abandons its positions. Robertson & Co. are committing a conscious betrayal.
We believe that the SL “reassessment” of the perspectives for building an alternative class struggle pole in the unions is at best impressionistic and ahistorical; at worst, it is a major departure from Leninism/Trotskyism in the direction of looking for a revolutionary vanguard other than in the working class. We believe that the observation in Marxist Bulletin No. 9, Part III, that:
“Any definition of ‘propaganda’ which excludes this element of seeking to offer real revolutionary leadership in a few key situations is mere pretense in favor of an alien appetite…”.
—”Memorandum on the Transformation of the Spartacist League”
is as true today as it was in 1969. Likewise the assertion in the same document that:
“For an organization of our size and tasks, we should seek to have 30 – 40% of our membership active in trade union work”.
—”Trade Union Memorandum”
The LBSL—No Replacement For Union Centered Caucuses!
Clearly the SL is putting its eggs in the basket of the Labor Black Struggle League (LBSL). It is no accident that the LBSLs are being announced at the very moment that the caucuses, as we know them, are being liquidated. The LBSLs are designated to replace the union-centered caucuses as the SLUS’ main transitional organizations. The tactic of the LBSL is fine; it is only wrong if it is counterposed to and built on the corpses of the union-centered caucuses.
Ever since the June 27 Chicago anti-Nazi mobilization, the SL has made a sharp turn toward black work. The results have been mixed. On the one hand, there was the overwhelming success November 27 in DC, where for the first time in decades, large numbers of blacks mobilized behind the banners of a red and predominantly Caucasian organization. On the other hand, recruitment to the SL has been negligible despite the original post-DC projections. Indeed, we wonder why the SL did not organize a contingent in Norfolk, the home of the labor-centered Nat Turner Brigade, around the slogan “For A One-Day General Strike to Defend Busing”.
There are at least two reasons for the failure to recruit and hold the new recruits in significant numbers. First, the continuing purges and the waves of fear accompanying them makes the organization unattractive to new recruits and even to old ones who rejoin and uproot themselves to move across the country in the cause of revolution. Imagine you thought you had joined the Nat Turner Brigade and you discovered you had joined the Yuri Andropov Battalion instead!
Second, the SL’s approach to the LBSLs smacks of a Trotskyist variant of the “community organizing” strategy of the Black Panther Party, PL, RU/RCP, etc. against which the SL so powerfully polemicized. Without the anchor of the trade unions and the nucleus of their leadership in the caucuses, the effect of anti-Nazi/KKK mobilizations, however powerful, will tend to be dissipated back into the amorphous community. This is an ABC lesson about work among the unemployed and the unorganized drawn by Cannon from the CLA’s experiences in the 1930s.
Diana derisively said to us, when we came to try to convince Kathy not to resign as steward, “Stewards aren’t where it’s at. You guys have the mentality of petty trade union bureaucrats.” There are times when a small propaganda group would legitimately decide to focus on an area other than trade union work to build its forces. But the SLUS is liquidating its caucuses at a time when there are no major regroupment possibilities that could conceivably be offered as justification. Leftward moving SDS, PL in its period of rejecting nationalism, the Black Panthers before they split—each reflected sectors of the student, left or black population in significant motion which a small Trotskyist organization could realistically attempt to regroup. Today, unfortunately, there are no parallels.
There are significant, comparable and interrelated stirrings in the black communities and the integrated industrial unions. In both cases, they have been primarily electoral and only occasionally have burst these bounds. Hungry, angry, desperate blacks register by the tens of 1000s in the Democratic Party under the aegis of hustler Jesse Jackson, rebel occasionally as in Miami or turn out for left-led anti-fascist mobilizations. Hundreds of 1000s of integrated workers in city after city turn out at the call of their unions in marches to demonstrate their anger at Reaganomics. Bureaucratic misleaders desperately seek to channel this anger back into the Democratic Party, and try to isolate the occasional militant strikes—that challenge their class collaboration—like Canadian Chrysler or the recently defeated seven month long UAW strike against Caterpillar.
Voluminous Workers Vanguard sales at the labor parades, and the union members many years of electoral support for and repeated defense of class-struggle militants (not to mention the steady if only linear recruitment of stable supporters to the caucuses) lack the dramatic quality and immediate political importance of the anti-fascist Labor/Black mobilizations. However, we as Marxists know that concentrated and socialized in the plants at the point of production, workers have power and the maximum ability to be brought to class consciousness.
At a time when the fascists are on the offensive, trying to polarize the US working class along race lines, it is critically important that revolutionaries remain in the integrated industrial unions and seek, by building alternative leaderships around the transitional program, to turn the unions into “instruments of the revolutionary movement of the proletariat” as Trotsky advocated in “Trade Unions in the Epoch of Imperialist Decay”.
As we said in the Declaration of an external tendency of the iSt:
“The long-awaited and inevitable upsurge of American workers will come and when it does it will be expressed through the only working-class organizations in the US, the trade unions. Without an early political and organizational corrective, the SL/US will be in no position to take advantage of it, thereby losing the opportunity to build the core of a Bolshevik workers party.”
Comrades, the SLUS is crossing the Rubicon. The time to act is now. In the ILWU, as Harry Bridges drove the union toward destruction, workers increasingly said he couldn’t stand to see the union outlive him. In a move to keep the lid on and preserve bureaucratic rule, Bridges lieutenants forcibly pensioned him off. If JR has the Harry Bridges syndrome and can’t stand to see the SL/iSt outlive its founder’s political life, then we propose to pension him off. But we don’t propose to let his lieutenants run and ruin the show. Throw them off the Central Committee, take the WV, the keys, the money and the building from their hands, and let them rejoin the ranks to rehabilitate themselves by putting in a few good years of yeoman’s service for the revolution.
EXTERNAL TENDENCY OF THE IST
P.O. Box 904 P.O. Box 332
Oakland, CA 94668
Adelaide Street Station
U.S.A. Toronto, Ontario
P.O. Box 14158
Cleveland., Ohio 44114
PUBLISHED BY THE MILITANT ACTION CAUCUS
THE CLASS STRUGGLE OPPOSITION IN THE CWA
P.O. BOX 27365 LOS ANGELES, CA 90027
The Militant Action Caucus would like to thank all the sisters and brothers of this local who came out to support us in our fight to be reinstated as stewards in this local. Upon reflection experience shows us that to be an appointed steward comes into conflict with a class-struggle perspective. With the coming contract fight and the local bureaucrats’ plans to shove the new sellout down our throats, the local misleaders find it necessary to tighten their grip on the stewards. Coming to the defense of the membership is to put your job as an appointed steward on the line. It is impossible to be an appointed steward and at the sane time uphold the program of the caucus. Therefore, with all this in mind, all caucus stewards will be submittingx the following letter of resignation to the union.
To: Chief Stewards Office
I hereby resign as a steward of CWA Local 11502.
Appointed stewards have proven to be a tool of the anti-worker pro-company union bureaucracy. Appointed stewards are expected to play the role of policeman on the shop floor, enforcing company policy and preventing union members from opposing these policies or even defending themselves when victimized.
That this is the case was clearly demonstrated when three appointed stewards—Manuel Delgadillo, Barbara Britton, and Manuel Morales—were de-certified by the Local 11502 officers for attempting to defend members suspended by the company for failure to comply with the brutal speed up of the new productivity quotas. For acting in the interests of the members against the company they were accused of operating outside of “normal union channels.”
I refuse to be reduced to the role of an appointed toady acting as an agent for the company. My loyalties lie with the workers and their struggles against the company.
I look forward to standing for elections by union members as a steward on a program of fighting speed up and all other company profit-mailing schemes and fighting against the social-democratic, pro-CIA, pro-company union bureaucracy that acts as labor lieutenants of the bosses to enforce this company’s anti-worker policies.
For the Militant Action Caucus
labor donated 5-16-83
For information call: 664-9256, 698-4871
PUBLISHED BY THE MILITANT ACTION CAUCUS
THE CLASS STRUGGLE OPPOSITION IN THE CWA
P.O. BOX 6571 SAN FRANCISCO, CA 84101
P.O. BOX 24851 OAKLAND, CA 94823
We Won’t Be Flunkies For Imerzel & Co.
SHOVE IT, MR. SELLOUT!
The local union bureaucracy has drawn the line by demanding that all stewards must be factfinders or be fired as stewards. MAC stewards have refused to be factfinders since the inception of this class collaborationist procedure in 1981. Factfinding is a joint union/company scheme where the union acts in open collusion with the company on members’ grievances. Class collaboration is concrete—factfinding is like having your defense lawyer prepare your case jointly with the District Attorney who’s trying to hang you! We said we’d have no part of it when it started, we won’t have any part of it now. We militantly defy Imerzel’s pro-company edict and have resigned as stewards (see letter on back).
Both the company and the union bureaucracy love factfinding. For the union it’s the logical result of years of capitulation to the company. Union and company officials expect stewards to channel the justifiable outrage of members against increasing speedup, harassment, suspension and firings onto pieces of paper called “grievances”. So workers are told by both the company and the union to do what the company demands now and grieve it later. And months, sometimes years, later—where’s your grievance? It’s either sold out or dumped in the garbage. The red-tape grievance procedure is meant to keep the membership from taking immediate and effective action to stop company attacks. That’s why MAC has campaigned repeatedly for the local right to strike over grievances. The company only understands power, you won’t stop them with thousands of paper grievances.
Further, our members don’t even have the right to choose who will and who will not be their stewards. Stewards are appointed (and fired) by the bureaucracy. It’s no wonder that the majority of stewards aren’t trusted by the members. How many stewards use their appointed post as a stepping stone into management? How many act as cops on the shop floor, enforcing company policy and preventing members from fighting against victimization? How many act as company finks? How many are totally frustrated by the stacked deck grievance procedure or just quit in disgust after the majority of their grievances get no where? Look at what Imerzel, McKenna and Zupan did to MAC member Kat Burnham last August. In the service of the company, they set her up and finked on her to management—who then put her on indefinite suspension warning. Her grievance is still “pending”. In the Oakland local, an executive board member recently went into management and his successor got this turncoat’s endorsement for the executive board slot! Meanwhile, a petition signed by 19 out of 22 workers at 45th St. C.O. naming a MAC member as steward was dumped in the trash by the union officers.
The bureaucracy expects appointed stewards to be tools of their anti-worker, pro-company policies. Out of reach of any membership control, finks and traitors often further their little careers by stepping over the members they’re supposed to represent. MAC says—No officer or steward on the company “Ready Now” list! Dump factfinding! For the election of stewards by the members they represent!
MAC will continue the fight to win workers to our class struggle program. We are forging a new leadership to sweep out the rotten, pro-company bureaucrats. We are fighting for mass mobilizations of the working class and oppressed to smash racist cop violence and the rise of KKK/Nazi terror. We are for militant labor action to stop Reagan’s dirty war in Central America, the front line of the bipartisan anti-Soviet war drive that is leading straight to thermonuclear war. We are for breaking the workers movement from the Democrats and Republicans, the twin parties of the bosses. We need to build a workers party based on the unions which will throw out the capitalists and set up a workers government. Then we can establish a rational planned economy that can end unemployment, poverty, racism and imperialist war once and for all. JOIN MAC!
(We reprint below the letter submitted to the union 6-2-83)
June 1, 1983
TO: EXECUTIVE OFFICERS
We hereby resign as stewards in the CWA. You have drawn the line by demanding that all stewards be factfinders or be fired. We defy your pro-company edict! We will have no part of the rotten, class collaborationist factfinding scheme which forces stewards to be cops for the company and screws the members.
Further, since stewards are appointed by you and not elected by the members, you expect slavish loyalty in return. We refuse to be reduced to the role of appointed toadies for flunkies of the company. This is further underlined by the experience of MACers who served as appointed stewards in the L.A. local. For fighting in the interests of the members and aggressively defending several suspended workers, they were fired as stewards by your cohorts in the L.A. bureaucracy.
From your order to factfind to your dumping of the recall petition to your ongoing purge trial against Kathy Ikegami—your policies are pro-company and anti-worker!
We look forward to running for elected steward on the MAC program. We will continue to wage an implacable fight against the pro-CIA, pro-company CWA bureaucracy that serves as labor lieutenants for the bosses and their government.
For information: 821-9830/550-7518 Labor donated