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View Diary: Anti-Capitalist Meetup: Elizabeth Gurley Flynn and the Paterson Silk Strike (62 comments)

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  •  when I was a Wobbly living in PA, I was invited (4+ / 0-)

    each year by the historical museum at the Botto House in Paterson to give a speech at their annual labor gathering.

    I gave my standard IWW stump speech, modified it just a wee bit. It was very short, very to the point, and it ALWAYS pissed off the mainstream AFL-CIO union reps who were there. It went like this:

    "When I was in school, I was never taught anything about the history of the labor movement. At best, we are taught that some kindly old men in Congress decided one day, out of the goodness of their hearts, to pass laws granting rights and protections to unions and workers. It wasn’t until after I got out of school that I learned that labor in the US has a history, and it is a history of warfare and struggle. And Paterson is part of that history.

    "We need to keep in mind a few fundamental things.  The business interests aren’t in business to give us jobs.  They’re not there to make money for us.  They are there to make money for themselves. We are not humans to them.  We are equipment.  We are an expense—and the over-riding interest of any business is to cut the expenses. We are no different to them than a computer terminal or a pallette jack or a lump of raw material. We are just something else that they have to pay for if they want to make money.  Just another thing that they buy as cheaply as they can, use until it wears out or breaks down, then throw away and buy a new one.  And when they buy a new one, they don’t care what color it is or what language it speaks or what country it comes from.  All they care is “Can it make me money better than that one over there?”

    "We need to keep in mind those words that the IWW spoke from this very balcony 100 years ago; “The working class and the employing class have nothing in common.  Between these two classes, a struggle must go on, until the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the means of production, and abolish the wage system.”

    Thank you very much, and Solidarity Forever."

    •  Thank You! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JayRaye

      This message needs to be driven home again and again:

      We are an expense—and the over-riding interest of any business is to cut the expenses. We are no different to them than a computer terminal or a pallette jack or a lump of raw material. We are just something else that they have to pay for if they want to make money.  Just another thing that they buy as cheaply as they can, use until it wears out or breaks down, then throw away and buy a new one.
      I do sometimes wonder if things don't need to get worse for many so there is less to lose before we in the working class take more risks. But I also see the developments of co-ops all over the country, thriving of credit unions and things like local currencies and time-banks. And that gives me some hope.

      In any case, we certainly do need to increase awareness about the proud history of organized labor in the US, and we need to continue in that tradition.

      Maybe just maybe our foremothers and our forefathers came to this land in different ships. But we're all in the same boat now. - John Lewis

      by bluesheep on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 06:40:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  That was some good speaking there, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RiveroftheWest

      Fellow Worker Lenny. Sounds like you did us proud!

      WE NEVER FORGET For March: Francis Estep, UMWA Martyr

      by JayRaye on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 06:49:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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