Thursday, June 22, 2017

Bread & Roses Curriculum Idea: Making a Family Budget

Making a Family Budget
Here's one activity I like to use. Students make a Haitian Family Budget. Nice and realistically usable
I used this in classes at FDR for many years, in cooperative learning groups (reader, writer, spelling-grammar checker, reporter, and time-keeper) and the children really felt how difficult it was for oppressed families to just live.
Instead of the typical crap about pulling oneself up by one’s bootstraps, students discover that oppression is real; We parents and teachers have to teach our kids the truth at home if schools won't do it.
Schools will never tell the whole truth. History books are full of long as there are companies paying $5 hr., there will always be oppression.The good news is:

Thousands of Haitian Workers Are on Strike Against Foreign-Owned Sweatshops


Thousands of textile workers in Haiti have stopped work in factories and taken to the streets to demand of improved working conditions in the country’s maquiladora export industry. For more than three weeks, workers have mobilized to demand higher wages, an eight-hour workday and protections against increased quotas across the industrial centers of Port-au-Prince, Carrefour, Ounaminthe and Caracol.
The strike follows the annual commemoration of International Workers’ Day.
Currently, workers receive a daily wage of roughly 300 gourdes, or about 4.77 U.S. dollars (USD), for a day’s work. Strikers are demanding that the wage is raised to 800 gourdes, or 12.72 USD—and that the eight-hour day be respected.
Workers face poor labor conditions in the country’s assembly-line factories, where they produce textiles for large U.S. companies such as Levi Jeans and Fruit of the Loom. Factory owners have long called for the use of violence against workers’ rights activists in Haiti and fired anyone known to associate with the unions.
The workers are supported by a coalition of independent labor unions, SOTA-BO and PLASIT-BO, which represent textile workers. These unions are associated with the independent worker’s movement, Batay Ouvriye, or Workers’ Fight.
“We cannot work with dignity for 300 gourdes per day,” said Didier Dominique, the spokesman for Batay Ouvriye, in an interview over the phone. Dominique points out that it is impossible for a family to survive on the low wages, in part due to the out of control inflation in the Caribbean country.
"It's gotten to the point where I can't take care of my son. I don't see any future in this," said Esperancia Mernavil, a textile worker associated with the Gosttra union, told the Associated Press.
On May 19, strikers shut down dozens of factories and temporarily blocked the road to the Toussaint Louverture International airport in Port-au-Prince as part of their actions. They then marched in the direction of the Presidential Palace before they were met by riot police, who deployed tear gas against the workers. 
The Association of Industries of Haiti has denounced the strike, stating that the strikes are being led by isolated “militants and syndicalists.” They also levied accusations against strikers stating that they attacked the factories, as well as their fellow workers within, leading to the temporary closure of factories on May 19. 
The workers have maintained their willingness to continue the strike, but cracks in their mobilization are beginning to show. Haiti’s constant crisis of poverty makes it difficult for the strike to maintain momentum over the long run. 
“After three weeks of protests, people are getting tired,” said Dominique. “Families are beginning to have financial issues.”
But Batay Ouviye and the other unions are already planning their next actions in the event that the strike comes to an end. 
The current strike continues years of actions to demand an increase in wages and improved labor conditions for textile and factory workers. The first minimum wage was established in the 1980s, and it was raised again in 1995. Since then, the minimum wage has not kept up with inflation.
“Every year it gets more and more difficult to survive,” said Dominique. “The inflation takes more and more of the worker’s money. There is no stability. Because of this the workers are demanding higher wages.”
In 2008, the Haitian parliament discussed raising the minimum wage in order to keep up with inflation. But these efforts were derailed by pressure from the United States, with the U.S. Embassy telling officials that any efforts to raise the minimum wage would hurt the economy and threaten trade agreements.
Secret embassy cables exposed by Wikileaks in 2011 highlight the collusion between the United States and businesses to keep the minimum wage low. These revelations led The Nation Magazine and Haiti Liberte to conclude, "U.S. Embassy in Haiti worked closely with factory owners contracted by Levi’s, Hanes, and Fruit of the Loom to aggressively block a paltry minimum wage increase."
Despite the pushback from the United States and  companies, the Haitian Parliament successfully raised the minimum wage to roughly 5.11 U.S. dollars for an eight-hour workday in 2014. Yet, this raise does little to assist families that teeter on the poverty line. 
“The companies take millions of dollars from the country, and we are left working in poor conditions for little money,” said Dominique. “It is slavery all over again.” 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

My Opinion: A Letter to Obama Apologists

barack obama

This is for those who cannot “Pity the sad legacy of Barack Obama,” as Cornel West
calls it. “Our hope and change candidate fell short time and time again when Obama cheerleaders refused to make him accountable bear some responsibility.” Those are the people who will continue to do nothing to change America’s direction, nothing at all but complain as they always have. “Barack Obama's original sin: America's post-racial illusion,"Cornel West called it. This blog piece is addressed to you:

You already are well familiar with how Dr. West feels about Obama. I know you are Obama fans, don't I, so you're prejudiced. You have heard all the arguments before. You have heard the claim that nobody had dropped more bombs than Obama and you feel that is pretty ludicrous, if you take FDR and Harry Truman, in a class of their own. 

No, you don’t want to squabble over things like this, when you figure “our entire society” has gotten way better as a whole, when it comes to war fatalities. War deaths worldwide have decreased, you think, to a minuscule level compared to 70 years ago.

The newest New York Times research shows 60,000 deaths in 2016 in the U.S. for persons under 50 year-old was due to drug overdoses, in epidemic proportions, from the hopelessness and disappointment in the believers of Obama’s promises.

Obama’s seven illegal invasions of other sovereign nations resulted in the biggest Diaspora from Middle World emigrating to a Europe in WASP privilege mode. Because of the wars Obama supported, instead of ended, and his lack of peaceful leadership, the U.S. people got the wishy-washy leadership of a politician, betraying the working class by supporting Clinton’s neo-liberalism, shunning Sanders; a move that lead to Trump’s presidency.

I know you know you are going to have a different interpretation of it all than I do, don't I, and you are satisfied that it is a difference of opinion; you ask who is right? You say you feel how you do and I feel how I do.That is fair in a way, because colleagues benefit from union organizing and scabs don't. 

Monday, June 5, 2017

Excerpt: Bread & Puppet Theater

Note: taIWWan is posting excerpts from David Barry Temple's three historical novels. 

In this scene from his first novel,Smoke No Fireit is Moratorium Day on a beautiful Saturday, November 15, 1969, in the National Capital. Young rebel, Johnny Livewire, gets his first taste of solidarity in Washington D.C.

"You dudes okay back there?"

      "Yes, we're okay, but my buddy has to take a leak."
      "We'll be making a rest stop in about fifteen minutes."
      "Great. Where are we, anyway?"
      "Maryland, near the Delaware border." Three different people were answering from the front of the bus; not the driver, Peter. He paid attention to the road religiously. Behind him in the converted school bus, with only a little of the original yellow left between the multi-color Peter Max style motif, red, blue, green; behind him were three double seats left, on each side of the aisle. Between those seats and Johnny Emerson and Tony's nook at the rear emergency door, were a dozen or so ten-foot diameter heads, caricatures of villains like Agnew, Nixon, Kissinger, and assorted fairies and well-groomed men, all paper mache, all reaching the ceiling of the bus and busting at the windows. Johnny rested his jacket on Nixon's nose; very convenient. Tony reclined between a pinwheel and a calliope.

      The Bread and Puppet Theater were news to him and Tony. If not for Walter's introduction, they would never have known about them. They were prepared to catch a Greyhound to Washington. This trip saved them money. They weren't even able to contribute to the gas pool and were never asked. They were, however, asked if they would carry some equipment and costumes out, which they gladly agreed to do.
      The Bread & Puppet Theater shared the space over the Purple Onion in the East Village. Walter worked with them before they moved to Plainfield, Vermont in June 1970. There they were the ‘theater-in-residence’ at Goddard College. Later, they would move on to Glover, Vermont, and convert an old barn there into a museum to house their puppets and homemade instruments, sculptures, and things. They even gave workshops in mime and storytelling there. 

      Now, they were headed to D.C. to give another of their

performances against American involvement in Vietnam. Their goal was to entertain while teaching about the social injustices of war, hunger and oppression. Johnny had never seen them perform. The driver, Peter Schumann, the man who formed them in West Germany in 1962, was a nice to them, offering to share food and drink and making room for them in the back of their bus. 
      Guerrilla theater they called it. Until someone informed him, he thought it was the primate they were referring to since they seemed to be monkeying around with tsetse masks and stuff. These radical activists like the San Francisco Mime Troupe that Bill Graham belonged to before he started the Fillmore rock 'n' roll shows, were very popular at demonstrations. Abbie Hoffman used guerrilla theater when he and the other Yippies took over Wall Street in August 1967. It created quite a media-frenzy and pushed the anti-war movement onto the front pages of the Daily News and Post. It certainly annoyed the business people who were ridiculed and satirized by them. 
     Guerrilla theater was going to be used by the Bread and Puppet Theater in Washington that Saturday and Sunday at the Moratorium.

The bus arrived at the Tidal Basin in Washington Friday evening, seven hours after it had left Union Square in Manhattan. Everyone was told to meet back there at 5 pm on Sunday if they wanted a ride back to New York.

     He and Tony made it to the church that had opened its doors to demonstrators. Sure, they had to sleep on the floor in the basement but it was off the street. Perhaps a hundred people took cots and stowed their things for the night. What a night. Nothing going on outside but in his mind, the sirens were blaring. A headache like he had never felt before pounded his head. He was sure that it had something to do with the church. Perhaps because he was Jewish the spirits in the church were rebelling against him. All night long he stayed up.

     "Are you okay?" she said standing over him draped by a thin blanket the staff had handed out."

     "I have a terrible headache," moaned Johnny as he glanced over to his travel partner fast asleep beside him.

     "That's easy; come across the street with me to the rectory. I believe they have some medicine." She helped him to stand up and get his bearings and left the church. As soon as he passed through the door onto the street, his headache went away. 

     "I can't believe it; my headache is gone."

     "You can't be serious."

     "Yes, it's gone. Maybe all I needed was some fresh air." They went to the rectory anyway, sat in the kitchen and had tea together, something called herbal tea." Judith was her name. The night in the church was long and their conversation lasted until dawn, a dawn they spent rolling on the grass behind the Lincoln Memorial emancipated from the burdens of sleeping in the church, despite the chilly air, wrapped together with Judith in the thin blanket until the park service officer happened upon them. They had to leave, and so they strolled back towards the church where both of them had stashed their belongings. They said goodbye. When they returned the demonstration was already starting.

     They were to meet the Bread & Puppet Theater at the base of the Washington Monument at 8 am. Somehow, it was easy to find directions; everyone sleeping in the church were heading to the Monument or the Reflecting Pool. He and Tony found Peter and the troupe by spying the large Nixon and Agnew heads being propped up. They pitched in, as they had promised, and helped get all the sets ready. There was even some talk about Johnny being a Viet Cong soldier but then they found a replacement.
The show began, if you can call it a show. He had never seen anything like it before.
      Later, Ramparts magazine detailed the performance for posterity: 
"A squad of soldiers moved through the part adjoining the U.S. Capitol. They were grubby looking troopers, clad in jungle fatigues and "boonie hats" with wide brims turned up. Jumping a low fence, they began shouting at a group of tourists. 'All right. Hold it. Hold it. Nobody move. Nobody move.' Their voices were full of tension and anger. A man broke out of the crowd and started running. Several soldiers fired at once, and the man fell, clutching his stomach. Blood could be seen on the clean sidewalk. The tourists turned away in horror. 'Get a body count,' a soldier yelled.                

"Another squad of soldiers emerged from under the Capitol steps.’All right. ID. ID,' they screeched. 'You got no ID and you Viet Cong.' They quickly grabbed a young woman and led her away, binding her wrists behind her back and prodding her with their rifles.... They grabbed [a] young man and threw him on the ground, tying his hands behind his back. Several of the soldiers kicked him, seeming to aim for his groin.

"Then someone took out a long, thick hunting knife and lifted up the man's shirt, holding the knife to his bare stomach, and pushed against it slightly. 'You VC? You VC?' The man said nothing. He was pushed to his feet and shoved down again. Then he was told to get up. This time the knife was pushed to the side of his neck, and the same question was repeated. Still no answer. The man was dragged away.... Then the soldiers left, and a smaller, less angry group of men dressed in khaki fatigues passed out leaflets to the astonished tourists.
"A US Infantry platoon just passed through here!" the pink colored piece of paper read in big bold letters. "If you had been Vietnamese... We might have burned your house. We might have shot your dog. We might have shot you... HELP US END THE WAR BEFORE THEY TURN YOUR SON INTO A BUTCHER OR A CORPSE."
       How much of Johnny's  trip was revolutionary and how much was it recreation? They were both at the same time. Getting a ride with the theater was great but they had their own ideas about what they would be doing in D.C. that weekend in November.

      “Georgetown is just across the K Street Bridge over Rock Creek Valley, left up Virginia Avenue Northwest, then right on Wisconsin Avenue Northwest ,” said the sweet young thing that happened to be seated on the grassy hill sloping down from the Washington Monument. Police had put high chain-link fencing around the rotunda at the obelisk’s base, but the lawn belonged to the people, most of them, like him, close to the age one had to register for the draft lottery. Julia didn’t have to worry about being drafted females weren’t targeted then. Julia, being all but fifteen, had only flower power in her bright blue eyes, no shades of politics or war. She chanced to live in a suburb of Washington D.C. which was neither a residence to poor underclass of African- Americans nor the home to denizen scions of diplomats. Her father, from a working class family, was a mechanic at Temple Motors in nearby Alexandria, Virginia. She was visiting the apartment her older brother shared with his classmate who was an undergraduate at Georgetown University. It was a beautiful Saturday, November 15, 1969.
      “Clear the area now or you will be in violation of Chapter 1, Section 7.96 ‘Parks Service Regulations – National Capitol Region.”
      “What did he say?”
      “He said the Parks Department wants us out of here.”
      “Why? We’re not doing anything bad.”
      “They’re flying kites?”
      “What did you say?”
      “They’re saying we can’t fly kites here.”
      “That’s ridiculous. Who said so?” A young bearded man in an Indian peasant shirt and beads handed Johnny Emerson an official flyer with the Parks Department logo on top.

     “It is covered in Section 1.5, ‘Closures and public use limits’,” said the young man sitting near them. “Look at Item #13. Under the title ‘National Mall Superintendent’s Compendium’ addendum to 36 CRF with an additional set of discretionary restrictions specific to the National Malls under Section 1.5 Subsection (c), it says, ‘Public Use Limits’ and the all important Item #13 which, indeed, prohibited flying kites [using glass-coated or other abrasive non- biodegradable kite string…”
      “Enough already!”
      “But it’s so nice here. Why would they want us to leave?” Julia got up from her spot on the grass and scanned the scene, her hand over her eyes for shade. She saw thousands of young people like herself down the slope and surrounding the Reflecting Pool leading up to the Capitol Building. The disturbing sound of helicopters droned overhead. An occasional caravan of police vehicles, sirens screaming, red lights flashing, sped down Madison and Jefferson Drive. A troupe of D.C. police waited down the side of the Monument, helmets on, visors down, batons in hand. The warning came again out of the mouth of a bullhorn from among their ranks.
      I don’t want to leave,” Julia protested. “It’s so nice here.” She passed half of a tangerine someone had given her. To her, it was a picnic for thousands who didn’t mind getting grass stains on their jeans. Julia preferred to sit on one of the large Moratorium broadsides someone had handed out. It was larger than the Revolutionary Worker newspaper which is the only reason why she kept one instead of the other.
      “You have fifteen minutes to clear the area or you will be arrested.”
      “You said Georgetown wasn’t far, didn’t you?” he queried. “Could we walk there from here?”
      “Or take a train or bus.”
      “I don’t think any Metro trains or buses are running near here now.”
      “No, I guess not. Yeah, we could walk there. Why?”
      “How long?”
      “I don’t know about an hour, half hour…I never tried walking,” said Julia squinting her eyes in the sun.
      “You look so adorable when you do that.”

      “What. What was I doing?” said Julia as she squatted back down to see him face to face.
      “Oh, nothing. You were squinting your eyes in the sun and your nose looked so cute all scrunched up.” Julia put her hand in front of her mouth, chuckled, and smiled into Emerson’s eyes.
      “You’re a nice person, Johnny Emerson. Would you like to meet my brother? He knows more about what’s going on. The two of you could be good.”
      “Where is he?”
      “Oh, he’s down there near that red banner.” Julia pointed to the left side of the lawn where a group of students from a Georgetown University organization for peace had set itself up.
      “Come on. Let’s go down and get a drink. They have some cold lemonade there,” said Julia as she jumped up from her squat and put two hands out for Emerson to be pulled up by. They laughed as he took hold of them and both nearly tumbled back to the ground by his weight.
      Her brother was packing something when she startled him with a hello.
      “Julia, you’d better leave now. It looks like it is going to get ugly around here,” said Matthew, her be speckled brother, his long blond hair tied at his shoulders.
      “Go back to my place and wait for us there. Sunny?” he called out and gestured to a cooler near his classmate, a young woman with a sunflower painted onto her cheek. “Could you go with Julia back to the apartment and bring this with you?”
      “Here, let me take that,” said Johnny  reaching down for a handle on the heavy cooler.
      “Matthew, this is Johnny Emerson. He’s from Lawrence, Massachusetts.”
      “Lawrence, eh. Site of the Strike for Three Loaves. Right?”
      “That’s right. For thirty-two cents that the bosses cut from their salary.”

      “It’s nice to meet you. What group are you with?”
      “I came down here in a bus with the Bread & Puppet Theater but we got separated. I also lost my classmate, Tony. I hope to meet up with him and them at the spot they said they’d be leaving from late Sunday afternoon.”
      “If we stay here we’ll get arrested, you know,” said Matthew as he scurried to collect some brochures and pins the group had placed on a bridge table. They were packing up and getting ready for the siege.
      “I’ll come back and meet you, if you don’t mind, after we drop off Julia and the cooler,” he said as he and Sunny lifted the cooler.”
      “If we’re not here when you get back, we may be in RFK Stadium. That’s where the pigs are putting demonstrators, I heard,” said Matthew.
      With that, he and Sunny headed west off the Monument lawn with Julia holding a bag and a backpack. They headed toward Georgetown. They had just gotten down to K Street when they heard a roar from up the Washington Monument hill. The police were slowly walking in line up the hill and surrounding the demonstrators, Matthew among them.
      “They’re taking Matthew,” yelled Julia and turned to go back.
      “There’s nothing we can do,” he said putting the cooler down with Sunny and turning to see the police line moving up the hill, faster now, the people inside scampering and defending themselves.”
      “Your brother will be okay. He’ll know what to do. Let’s go before we get trapped, too.”

      The three of them followed with the crowd heading away from the ruckus. Still others circled around to join the main demonstration near the Reflecting Pool. Johnny, Julia, and Sunny headed past the Watergate Complex and across the bridge to Wisconsin Avenue in Georgetown. 

Excerpt: The Bug in the Latte

Note: taIWWan is posting excerpts from David Barry Temple's three historical novels. 

In this scene from his second novel, Life's Progressive Movement, Johnny Emerson encounters the power of a clique at an IWW GMB meeting in this strange brew of home-grown unionism. It's a warning to grass-root organizing to beware of moles or let themselves get moldy.

  The tedium of collective decision making was the main reason Ryland
Grossinger moved his Dante's Barista Union meetings to another time and place, yet he still made sure to make a grand late entrance at the monthly General Membership Branch meetings to see that nothing was going on behind his back
     Occasionally,  at some monthly meetings, five baristas would show up to have their vote registered. It was getting so that when Johnny Emerson, Fergie, Crutch, and Covert saw them there, they knew it was to make a motion for something the the DBU needed, something they needed a majority of barista votes for, such as when they wanted to raid the GMB treasury and print flyers or have stocking hats purchased for themselves from General Headquarters.

     With Grossinger usually making the motion, and another coffee jerk pumping up a hand to second the motion, the barista union always won a majority of votes, if only by a vote of five to four. If there was on the agenda a vote against DBU interests, Ryland alerted all his barista friends not to show up at the GMB meeting to stifle the five person quorum needed for a vote. Grossinger calculated correctly that there would be only four members without the baristas' presence. It was all very democratic, and deceitful. It became a morbid joke to Johnny and other fellow workers.

     "Hey Fergie, remember that overhead projector we were talking about getting for our outreach event film presentations?" Johnny asked. "Well, I saw one on sale for a few thousand dollars."

     "Point of order: Treasurer Davinsky, how much do we have left in the treasury?" Crutch chimed in. 

     "Three thousand eight hundred, not counting the five hundred lent to the fellow worker from Jersey to get his PETA girlfriend out of jail," Johnny Emerson replied. "Also, GHQ sent us a bill of four hundred fifty dollars for the thirty stocking hats the DBU received from them."

     "What!? When did that happen?" Jack Covert snapped to attention as he raised his head from the back corner of the zine room. 

     "At the meeting last month; you don't remember?" 

     "Why are we paying for them? Shouldn't the DBU pay themselves?" Covert demanded, his thin voice cracking.
     "I do believe the motion was for GMB to foot the bill as outreach for those who showed up at the demonstration at the Union Square shop," Crutch recalled, his hand raised accordingly to be recognized by the facilitator; himself. 
     "Your guess is as good as mine," Johnny Emerson replied as he wrote the minutes. After months of trying to persuade the baristas to refund the treasury, Johnny Emerson and GMB wrote it and the PETA girlfriend loan off as a loss. 
     "We had better buy that projector before all the funds are gone," said Fergie incredulously. 
     "We don't really need it," Johnny pointed out.
     "Damn if they really needed those stocking hats, those bitches." Fergie wiped his nose and shook his head.
      In the back of his mind, Johnny  knew that including this business in the meeting minutes was a bad move so he censored it. Even though the original vote indicated the cost of the hats should be repaid, the barista clique would just come to a GMB meeting to vote not to return the funds. 
     No one in GHQ ever learned if the DBU ever raised their own funds. Occasionally, a check would come into the P.O. box Crutch monitored at the main post office earmarked for the barista organizing drive, but there were never any funds coming the other way. Even monthly dues weren't paid by the working group as, according to IWW regulations, they could keep them for their own cause. Peter Portobello, was the only barista who admitted that though he kept himself in good standing, delegate Ryland didn't bother to collect dues from others; he would speak with Rye at one of the special meetings.
     A few months earlier, when the whole unionizing thing started percolating, Grossinger spilled the beans and told the GMB that he had filed for NLRB recognition of the DBU without consulting the others first. "The NLRB will protect us from being burned by management," he said in his defense. But it didn't prevent barista Bruno, the greenest bean of them all, from wearing his IWW pin proudly on his Dante cap, the part of the uniform above the brain, and getting into an argument with the manager in the cafe, getting fired when he refused to take the button off. Grossinger wasn't that naive. He handed management his cool mug. 
     Grossinger had his hands full convincing more baristas in his store to join the union; it became evident that, against the GMB's hind-sighted advice, only a minority had joined. Now, with the caffeine out of the brew, the Dante regional manager started packing the payroll with loyal baristas from other shops before NLRB capped the voting participants. The Dante's law firm got busy filing a motion claiming theirs were regional and one store alone couldn't be unionized. 
     When the court ruled that one store could indeed be unionized because its manager had the power to hire and fire independently, it didn't much matter because the DBU would have lost the vote, anyway. Grossinger thought it prudent, and it would make him look good, to postpone the election and claim a victory, anyway. The pro-bono defense he secured from a law firm he was hoping to get a position with would back him up. 
     When news broke in the corporate media, there was Ryland Grossinger in a captioned photo, in his Dante's uniform, looking up to the sky like a Greek hero, proudly displaying his hard fought right to wear the IWW button while on duty; a great victory. The Daily News and the Post were amused and printed it. 
     When it became evident that Grossinger would need the assistance of everyone in the GMB from that point on, freedom-riding activists joined in a meeting that was arranged at a pub ironically called The Union Bar; it was near the communal house some Wobs shared in the Bushwick neighborhood.  
     The GMB was exciting when fifteen people showed up at the meeting in the garden of the pub in the grumbling bowels of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway that hummed with traffic above. Wobblies that hadn't been to meetings in months came anxious to decide on the next step. There were so many people that wanted to pay up dues so to be eligible to vote that the meeting was delayed to affix stamps in their Red Books. It was a right regular party, too, with beer and pizza paid for by the GMB. 
     The meeting was called to order, Grossinger facilitating. Crutch raised his hand first with an urgent question."Point of order: Why didn't y'all ask the branch before you went public?"
     "Does it matter now?" one barista shot back, out of order. "What's done is done." To Johnny, the urgent barista sounded like a parent who had found that his teenage daughter's pregnancy test came back positive. There would be no abortion in this right to unionize life.
    "We are organizing the first Dante's in the whole world!" foamed Grossinger to the applause and hoots of the other baristas. He then lowered his voice and addressed Crutch publicly but private-like:
     "If you are going to be negative about this, we might have to ask you to leave the meeting." All eyes followed to see Crutch's reaction.
     "I beg your pardon, fellow worker, but that is highly undemocratic," fumed Crutch. 
     "Be what it may, but we have had enough of your nay-saying," said Ryland to wagging heads around him. "We're going to have to ask you to step away from this meeting and wait outside."
     "I will most certainly not," replied Crutch jumping to his feet with indignation. 

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Excerpt : The Hard-Hat Riot - NYC 5-8-70

Note: taIWWan will be sharing excerpts from David Barry Temple's first novel, Smoke No Fire, about the formative years of  an American rebel.  In this scene, our hero, Johnny Livewire, has attended his first march in Manhattan and discovered the AFL-CIO is the enemy of the progressive movement.

  On May 8th in his sophomore year, he went on his first march in Manhattan with Tony. The whole Social Action Club from Central High School went. Mayor Lindsey paid for their transportation to Battery Park in a black hearse limousine. The mayor’s office even supplied the print shop where they could make flyer. What a great mayor! Business people hated him
    A metal-hinged accordion barricade twined  around an open manhole. Its worn bruised circular bars one inch think and unbendable. Three tubes one foot from the pavement soldered smoothly, metal bottoms scratching the pitch black surface. On the manhole itself, three feet wide, a pair of think gray fabric gloves lay atop hefty pliers and a cardboard spool of thick black cable. To the side was a three foot passageway where parked cars had formally been before moved for the march. A heavy yellow metal chest sat on the side closest to the open manhole, the hitch extended out past  the one-wheeled power unit out into the street where marchers marched. One had to avoid it to make his way up Broadway.
      To the left of the work area lay the full breadth of Broadway; four lanes wide without cars parked at meters, thirty feet wide if you didn’t include the obstructive work area with open manhole. The legal march, originating in Battery Park a half mile down the hill at the southerly tip of Manhattan, proceeded by, the noisy procession punctuated by players banging thick dowel sticks on industrial strength white plastic containers punched with holes on either side where a rope strung around the neck of the primitive musicians. It moved on past the Consolidated Edison work-site until he caught it in sight out of the right corner of his eye.
      He held up the right rear of the cardboard American flag draped coffin, moved as briskly up the Broadway as the 60,000 Americans whose death was symbolized by the box of their final resting place.
        “Ho-ho-ho Chi-Min, the N.L.F. is gonna win! …”  bounced off the marble facades of the business towers on either side of Broadway echoing its way up the canyon, clashing with previous and preceding contingents high schools around the five boroughs. The march shouted, the march chanted, and the earnest youth joined to win like Ho would win.
      He could vaguely see, from the right corner of his eye, the work area and uncovered manhole cover which lay at its side, and he knew where to avoid walking. From out of the hole, a light blue hardhat emerged, and then a forehead, black eyebrows, bulbous nose, square opened mouth, strapped under chin, and the whole body of a workman. The face had a smile on it, a middle-aged smile with stubble beard around the lips of unshaven cheeks, a missing tooth around brown abused tiles. The mouth smiled but the eyes stared. That should have been a warning. He smiled back excitedly but he shouldn’t have. Within two feet of the five foot cage, cheeks sucked in, lips puckered, the chest expanded, and a large globule of discharge shot through the air. Solid gray phlegm coagulated by whatever soot the man had breathed into his uncovered d blowhole below the street among the serpentine sewers of old New York. The gray matter flew through the air and found its mark like the dart of a cannibal’s straw into his right ear canal and dripped down the lobe like a stalagmite in a cavern. Some dripped down his right cheek and near his eye. Johnny Emerson, hands occupied on the coffin flinched but couldn’t remove it fast enough.
      “That’s for the sign of the American chicken; fuckin’ fagot retard!” said the workman as he continued marching, drenched from the ejaculation.
      “That’s taking one for the movement.”
      “What movement. Bowel movement?”
      “Yeah man; from the fat fool’s shitty gut.” 
       They called it the Hard Hat Riot. While Jonathan Emerson and another one thousand high school students were protesting the killing of four students at Kent State University a few days before, The American invasion of Cambodia, and the Vietnam War, about two hundred construction workers, brought in by bus by the New York State AFL-CIO, attacked them. Union workers from nearby projects and Con Ed workers on the street joined in the feast. He dropped the coffin he'd been holding and fled with the others with tool wielding burly men in pursuit. For two hours, He ran through the streets of lower Manhattan, from Broad Street to City Hall, trying to escape the violence. Escape he did by slipping into J&R Music World on Publishers' Row. He laid low inside, looking at the albums and listening to new releases on turntables in booths in the back rooms. More than seventy protesters were injured, but only four police and a smattering of construction workers who, people said, hurt themselves trying to beat up protesters. 
        What was George Meany, the AFL-CIO President thinking? He couldn't understand how a union man could be anti-communist since communism meant the workers' had taken over the state. Most labor leaders supported the US military involvement in Southeast Asia without realizing American was clearing a path for sweatshop workers to take union jobs away in the new America. Emerson really thought that Con Ed worker coming out of the manhole was there to welcome the protesters, not spit on them! Peter Brennan, the President of the Building and Construction Trades Council of New York was at the heart of the betrayal. He became Republican as the skilled labor unions lost their power; he wanted to save his own job so he capitulated. He had heard the please "AF of Hell" from Pop. When he was a student at Joe Ettor Junior High in Lawrence, he heard how the AFL-CIO of Gompers had turned their backs on the textile workers of the mills there saying they were un-skilled foreign workers and didn't deserve to be in a union; that's what Pop told him. The AFL-CIO hadn't changed that much in sixty years.
     The rally began at noon. While he was further up Broadway getting ready to march, unbeknownst to him and the people around him, two hundred construction workers converged on the rally at Federal Hall from four directions carrying signs that said "All the way, USA' and "America, love it or leave it." They broke through a skimpy police line and started chasing students. The police stood by and did nothing to stop them.
Mayor Lindsay, who had helped the high school students by permitting teachers to join the rally that day, severely criticized the police for their lack of action. The police leaders later accused Lindsay of insulting their integrity by his statements, and blamed him for being unprepared for the demonstration. Brennan, on the other hand, was welcomed to the White House where he presented Nixon with a hard hat souvenir.  

Monday, May 22, 2017

Excerpt: Hitler's Dream

Note: taIWWan will be sharing excerpts from David Barry Temple's sci-fi novel, A Western Metempsychosis, about time travelers who go back in history to rescue the human race from fascists, imperialists, and capitalists. 

In this scene, the time travelers work on Hitler's ideology with subliminal persuasion after his incarceration for the Beer Hall Putsch. With the spirit of Rosa Luxemburg and Samuel Wallenstein within, Hitler and Hess alter Mein Kampf.

At night, his conscience worked on him, relaxing him to doze off. In one dream, he was on a train within minutes of a Finland Station though he had never been to Finland. He was the main attraction when the train arrived with every eye upon him. He went out to stand on the caboose platform to wave. The station itself was gray and pink stucco held up by slim columns that branched where they met the roof. His last thought before awakening was that the station did not suit him well.
“This could be you,” he heard a female voice within him say, as he stood and shuttered peeing in the pot provided. He could quickly seize control of events, too, a wakeful voice said. “You could become a mench,” a third voice whispered as he returned to sit on the cot and contemplate his dream. Then, the penny dropped: he realized what he had dreamed: He was Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, Lenin, steaming into St. Petersburg after an eight day trip from Zurich to start the socialist revolution.                              
“Rudolph, I had the strangest dream a few nights ago,” said Adolph during his confidant’s next visit to prison. “I know how to convert the German volk to socialism without simply killing off the old individualism, the entrepreneurial and managerial classes left from Weimar liberalism.”
“The community of the volk, Herr Hitler?” asked Rudolph detecting a shift in Adolf’s philosophy.
“They should be used, not destroyed. The state could control without owning, guided by a single party, but could the economy be planned and directed without dispossessing the propertied classes.”
“Yes, I see your point. There cannot be socialism without a civil war.”
“Did I say that?” questioned Adolph.
“It sounded like that was what you meant,” retorted Rudolph looking askew.
“We cannot find and travel the road from individualism to socialism without revolution; that is what the dream told me.”
“Your dream, Herr Hitler?”
“I understand Lenin now,” Adolph went on, pacing the cell, hands clasped behind his back. “Marx and Lenin had the right goal, but had chosen the wrong route.”
“Instead of destroying the bourgeois and the kulak, they must use it and let it destroy itself as the workers bore from within, fire their bosses, and share the profits.”
“That is a marvelous idea, Herr Hitler.” Rudolph wrote down every word Adolph said on a pad. It would become Mein Kampf the way Rosa Luxemburg would have had it.
“Why the Jews aren’t Germany’s enemy at all! Their social awareness will help all volk realize our ideals. Bourgeois Jewish businessmen and women aside-“
“Let’s not forget the rising of the women!” interrupted Rudolph. 
“Of course not! All volk, men and women, will be appreciated by the rising proletariat so long as they are not blood-suckers,” said Adolf struck with the realization of what he was saying, yet dubious of it coming from his own mouth.
“But aren’t the Jews scum, Herr Hess?”
“Indeed not, Herr Hitler; they are part of the German fabric!” confirmed Rudolph himself perplexed by the contradiction Hitler expounded.
“Yes, I see,” replied Adolph, stopping in his tracks, looking as if he had bitten his tongue.
 In their heads, the dopamine was gushing through their brains like beer in a rathskeller, but like drunks in a midnight choir, when they awoke the next morning, they wondered what they had been thinking the night before.
      It was easier for the time traveler to sway Adolph in his prison confinement, isolated as he was from his followers, but Rudolph brought dissonance in with him. It was one step back for every two steps forward when they conversed and Mein Kampf was regularly edited from what Adolf thought he meant and what he really said. As Rudolph drew him back to fascist anti-Semitic ideals, the progressive influences in their consciousnesses usually prevailed.