“How will labor come back? In a strike. That’s not romanticism, that’s a fact. It’ll start with one plant. One plant. And they strike. And there’ll be guys across the street at a second plant, and they see it, and they think ‘Hmm, maybe we can do that.’ And they win. Then somebody in Idaho does it, the same thing, independently. And then all of a sudden you’re seeing some John L. Lewis again, a leader, but he gets thrown up, he’s just riding the thing…That’s not romanticism, that’s a fact.” – Ed Sadlowski
Chicago steelworker Sadlowski made that wishful prediction during the darkest days of Reaganomics and Bushwhacking.
The teachers’ strike in West Virginia might provide real spark after decades of fizzles. The Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization endorsed Ronald Reagan in 1980. He promptly fired them when they walked out.
Reagan was indeed the first union president to win the White House, but PATCO didn’t do its homework. They could have learned how Reagan sold out his fellow actors so that media mogul Lew Wasserman (MCA/Universal) could force them to work cheap on television.
Strikes work but have to be managed properly, which often means not managed at all. An organic, bottom-up work stoppage strikes fears into union busters and the politicians they own.
Coal country is looking plumb organic. The strike may be illegal, but who’s going to jail every teacher in that stingy state? Have you met anybody who wants to move to a polluted backwater to strike-break for dog wages?
In a good strike, chaos is king. In the early 19th Century, Chile and Argentina verged on war over their north-south border.
Apparently having read the classic Greek play “Lysistrata,” two presidential wives called for a national women’s strike “before our husbands go to war over the rocks.” No cooking. No cleaning. No sex! Aargh. Strike won. No war.
The Chileans, who installed the hemisphere’s second-oldest democracy until we killed it in 1973, had a sense of humor. Looking at where the border was drawn along the crest of the Andes, they opined that God must have been an Argentine.
To symbolize everlasting peace, the countries decided to erect a huge statue of Jesus. Then they almost went to war over which way The Christ of the Andes would face.
Once again, the Chileans took the light side: “Let the statue face the Argentines. They need watching.”
The fabled 1936-37 General Motors sitdown strike led to organization of the entire industry. Chaos works. No less than Czar Donaldov is a good example of creative (albeit cretinous) chaos. Admittedly, productive randomness is better than the destructive variety now in vogue, but look who’s winning.
On March 14, local students will walk out of school for gun control. UNR has said OK. The Washoe County School District is once again shooting itself in spare body parts (it has no collective feet left).
In the 1960s, legendary cultural anthropologist Margaret Meade noticed that we had reached a turning point in history where the old had to learn from the young because the young are much closer to the future. Will we superannuated Baby Boomers now listen to our grandchildren? The future depends on it.
Chaos too, strike won.
TOLJASO DEPT. He who does not remember history is condemned to repeat it. A bevy of historians and economists believe that the Great Depression would not have been so severe had not Congress passed the Smoot-Hawley Tariff. Welcome to déjà boob all over again. Great Depression 2 looms ever closer.
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS. This Friday evening, the ACCEPT community service organization hosts a fundraising dinner/roast at the former Airport Plaza Hotel (now SureStayPlus) on Terminal Way. Pastor Glenn E. Taylor, Sr., and former Reno-Sparks NAACP president Dolores Feemster will be guests of honor. For tickets, call Gwen Taylor at (775) 233-1581.
SATURDAY ADIOS. My friend Tony Mayorga will be inducted into the César Chávez Nevada Labor Hall of Fame on March 31. First, his family, friends, union sisters and brothers will have a high-hearted going-away fest for the good man who died Feb. 19 at 65. He didn’t want tears, he wanted joy. So be it.
The Mayorga Adios happens at 3:00 p.m. this Saturday, March 10, at Walton’s, 1745 Sullivan Lane in Sparks. In lieu of flowers, his family asks for contributions to the Domestic Violence Resource Center (formerly the Committee to Aid Abused Women). A few years back, Tony led the crew that re-paved their big parking lot for free. He was like that.
OSCAR CODA. I didn’t have time to watch the Academy Awards exercise in excess. I thus exult only this: Yay, Sheriff Marge – You betcha!
Be well. Raise hell. Esté bien. Haga infierno.
Andrew Barbano is a 49-year Nevadan, editor of NevadaLabor.com and first vice-president of the Reno-Sparks NAACP. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Tribune since 1988. E-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org>