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6. Conclusion

Started by Staughton Lynd, January 01, 2008, 09:03:41 am

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Staughton Lynd

6.  Conclusion

   Stan Weir, who inspired the original version of this booklet, had a question that he used to ask students in his classes on labor education.  The question was, "What's the funniest thing that ever happened where you work?"

   It was a good question.  When we laugh, we are usually feeling relaxed, confident, in control of our immediate situation.  When workers laugh, it is often because they have had the kind of experience discussed above in the chapter on "Work to Rule."  Perhaps a foreman has spectacularly screwed up.  Perhaps a worker, and those near him or her on the line, have won one of those small victories that help to make it through the day.

   In recent years students have repeatedly demonstrated in opposition to summit meetings of the capitalist nations, as in Seattle, Quebec City, and Genoa, Italy.  In Seattle in 1999, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and United Steelworkers of America assisted members to attend the demonstration because they wished to protect the livelihood of workers in the United States against imports and immigrant workers from abroad.  Reportedly, the unions made an effort to keep working-class demonstrators separate from the more rowdy students, but many workers slipped under the arms of marshals to join the students in direct action downtown.

   The motto of these student demonstrators against "globalization" and "neo-liberalism" is, "Another world is possible!"  The authors believe this.  We encourage you to affirm it also.

   What would "another world" at work be like?  That is the most important question any reader should take away from this booklet.  We challenge you to answer it.

   Actually, perhaps we already know most of the answer.  The universal testimony of workers in all settings is that things go better on the night shift when there are fewer white shirts (supervisors) to interfere with getting the job done right.

   What if there were never any white shirts to interfere?  What if workers and communities ran the business themselves?

   People will say, "That's radicalism!"  We've been called worse.  But as a matter of fact, in most situations with which we are familiar -- Youngstown, Pittsburgh, Nicaragua, Argentina -- workers asked to run the plant only when the company proposed to abandon it.  The signs in Youngstown read, "If you don't want to make steel here, we will."