than Pam Gay, the president of the Office and Professional Employees Union at Pantex. But in a recent talk with the Observer, she had little to say about the business of building nuclear weapons. “It’s our job; it’s our livelihood,” she said simply. And as for the citizens who stage an annual protest at Pantex, “I think they’re crazy. Well, no I don’t, I suppose they have some points, but it’s just hard to imagine why someone would take a week’s vacation and come and spend it sitting in the hot sun in Amarillo.” It’s time to imagine why someone would do that. It’s time for the labor movement to imagine new lines of work better lines of work and to join with political efforts such as the Jobs With Peace campaign based in Boston and Washington, D.C. \(as Machinists’ President William Winpishould be advancing plans to create something better. These are not ungenerous times farmers would have been saved from ruin by now if it had anything to do with public sentiment. Workers who need help ought to expect public support. In Texas, the most important labor victories in the last several years have come on behalf of farmworkers. Their exclusion from the workers’ compensation and unemployment compensation laws was ruled unconstitutional and was corrected by the legislature. The public even the legislators can still be moved by appeals to -fight obvious oppression. Perhaps the most significant move the Texas AFL-CIO could make would be to put farmworker issues at the forefront. The law still does not allow farmworkers to bargain collectively a basic right of all workers. Justice should be the central organizing principle of the union movement. A recharged labor movement could not by itself bring sweeping changes to American work life. It was, after all, the passage of the Wagner Act under FDR that institutionalized collective bargaining and gave rise to powerful unions. It would take new changes in federal and state laws to reshape the labor movement. But the precedent to those political victories must be a reinvigorated labor movement, inclusive of the disenfranchised, with a wider popular appeal and a program that rings with hope for the future, not echoes of the past. D.D. adopted the same economic outlook. Labor has to break with that outlook. . . . The only program we have is plantclosing legislation. Well, that’s negotiating the terms of the funeral. Our first emphasis ought to be on organizing the unemployed. . . . The unemployed have been essentially abandoned organizationally by labor, and we need to reexamine our position on the unemployed. Because they become this huge reservoir a pool for the employer to recruit if labor develops any militant economic stands in collective bargaining. We need a wide-open debate, and labor has a responsibility to open up that debate not accepting existing economic terms and the , existing economic arrangement, where if there’s a recession, the workers have to suffer. The suffering is becoming rather acute. Shift to education y OU KNOW, Texas is a classic example. Here’s the governor of the state in a comment that I saw him make some months ago saying that he wants education to be the number one industry in the state of Texas. Well, you know, we have a tremendous constituency out there for the program I’m proposing. We send people back to the campuses, you have the campus come back to the community, people earn full pay, even if they never worked again and did nothing but argue Socrates and Burke which would certainly enhance the ambience of our environment. We would have an educational establishment that would be job-creating. . . . We talk about a familyoriented society. I think it’d be incredible to have parents who are in their 40s as role models for their children, who crack open a book at night, not plop down in front of a TV because they’re too weary from work to do anything else. A Superfund for workers I’m for creating a Superfund for workers. This is a society engulfed in toxics. The Congress understands the necessity of creating a Superfund to address that problem. Well, we need a Superfund for workers. If industries are shutting down and you have this tremendous repository of working people, they’re owed at least equal attention to toxic waste. I think the catalyst has to come from down below. The government has to be the mechanism by which it’s accomplished. Listen, you have variations of this in most Western European countries where there are strong trade unions. You have social wages; I mean, it’s unheard of in Europe that a worker who gets laid off loses all his health insurance, et cetera. But I’m proposing not just a dole for unemployment, I’m proposing that people be put to work but sitting in campuses, sitting in a new setting, mixing them in with kids, people bringing their life experiences in. Then you educate a society. The money’s around to do it When Chevron bought Gulf they weren’t interested in above-the-ground facilities, they were interested in oil in the ground. It was a term coined by the brokers themselves; they said it’s cheaper to dig for oil on Wall Street than in the fields of Texas or anywhere else. So you buy Gulf . . . you don’t need the people in the offices, you don’t need the people in the refineries, you know, there’s excess refining capacity in the country to start with. With these acquisitions you have to eliminate tens of thousands of jobs. Well it cost 13 billion dollars to acquire Gulf. Part of that money should have been used to finance a program like I’m talking about. . . . THE TEXAS OBSERVER 5
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