A Public Service Message from the American Income Life Insurance Co. Waco, Texas Bernard Rapaport, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer Scab Labor in a Union Town By Irving Howe For some decades now, New York City has been a union town. Not that unions are to be regarded as a band of angels, nor that they are always good and wise. It means that unions are acknowledged as a legitimate part of the city’s life, a partner in the social contract that more or less shapes our society. Behind the adherence to unions lies a simple premise: that the individual worker is helpless when confronting a rich and powerful corporation, and that only through collective action can workers express their needs and gain their ends. That is why “solidarity” has been a central term in the language of unionism and why strikebreaking has been seen as a violation of decency. I write, frankly, as a union partisan. When I was a boy in the 1920s and 1930s, industrial relations were often primitive. Strikebreaking, labor spying, and intimidation on the job were frequent. I recall the great strike of garment workers in 1933, led by the International Ladies Garment Workers Union. After the union’s victory there was a new morale in the city. Sweatshops began to fade. The wages of my mother, a dress operator, rose from $12 to $27 a week. There could now be some meat on the table, an occasional new shirt for me. Since then I have remained a supporter of unionism, even while aware that there are abuses in labor quite as in other segments of American society \(though union corruption looks like penny-ante stuff when compared with recent Now, by training strikebreakers for months and importing them to New York City, The Daily News has threatened the city’s social contract. What might have been an ordinary labor dispute plant shut down, negotiations resumed has become a serious danger to more than a million unionized New Yorkers. For if The Daily News succeeds in destroying the unions by importing strikebreakers, it could set a precedent for others. Strikebreaking is an ugly thing. It violates the norms of human fraternity. It threatens the bread of longstanding employees. It reflects a cold indifference to workers who have served a company for many years. And it has, I suspect, been made possible by an atmosphere of perverted a legacy of Reaganism. When President Reagan broke the strike of the airtraffic controllers in 1981, he set in motion a wave of union-busting. That wave has now reached New York City. The Times and other news organizations have employed the porous euphemism of “replacement workers” to refer to strikebreakers. An equivalent would be to refer to KGB spies as “political investigators.” And the Times has condemned the violence that some strikers are said to have used against news dealers. Fair enough: Violence should be condemned. But it would also be good to recognize that, by importing strikebreakers, The Daily News provokes its employees into acts of desperation they are out on the street, they fear for the future of their families. No scabs, no violence. Everyone in New York City except, perhaps, the tiny minority of right-wing idealogues and corporate apologists, has a stake in seeing to it that The Daily News does not succeed in turning us back to the grim days of strikebreaking. Those of us old enough to remember know what that would mean. American Income Life Insurance Company EXECUTIVE OFFICES: P.O. 40X 201, WACO. MAO ?S703, It 7.77240.0 BERNARD RAPOPORT Chairman of the Baud and Chief Executive Officer 8 MARCH 22, 1991
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