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Strike Lessons on Pacific Coast

(September 1933)

From the Militants, The Militant, Vol. VI No. 43, 16 September 1933, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Los Angeles. – It is sad to have to write to you that the workers on strike against Golden Bros. Millinery shop were defeated.

The bravery of the strikers, their militancy on the picket lines, their courage before the clubs and saps of a degenerate group of police, the great number of arrests bravely endured (17 in number) were not able to overcome the objective fact of the strike being forced on the workers in the off season and the subjective condition of weakness in the Trade Union Unity League officialdom. (To grace them with the name of “leaders” would be sheer violence of the latter term).

Victory could have been won, even though the strike took place in the slack season, but for the passivity and lethargy in the general activities – a condition due to the actions of the apparatus of the T.U.U.L. and not the strikers themselves.

The chairman of the strike committee, comrade Louis Meyers insisted on a more militant attitude, but to no avail, as a result scabs manned the shops.

After much effort, comrade Meyers succeeded in securing what amounted to a little more than a verbal agreement with his views.

In spite of its weaknesses, the strike has created a tradition in Los Angeles. To all workers, particularly needleworkers, it showed how even the most brutal of police terror can be fought. Smashed picket lines were reformed. Jail did not daunt. In this manner strikes are won; not in the class collaboration of the conservative trade union fakers.

A storm of strikes, in the needle trades above all, is in the offing. The first strikes, the forerunners, are already here. The NTWIU is conducting a number of small strikes. The Amalgamated Clothing

Workers has struck the Kurtzman Clothing Co. The international Ladies Garment Workers Union is planning a general strike and has been waging a series of minor strike battles in this situation it becomes yet more important for the I.U.W.L. members to finally learn too that the place of the Left wing is within the mass unions.

To the strikers out now and to those who are yet to strike, the workers of Golden Bros. shop have taught lessons that we hope will not go unheeded.

Although the strike has been called off, rearguard battles remain to be fought. These are the struggles for the freeing of the strikers arrested on the vicious anti-picketing ordinance, a piece of legislation aimed to maintain Los Angeles as the pride and joy of employers.

These trials are now going on. First results have not been good. Two workers were fined $20 each. Two girl strikers, Elsie Meyers and Sally Wegdorow, have been fined $50 or 25 days in jail. This case has been appealed. Three girls are going on trial now.

This fight cannot remain solely in the courtroom. Behind the victimized strikers all of Los Angeles labor must be mobilized.

The fight against the anti-picketing ordinance concerns every worker who is ever going to strike whether he or she is in a union affiliated with the Trade Union Unity League, the A.F. of L., the Amalgamated Clothing Workers, or independent unions. For workers to strike without picket, lines is like soldiers marching to war without fire arms.

Around the right to strike and to picket a broad united front can be formed. The acute need of the moment for all workers is the winning of this right. The most important ingredient of successful strikes is strong picket lines. The anti-picketing ordinance stands in the way.

Only action by the workers can remove this anti-picketing ordinance, not legal argumentation before the bosses’ courts. Although this latter angle must, not be ignored, the following must be driven deep into the consciousness of stirring Los Angeles labor: “Only united action by the workers can do away with the anti-picketing ordinance, and open the road to higher wages, shorter hours and better conditions.”

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Last updated: 9 February 2016