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Singlejack Solidarity

2004
Author:

Stan Weir
George Lipsitz, editor
Foreword by Norm Diamond
Afterword by George Lipsitz

Singlejack Solidarity

The writings of the lifelong activist and worker’s advocate collected here for the first time

Edited and with an afterword by George Lipsitz

Blue-collar intellectual and activist, Stan Weir devoted his life to the advocacy of his fellow workers. Singlejack Solidarity offers a rare look at life and social relations as seen from the factory, dockside, and the shop floor. Gathered here for the first time, Weir’s writings—part memoir, labor history, and polemic—document a crucial chapter in the story of working-class America.

Singlejack Solidarity challenges everyone who was, is, or contemplates becoming a radical to rethink the fundamental questions about how to bring about social change.

Grace Lee Boggs, activist and author of Living For Change

Blue-collar intellectual and activist publisher, Stan Weir devoted his life to the advocacy of his fellow workers. Weir was both a thoughtful observer and an active participant in many of the key struggles that shaped the labor movement and the political left in postwar America. He reported firsthand from the front lines of decisive fights over the nature of unions in the auto industry, the resistance to automation on the waterfront, and battles over racial integration in the workplace and within unions themselves.

Written throughout Weir’s decades as a blue-collar worker and labor educator, Singlejack Solidarity offers a rare look at modern life and social relations as seen from the factory, dockside, and the shop floor. This volume analyzes issues central to working-class life today, such as the human costs of automation, union policies, mass media images of work, and intergenerational relations in working-class families. It also provides humorous commentaries, historical vignettes, and moving portraits of people Weir encountered, including James Baldwin, C. L. R. James, and Eric Hoffer.

Gathered here for the first time, Weir’s writings are equal parts memoir, labor history, and polemic; taken together, they document a crucial chapter in the life story of working-class America.

Singlejack Solidarity

Stan Weir (1921–2001) was a rank-and-file labor activist for more than fifty years as a seaman, autoworker, teamster, housepainter, and longshoreman. He earned a doctorate from the Union Institute in Cincinnati and was professor of labor and industrial relations at the University of Illinois. Weir founded Singlejack Press to publish writing by workers.


George Lipsitz is professor of American studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the author of American Studies in a Moment of Danger and Time Passages.

Singlejack Solidarity

Singlejack Solidarity challenges everyone who was, is, or contemplates becoming a radical to rethink the fundamental questions about how to bring about social change.

Grace Lee Boggs, activist and author of Living For Change

A striking collection of very powerful essays by longtime radical organizer Stan Weir that offers an uncommonly expansive and generous left history, rooted in the possibilities of change in everyday life.

David Roediger, author of The Wages of Whiteness: Essays on Race, Politics, and Working-Class History

Nobody, living or dead, does a better job puncturing such self-serving rationales for autocratic rule, while also not romanticizing the rank-and-file. We need more, not less, of their kind of thinking about the centrality of the workplace, the importance of rank-and-file power, and the potential of ordinary people to transform themselves and their organizations through the experience of labor solidarity and struggle.

International Labor Communications Association

Singlejack Solidarity

Contents

Foreword Norm Diamond

I. Working-Class Cultures

Meetings with James Baldwin
What Ever Happened to Frisco Jeans?
C. L. R. James: Revolutionary Artist
The Role of the Individual and the Group in the Creation of Work Cultures
Work Force Writers on the Rise
I Am Lonely

II. The Human Costs of Automation

New Technology: A Catalyst for Crises in Collective Bargaining, Industrial Discipline, and Labor Law
The Human Cost of Automation
Containerization Makes for a Lonely Waterfront
Luddism Today
Effects of Automation in the Lives of Longshoremen

III. Solidarity Networks

Unions with Leaders Who Stay on the Job
The Need for Labor Networking
Rank and File Networks: A Way to Fight Concessions
Introduction to Coordinadora
Strike in Spain Reveals Sickness and Cure
Longshoremen and Marine Clerks of Spain Building New Kind of Union

IV. Workers, Politics, and Social Change Eric Hoffer: Far-Right True Believer

The Artificial Isolation between Radicals and Workers
Workers: Second-Class Citizens
Bill Akagi and the Union
The First Recorded Strike in History: 1170 BC
Early U.S. Labor Policy Revealed by Archives Find

V. The Vanguard Party and Worker Self-Activity

A Leninist Vanguard Party Dying in a Foreign Land
Life in a Vanguard Party
After the War
The Vanguard Party: An Institution Whose Time Has Expired
Contribution to a Discussion on Bert Cochran's Labor and Communism
The Vanguard Party: An Obstruction to Worker-Intellectual Alliances

VI. Primary Work Groups

The Informal Work Group
Just a Matter of Gloves
West Coast Longshoremen and Informal Workers' Control
Review of Punishment and Redress in a Modern Factory by Carl Gersuny

VII. The Failure of Business Unionism, the Rank and File Alternative

American Labor on the Defensive: A 19405 Odyssey
USA: The Labor Revolt
Doug Eraser's Middle-Class Coalition
The Failure of Business Unionism
The Australian Dock Strike Stan Weir and George Lipsitz
Stan Weir: Working-Class Visionary George Lipsitz

Notes
Publication History

Index