Against the Current, No. 70, September/October 1997

Against the Current, No. 70, September/October 1997

The Lean, Mean University

— The Editors

A NATIONAL LABOR Relations Board ruling last year confirmed a reality of which university students and faculty are increasingly, and painfully, aware.  The NLRB ruling declared that graduate student teaching assistants at Yale University are, in fact, employees of the Yale Corporation not just professional "apprentices" as Yale had claimed.

What's on the Line in the UPS Strike?

— Martha Gruelle

IS THE TEAMSTERS strike at United Parcel Service--the largest strike in the United States in a quarter century--a part of the new militancy that John Sweeney promised when he took over the AFL-CIO? Not really: The Teamsters' strike, rather, is made possible by a twenty-year movement, led by the caucus Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU)....

Court Ruling Hits Detroit Newspaper Workers

— Dianne Feeley

IN AN UNEXPECTED blow to Detroit newspaper workers, U.S. District Judge John Corbett O'Meara on August 14 denied a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) request for a 10(j) injunction, which would force the Detroit Newspaper Agency (DNA) to fire its scab work forces at the "Detroit News" and "Detroit Free Press", and to return 2000 locked-out workers to their jobs.

It was nearly two years after the DNA forced its workers out on strike that the NLRB petitioned the federal court for the injunction.

Twenty-Five Years Later, Justice for Geronimo!

— Ray Paquette and Karin Baker

ORANGE COUNTY'S SUPERIOR Court building shook June 10 with the shouts of triumph raised by supporters of geronimo pratt. Superior Court Judge Everett Dickey, speaking before a packed courtroom, had just pronounced: "Get this man out of here. Go on and get him a bailbond!..."

After the French Election: Hopes and Dangers

— Susan Weissman interviews Daniel Singer

THE SOCIALISTS VICTORY in the French parliamentary election extends a recent trend in Europe, where thirteen out of fifteen countries now have labor or social-democratic governments. Suzi Weissman, an editor of Against the Current and host of the program "Beneath the Surface" on KPFK, Pacifica radio in Los Angeles, interviewed Daniel Singer, European correspondent of The Nation magazine and author of numerous books on Europe. A pre-broadcast tape was transcribed by Eli Naduris and edited by ATC....

Detroiters Remember the 1967 Rebellion

— Kim D. Hunter interviews Ed Vaughn

July, 1997 marked the 30th anniversary of the historic Detroit rebellion.  Kim D. Hunter, a Detroit writer and poet and an advisory editor of Against the Current, conducted two inter-views with eyewitness observers on the event, its causes and its impact on history.

There are a number of important works on the background and aftermath of this critical event in Detroit's history.  Among the best recent works, Thomas J. Sugrue's The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1996) will be reviewed in future issues of this journal.  The classic history of the period and of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers, Dan Georgakas' Detroit: I Do Mind Dying, is being reissued.  Also forthcoming from Cornell University Press is Motor City Breakdown: The Politics of Race on the Streets and Shopfloors of Postwar Detroit, by Heather Ann Thompson.

John Sayles and Working-Class History

— Nora Ruth Roberts

IT COMES AS no surprise by now to anyone who has been following the career of the important American filmmaker John Sayles that his professional origins derive from the new wave of leftism of the 1960s generation, and that his work continues to be informed by the interests of that generation.

Indeed one of his earliest stories, the signature story in the "At the Anarchists' Convention" collection (1979), is a warmly rollicking satire of the Old Left at a convention of lost causes and has-been red-flag wavers, told in a deft, affectionate riff style that Sayles has never quite pulled off in subsequent work.

The Rebel Girl: Women's Space, Contested Terrain

— Catherine Sameh

MY PARTNER AND I recently went camping, an attempt at rest and relaxation. We were brutally reminded that for women, this isn't possible even in the seemingly idyllic world of nature.

Our first night there, loud, angry, drunk men controlled our campsite, whooping and hollering sexist remarks into the wee hours of the morning. The second night, we were harassed as we changed clothing in our tent....

Random Shots: Kampfer's Summer of Love

— R.F. Kampfer

WE COULD FORESEE all the high points of the "Ellen" series: the first kiss, the first date, a week later the first roommate, the missing turkey baster, climaxing for sweeps week when Ellen & partner have their baby....

Labor in Education and the Education of Labor

Students, Labor Getting Together

— Sara Marcus

DURING LAST SPRING'S "Labor Notes" conference in Detroit, I spoke on a panel entitled "Young Troublemakers and the New AFL-CIO."  Before an audience of about forty, of which nearly two-thirds were young people, I spoke about student activism in support of labor while the other two panelists talked about their experiences as young people working full-time in the labor movement.

The University of Nike

— A student activist

"Because we are who we are, we are a wonderful target to use as a means to an end."  -Lee Weinstein, Nike Spokesman

"Of all the evils affecting Germany today, even including the licentiousness of the press, the student nuisance is the greatest, the most urgent, and the most threatening."  -Letter to Austrian Foreign Minister Prince Klemens von Metternich, 1817

ON MARCH 8, NIKE sponsored two different sporting events.  Countless numbers of Nike-branded NCAA basketball teams played that Saturday in preparation for the March madness of the NCAA Basketball tournament.

Faculty--Overseers or Slaves?

— Donald W. Bray

IN 1967 JERRY Farber penned probably the most widely read piece by a member of the California State University, Los Angeles faculty, The Student as Nigger.

Jerry didn't get tenure, I did. Upon my retirement, our academic fates and ideas call for reflection.

Anthroplogy and the Machine

— Martin Ruane

ORAL TRADITION ATTRIBUTES the coining of the term "Teach-In" to a long-distance phone conversation between two anthropologists. In early 1965, Marshall Sahlins of the University of Michigan and Marvin Harris of Columbia University were attempting to formulate an action that would be both political and educational....

Review: A Radical's Call for Justice

— Andrew Lee

Manifesto of a Tenured Radical
by Cary Nelson
New York University Press, 1997, $17.95 paperback.

Will Teach for Food
edited by Cary Nelson
University of Minnesota Press, 1997, $19.95 paperback.

THE COLLECTION WILL Teach for Food is part of the series Cultural Politics from the Social Text Collective. Edited by collective member Cary Nelson, it presents 17 essays on exactly what the subtitle proposes: academic labor in crisis.

Guyana and Jamaica after Jagan and Manley

Cheddi Jagan's Politics and Legacy

— an interview with Clive Y. Thomas

CLIVE Y. THOMAS was a cofounder in Guyana, along with the late Walter Rodney (who was assassinated by the reactionary Forbes Burnham regime), of the Working Peoples Alliance.  An economist, he is presently Director of the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Guyana.  He is the author of several books, including "The Poor and the Powerless: Economic Policy and Change in the Caribbean" (Monthly Review Press, 1988).

Thomas recently visited several U.S. cities, including Detroit where he addressed a forum organized by Solidarity.  The following interview, by Dianne Feeley and David Finkel of the "ATC" editorial board, was conducted over e-mail.

Remembering Michael Manley

— Brian Meeks

MY LASTING MEMORY of Michael Manley is a sepia-toned image taken from late October of 1980 at a mass meeting in Spanish Town, site of the old capital of Jamaica. The long 1980 election was drawing to its bloody finale over the bodies of some 800 Jamaicans....

Caribbean Politics and the 1930s Revolt

— Cecilia Green

SHOULD MICHAEL MANLEY be judged as visionary or traitor?  Either singlehanded assessment would be based on an overly idealized and individualized conception of the man.

Certain images persist in my brain and in my breast: the trade union/party "boss" (and all that this implies); the David-vs-Goliath-reformer-who-dared; the Caribbean and Third World leader who made me swell up and weep openly with nationalist pride during the 1970s; the "latest" Third World leader to go down to defeat by global capitalist forces; the politician who eventually conceded to that defeat and to his class interests....


A Reply to Nelson Lichtenstein: Assessing Union Leaderships

— Michael Goldfield

IT IS NOT news that U.S. unions today are weak and in trouble, even more so than their beleaguered counterparts in other economically developed capitalist countries. Though there exist some positive developments--including inspiring organization of catfish workers in Mississippi, janitors in large cities, nursing home employees, and campus workers, among others--the overall pattern for U.S. unions remains one of weakness and decline.