Against the Current, No. 79, March/April 1999

Against the Current, No. 79, March/April 1999

Women Rising, Then and Now

— The Editors

In the black of the winter of nineteen-nine,
When we froze and bled on the picket line,
We showed the world that women could fight,
And we rose and won with women's might.

THE LYRICS TO the song "The Uprising of the Twenty-Thousand" remind us of the power of organization and solidarity among women workers. Although as this century opened women lacked the right to vote, worked in sweated industries when they worked outside the home and were generally viewed by the men who controlled the craft unions as "unorganizable," the 1909-10 general strike of women shirtwaistmakers in New York and Philadelphia revealed their enormous capacity to fight in their own names....

Movement Grows to Save Mumia Abu-Jamal

— Steve Bloom

IN OCTOBER, MUMIA Abu-Jamal-Black activist and award-winning journalist who has been on Pennsylvania's death row since 1982-had his appeal for a new trial turned down by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court (see ATC 78).

Race and Politics: Blacks in Corporate America

— Malik Miah

A CONCERN OF old-line civil rights leaders is how to remain relevant to the vast majority of African Americans. Since the victories won by the civil rights movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., this has been an issue facing the NAACP, Operation PUSH, the SCLC, Urban League and every other group formed in that period and since.

Putting the Fox in Charge: What's Fair About the Fair Labor Association?

— Medea Benjamin

AFTER THE EXPOSÉS in the early 1990s of horrendous conditions in sweatshops producing clothing and shoes for some of the largest U.S. companies, the fight against sweatshops has come a long way.

Companies that once refused to acknowledge responsibility for factory conditions by alleging they were “only the buyers” now have codes of conduct, undertake more serious internal monitoring of the factories they buy from, and several companies have begun experimenting with different forms of external monitoring using local human rights groups.

The Future of Israel and Palestine

— Harry Clark interviews Professor Israel Shahak

(continued from last issue)

THE FIRST PART of this interview with the Israeli human rights campaigner Professor Israel Shahak appeared in our previous issue ("The `Peace Process' and the CIA," ATC 78).  It was conducted in June 1998 by Harry Clark, a solidarity activist from Ann Arbor.

The Israeli political situation is clearly in rapid flux with the imminent May 17 election and the emergence of new forces in the "political center" represented by Generals Yitzhak Mordechai and Amnon Lipkin-Shahak (the latter is not related to Israel Shahak).  Nonetheless Prof. Shahak's observations on the underlying dynamics-notably the secular-religious polarization and the decay of the Labor Party-are useful background for understanding the new situation as it evolves.

Hugo Chávez and the Crisis of the Dependent Countries: Nationalism, Populism & Democracy

— Guillermo Almeyra

THE SMASHING ELECTORAL triumph of Lieutenant Colonel Hugo Chávez, previously imprisoned because of his participation in a failed military coup against the government of Venezuelan President Carlos Andrés Pérez provoked diverse reactions and much confusion.

Random Shots: Sic Transit Gloria Bunny

— R.F. Kampfer

THE REPUBLICANS HAVE ended the impeachment with all the dignity of Elmer Fudd, failing once again to bag Bugs Bunny.

Linda Tripp now claims she betrayed Monica Lewinsky for her (Monica's) own good, to save her from an abusive relationship. Right: Should do her a world of good to be saddled for life with a nickname that won't be “Monica the architect.”

With “intern” having taken on a salacious meaning, it might be better to go back to the old job-title of “gopher.”...

The Teamsters: From Carey to Hoffa

Why Junior Won-and What Next?

— Henry Phillips

WHAT DO YOU call a labor lawyer who has worked on management's side of the table and never made a living as a rank-and-file union member?  In these sorry days, you call him Teamster General President.

The Election's Broader Impact

— Mike Parker

THE HOFFA VICTORY in the Teamsters may be a bigger defeat, and in the long run potentially more disorienting, for the reform forces in the rest of the U.S. labor movement than in the Teamsters.

For International Women's Day

The Misogyny of Welfare "Reform"

— Stephanie Luce interviews Randy Albelda

Randy Albelda teaches economics at the University of Massachusetts-Boston, and is active in several welfare rights organizations.  She is co-author of Glass Ceilings and Bottomless Pits: Women's Work, Women's Poverty (South End Press, 1997) and author of "What Welfare Reform Has Wrought," Dollars and Sense, January/February 1998.  She was interviewed by Stephanie Luce from the ATC editorial board.

NYC's Workfare Shell Game: An Interview with Heidi Dorow

— The Editors

HEIDI DOROW IS director of the Urban Justice Center Organizing Project in New York City. In ATC 73 (March-April 1998) she spoke with Dianne Feeley and David Finkel about New York's “Work Experience Program” (WEP), and her organization's campaign to convince non-profit organizations to refuse to participate in this workfare program. We spoke to her again in February, 1999 to learn about developments in the past year.

Claudia Clark's "Radium Girls"

— Dr. Sherry Baron

Radium Girls: Women and Industrial Health Reform, 1910-1935. by Claudia Clark.  Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997.  289 pp, notes and bibliography.  $17.95 paper.

AT THE BEGINNING of this century a group of young women workers who, while licking their brushes to make a fine point, applied radium-laden paint to the faces of watches and instruments, began to sicken, and in many cases to die.

Review: Memoirs of An Underground Woman

— Rachel White

UNDERGROUND WOMAN. My Four Years as a New York City Subway Conductor, by Marian Swerdlow. Temple University Press, 1998; $18.95 paper.

Josephine Herbst's "Pity is not Enough"

— Angela Hubler

Pity is Not Enough by Josephine Herbst, with an introduction by Mary Anne Rasmussen (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998) $16.95 paper.

WHILE JOHN DOS Passos' U.S.A. trilogy has remained in print for the past sixty-some years, Josephine Herbst's nearly contemporary Trexler trilogy has not been so favored.  The first volume, Pity is Not Enough, was published in 1933 by Harcourt Brace.  Although Warner Books republished the trilogy in 1985, it quickly went out of print again.

Review: Recovering Surrealist Women

— Bertha Husband

Surrealist Women: An International Anthology, edited with introductions by Penelope Rosemont. With 45 illustrations. Austin: University of Texas Press. $24.95 paper, $50 cloth.

The Rebel Girl: Death of Our Hoop Dreams

— Catherine Sameh

DECEMBER 22, 1998 will sadly be recorded in the pages of women's sports history. On that day the American Basketball League, one third of the way into its third season, announced it was suspending operations and would immediately file for bankruptcy.

Capital's Global Turbulence: A Symposium

A Reply to Robert Brenner

— Mary C. Malloy and Charlie Post

WHAT HAS ALWAYS distinguished serious economic analysis from mere ideological cheerleading is the effort to understand the general economic laws that govern capitalist societies, and how these laws have manifested themselves through capitalism's historical development.

Accumulation and Control of Labor

— Hillel Ticktin

BOB BRENNER HAS written a book that is clearly important and I respect him for tackling the issues and working on them so assiduously.  His work is clear and I have found it very useful in clarifying my ideas but I find it hard to agree with it.

In Memoriam

Joyce Maupin, 1921-1998

— Barri Boone

JOYCE MAUPIN, A long-time revolutionary activist and writer and a founder of Union WAGE (Women's Alliance to Gain Equality), died last September 14.

Joyce loved to recount the story about “women in line to pee” leading to the formation of Union WAGE, the organization they spent a decade building. Her friend, Jean Maddox (ex-Communist Party) attended a March, 1971 conference on Women's Day at UCB (Berkeley) called by NOW. Standing in line for the bathroom, Jean chatted with Anne Draper (ex-International Socialists), both complaining that there was nothing on the program about working women.