File spoon-archives/aut-op-sy.archive/aut-op-sy_1997/aut-op-sy.9704, message 61

Date: Tue, 6 May 1997 18:03:59 -0600
Subject: Again, but for real this time

Get the Slack Out, or Mayday Weekend in Austin, Texas

by Joshua Freeze

     There aren't many holidays in this country that are worth much. Look
at Christmas, Easter, Independence Day, Memorial Day, Valentines Day,
Mothers or Fathers Day. The first four have some use, since many people the
day off work, even if their purposes are (1) to worship a violent,
authoritarian deity, (2) to worship his son, (3), to celebrate war in
general, or (4) to glorify a particular war. The last two don't even have
the benefit of a day off work, we are just supposed to buy loads of crap,
to invite capital to intervene in our family and intimate relationships.

     Birthdays are great, celebrating a particular person in our life is
fine. Halloween, is great - when else can you walk around all day in a mask
causing havoc with no one thinking it odd.

     But as holidays go, May First is the tops. Its history, both cultural
and political, has the power to draw us together in the way a day of
celebration ought to. Halloween does that as well, but lacks the deep
connection to our lives that May Day carries.

     We seek celebrations, strikes, demonstrations of our power as workers,
and more fundamentally, as people who would control all aspects of their
own lives. This desire led us to once again, to put another match in, to
try to re-ignite the holiday that took us to the eight hour workday and
that will one day bring about the destruction of the capitalist workday

     The Lucy Parsons Branch of the IWW in Austin Texas, with folks from
Earth First!, The Austin Greens, Accion Zapatista, El Comit=E8 en Solidaridad
con Chiapas y Mexico, and others came together to march through downtown
Austin on a tour of resistance.

     The first target was the AFL-CIO Labor Temple (their name, not ours).
We marched through their halls, shouting that real workers were in the
streets. We let them know that unions are for the workers and that the
bureaucrats are our enemies, whether in the company or the union. Two years
ago, when we did this last, we got the same response from those in the
building: the women behind the desks working smiled and waved. The suited
bureaucrats scowled and urged us to get out. No surprises there.

     Next was the State Capitol building. After getting shooed away by
State Troopers from the "Prayer Day" rally, we held short talks on the
opposite side on the correct place of government. That is to say, the
dustbin of history.

     Stop number three was the offices of the Department of Transportation.
They are part of an interstate plan to create NAFTA Super-highway I-69, a
needless, costly plan to further screw north, central, and south American
workers by facilitating transport of goods produced in the cheapest
possible way.

     As the final target, we hit the Mexican Consulate. The Mexican
Government continues to attack both the Zapatistas and the non-government
controlled unions. The traitor who controls the state unions, Fidel
Velasquez, is an enemy of the working class, and should be put out of our

     The following day, there was an event held by Amalgamated Transit
Union Local 1549. We drive and fix the busses that carry the students for
the University of Texas at Austin. Our international has the dubious
distinction of being the first in the US to sign contracts that traded away
the right to strike in return for arbitration. But several of us in the
local are two-carders. At the April meeting on the urging of one wobbly,
our local voted to have a picnic Friday May 2 at 2:00 P.M. The local has
periodic parties, but never had we held one during working hours. Due to
the harsh discipline dealt out recently by the company (DAVE
Transportation), the suggestion was approved unanimously.

     On May second, the turn out was excellent. There was electricity in
the air at the park I have never seen in this union, and I have been
working here since 1988. I think people felt for the first time in a long
time that we have power. Well over half of the busses were idled, and every
time someone new arrived having just got off their mid-day shift with an
update on busses downed, everyone cheered. Wish us luck as we wobs continue
what has been more than a five year effort to turn this ATU local into a
real union, and on a broader scale, as we again make May First into the
holiday we all deserve.


Joshua DeVries
(512) 482-9402


Conspiracy of Equals Infoshop
505 San Jacinto
Austin TX 78703
(512) 472-FREE
Wednesday-Saturday 3:00-10:00
Sunday 3:00-7:00


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