Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Unemployed Organize in Hawaii

“We Won’t Scab and We Won’t Starve!”

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First Published: The Worker, for Hawaii, Vol. 1, No. 3, December 1975.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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We are being thrown out of work and into the street in our millions– the only way we can possibly deal with the mass unemployment workers face everywhere, is to organize ourselves and fight in our millions!

The Unemployed Workers Organizing Committees (UWOC) have been formed throughout the country, to build a nationwide campaign for Jobs or Income. Workers in Hawaii have just formed the newest chapter of this growing national organization.

UWOC’s program is simple. We want jobs at union wages. If we can’t get them, we demand unemployment insurance for all, to cover the cost of living through all periods of unemployment. Our approach is to unite all workers, employed and unemployed.


Meatcutters have been on strike in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for over 10 months. The bosses have tried to recruit scabs to break the strike. UWOC has joined the rank and file meatcutters, under the banner of “We won’t starve and we won’t scab!” They’ve helped lead demonstrations against the unemployment office, forcing the office to stop recruiting scabs for the packing companies.

In April and September, UWOC members hit the streets with “Jobs or Income, Victory to the Meatcutters!” marches. The unity they’re helping to build between employed and unemployed in this strike should lead the way for our whole class.

In Seattle, UWOC was active in organizing a fight against a forced’ labor program, which required workers to take jobs at $2.10 an hour. If they refused to accept these low wages, workers were taken off unemployment insurance. UWOC members organized rallies and mass pickets against the unemployment offices, demanding union jobs at union wages, and they were able to force the government to scrap the program.

Other UWOC chapters have fought food stamp cutbacks, the policy of the unemployment offices to send checks out late or hold them up, and other attacks against unemployed workers.

We don’t want to be out of work, yet about 30,000 of us in Hawaii are now jobless. We’re forced to collect unemployment insurance which doesn’t even begin to provide for our families. And now the bosses are working overtime to take that away.


Last June, the State Legislature got together with Hawaii employers to “discuss” the unemployment compensation law. Some of the proposals coming out of those discussions include cutting back on benefits, forcing workers to accept jobs below their skills and pay level, taxing benefits, and denying benefits to pensioners and seasonal or part-time workers.

Being out of work and not being able to provide for our families causes many problems. Workers talk a-bout how the constant tension of bills piling up with no relief in sight, demoralizes them and creates fights in the family. We heard the tragic story of one mother who set herself on fire, rather than face the thought of losing the family’s home because they couldn’t keep up the payments.

But its not our fault. All of us need jobs and are ready to go back to work as soon as we can–the problem is there aren’t any jobs to go back to! We’re tired of always getting the blame for the troubles we face. We aim to do something about them, and that’s what UWOC is all about.

Well help fight against layoffs, and we won’t scab on workers on strike. We’ll fight for the compensation and benefits we need. And we won’t let them take our cars or homes away, just because we can’t keep up the payments–we need them, and we’ll fight to keep them. To all of these problems, our rallying cry is “Fight Back! Don’t Starve!”, and our demand is “Jobs or Income Now!”