Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Communist Workers Party

CWP’s Call: Defend and Build Independent Union

First Published: Workers Viewpoint, Vol. 5, No. 18, May 26,1980.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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GREENSBORO, N.C. – On April 28, the Communist Workers Party (CWP), the Trade Union Educational League (TUEL), and the White Oak Organizing Committee (WOOC) announced they are filing charges with the National Labor Relations Board against Cone Mills for illegally firing Rand Manzella. In a joint press conference held right on the steps of Cone’s corporate offices, Rand ripped into the Cone bosses. He bared their sinister history of harassing and attacking the leaders of the textile workers–CWP members Jim Waller, Bill Sampson, Sandy Smith who were organizing the Cone Mills workers. And after their brutal assassinations by the KKK/Nazis/FBI on Nov. 3, Cone continued the crime by attacking another leader of the workers, Rand, a CWP supporter. They fired him for being a “dangerous and violent employee” after the state arrested him for holding on to the handgun of his murdered friend Bill Sampson on Nov. 3.

Cone’s attack on Rand is symbolic of the bourgeoisie’s attacks on workers’ leaders, particularly communists, all across the country today. The historically unprecedented economic crisis, and the reverberating effects as it invades every person’s life, will rip, this country apart. But the bourgeoisie will still rule by default, in the absence of established leadership of the masses. What this means is the bourgeoisie will try to block the growing leadership, particularly the CWP, because the politically independent alternative of socialism that CWP means for the workers is the death rattle for today’s rule by default.

Raising the political offensive to an even higher level, the CWP, WOOC and TUEL are calling for building an independent union for workers at Cone Mills, a union that wholeheartedly fights for the workers at Cone and doesn’t play dead like the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union (ACTWU). Today at one plant, half of the union members are hard-core reactionaries and half are working with the WOOC and the CWP, working in the union to kick out the sellouts and put the leadership back in the rank and file’s hands. The other advanced and active workers refuse to join the union. While the CWP works in union locals that already exist, at the same time we uphold building new unions in other plants where the old unions are abandoned by the masses. The time is ripe to build a new union at Cone Mills, a union which will fight Cone’s exploitation to the end with real organization of the workers. The workers want a union that will replace the hacks’ imperialist war politics with working class leadership opposed to the capitalistsí war preparations and fascist attacks at home. This independent union, with the leadership of the CWP, can be a clarion call, breaking up the chains of cynicism and misleadership that the labor aristocrats have gripped the workers with.

Workers at several of the Cone Mills and other factories are planning a meeting to discuss an independent union May 18 in Greensboro. While it cannot replace the principal goal of building the CWP, the call for an independent union is part of our preparation for the dictatorship of the proletariat in the 80’s, as it unleashes the workers in a bold way and helps train a core of new working class fighters to assume leadership in the 80’s.

The history of CWP supporters and hundreds of Cone workers who have taken part in the struggle to organize Cone Mills is a militant one. The Revolution Mills’ Organizing Committee (ROC) brought in the first Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspection of the plant where hundreds of violations were found. The ROC filed NLRB charges against Cone’s illegal firing of Dan Stoneman and Kurt Krumperman in 1977. These cases were won by the ROC. Dan and Kurt, who were leading the fight to unionize Revolution Mills, won their full back pay in November 1979. The 1978 Granite Mill strike led by Jim Waller beat back Cone’s attempt at a wage cut and built up union membership over 25 times the pre-strike level. Bill Sampson was about to be elected president of Local 1391 at White Oak when the ACTWU hacks took the union out of the hands of the workers with an administratorship.

We are not only fighting the attacks against present leaders like Rand, but our bold call for an independent union is a big step toward ensuring that a whole new generation of working class leaders grows. To Cone Mills and all the bourgeoisie, so many Jims, Bills, Sandys and Rands will come forward you will not be able to sleep again for the fear it puts in your heart!