Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

NUWO Steering Committee Meets

Workers Set High Goals for Struggle

First Published: The Worker, for Hawaii, Vol. 3, No. 7, June 15, 1978.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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(WPS) The National United Workers Organization (NUWO) recently held a meeting of its National Steering Committee in Detroit. Delegates from 26 different chapters around the country attended.

The NUWO was formed last Labor Day weekend when nearly 1500 workers came to Chicago from every comer of the country. Since then it has played an important role in many struggles of the working class.

For example, the NUWO played a very active role in helping make the recent miners’ strike a key battle for the working class. The Miners Right To Strike Committee, affiliated with the NUWO in the coalfields, played a crucial part in organizing and focusing the rank and file miners’ struggle–both in this strike and over the past few years. As such it has become both feared and hated by the ruling class.

At the same time the entire NUWO built the miners’ strike throughout the country under the slogan “A Victory for the Miners is a Victory for the Working Class.”

The NUWO’s role in the miners’ strike shows how its formation met a crying need in the struggle of the working class. There is a tremendous need today for an organization that can concentrate the struggle of workers around burning issues facing the masses of people, and systematically build them into powerful campaigns of the whole working class.

This is the most basic purpose of the NUWO. It is the key reason hundreds of workers and many rank and file workers organizations, like the Miners Right To Strike Committee, joined when it was founded.

But, although the NUWO has built several important battles its true potential has been held back. This was due to a group within its ranks which increasingly tried to turn the NUWO into a militant–and sometimes not so militant–version of the AFL-CIO. Like the hacks who head our unions they saw the organization as a way to promote their careers as self-proclaimed great leaders of the working class.

The struggle against this handful of “saviors,” who split from the NUWO a few months ago, was summed up at the recent Steering Committee meeting.


The Steering Committee meeting greatly deepened the organization’s understanding and unity around its basic stand. The delegates resolved that the orientation of the NUWO is reflected in the two slogans: “The working class and the capitalist class have nothing in common” and “Workers unite to lead the fight against all oppression.”

It was necessary to reaffirm especially the second slogan because it had been undercut and sabotaged by the self-proclaimed “NUWO President” and his followers. In their opinion the masses of workers are only concerned about the most immediate bread and butter issues. This is similar to how the capitalists describe the workers–as too dumb to be concerned about broader political issues.

No workers’ organization worth its salt can turn its back on the immediate daily skirmishes in the shops. And the NUWO is based in the shops. But as the Steering Committee pointed out, workers need to set their sights high and build a struggle against all the abuses of this system. It is not enough to struggle only around issues in the plants.

Why is this true? First of all, the delegates said, because the capitalist enemy does more than just exploit workers in the plants. After workers go home they face inflation, high rents, police repression, etc. In fact the capitalist class oppresses the great majority of the American people and extends its plunder worldwide.

This presents the working class with a real opportunity–to unite all who can be united to fight the common enemy. The working class has allies. By uniting with them and helping aim the struggle at the common enemy it can greatly strengthen the struggle of the broad masses of people in this country. In fact by entering into these political struggles, the working class can infuse them with a greater understanding, sense of organization, discipline and unity. In fact, by participating on all the key battlefronts of society, more and more workers will come to a better understanding of their own class interests.


Closely linked to this question, the Steering Committee reaffirmed the “single spark method” as an extremely important method of struggle for the NUWO. The “single spark method” means concentrating the struggle of the NUWO on a few key questions, those which themselves focus the outrages and injustices suffered by the masses of people and bring their anger to a boiling point.

The delegates pointed out how the discredited leaders of the organization had reduced the “single spark method” to a meaningless slogan. They tried to disperse the efforts of the NUWO into concentrating on small skirmishes in the plants. While the NUWO is and must be a center of resistance in the plants, its overall role is to concentrate its forces on key outrages and build them into campaigns of the working class.

All the words “single spark method” meant to these careerists was trying to jump into leadership of something that was hot today, get into the limelight, and move on to something else tomorrow. For this reason, on the eve of the miners’ strike, they opposed the NUWO taking up the miners’ struggle as an important question unless the miners could guarantee it would be a “big battle.” If NUWO members had gone along, this would have sabotaged the NUWO’s support for the miners’ strike.


One sharp question raised in the split with these “great leaders” was the NUWO’s relation to the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP). The split in the NUWO came just after a split also occurred in the RCP. These careerists claimed the struggle in the NUWO was nothing more than an attempt by the RCP to bring its organizational problems into the NUWO.

The Steering Committee discussed this charge. To hear similar arguments all one has to do is listen to the capitalists themselves. What is true is that some of the same people who tried to split the NUWO also tried to split the RCP. This is because the opportunist political line they held in the NUWO was a mirror image of the same political line that brought them into opposition with the RCP. This was brought out in a presentation by a member of the RCP at the meeting.

The opportunists who split from the Party believed that communists can only tail after the present level of struggle. They liquidated the need for the working class to set its sights high and build a struggle whose aim is to overthrow the capitalists and move towards communism.

The RCP attaches great importance to building the day to day struggle of the workers’ and has always been involved in them. But in opposition to the opportunists, the Party’s goal in doing this is to try to transform this struggle from mainly a defensive battle against being driven into the direct into the class conscious fight of the workers against all the injustices in society, aimed at their cause –the capitalist system.

It is not at all surprising, given this, that when these hacks met defeat in the Party and tried to split it they also tried to seize control of the NUWO. But in both instances their attempts ended in pitiful defeat.


The two day meeting also took up other key questions. The Steering Committee resolved to make the NUWO a place where lively political discussion can be carried on. This had been stifled by these “great leaders.” Like the hacks sitting at the top of our unions they thought of the masses of workers in the NUWO as only able to blindly follow them. So the main content of their meetings was limited to getting people excited to carry out these hack’s “great plans.” This was combined with a pep rally atmosphere.

The delegates also decided that a lot more attention will have to be placed on getting other workers to join the NUWO. It is not enough to just build struggles. The ability of the NUWO to be a powerful weapon of the working class is directly related to getting new workers to join. So in the future the organization will be asking other workers to take on the responsibility of being a member.

Also there were summations of the NUWO’s work in the miners’ strike, the recent union elections in the UAW, May Day, African Liberation Day and the campaign to free the Moody Park 3 and others arrested in the recent uprising in Houston.

Through all these discussions there was lively debate, while at the same time a high degree of unity was achieved. The meeting greatly strengthened the NUWO by bringing much greater clarity to the key questions facing the organization and the working class. This greater sense of purpose and direction is now being carried down to local chapters in every part of the country and the result will be a much more powerful NUWO as a weapon of the working class.