Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Goon Squad Responds to NUWO Debate Challenge

First Published: Revolutionary Worker, Vol. 1, No. 37, January 18, 1980.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The Boston chapter of the National United Workers Organization (NUWO) recently answered a call put out in the Dec. 23 issue of the Revolutionary Worker. The call was issued in response to AFL-CIO head Lane Kirkland’s attempts to rally workers behind the U.S. imperialists’ deepening attacks against the Iranian revolution. It demanded open debate over the question of Iran in the factories of this country.

The Boston NUWO chapter handed out a leaflet to workers at the General Dynamics shipyard in Quincy, Mass. It challenged Kirkland to “defend your master’s blood soaked flag...let the two lines be out there, the internationalist stand of the working class in solidarity with the Iranian revolution, and the putrid reactionary stand of the AFL-CIO.” Lane Kirkland did not show, but the reactionary stand of the AFL-CIO did. In the shop, many of the hated union official and company kiss-asses, and members of the South Boston Marshalls (a reactionary KKK-type organization), immediately began to trash the debate. A union steward said to one of the NUWO members, “I have friends in the Klan to take care of you.” They ran around the shop hysterically crying, “They’re going to burn an American flag!”

The debate was scheduled for January 10th at lunchtime, outside the main gate of the yard. Before the NUWO arrived, more than a dozen cops were lurking around along with other slimy characters from the press, like Bill Harrington of Boston’s Channel 5 News as well as a Boston Herald reporter. Neither of these “journalists” were contacted by the NUWO. As the lunch whistle blew, a herd of reactionary goons came stampeding out of the shop, forming a wall between the NUWO and the rest of the workers who had come out to discuss the question of Iran. The cops watched approvingly as these monkeys began kicking and beating the NUWO members. The workers were disgusted and angered by this premeditated assault. One Black worker, outraged, pulled a NUWO member from the claws of the goons as he shouted to them “You’re damn right I’m with them, now get the fuck out of here.” The cops eventually broke up the brawl, telling the NUWO members to leave.

Later that night the NUWO members that worked at the shipyard got phone calls from workers expressing their outrage. One worker called Revolution Books in Boston condemning the reactionaries as “racists sons-of-bitches” and “ignorant fools”. He spoke for a lot of his fellow workers saying, “talk of freedom and democracy won’t make it. We know there ain’t none. A lot of guys didn’t dig what happened.”

But this sentiment was consciously excluded that evening on the Channel 5 news, as they tried to put forward these Klan and South Boston Marshall types as the typical yard workers. One reactionary and a known Klan supporter was interviewed by Bill Harrington of Channel 5. He said, “I don’t care what kind of person you are, you’re going to come down here and protect your flag.” The portrait painted here of the working class was clearóworkers are nothing but the cheering squad protectors of the red, white and blue.

The attacks on the NUWO stepped up in the days that followed. Among other things, a NUWO member was suspended from General Dynamics. But what are these capitalists and reactionary union hacks afraid of? If the workers are nothing but flag-waving fools, as they would have every one believe, then what is there to worry about?

Of course, they have everything to worry about. Far from proving that no willing ears exist among workers for revolutionary politics, their reactionary attack on the NUWO proves the opposite.