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V. Grey

Shop Talks on Socialism

(21 April 1945)

From The Militant, Vol. IX No. 16, 21 April 1945, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

“You’re never gonna get people to stick together enough to fight for Socialism – much less to keep if after you get it,” Scissorbill Sam (the bosses’ man) opened up.

At first nobody disagreed. Because nobody knew exactly how to prove he was wrong.

Slim opened up his sandwiches to see if it was baloney again, and he said, “I don’t know about that. Any of you fellows remember when Republic came around town in the thirties looking for men to run a new plant they said they were puttin’ up?”

“Gee, I remember that,” laughed Tony. “They offered a free bus trip to their new plant in Ohio. Everybody in town was out of work. So what did we have to lose!”

“Were you in that gang too?” Breezy booted. “What a beautiful job that was.”

“Yes, it was a beautiful job, all right,” Slim continued. “They took about seven bus loads out of this town. None of us had a cent in our pockets. The company supplied the meals. We had all been desperate for a job. And we had just packed into those buses. But after we’d been riding most of the day we had been talking and talking – wondering how come they went so far from this Ohio town to get workers,

“Then we all started saying it was damn funny that they didn’t have any people out of work in this town we were going to. And an idea started to trouble us. But no one dared to speak it out loud.”

“I was in the first bus that stopped by the gas station,” Breezy put in, “I remember exactly the way that guy came out from behind the building. ‘Where do you fellows think you’re going?’ he says. ‘Why, over to work at the Republic plant’, we tell him. ‘Like hell you are’ he says. And he was up against the whole bus load.”

We Had Sense Enough to Stay United

“Well, he could easily see we weren’t a hunch of scabs,” argued Tony. “Besides, don’t you remember that other gang of strikers nearby in the woods?”

“Not when I was there,” Breezy insisted.

“Anyhow,” Slim went on, “I remember all the fellows in the first bus load got out on the road and stopped all the rest of the buses themselves. First we were going to drive the buses right back home ourselves. Then some faint-hearted guys let the drivers call up the company agent, and he hot-footed it over with a couple of lawyers. They argued for an hour about the contracts we signed. Bit it didn’t do ’em any good.

“Finally they persuaded us to stay overnight in a hotel at their expense. We knew damn well they wanted to work on us again the next day. But we were all tired. The only thing I was afraid of was that we’d all have to hitch-hike back. But we took care of that by making the bus drivers bunk in with us. And every last man of us went back in the morning.”

“Remember how we made the drivers pick up all the hitch-hikers on the road back?” gloated Breezy.

“The point is ...” Slim closed up his lunch basket, “that hardly any of that gang had even been in a union at that time. They hadn’t even started to organize Bethlehem into the CIO then. But we had sense enough to stick together with those guys we never even saw, no matter how green or hard up we might have been.”

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