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November 10, 2003

Grocery Strikers Beaten by Anti-union Thugs

Several thugs attacked and beat picketers in the southern California grocery strike, sending at least one to the hospital:

Several men, some brandishing bats, confronted picketers outside a strike-bound Albertsons market in Laguna Niguel, Calif., sending a 21-year-old man to the hospital, authorities said Monday.

Orange County Sheriff's Department spokesman Jim Amormino said five males showed up outside the market at 30241 Golden Lantern St. about 10:20 p.m. Sunday and taunted the strikers, challenging them to fight.

Three of them carried bats and began beating a 21-year-old striker, Amormino said, adding that the assailants fled when a security guard fired shots in the air.

Anti-union propaganda always harp on "union violence" but they rarely talk about the violence employer-related thugs regularly inflict on peaceful picketers. Many years ago I wrote this short piece on the history of employer and government violence against unions:
One of the first great strike waves of this country occured on the railways in 1877; in that strike, US federal troops repeatedly opened fire of strikers battling with the monopolistic railways, killing twelve people
in Baltimore, killing twenty-five in Pittsburg, and using troops throughout the country to break the strike...

Possibly the most bloody attack on unionists was Ludlow, Colorado in 1913 where J.D. Rockefeller and his Colorado Fuel and Iron Company had state militia and hired special deputies attack and try to crush coal miners there. Conflict ranged for months until the militia opened machine-fire on a tent city of mineworkers family and then soaked tents in oil and put them to the torch. Women and children huddled in pits to escape the falmes; in one, eleven children and two women were found burned to death at the hands of the militia...

It is worth noting the findings of the La Follette Civil Liberties Committee which released a report on corporate activies from 1933 to 1937. In the report, it was gound that 2500 companies had hired labor spies to spy in union meetings and even becoming union officials in order to undermine the organizations. Almost $10 million ($76 million in 1993 dollars) had been spent by companies in this period for spies, strike-breakers and munitions--GM alone had spent $830,000. In one strike, the so-called Little Steel strike, Youngstown Sheet and Tube Company had on hand eight machine guns, 369 rifles, 190 shotguns, 450 revolvers, and 109 gas guns. The Republic Steel Corporation had purchased $79,000 of tear and other gas weapons, making it a larger buyer of such weapons than law enforcement officials.

This reality of employer violence is obscured by employer propaganda. Yes, union members occasionally defend themselves and, in very scattered instances, are the aggressors. But the latter is far rarer than the history of government and employer-led violence against peaceful picketers.

Like the hyping of "union corruption"- rarely more than pissant embezzling by a few isolated officials, a pale reflection of the mass looting by Enron and other corporate officials, the hype of "union violence" while ignoring employer and government violence is one of the Big Lies by the Lying Liars of the rightwing to undermine public support for unionism.

Thanks to Shock and Awe.

Posted by Nathan at November 10, 2003 02:22 PM