|The Pullman Strike was a national rail workers strike in the U.S. in 1894 by the American Railway Union (ARU) against the Pullman Company, the big railroad companies and the federal government.|
Two conferences on the future of Railroad Safety were convened, first in Richmond CA on March, 14, with a follow up on the 21st in Olympia Washington. In the spectacle of the American left a list of endorsers including various syndicalist, socialist, and environmentalist NGO’s, CBO’s gathered under the banner of safety with little else to unite them. Some advocated for letter writing to politicians for better conditions, some told us “all you need is love”, while the Richmond Progressive Alliance and it leader “Third Camp” Mike Parker from Solidarity and Labor Notes, who in the last Mayoral campaign withdrew and threw his and the RPA’s support behind long term Democratic Politician Tom Butt, brought the popular front to this conference in the guise of a “non” political opening statements by the spokesperson for the Democratic Mayor. Despite advocacy for general strike and social revolution from the floor the main gist of the conference was on the issues of safety, logistics and trade union solidarity with active participation from Tesoro refinery steel workers who were still on strike.
The common sense and good trade unionist instincts of Rail Road workers long trapped in conservative craft unions has birthed the Railroad Workers United (RWU). RWU adopted the following principles of good industrial trade unionism, Unity of All Rail Crafts, An End to Inter-Union Conflict, Rank-and-File Democracy, Membership Participation and Action, Solidarity, No to Concessionary Bargaining. The attack by the transport industry bosses on labor including the unsafe demand for one man crews, long trains and long hours has increased the other hazards inherent in rolling stock with bomb like loads of chemicals and fossil fuel products. The failure of the craft unions to united workers around their interests has resulted in back biting and general weakness by dividing the various categories of RR workers.
In the face of the failure of the craft unions the movement toward industrial unionism that the RWU represents is progressive, long overdue, and cannot be won unless the workers embrace class struggle methods to fight anti-labor laws which prevent rail strikes, general strikes and secondary—solidarity–strikes. This requires that the rail workers unions unite and declare their class political independence from the twin parties of the bosses who indoctrinate the union leaders and the membership into submission to the anti-labor laws and into the regular political activity of supporting the “labor friendly” candidate.
Even militant industrial trade unionism cannot win unless it breaks the chains to the Democratic and Republican parties and this requires a political fight which the syndicalist IWW supporters of the RWU are dead set against. The IWW members explicitly tell RWU members that they do not need their own workers party. Prominent IWW/Occupy leader Elliot Hughes was overheard in the lunch line telling workers they do not need a labor party. Despite the attendance from Soc Alt, Speak Out, Socialist Workers Party and the Transport Workers Solidarity Committee only the Communist Workers Group advocated for class political independence, to challenge the labor bureaucracy for leadership with class struggle methods and for a workers party that fights for a workers government, to much applause and waving red flags (IWW leader Steve Ongerth was the time keeper waving the red flag).