May 5, 2009

video reviews: strikes

This is the month of May, and the 90th anniversary of the Winnipeg General Strike. But another general strike is shown in the following films. The San Francisco general strike of 1934 was started as a strike on May 9th by longshoremen. It resulted in the unionization of all ports on the west coast.

Above we see the effects of workers' power of stopping all work. The employers and powers that be freak right out as shown on the newsreel.
The corporate media paint the strike as menacing society and innocent people. Who are these innocent people I would like to know. I believe the newsreel is referring to the well to do minority of bankers and industrialists.

The narration appeals to the law and order crowd who prefer the status quo instead of risking change. Of course in the 1930s not many people benefited from the status quo and so many more were willing to accept radical ideas and change. The devil they knew was a devil they could bear no longer.

This clip shows the police attacking the strikers and the ensuing battle.
It shows the strikers side of the story more, as the state comes in to crush the strike, much like in Winnipeg in 1919. Law and order is the pretext but the scenes show the police creating chaos. The end of the clip has the narrator stating the strike as a step backwards for reconstruction (of capitalism).

Above is a silent clip showing a march of longshoremen on strike. Note the "smash the fink halls" placard against having to be forced to belong to company unions and paying a company union hiring hall to work in a port.

The Depression of the 1930s was full of countless strikes and workers actions. The next and final set of videos show two such actions: Chicago teachers who were owed months in back wages, and striking farmers who tried to stop flow of their crops.

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