As the Militant reported in the May 16 issue, attorneys Randy Dryer and Michael Petrogeorge filed on April 28 in federal court in Salt Lake City, Utah, a second memorandum on behalf of the Militant and SWP supporting the motion to dismiss the suit by the Utah mine bosses. Motions to dismiss and supporting briefs have also been filed by the other defendants in the caseincluding the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA), 16 Co-Op miners, two of Utahs main dailies, and other trade unions and individuals who have backed the Co-Op miners union-organizing struggle.
The presiding judge is expected to set a date for a hearing on the motions to dismiss later this summer. It is crucial now to organize a campaign across the United States and beyond to win endorsements and raise the tens of thousands of dollars needed to wage a public defense campaign and prepare for the court hearing.
Just about every dollar contributed so far to the Militant Fighting Fundwhich was set up last year to help the Militant and SWP defend themselves in this casehas already been spent to prepare briefs for the court hearing. Between now and when the hearing takes place another $75,000 is needed to do the work thats required. In addition to fund-raising, endorsements are necessary to augment public support for the defense effort.
The Militant is targeted in the lawsuit by C.W. Mining on charges of alleged defamation because of its consistent and accurate reporting on the labor battle and its backing of the coal miners fighting to organize a union. The owners of C.W. Mining will try to subject the Militant and Socialist Workers Party to intrusive discovery and investigation and drain them through litigation dragging on for years.
This case grows out of the most important labor battle in the United States today.
The owners of the Co-Op mine filed the suit last year in an attempt to shift the terrain of this battle into the courts, away from a public fight with picket lines and support actions.
Civil lawsuits of this type are not an anomaly but a tactic employers will increasingly rely on when they are challenged by effective use of union power.
The Co-Op mine owners have used every tool at their disposal to resist the workers just struggle to win UMWA representation, and for safety, dignity, and a decent livelihood. Intimidating lawsuits, arbitrary firings, legal challenges to every labor board ruling, and efforts to buy off individual minersall of these actions are the stock-in-trade of the bosses anti-union efforts everywhere.
The miners have answered these attacks by sticking together, refusing to be cowed, and seeking support. They have reached out broadly to the labor movement in the West and beyond and they have received a warm response from fighting workers in every place the news of their battle has reached. They have set a powerful example of what it means to use union power and mobilize solidarityall for one and one for allwhich is attractive to the thousands of miners in the West who are largely unorganized and to many other working people.
These coal miners have also refused to be intimidated by the harassment lawsuit. Their recent picket lines near a depot owned by C.W. Miningwhere haulers drop off coal for shipment by railhave been a pole of attraction for working people in the area.
The determined efforts by the miners are bearing fruit. There is evidence that C.W. Mining is having trouble in filling ordersas the companys cancellation of its contract for supplying coal to a Missouri-based energy distributor, reported in last weeks issue, showed.
Whether the Co-Op mine will become union and the importance of extending the unionization effort to other coal mines, coal haulers, and coal construction workers in the region are questions at the center of the class struggle in the United States today.
Because of the Militants record in this case, 24 pages of the 70-page complaint by the Co-Op mine owners allege defamations by the Militant against C.W. Mining and the IAUWU. The suit names the SWP as a defendant on the basis of the false claim that the party owns and controls the socialist newsweekly.
The so-called defamations are largely based on reporting accurately what workers engaged in this battle have said and done. This follows a proud tradition. Since its inception in 1928, the Militants worker correspondents have written from the front lines of the battles by workers and farmers in the United States and other countries. This record, along with the Militants unique coverage of major questions in world politicsfrom the lessons of the causes and outcome of World War II to the defeat of U.S. imperialism by the Vietnamese people 30 years agocan be used to gain support in the defense effort. Public meetings such as those reported on page 7 can be organized over the summer.
The campaign to defend the Militant and SWP against this harassment lawsuit builds on the tradition of other defense efforts in the workers movement over decades. These cases include:
The frame-up trials in Sioux City, Iowa, of leaders of the Teamsters union fighting to organize truck drivers across 11 states in the Midwest on the eve of World War II;
The Smith Act trials and convictions of 18 SWP and Teamster leaders in the early 1940s for leading opposition to Washingtons preparations to drag workers and farmers into the second worldwide imperialist slaughter;
The James Kutcher defense effort from the late 1940s through the mid-1950s after this worker who had lost both legs in World War II was fired from his job in the Veterans Administration because of his membership in the Socialist Workers Party;
The defense of members of the Young Socialist Alliance (YSA) in Bloomington, Indiana, in the early 1960s who were charged with advocating the overthrow of the U.S. government and the State of Indiana, after protesting Washingtons naval blockade and invasion threats against Cuba around the October 1962 missile crisis;
The case of the Fort Jackson 8 and other GIs who came under attack by the U.S. military for exercising their rights as citizen soldiers during the Vietnam War;
The more than decade-long fight to win support for the suit brought by the SWP and YSA in 1973 against the FBI and other government agencies for spying, harassment, and disruption;
The Mark Curtis defense campaign in the late 1980s and early 1990s that arose out of battles by meatpacking workers in the Midwest and defense of the rights of immigrant workers in that industry;
The fight two years ago to secure the right of Militant reporter Róger Calero to live and work in the United States after the U.S. government tried to deport him.
Lessons from these fights will serve well in the current defense campaign.
You can do something to weigh in on the scales of this battle. Endorse the Militant Fighting Fund. Send a contribution now! (Write your check or money order to the Militant Fighting Fund and send it to P.O. Box 520994, Salt Lake City, UT 84152-0994.)
Socialist workers in U.S. coal mines:
The organization of western coal has begun; lets act on it
Unionists, professors in Utah, California endorse the Militant Fighting Fund
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