25, 50 and 75 Years Ago

March 5, 2018

March 5, 1993

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — An historic International Solidarity Conference organized by the African National Congress here February 19-21 endorsed the ANC’s call for rapid elections to a Constituent Assembly to end racist apartheid rule once and for all.

“There are certain moments that capture the essence of life itself,” ANC president Nelson Mandela told the 900 participants from almost 70 countries. “Today is such a moment for me. For you are the friends from five continents who kept hope alive. … You refused to let the world ignore the tragedy wreaked by apartheid.

“You are here to help us transform all this,” Mandela continued, “to help us move from antiapartheid to democracy.” The ANC president called on antiapartheid fighters around the world to aid the ANC struggle for “free and fair elections” to a Constituent Assembly.

March 4, 1968

What started as seemingly routine negotiation of a new contract for New York City sanitationmen erupted suddenly into a strike struggle of national significance. The issues and events involved have far-reaching political implications. They throw new light on the growing militancy in the union ranks, on the consequent sharpening of the labor-capital conflict, and on the resulting crisis of union leadership.

The strike came after seven months of fruitless efforts to get a contract renewal for the 10,000-member Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association, a Teamster affiliate. Union demands centered on a $600 annual wage increase retroactive to July 1, 1967, when the old contract expired. Mayor Lindsay rejected the demands and refused to make any serious counterproposal. The strike began and was 100 percent effective.

March 6, 1943

The lynch campaign against labor, which has been gathering momentum since United States entry into the war, reached new heights last week as Congress, state legislatures and the whole apparatus of employer propaganda rang with denunciations of unions and dire threats against workers who have dared to defend their rights.

The reasons for this campaign are: 1. To intimidate the workers into discontinuing their present demands for higher wages to meet the rising cost of living; and 2. To lay the groundwork for combating militant union struggles, if the workers refuse to be intimidated.

A swarm of anti-labor bills are now being considered by various committees. If adopted and enforced, the unions might still exist legally, but they would be unable to do anything in defense of the workers’ interests.