25, 50 and 75 Years Ago

January 21, 2019

January 24, 1994

SEATTLE — A head-on collision between Burlington Northern and Union Pacific freight trains Nov. 11 killed five workers near Kelso, Washington. The northbound UP train was preparing to switch over to a parallel main track to allow the BN train to continue southward.

A number of safety systems, designed to prevent precisely this sort of accident, already exist. One device is called an Automatic Train Stop. Another system uses cab signals, an instrument on the engines themselves to warn the crew of upcoming signals.

For 16 years the NTSB [National Transportation Safety Board] has strongly recommended that the bosses install such safety systems, which might have prevented the Kelso collision.

But instead the railroads, with the approval of the Federal Railway Administration, have dismantled the existing systems in order to cut costs.

January 24, 1969

HAVANA — A million Cubans gathered in the Plaza de la Revolución here Jan. 2 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their revolution. They heard an assessment by Fidel Castro of the first 10 years of the revolution — the progress made and the continuing problems. And they greeted with tremendous enthusiasm his prediction of the great accomplishments that lie ahead.

Central honors at the demonstration went to the exemplary workers whose revolutionary dedication have spurred production in the face of difficulties.

Everywhere in Cuba the results of a decade of massive mobilization of revolutionary manpower are evident. All the training schools that were established by the revolution are now graduating classes of skilled technicians, doctors, engineers and scientists who are carrying out the task of rebuilding Cuba.

January 22, 1944

Roosevelt’s War Manpower Commission and other federal agencies are helping to enforce decrees against millions of white and Negro agricultural workers which have their closest parallel in the measures employed against the Negro slaves before the Civil War.

Regulations are now in force which deny these terribly exploited workers the right to leave the areas where they have been employed, even when they are jobless, without release certificates from local county agents, who are spokesmen for the big landowners and growers.

The intent is to freeze these workers in fixed areas for the benefit of the rich planters and landowners who want a large reserve supply of starved and desperate labor that can be forced to work for starvation wages.

The treatment of the agricultural workers is a warning to the labor movement as a whole.