25, 50 and 75 Years Ago

February 4, 2019

February 7, 1994

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — One hundred forty members of the Congress of Industrial Unions who work for a grain importer here received an early Christmas present when management locked them out of the plant October 26. The company, Molinos de Puerto Rico, is owned by the giant food corporation, Con Agra. 

Jorge Reyes, 53, is a forklift operator and has worked for Molinos for 28 years. “The company wants to cut my wages from $8.25 to $4.50 per hour,” Reyes said on the picket line.

The union has given the company concessions in the last several contracts. One of these was allowing the bosses to institute a two-tier wage scale. This time the company demanded even deeper givebacks. In previous contracts the company paid 100 percent of employees’ health insurance. Their current proposal is for workers to pay a third.

February 7, 1969

HAVANA — For the Young Socialist Alliance visitors here, one of the high points of our stay in Cuba has been a series of visits with the spokesmen of the mission of the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam to Cuba. We obtained a better understanding of the Vietnamese people’s struggle for self-determination.

The powerful message that came through was that Vietnam will win. The only question is, what expense in lives and destruction will the U.S. impose before it is completely halted?

We met with Huynh Van Ba, acting head of the mission. He began his fight for Vietnamese national liberation in the 1940s when he joined the struggle against the French. “In 1965 we functioned almost totally underground. Today, it is the enemy who must live in holes and behind great fortifications. It is we who mingle freely with our people.” 

February 5, 1944

Speed-up, hazardous methods, inadequate safety devices — all part of the bosses’ drive for war profits — have caused industrial accidents which since Pearl Harbor have exacted the frightful toll of 37,600 dead workers, 210,000 permanently disabled and 4,500,000 temporarily injured.

According to the Office of War Information, this is 60 times the number of total casualties suffered by the entire American armed forces in this war. The industrial deaths alone numbered 5,000 more than combat deaths. 

The administration has been trying to incite the soldiers against the workers, claiming that the soldiers alone are facing injury and death while the workers are getting luxury wages without physical risk. In reality the profiteers are coining wealth out of the blood shed by the workers both on the assembly line and on the battle line.