25, 50 and 75 Years Ago

April 1, 2019

April 4, 1994

PARIS — Hundreds of thousands of students and trade unionists have taken to the streets across the country in recent weeks to protest a plan to create a separate, subminimum wage for young people.

The French ruling class argues that the lower wage is the only way to decrease unemployment, which is officially at 12.2 percent. If the wage for youth was lower, they argue, the capitalists would be able to hire more workers.

Under the new law, which went into effect March 22, workers under 25 years old can be paid 80 percent of the minimum wage of about $1,000 a month. These workers will spend 20 percent of their time in what amounts to unpaid training classes.

The first demonstration on March 3 was called by student groups. One week later they were joined by forces organized by several trade union federations.

April 4, 1969

The E.R. Squibb plant in Brooklyn was closed indefinitely March 12 after a sit-in by 320 workers protested the company’s refusal to negotiate seniority, severance pay and pensions. Squibb had made an announcement that it would close the plant employing 700 workers. It offered to transfer all workers to its New Brunswick, N.J. plant but refused to tell what the job status of the transferred workers would be. Some of the men and women had worked in the Brooklyn plant for as long as 26 years.

Day-shift workers sat down in the plant. Police were called and 37 were arrested, charged with criminal trespass. The following day Squibb summarily fired 14 union leaders of Local 8-138, Oil Chemical and Atomic Workers Union for their part in the sit-in.

Thirty-seven workers remain under indictment. No negotiations meetings are scheduled. 

April 1, 1944

Ferocious civil war is raging throughout the industrial cities of North Italy as anti-fascist workers and Italian Partisans battle arms in hand against the Nazi-Fascist forces of occupation.  

The insurrectionary-movement has developed from the general strike of 6,000,000 workers which two weeks ago defied the Nazi ultimatum and terror and, according to the Naples Socialist newspaper, Avanti, scored “a victory in the first truly great mass movement in Europe against Nazism.”

So fierce was this struggle that the Nazis were compelled to yield to several of the most important immediate demands of the workers.

The tremendous proletarian struggle in North Italy has already demonstrated the unconquerable power of the working class. The effects of this struggle will be felt not only throughout Italy, but all of Europe, and in Germany itself.