25, 50 and 75 Years Ago

July 19, 2021

July 22, 1996

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa —The bill of rights in South Africa’s new constitution lays the groundwork for an amendment in existing legislation that could legalize the right to abortion.

The Parliamentary Ad Hoc Select Committee on Abortion recommended that the apartheid-era Abortion and Sterilization Act of 1975 be repealed. New legislation would provide for abortion on demand up to the fourteenth week of pregnancy, and under specified conditions will also legalize abortion between 14 and 24 weeks.

“There will be a debate as to whether it will be integrated into the free public health service. But it is likely that it will be,” said Michelle O’Sullivan, a leader of the Reproductive Rights Alliance, a coalition of 22 organizations. Primary health care is now free to all South Africans. 

July 23, 1971

SAN FRANCISCO, July 13 — The West Coast longshoremen’s strike, now in its second week, was unavoidable. The rank-and-file longshoremen and ship clerks have seen their job conditions and economic security deteriorate to the point where the situation is unacceptable. 

Under the contract that has been in effect since 1961, the shipowners and stevedoring companies, comprising the Pacific Coast Maritime Association, has virtually eliminated union job control and other formerly union prerogatives.

Levees of younger men brought into the industry are the basis of the opposition to further knuckling under to the PMA. There are now open discussions on the picket lines regarding the necessity of shoving the old leadership aside if the strike is to be won. The militants know that only the policy of a “tight strike” — stop everything — can win. 

July 20, 1946

Two weeks ago the Militant  in an editorial outlined a program to safeguard the workers’ living standards in the face of rising prices. We insist on telling workers the truth — which is that they can depend only on themselves and their allies, the poor farmers, the small shopkeepers, etc., to control, fix and police prices in the interests of the consumers.

What should the unions themselves do about the degradation of living standards through skyrocketing prices?

Insert a sliding scale of wages clause into every union contract; establish a fixed minimum wage, and then every time prices go up, automatically adjust wages upward to compensate for the increased cost of living. This sliding scale of wages, of course, would not be based on the government’s false price index, but on a reliable index worked out by the trade unions themselves.