25, 50, and 75 years ago

May 29, 2023

June 1, 1998

Indonesian president Suharto announced his resignation May 21 under the mounting pressure of tens of thousands of workers, students, and others who converged on the parliament the day before demanding his ouster.

The social crisis choking Indonesia was triggered by the wave of currency devaluations in the region that unfolded last July. The Indonesian rupiah has plummeted 80 percent since then and inflation has soared. Indonesia, the world’s fourth-largest country with more than 200 million people, faces a massive default in loans. More than 8 million workers have lost their jobs and millions more may also be on the streets. Peasants and farm workers are being driven off the land, with nearly 500,000 expected to enter Jakarta.

June 1, 1973

After a full year of denials, President Nixon has finally been forced to admit a part of his role in directing and attempting to cover up the worst of the Watergate-related crimes that have been revealed over the past weeks. In this statement Nixon tries to separate the Watergate break-in case from the government operations dealing with “national security.”

But the Watergate bugging is just a minor incident in the picture of secret police spying, provocations, and violence that has emerged from this scandal. The U.S. rulers need this secrecy because their wars and foreign policy are carried out in the interests of a tiny minority of capitalists, not in the interests of American working people.

May 31, 1948

Seventy-two hours before the strike deadline set by the United Auto Workers for 225,000 members, General Motors agreed to a general wage raise. For the first time in any major union agreement, the proposed contract incorporates the principle of the sliding scale of wages. This will provide automatic wage increases proportional to rising living costs, adjusted every three months on the basis of the cost-of-living figures of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The index of the government is heavily weighted to minimize the real rise in living costs. The only reliable cost-of-living index would be one maintained by the unions themselves.

However, the principle of the sliding scale of wages represents a great forward step in this period of inflation.