November 12, 2007

Dave Cline: Rank & File Rebel, Introduction

In an hour, I will be on my way to Jersey City, NJ where a ceremony will accompany the placing of a plaque honoring Dave Cline on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Community Center in Pershing Field. Dave is being honored because of his extensive work on behalf of veterans there, as recounted in this story from the Jersey City Reporter.

But for me, Jersey City is not just where Dave made his home. It is the home of the US Postal Service's New Jersey Bulk & Foreign Mail Center, the largest postal facility in the country and the scene of important wildcat strikes in 1974 and 1977, in which Dave played a leading role.

I was reminded of this a couple weeks ago by a two page article in the most recent issue of the Union Mail, the newspaper of the New York Metro Area Postal Union (part of the American Postal Workers Union) remembering Dave. It was written by Flo Summergrad, another veteran of the struggles at the Bulk in those days. Flo still works at the Bulk and is active in defending postal workers against management attacks from the national level right down to the shop floor!

I knew it was time to keep the promise I made when I posted four pieces about Dave Cline in September. Those concentrated on his well-known role as a leader of the veterans and anti-war movements, where he made his greatest contributions, but I said I'd try to do something on his role as a rank and file union militant as well.

This is being posted in four parts (reading down, not up): this introduction, an overview of the 1978 postal wildcat by labor historian Michael Braun, followed by two poems drawing on the events of 1978, by Sean Ahern and Martin Zehr. This is only the tip of the iceberg, however. Much more remains to be written about these struggles. Bob? Chris? Lee? Jay? Ken? C'mon folks, chip in a little to this tribute to someone we all miss...

This is a plugger for a documentary film about the 1977 struggle.

1 comment:

John said...

I love that "down with binding arbitration" sign. A true sign of the militant 70s. Binding arbitration look like a comparatively good thing for labor these days, when so much bargaining is concessionary.