Day Four of the JeffBoat Wildcat
By a Louisville IWW Member at Jeffboat, May 3, 2001
It's Thursday afternoon, the fourth day of the wildcat strike at JeffBoat. All lines are holding strong.
Yesterday many workers received two letters in the mail; one from Zuckerman, the other from Bob Greene. Both letters ordered us back to work as well as talking to us like we were dogs and, at times, very stupid children. Folks on the picket lines were passing the letters around and discussing them. To counter these letters, someone wrote responses last night, made several hundred copies and distributed them among workers on the lines. A copy of each has been sent to Zuckerman and Greene.
I have copied the workers' response letters below. I hope you enjoy. The hard copy of these letters ape the font and even the verbatim of many sentences and all the tone of the two letters sent to us workers. It's funnier to read them after reading the originals but that will have to wait. We've got photos of the originals that'll be posted on the website soon.
Louisville Food Not Bombs and IWW members gathered food from grocery stores and prepared a healthy, good-tasting late supper that feed the many folks stationed at each of the gates leading into the shipyard. Folks were delighted at the treat and we told them, "This is in repayment for your courage and strength. Thank you."
It seems police in Jeffersonville, Indiana are no longer interested in assisting JeffBoat in any way. One wildcatter quoted a high-ranking police officer as saying that he was "tired of JeffBoat's bullshit. Half of all our calls," the officer claimed, "come from those pricks complaining about somebody they're fucking with."
There was absolutely no police presence at JeffBoat today.
From being on the barricade at the main gate, I can tell you that company men are carrying pistols. Several wildcatters on the moving barricade reported seeing pistols placed on the passenger seat of the vehicles driven by management. After seeing one, a barricader announced that he had taken his 9mm pistol out of his truck and left it at home. "I strongly encourage the rest of you to do the same," he said. "That's something they'll use to try and screw with us."
I left the lines earlier today and finally got some sleep. Louisville Food Not Bombs and IWW members from the area began gathering food at about 9:30 am in order to prepare a massive, free and good lunch for wildcatters.
Your phone calls and faxes and emails are really helping. We're not only putting pressure on the company and the capitalist-sucking "union," but you're honoring the brave folks who are taking a stand today. I spent from 10:30 pm to 12:30 am reading emails to folks all along the frontlines last night and this morning. People were standing very tall after what they heard.
Out of approximately 800 workers, 7 went to work today.
Letter #1 - Flying Squadron for Truth and Justice
Dear Fred Suckerman:
We no longer give a damn what you did or did not explain to us.
The company may notify you about any contract it wants, but we workers have no contract. And so we have no "no-strike" clause.
We find it pretty damn disturbing that you--our representative--and the company are so friendly with one another. Maybe you don't see why that bothers us so let me tell you why: You see, we work hard. We weld. We drive cranes. We rig and fit steel and put in piping and paint and try and figure out the crappy blueprints the company gives us. With our brains and our hands we create the wealth that makes the world run--and that makes scum like you rich.
But even though it is we--the workers--who make the world come alive through our labor, the wealth we create is pinched out of our hands and put into the pockets of stockholders and company management. Isn't that a shame? The working person--the person that makes the wealth--is poor and the parasite who sits on their head is rich.
When you think about that, you realize that we working people have to stick together so that we can slowly make the world a good and fair place by putting the wealth back into the hands of the people who made it, who deserve to reap the full fruit of their labor. We call that sort of sticking together, a "union."
Now Fred, when you betray working people and plot behind their backs, that's not a union. That's treachery and betrayal. You're a coward, Fred, and a scab. We urge you to take a flying fuck.
Letter #2 - Metro United Up Yours Committee
The purpose of this letter is to fill you in on what's happening on the street in front of JeffBoat.
I hope you understand the situation with the picketing. You pay us half of the industry standard wage. You try to force us to work in the rain. You try to make us work when there's lightening overhead. You waste our time with your petty little jackshit "safety requirements" to make sure your ass is covered for the insurance reps but you won't do a damn thing to really insure our safety. You drag us to your drug tests like we're puppies that pissed on the carpet. You work us like slaves and, after we've cut your stinking manhours and filled a great order for another customer, you hand us a $10 bonus.
We're sick and tired of your bullshit, Bob. And we not going to take it. Not one second longer.
We haven't taken any disciplinary action against you, Bob, we've just stopped working. You may fear you're not going to keep getting rich by bleeding us and our lives dry, but that's not true. Your customers are waiting for you and their orders are still on the table.
But they're going to stay on the damned table until we get back a little of the wealth we create for you, Bob.
We're asking that you get a conscience, Bob. We are requiring that you take a long look in the mirror and realize what a drag it is for the rest of us to have to see you. We've had to see you and put up with what you represent so damned long that we're willing to risk our jobs to fix it, to make it good. Discipline us all you want. Bring it on.
We all want JeffBoat to be a good place to work where working people can make enough money to support our families, to be sure we are safe and can return to them in health, and to be treated with some dignity and respect.