When: Saturday, March 22nd, 6:30 pm
Where: The L.A. Local Office, 2617 Hauser Boulevard, Los Angeles
“The Giant Step of the American Working Class” with Gabe Gabrielsky
This presentation will examine the self-organization of working people in the economic sphere, particularly in the United States, with special emphasis on the mass organization that took place during the CIO era. It will be framed in the Marxian concept of the division of labor as first enunciated by Engels and especially Morgan as well as E.P. Thompson’s conception of class formation and Stan Weir’s work on the central importance of primary work groups as the organic unit of class organization, which is fundamentally democratic and impossible to bureaucratize. There will be a brief review of pre-capitalist and pre-industrial modes of production and the way in which working people organized themselves in response to particular modes of production, including the guild system under medieval and simple commodity production, the craft union response to early capitalism and small craft manufacture and the gradual rise of industrial unionism in response to the development of mass production. We will examine the reasons and conditions for the rise of bureaucracy in worker organizations. The implications of these various organizational forms for today will be examined, particularly with the partial deindustrialization of American economic life, the war on worker self-organization by big capital with emphasis on the undermining of industrial unions in key industries, the redevelopment of small unit work places, how computer technology is being used to isolate workers from each other and break up primary work groups, the rise of temporary and contingent work and a modern precariat and how working people are responding to these conditions.
Gabe Gabrielsky is a life-long socialist and union activist. At various times he has belonged to the Socialist Party, the Young People’s Socialist League, the Congress of Racial Equality, the Student Peace Union, the American Socialist Organizing Committee, the Philadelphia Socialist Club, Students for a Democratic Society, the Independent Socialist Clubs of America, the International Socialists, the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee, the New America Movement, the Democratic Socialists of America, the International Socialist Organization, the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism and probably some others that he cannot recall. He has been a member of and sometimes volunteer, paid intern, shop steward and local officer in the United Hatter Union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU), the International Union of Electrical Workers (IUE), the UAW, the Retail Clerks International Association (RCIA), the Distributive Workers of America (District 65), 1199, the AFT, the NEA. UNITE-HERE, a local unaffiliated union, and again probably some others that he cannot recall. For a time he managed a radical book store and he has taught at every grade level from nursery school to adult education to graduate school and in every setting from church basements to medium security prisons. He has crossed many bridges and burned many others.