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"I'm not going to root for bullies"

February 8, 2002 | Pages 6 and 7

AMONG THE protesters in New York was a worker from the jet engine maker Pratt and Whitney, where members of the International Association of Machinists won a new contract after a controversial strike in December. He talked to Socialist Worker about that struggle--and why he came to New York.

WHAT DID the strike achieve?

THOUGH WE didn't get everything, it's probably the best contract in the aerospace industry. It doesn't completely stop layoffs--which is difficult to get, especially given the state of the economy.

The company created 5,000 hard-asses--people are really anti-company and pro-union.

Overall, our membership is pretty conservative. A lot of people voted for Bush, and it's a mostly white local. But there was no question about this strike, even though it came during this tough period [during the war on Afghanistan]. People made the decision to stop military production, even though they weren't necessarily against the war.

The company, of course, attacked us for being unpatriotic, and there were a few hints of that in the media.

HOW DO you see the global justice movement connecting with people you work with?

PEOPLE TALK about it, but more before 9-11. I think it's coming back now.

This flag-waving is going to be a problem for a while. But you have to take a position and hold it. 9-11 didn't change the world in every respect.

When people came after me and called me unpatriotic because they knew I opposed the war, I would tell them that you can wave the flag all you want, but I'm not going to root for bullies.

By waving that thing in my face, you're supporting domination of oppressed people by the same people that stomp on you--maybe a little bit less, but it's the same thing.

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