Our contract, June that year, was up;
Some dusted off the old tin cup;
The rest of us decided more
Was due us. We walked out the door.
Makers of the Mars turbine
Had voted for a picket line.
The day we struck the scabs arrived.
We'd been set up. Prospects dived.
The strike would not be short and sweet.
But even still we owned the street.
Solar got a busline, though,
To drive the scabs they hired through
Our picket lines. No easy go.
They had our jobs. We let them through.
From their seats inside the bus,
None of them would look at us.
Someone found out Solar placed
Ads for scabs a month before.
On the day we struck we faced
Busloads of them. Them and more.
Brought in to assemble parts
That we had made. It broke our hearts
To see how all our overtime
Had turned out to be such a crime.
The ads for jobs that Solar bought
Had small print reading, "Oops, forgot.
Going on, there's some dispute
About a contract. Nothing big."
The ads said if they'd substitute,
When it was through they'd have a gig.
California, here we come
Hummed the scabs who're coming from
As far way as Portland, Maine.
Zippity do dah. Zip to gain.
Crossing picket lines to build
The turbines, keeping orders filled.
We almost saw our Local die,
Unemployment figures high.
Strike vote 96 per cent.
My God. Solar's president,
O. Morris Sievert, sent our mates
A letter saying, gosh, he hates
To see it when someone's misled.
"Can't trust what the union's said.
By the way, while you're on strike,
Think about what it be like:
How you going to ever make
The monthly payments? Big mistake."
There're times you can't deny your spine.
We all walked the picket line.
Local 685 was hot.
Solar's contract offered squat.
It's funny when a scab confronts
Big picket lines. They'd cross it once.
Those who crossed next day could boast
They'd busted strikes from coast to coast.
But it worked, line worked so well,
That Solar hurt and we could tell.
Across the table, losing it,
While all we had to lose was shit.
Solar knew they couldn't last
Unless they thought up something fast.
Solar tried it all;
Each day reports
To cops and courts
Had us up against the wall.
Morning SWAT and evening news--
Either way you're going to lose.
The captain of the picket line
Was interviewed, refused to whine--
A Mexican who had no couth
Who told the news the ugly truth.
They pushed him and he pushed them back.
He knew the score and they kept track.
Vidiots were filming us.
They came up with numerous
Instances where they could show
The judge how far some stooped so low.
Windows broken, punches thrown.
Everything we did was shown.
The courts sent down a ruling we
Could picket Solars gates with three
Union members. If we had more
They'd jail us--so either, or.
The picket line had grown a lot.
Injunctions first, they sent back SWAT--
The picket captain went to jail,
The Mexican would never bail.
One-hundred twenty-three days long:
They never thought we'd be that strong.
But they had tricks and legal moves
And everything that money proves.
They would wear us down until
Our lawyers bitched about the bill,
And better halves had had their fill.
Some lost homes and some their car.
Some divorced, apart, and far.
In the union was a red--
That's what everybody said.
Name I can't remember now
But he was good explaining how
This strike was one that could be won
If we knew what was to be done.
Hey! What is it with this guy?
Half way through, the FBI
Paid a visit to or Local.
Someone down here getting vocal?
Our reps were scared and went along--
Reds were Nazis, right? Or wrong?
They set this commie up one night.
They swore in court they had it right.
The D.A. said it all made sense:
A buslot and a chainlink fence--
All belonging to the line
That Solar used to bus in scabs--
Had a witness. Witness blabs.
Buslot guard. And someone ran
Past him heading for a van.
Saw him once more when he passed
By him again and moving fast.
The guard who saw him said he found
A Union matchbook on the ground
Beneath a bus and dynamite
That had a fuse that wouldn't light.
We all knew the guy was dead.
Besides, the guy's a fucking red.
Brother sentenced five to life.
Judge and jury left his wife
And family stunned. But no one cried--
Everyone in court had lied.
But in the hall his father broke,
But standing. Standing like an oak.
Company fired our ten best.
Their final offer gave the rest
Of us a contract worse than weak:
If only all we made could speak.
The contract was a contract which
Was bound to make stockholders rich.
Raised our wages by a dime
With mandatory overtime;
Job descriptions changed to suit
The company who wants to shoot
Seniority down and bury it--
Solar couldn't take our shit.
Break a rule and you get fired.
Company breaks one, lawyer's hired
To paper ours until ours quits
Giving Solar uppity fits.
Grievance process gutted so
That when they want to let you go
It takes so long to get back in
You get convinced you'll never win.
The strike hurt Solar more than us;
None of us had much to lose;
Ten of us were fired plus
The local lost 4 months of dues.
The other nine of ten who lost
Their jobs were lucky--all it cost
Them was employment in this town--
Blacklist. That's for getting down.
The radicals were blamed for being
Full of shit or too extreme.
The Union? Got off almost free
If 90 years seniority,
And the strike fund that it cost
Is your idea of nothing lost.
The strike was long as any ever
San Diego had, and never
Had so many gone on strike
As our Local. Had to like
What happened next. Solar's sold.
I.H. said it had to fold.
Stockholders hadn't liked it much,
All the profits lost and such.
Sold out cheap to Catepillar.
All we had to say was, killer.
Catepillar's big and all
But come big and the bigger you fall.
7 a.m. would see us drift
Down before the morning shift.
By the time the scabs arrive
Down at the gate, they had to drive
Through a hundred, more or less,
Angry strikers. And I'd guess
The only scabs who lasted boast
Of busting strikes from coast to coast.
But the line
Was working fine,
It just took some commotion
To make it so
Scabs wouldn't go
Through without a notion
Of what could happen to them when
They crossed the picket line again.
We broke no laws, we tried not to--
Spiders did some damage, true;
And cars would leave with knee-high dings.
But hey, that's just one of those things--
There's always someone in a crowd
Who's not content to just get loud.
It was open hunting season
On us strikers--that's the reason
That our own elected leaders
Excused themselves as heavy bleeders
And never made it to the line.
Except one day we saw them shine
The time that TV's Channel Eight
Was at the assembly plant's main gate.
Otherwise you'd find them home,
Putting polish to the chrome.
These union leaders were a click--
Hung out with guys like Sherm and Dick.
We'd carry signs and sometimes chant.
The picket line shut down the plant:
In a hotel room downtown,
Management was going down
Trying to negotiate
Against the pickets at the gate.
Management gave up a bit
Because the pickets wouldn't quit.
The company wouldn't either:
They were stalling for a breather.
We got everyone's attention:
T.V. news built up the tension,
Likewise, so did cops.
We turned the scabs around.
We walked a loop
Wired up for sound,
Took his pictures to compile
Evidence to build a file
He could show the judge and say,
"You're looking at an average day.
They've been doing this, and worse."
The judge enjoins us to disperse.
In a 15 page injunction,
Judge told us our line couldn't function
Legally, that is, till we
Cut our pickets down to three.
Someone brought the order down,
Company sent it on by clown.
At our feet injunctions drop.
Cameras roll from some rooftop.
Remember Sherm and Dick? They came
Down and said they'd couldn't blame
Us doing what we do, but they,
The click, that is, would have to say
They can't defend us if we're busted
For something like contempt of court.
Dick, he got us more disgusted--
Told us we had his support
But he was siding with the click:
Thank you Sperm and good night, Dick.
We got pictured as a mob,
Courts told SWAT to do it's job.
They came down to clear us out,
Out for blood, we had no doubt.
My knees shook bad, first time I saw
The way it was against the law.
SWAT pulled up two blocks away--
What a way to start your day,
Watching them pull out their gear
They use to change the atmosphere.
The picket captain went ahead.
Now the courts were seeing red.
The picket captain: busted, jailed
Along with six or seven others.
I won't say the union bailed,
They got a lawyer for their brothers,
But they put up a lame defense--
Doubtful of their innocense.
The click in court apologized
For the rowdy faction.
The so-called rowdies weren't surprised
By the court's reaction.
The time they served was just enough
To give the click time to finesse
A contract smart enough to bluff
The membership. T.V. and press
Never explained the contract passed
Was worse than what we'd gotten last.
And everybody who'd been fired
Had no chance to get rehired.
The click could then be confident--
Court's ruling to their benefit.
Then Sherm and Dick joined management
Which goes to show the click ain't shit.
One hundred twenty-three days we stood
Against the corporate greed and would
Have lasted longer but got sold out
To some who know what it's about:
They fooled us once but we've got news,
They won't again, next time they lose.
They're deadly with their criticism,
They're sure of where they're going;
They set aside their cynicism
As they become all-knowing--
They clue us in to how it works;
Let us know where danger lurks.
Bright and charming. Far above
Getting down and physical.
When it comes to work and love,
Things start becoming mystical.
They stand alone. They sit and judge.
Their anger's all a private grudge.
We could lose but their career
Would brighten if we disappear.
No one minds it quite as much
As when there's not a face
To match with wisdom saying such
Things like, if our pace
Went a little faster we
Could overthrow the bourgeoisie.
More loops than the gauchos bolas:
Dealing double binding COLA's:
Winding us up in its grip--
No vacation. What a trip.
Harder angles than the bolas:
Banking that our balls will slip
Behind the sneaky eight-ball COLA's:
Business seven, workers, zip.
Owner's telling me I'm slow
Or, on this job they're losing dough.
They want more,
Keep me poor--
That's what makes their business grow.
Working off the same old jig,
Worked myself out of my gig--
Part bin's full,
Is leaving me a grave to dig.
All day long, a marathon,
We complain and bosses yawn.
Going to slug
One ugly mug
When it's time to get it on.
Need a raise but they say nope,
Fog things up and make me grope.
They think is slick,
Bosses thinking I'm a dope.
Everybody on the floor
Talks a different kind of war.
But we all know
How to even up the score.
Credit goes to capital
For everything we let it pull.
Has made it big--
Got away with cock and bull.
One day they won't act so smug
And hide behind a hired thug.
Booms are gone,
Sides are drawn,
Porky's grave is nearly dug.
Morning blues hang on at night;
Can't shake them loose with dynamite.
Changes have to come down soon.
They've been walking on the moon,
So why are you stuck in a hole,
Grubbing like a dirty mole?
The boss comes out to watch you dig--
(It's your grave, you greedy pig.)
Boss fulfilling one sure need:
Making sure that you exceed
Your quota from the month before.
Only standard set, is more.
Returning to his coffee pot
He hatches out another plot
To get another reason on
A trouble-maker he wants gone.
Upstairs you can hear him squawk
Because he heard some worker talk
About a union. Hey, fat chance
He'll let the workers here advance.
Workers have the blues for sure,
Blues that have no simple cure.
Dollar falls, I need a raise--
Bosses yawn or laugh;
Less I get the more it pays--
I'm their golden calf.
Hundreds, I produce some days--
They give me less than half.
They'll send a foreman down to time
Me on machines I master.
They call it legal--it's a crime
For making me work faster,
But I'll survive, someday I'll climb
Free from this disaster.
Union? No? What's there to lose?
Those tired Sunday evening blues?
Maybe try some interviews?
Take a day off? Try and find
Another job? You've lost your mind.
Union? No? A union's there,
Fighting back to make it fair;
Striking for a bigger share--
Don't get more by acting meek,
Begging when you're asked to speak.
Union? Yes? And gains are made
Until we never have to trade
Twice the time for which we're paid;
The union then is bound to surge,
To satisfy a vital urge.
Changes coming down in stages
Work out every little quirk;
First go profits; next go wages;
Boss and clock and finally work,
As we know it--turns to play--
Every little thing O.K.
That's perfection. Now we form
Ideas by which the way is known:
State ownership is getting warm--
The season communism's sown.
At first it's crude but, what the fuck,
Beats Robin Hood and Friar Tuck.
Heavy Revies learn it takes
No time at all to be
A spectacle that quickly makes
A wish become reality.
Wake up sure of who you are:
A sucker for a shooting star?
Who they trying to kid?
That idea's stone coprolite
Prehistoric monsters did:
The path of single-minded dreamers;
Moody, mired, brooding schemers.
They dream of winning, but they can't lose
Their petty miserable fit of the blues.
Roosting on library shelves
To get their left-wing rap down pat,
Is where they first involve themselves
So they can tell us where it's at.
Sound intellectual knowledge;
They make impressions
They're Reds to kids in college.
They have a line
Which they draw fine
To represent improvement;
They get us razzled,
But who sees any movement?
They're good at getting us together
In hopes we'll dance down stormy weather.
Because they lead us in the dance
They think they'll lead us into war.
Cocky might do for romance--
Past that cocky's got some more
Dues to pay before I start
Letting them get to my heart.
It dawns on them who's got the power,
Those who work in fields or plants
By the bushel, by the hour.
Here they come to teach us chants.
Talking everything they know
At the front gate, right out loud,
They talk about the overthrow
In front of any kind of crowd.
If it's talk that makes a leader,
Then their tongue is dynamite.
But if it's talk that makes a breeder,
They're exposing Left to Right:
Loud in public, tantamount
To being bait, cops keeping count.
Bantams flutter in deep trouble,
Pigs roll in and trouble's double.
But the bantam rooster, hen,
Get away to breed again.