Wednesday, May 15, 2013

No Leaders

Big Bill Haywood was seated in the Turn Hall headquarters of the Paterson strikers when he was approached by the leading rabbi of the city.:

"Oh, Mr. Haywood, I am so so glad to meet you. I’ve been wanting to meet the leader of the strike for some time."

"You’ve made a mistake," replied Bill, "I’m not the leader."

"What! You’re not? Well, who is he?"

"There ain’t any He."
"Perhaps I should have said ’they’," persisted the prophet of the Chosen people, "Who are they?"

"This strike has no leaders," answered Bill.

"It hasn’t! Well, who is in charge of it?"

"The strikers."

"But can’t I meet some responsible parties elsewhere? You know I represent the other churches of the city, the Catholic Fathers and the Methodist ministers are awaiting my report. I would like to find out all I can and then maybe we could come to some agreement with the mill owners."

"The mill owners already know what the strikers want," said Bill.

"They do! Why some of the leading citizens don’t know yet!"

"That’s funny," smiled Bill, "I just got off a train from Akron a couple of hours ago and I know."

"Will you please tell me?"

"It’s very simple," answered Bill, "They want an eight hour day, abolition of the three and four loom system in broad silks, abolition of the two loom system in ribbons, and the dyers want a minimum wage of $12 a week."

"Well, well!" mused the other stroking his rabbinical beard, "I must say it’s strange we had not heard all this!"

"There’s an awful lot of things you never heard of, parson," said Bill.
"Do they have a strike committee, and where do they meet?" continued the rabbi.
"Right in this hall, every morning at eight o’clock."
"Who are they?"

"I don’t know; and if I did I wouldn’t tell," laughed Bill.

"How many are there?"

"One hundred and twenty-seven."

"One hundred and twenty-seven! MY GOD! What can we do with a strike committee of one hundred and twenty-seven that meets in a public hall before all the rest of the strikers?"

`"’I don’t reckon that you can do much except the heavy looking on, parson," said Bill. "There ain’t much left in the world for fellows like you to do except that, and besides this is an I. W. W. strike. In an I. W. W. strike there isn’t room for anybody except the working class and the bosses; everybody else is excess baggage."
(Solidarity, April 19, 1913.)