Volunteer Labor Organizer Recounts His Adventures With Fore River Shipworkers
"Scab" Paper Mocks College Canvassers
Labelled the "Cambridge Cowboys" by a Fore River scab labor paper, 50 Harvard and Radcliffe students canvassing Bethlehem shipyard workers in the interests of the CIO found themselves this week in the thick of a closely-fought battle which will culminate in the NLRB elections on October 22.
The "Fore River Weekly," in opposition to the CIO's attempts to gain a union shop in the Quincy shipbuilding yards warned the workers yesterday against the "pink boys and girls of Harvard, M.I.T., Radcliffe and Simmons". "Oh, dear! What next?" the paper commented.
Take Work Seriously
Unlike the two Harvard men who went in the bus with the group the other day because they expected a tour of the plant and a visit to the battleship Massachusetts, the youthful organizers take their work very seriously. And it's no job for the timid.
Accompanying the "pink" boys and girls, I found that they were sometimes greeted by, "Get out. So you want my husband to join the CIO! Get out!", well garnered with expletives in Italian, Swedish or American. Usually I found that the workers received the students very hospitably and would often invite us in for dinner, tea, or a drink of Italian wine.
Stumbling over uncounted children the names of whom their Italian father could not recall, we interviewed one family around the kitchen stove. They gladly posed for pictures and proudly explained sympathy for the union. The students left with the feeling of conquest and another convert chalked up to their credit.
Marty Williams, Local Number Five organizer, explained to me that the students are really a help in the campaign. "The college kids crack the hard shells that we, as workers, haven't been able to get at for six years. They call us total-mouthed rascals," Marty confided.