Students Join Workers


Fifth Estate # 73, February 20-March 5, 1969

RICHMOND, Calif. (LNS)—Workers and students here fought together Feb. 3 to repel scab attempts to break picket lines during a strike against Standard Oil Refinery.

Some 500 students and 800 workers slashed scab car tires and shattered windows with clubs. Strike breakers on foot were pushed back and beaten when they attempted to cross picket lines. When the company goons arrived to photograph the pickets, they were jumped and their cameras were demolished.

Standard Oil kept the plant running by sneaking in scabs the night before and setting up housing within the plant so no one would have to cross the picket line.

On Tuesday, Feb. 4, as students returned to their campuses to fight the power structure, Standard Oil saw its chance for revenge and renewed terrorism against striking workers. At 2:30 p.m. about 50 company goons attacked 40 picketers with lead pipes and chains, injuring eight strikers as they cleared a truck passageway.

Local 1561 of the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers Union has been on strike since Jan. 4. The union represents 1,300 of the 3,000 workers in the Richmond plant. The other workers are members of such unions as the pipefitters, machinists and electricians.

These unions do not formally recognize the strike, but officials of the striking union said many other unionized workers are honoring the strike.

The striking union is asking for a substantial pay raise and improved fringe benefits.

The importance of the strike far surpasses the victory that student-worker solidarity enjoyed Feb. 3. The strike has had tremendous educational impact on both students and workers. Striking union officials point to a “reformation in thought” among union members. “We never expected police brutality and company terrorism like we’ve experienced,” said one official. “Now we understand what the blacks and students have been going through.”

There is a make-shift grave of a fictional corpse at the entrance of the Union office in nearby San Pablo, with the epitaph, “Killed by police brutality.”

Union members also discussed among themselves worker-controlled factories. One said, somewhat apologetically, “I’m not really a Marxist, but workers must be allowed to control their own destiny within the factories.”