Why We Wear Red

It has been a custom since 1989 for the members of the CWA to show their solidarity by wearing red on Thursdays, but why and where did this day of red begin?

Well for one, it represents the color of blood that was lost in the strife to gain fair and equal rights for workers through out the years. The day of red is also in remembrance of Gerry Horgan, CWA’s chief steward for Westchester County who died as a result of being struck by a car driven by Tricia McNamara, a daughter of a second line manager as he worked a picket line in August 1989.

In the time before unions there were no child labor laws, pensions, no medical coverage on or off the job, no medical coverage for family members, unsafe working environments, no forty hour week, no overtime pay, and no other “rights” and benefits workers have today. The American worker was totally at the mercy and benevolence of the employer. If you were to look back at the working conditions of the late 1800’s to the 1930’s, you would be appalled at the mistreatment of the worker. Fortunately, union workers trying to gain fair and equal rights in the work place also lobbied to get Federal laws passed; resulting in some of the protections we have today. In the old days, goons were hired as “security guards” and were used to physically beat the workers into submission. This resulted not only in the crippling of some workers but also in the death of others. In today’s world the goons have been replaced by high priced lawyers, whose job it is to “bust the union” any way it can.

Martin Levitt wrote a book entitled “Confessions of a Union Buster” in which he describes in great detail the methods used to discredit union organization and how he helped prevent the workers from organizing, as well as undermining their rights to form a union. From the book’s cover jacket comes the following.

“Martin Jay Levitt was a union buster, who planned and executed custom union–busting campaigns at more then 250 businesses across America, from coal mines and factories to airlines and nursing homes. Levett reached the pinnicle of his profession by demolishing friendships, shattering families, and turning worker against worker….”

““I come from a very dirty business” he begins. “The enemy was the collective spirit. I got hold of that spirit while it was a seedling; I poisoned it, choked it, bludgeoned it if I had to, anything to be sure it would never blossom into a united work force””

After reading his book, you will have a greater insight on some of the tactics used then, and you will be able to see some of them in use today. [edit: see webmaster’s note below] The Company that Mr. Levitt worked for was lead by Jack Sheridan, a major firm that specializes in labor organization prevention. For a period of time, on Sheridan’s web site, they had also listed IBM as a major client, but now have removed all client name listings.

So what can be done? WEAR RED!

The red shirt brings together all of the CWA members on one day a week. It gives a visual statement to management of the workers solidarity. The red shirt gives everyone a sense of unity and fellowship. The red shirt is also a visual reminder that checks and balances in the work place have to be maintained daily.

So next Thursday and every Thursday there after, if you are angered at the loss of jobs going off shore, WEAR RED. If you are angry on the loss of a defined pension that would have increased with earnings and service time, WEAR RED. If you are angry that medical insurance cost for you and your family will exceed your projected retirement payments, WEAR RED. If you are angry that your yearly performance evaluations are dictated by HR to a fixed number of 1’s, 2’s and 3’s, WEAR RED. If you are angry that pay raises are for a select few and that there are no cost of living increases for all, WEAR RED. If you are angry that your job was down sized due to “needs of the business”, but are hired back for the same job through Manpower, another agency, or as a contractor, WEAR RED. If you are angry that your job can be sold to another company without proper compensation or that you may lose vested rights, WEAR RED. If you are angry that you have little voice in the decisions that management makes that adversely affect you, WEAR RED. If you are angry when you’re on the downsizing list, you are not to be hired for a job in another area in IBM that you are qualified for, WEAR RED. If you are angry because billable work hours do not permit vacations, sick leave, or skill enhancement class training without significant unpaid overtime, WEAR RED. If you feel that the age of the employee is a big factor in head count reductions, WEAR RED. If you are angry that greedy executives raid the business coffers, WEAR RED.

Or just for the heck of it, next Thursday, WEAR RED.

Please contact everyone you know and ask them to WEAR RED.

Talk to your friends, neighbors, colleagues, and members in your department. On Thursday, let’s have a sea of RED in the work place. Just by wearing a RED shirt, or a RED dress, a RED hat, RED socks, a RED tie, or RED pants, you may be surprised with the results.


Webmaster’s Note: The original version of this article included links to websites which no longer exist and have been removed as to not detract from the article itself.