The "Victory" at Eastern Airlines
January 18, 1991.
A date which will live in Union Infamy. That
is the day that Eastern Airlines expired, with it's
last gasps of tortured breath. That is also
the day that the Eastern Employee Unions declared
"Victory." That is the day that they
celebrate, the day they "won the war" against Frank
Ernie Mailhot was
a ramp worker and cleaner at Eastern Airlines and a
"strike staff coordinator for International
Association of Machinists Local Lodge 1018 from
December 1989 to December 1990." He declared
the demise of Eastern Airlines to be a "victory" for
all union workers everywhere.
Here are some excerpts,
from an article by Mr. Mailhot, which was entitled The
Eastern Strike Was a Victory for Workers,
copyright (c) 1991 by Pathfinder Press:
After 686 days on strike against
Eastern Airlines, rank- and-file members of the
International Association of Machinists (IAM) and
our supporters registered the final piece of our
victory against the union-busting drive of the
employers when the carrier folded at midnight on
January 18, 1991.
Eastern strikers from coast to
coast, from Puerto Rico to Canada, reacted by
calling to congratulate each other and going out
to airports to celebrate.
The sign I think expressed our
feelings the best was the one at the Miami airport
that read, "We said we'd last `One day longer.' ".
When we walked out on March 4,
1989, most of the rank and file of the IAM sensed
our strength for the first time. The Air Line
Pilots Association (ALPA) and Local 553 of the
Transport Workers Union (TWU), which organized the
flight attendants, also recognized our strength
and our fighting determination. They joined our
picket lines. The unity we had achieved between
the unions and the pilots' association greatly
increased our initial strength, and, in turn, our
The unity of the Machinists, flight
attendants, and pilots in a major national strike,
over a period of eight and a half months, is
something that had not been seen in the airline
Our slogan became that we would
last "one day longer" than Frank Lorenzo. This
meant that we would never let Eastern run a
profitable airline as long as it operated with
scab labor. We knew that by achieving that goal,
we would help set an example for every other
working person in the United States and
internationally - our real family, not the
"Eastern family." On April 18, 1990, in a victory
for all labor, our slogan became a reality. On
that day the federal government, through its
bankruptcy court, removed Lorenzo from control of
After Lorenzo was removed, our slogan remained
"One day longer," but it became "One day longer"
Because of our fight at Eastern, a
boss who is considering forcing his workers out on
strike so he can break their union and lower their
wages and benefits will think a little longer
before making such a move.
As important as that is, even more important is
the impact we have had on the thinking of working
people who are inspired by our fight and will come
to follow our example.
And that is the thinking
of the Kamikaze Union leaders. That is why
they deliberately drop bombs on their own
ships----Because it is better to destroy jobs, than
it is to allow anyone to work of their own free
will, without a union contract.
And that is why I have
long said that unions do not create and protect
jobs----they destroy them.
The Flight Attendant and
Mechanics unions at United Airlines are now poised
to repeat that leap into the Dinosaur Tar Pits, and
you can be assured if they do go out on
strike----ensuring the total demise of United
Airlines----they too will declare that they have won
another "Victory for Labor."
Is it any wonder that
union membership in the United States has declined
from a high of about 32%, in the mid-1950s, to a low
of about 8% today, in the private sector? One
can only hope that the unions will keep on "winning"
those kinds of victories, since the wealth, size and
prosperity of the Great American Middle Class
seems to keep growing and expanding in reverse
correlation to that decline in union
The Great Success of
Deregulation In America.
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