Raw footage for "Where's I.W. Abel?" Made by Kartemquin and a rank-and-file steel workers caucus, the film documents the opposition of the rank-and-file to the no-strike agreement between Steelworkers President I.W. Abel and the ten major steel companies, made without a vote by the membership of the union. Featuring Staughton Lynd.
00:00Copy video clip URL Tape opens in mid sentence of Al Samter leading a union meeting. He says the objective is to educate and inform. They need to start hitting the mills with material that their committee exists and hits at the heart of the question about policy. They can’t afford to let this ad pass showing Samter in US Steel News, the company newspaper mailed out to homes of US Steel workers. It shows Samter telling how we have to help the steel industry. Samter says they can’t let this go by. They have to say something in answer to it–Samter’s being a spokesman for US Steel.
02:10Copy video clip URL Another man interjects and says he’s talked to people at the mill: they have cases of people trying to get into programs and have been put off. They can get converts based on any kind of win they can get against the company.
04:10Copy video clip URL They’re planning a lawsuit against the seniority system. Any win they can get will help their cause. Any ruling that says the company can’t do whatever they want to do will help their cause.
05:15Copy video clip URL Samter adds that the petition campaign should keep going. He says they have 8,000 signatures now, and if they can get other districts involved and get 50,000 signatures this will make some in roads. He says they should get other areas to contribute. They need to have specific questions that address how they’ll continue from here, and set target dates. He suspects the company will conclude discussions with no date set for arbitration because Abel says he doesn’t want arbitration, they already agree on what the agreement will be.
08:19Copy video clip URL Samter says they need to gear efforts to insisting they’re opposed to no arbitration and put pressure on so they’ll feel they have to put concessions on the contract.
09:05Copy video clip URL Another man says they need to form a strategy for educational efforts, literature, making contacts in other areas of the country. They have to develop their caucus, give help to other locals, and fight this and other issues. They need to put together a general proposal for all this. They need to get organized, divide tasks, delegate responsibility. They could begin without waiting for larger representatives.
12:20Copy video clip URL Samter says we must raise this at the next general meeting. “I don’t disagree with you, the problem is participation. We have a division of responsibility but half the people aren’t even here. The problem runs around in circles. We’re all wearing hats and the result is a breakdown in communication. We need to be concrete about who’s responsibly for what and figure out how many people we can get to function.”
14:50Copy video clip URL Alice Peurala adds that if people were contacted by phone with a task they’d do it. We have to answer Samter’s ad. Our next piece of literature from this committee should take issue with Samter’s position and the fact he’s representing the steel industry and not the steel workers. Our publicity committee should get started on this, something to deliver to the plants. It’s an issue most are angry about. We could be a thorn in the side of conference committee about the kind of contract we’re going to get. We’re in a position to apply pressure.
18:29Copy video clip URL A man asks if there is some way they can reproduce Samters’s ad and then our words on the other side? Peurala says she was thinking of reproducing the ad with Samter’s picture and text that reads: “No, this man is not chairman of the US Steel Corporation. He’s president of the Steel Workers’ Union!” That should be our next piece of literature. She talks about the possibility of organizing a local convention on the question of ratification for the union contract. I don’t think anyone would be opposed to organizing a special convention on that issue. If the local union is on record for the right to ratify other officers will have to vote for the resolution of a special conference because their locals will have stated they are for it.
23:46Copy video clip URL Samter says they should talk to all the forces they have relationships with and see how they can help them, see what they’re willing to participate in like the special conference. “And if not then say what are you willing to help us with? It’s time to sit down with them and say you agree with us but not our tactics, what do you think should be done? See what they come up with as a solution.”
25:53Copy video clip URL A man says the group should think about how they could go about it and take into consideration these people and other groups they’ve approached for support. Take it into consideration and come up with an approach and then reach out. If they say, “what do you think should be done,” they might take over the whole campaign. Samter clarifies his meaning.
28:17Copy video clip URL Cut, re-start shooting. Samter says once they start this campaign and get friendly locals to pass resolutions there will be no question about who is conducting the campaign and what the objective is. Once they get past the first wave then the going will be rough and they’ll need forces in the local unions willing to campaign.
29:50Copy video clip URL A man says building a caucus will be more significant than to have individual locals vote. A caucus will involve rank and file for the process. Peurala adds, the problem with a convention is getting a vote for a resolution, even a resolution to refer a resolution to resolution committees was referred to a resolution committee.
32:31Copy video clip URL END mid sentence.