‘This taught me my final lesson about Unions’

14 March 2011

CAJ’s “Word Boss” is a naturalized American citizen, born and raised in Great Britain. He was a young working man, just starting out during the 1970s when labor unions economically crippled the UK with strikes and walk-outs. There were three-day work weeks in the early part of the decade; rolling electrical black-outs were not unusual during strikes; gas and oil prices soared and shortages resulted. Inflation made goods and services prohibitive for most people to afford. Life was very difficult for a nation that had survived on rationing during WWII until 1955, but went on to rebuild itself during the 1960s.

As a result of his personal history and his experience with labor unions, the “Word Boss” has been following the American union actions very closely. He has been where they want to take us. He e-mailed last night:

This taught me my final lesson about Unions:

Taxi Death Anguish

Taxi driver David Wilkie was killed as he drove a strike-breaking miner to work.

Politicians and community and miners’ leaders joined following the death to express their revulsion. It marked one of the turning points in the strike against the miners.

Mr Wilkie was taking the miner from Rhymney to Merthyr Vale Colliery.

Just after 5.15am on November 30, 1984, his brown Ford Granada taxi was passing underneath a bridge on the Heads of the Valleys Road when two large pieces of concrete were dropped from overhead.

One slab smashed through the windscreen of the car, killing Mr Wilkie almost instantly.

The miner, travelling in the back seat of the taxi, escaped without injury. The taxi was travelling with an escort of police vehicles due to heavy clashes at the colliery.

Two miners, Reginald Dean Hancock, aged 21, and Russell Shankland, 20, both of Rhymney, were convicted of his murder which was later reduced to manslaughter.

Their sentence was reduced to eight-and-a-half years…

…David Wilkie’s fiancee was eight months pregnant at the time of his death. Jonathan David was born in January 1985 – barely a month after Mr Wilkie’s death. Mr Wilkie had two other children, Claire and Jason…

The article about David Wilkie’s death can be read in full at The Free Online Library.

In the months leading up to this murder the “Word Boss” worked as a taxi driver himself. He grew up in a family that still supports the socialistic Labour Party in Britain; he was a member of labor unions until the mid-1980s.

In order to give readers a bit of historic context, we offer this page from Wikipedia, Wapping dispute. “Word Boss” says he thinks this is a reasonably balanced discussion of those events:

The Wapping dispute was, along with the miners’ strike of 1984-5, a significant turning point in the history of the trade union movement and of UK industrial relations. It started on 24 January 1986 when some 6,000 newspaper workers went on strike after protracted negotiation with their employers, News International (parent of Times Newspapers and News Group Newspapers, and chaired by Rupert Murdoch)…

The Progressives, Communists and Socialists of the American labor movement want us to look to Europe and to emulate them, to be less American. At Common American Journal, we are not against working people: we come from union families, blue collar families ourselves. We know the meaning of hard work, service, and sacrifice and we honor the working men and women of the United States. But, like Daniel Hannan, our “Word Boss” has seen the path down which we are being led and believes America is better and greater than this–it is why he left everything behind to become “one of us.” We have choices to make: we can remain asleep and passive and be led to mediocrity–or worse. Or we can arise, speak out, and lead when necessary.

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