To the Editors:
We ask for support for a small, local cause, the kind that is easily overlooked in this season of larger ones like draft resistance, Senator McCarthy’s candidacy, and the Poor People’s Campaign. But one we think is also important—and one we hope will not be local very long.
A new kind of union has been developed at Duke University, Durham, N.C., by a combination of New Left organizers, Black labor militants and white students. It is not affiliated with AFL-CIO—less from its choice than President Meany’s—and its tactics and elan derive more from the New Left—or from the old egalitarian style of the IWW “Wobblies”—than from the current bureaucratic style in labor organization. Its name is the United Public & Service Employees, and its membership is largely non-academic employees of Duke University, mostly non-white: cafeteria, hospital, office, grounds, custodial and other service workers.
President Meany doesn’t care whether UPSE survives. We do. Local politicians want it to fail. We don’t. We see it as a pilot-plant, a microcosm of the kind of union that may make a difference in the South: a racially integrated, grass-roots, democratic union with a spirited morale derived from the faith and the participation of its members. The seed, perhaps, of a labor “movement” that may, once again, actually move.
UPSE needs $10,000 for a summer organizing drive to be conducted across the state by young, volunteer workers on subsistence pay. Already students and employees at the neighboring Chapel Hill campus of the University of North Carolina have expressed interest. But funds are needed to translate sympathy into action.
Checks should be made out to “Organizing Fund—UPSE” and sent to 202 Rigsbee Avenue, Durham, N.C. Those interested may obtain from the same address a leaflet describing the history and aims of the project.
New York City
August 1, 1968