By MIKE ALEWITZ
REMEMBERING KAREN SILKWOOD
(February 19, 1946 – November 13, 1974)
Karen Silkwood died in 1974 under suspicious circumstances while traveling to a meeting with a reporter investigating unsafe conditions at a Kerr-McGee plutonium fuel plant in Oklahoma. These are excerpts from the dedication speech I gave to the 1994 convention of the Oil, Chemical & Atomic Workers International Union:
“IT WASN’T DYING that made Karen Silkwood great – it was how she lived that made her important for us and for the rest of labor.
She made a conscious decision to place the interests of humanity and of her fellow workers above the interests of her job. And that is something that the workers alone can decide to do.
No politician, no union official can change the world today; only workers can do that…
So I dedicate this mural to Karen Silkwood – because she showed us how to live and how to extend solidarity in real life, by building her union.
I present this mural to you, the elected delegates of the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers Union, who represent the great rank and file of this union and those who, in the future, you will organize into its ranks.
The bosses killed Karen Silkwood, but they can’t kill the union, they can’t kill our movement – Karen Silkwood will rise again.”
(Excerpted from the dedication speech by Mike Alewitz to the 1994 convention of the Oil, Chemical & Atomic Workers International Union)
Complete Dedication – WORKING CLASS CULTURE & CLASS WAR:
(A disappointing note: In 1999, the OCAW merged with other unions, eventually becoming part of the United Steel Workers Union. This resulted destroying much of the militant direction referred to in this speech. – MA)
Image: UNION ACTION FROM THE HISTORY OF THE OIL, CHEMICAL & ATOMIC WORKERS UNION
by Mike Alewitz/ 1994