In the spirit of solidarity

My name is Frank Couget. I’m a socialist, letter carrier, and union activist in New York City. I just read Derek Wright’s account of the murder of his uncle by Chrysler in the International Socialist Review (“Chrysler murdered my uncle” ISR 61). Derek has my complete empathy. I am going to contribute to the fund by check through the mail next payday.

I understand that the dedications in the book series are intended for those who are killed in a “a workplace disaster” like J.K. Wright. However, I’d like to advocate for the inclusion of my dad, Francis Couget, who was a sanitation mechanic for the city of New York for over 30 years before being killed by a rare form of bone cancer shortly after retiring. In the last debilitating year of his life it caused him additional anguish to receive news of the severe illness and deaths of several of his coworkers who had also just retired. He sometimes remarked it must be due to the carcinogens, asbestos, and largely unregulated waste city sanitation mechanics had been continuously bathed in for most of their working lives. I think he was right. Having asked around, I found that city sanitation garages, especially in the 1960s and 70s were, as a matter of course, “workplace disasters” akin to dungeons. Garbage workers were treated like garbage themselves.

My dad took me with him to work, and to his union meetings. He also told me how he and the other mechanics held classes for the San-men on how to “disable” the trucks without making too much work for the mechanics during the strike in 1977. My dad’s story is an ordinary one. It’s too common for there to be an investigation or successful lawsuit. So I would appreciate very much if you could honor him in the spirit of your uncle in your invaluable work producing some tools our class needs to destroy the bosses who are the benefactors of such common devastation.

Frank J. Couget
Astoria, N.Y.

Issue #95

Winter 2014-15

The political economy of low-wage labor

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