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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 10, No. 6. May 28, 1947


Recently you may have seen mention in the newspapers of a studio workers' strike in Hollywood; and you may even have come across a small Press Association paragraph to the effect that a Hollywood Union leader had been found in the desert, beaten up and left for dead. You have most likely thought no more of it if you did see the cable, neither did thousands of people in a country where beatings-up are two a penny, and murders are everyday occurrences. But in the eyes of many others it was an event of major importance. A Los Angeles University student described it as "one more incident in the attempt to break unionism for good in the States," because that man, Herb Sorrell, was left for dead by men "dressed in police uniform."

The story goes back ten or fifteen years to the time when the union came under the influence of unscrupulous leaders (with prison records) who betrayed the union (which was affiliated to the American Federation of Labour) to the employers, keeping the union in a subservient position for a number of years, and gradually depriving it of its powers. In opposition to these men, one of whom later returned to prison, arose the present striking union of which Sorrell is president.

The immediate cause of the strike is wageB trouble; the important issue is the struggle between the unions to gain official recognition as the true representative organization of the employees. During the strike the Los Angeles police force was increased and attacked the strikers with tear gas and batons. Luckily, one of the workers present was able to take a pictorial record of the incident which was later used us evidence that the police attack was unwarranted. A mass trial of more than a hundred strikers was held, but this was claimed to be unconstitutional. The claim was upheld, so the trials were carried on with only 35 on trial at a time. Meanwhile the strikers have their own dally newspaper and have been struggling hard to awaken the American public to an appreciation of their struggle lor justice.