David Cline... was a highly decorated, disabled Vietnam War combat veteran. Returning stateside he became active in the Oleo Strut coffeehouse near Fort Hood, Texas, as described in “Sir! No Sir!” the award-winning documentary about GI resistance. He served as a national coordinator of Vietnam Veterans Against the War for more than 20 years. As President of Veterans for Peace 2002-2007, he oversaw tremendous membership growth and helped start Iraq Veterans Against the War. He also co-founded the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign.
The Vietnam War was near its end and many of the new postal workers were veterans, partially reflecting the USPS quasi-federal governmental civil service hiring policy. Veterans received five extra points on the employment exam, while disabled veterans received an additional five points on top of that. Some Vietnam veterans infused the Bulk rank and file movement with their élan and character which at times was reflected in the militancy in the insurgency. David Cline, who had been shot three times in Vietnam reflected
Cline became one of the leaders of the rank-and file insurgency at the Bulk. He joined Outlaw, an “anti-imperialist organization of postal workers” which had active members in USPS facilities throughout the New York City metro area. Outlaw emerged from the aftermath of nine-day 1970 postal strike where 173,000 workers successfully defied no-strike laws aimed at federal employees. The militancy of the 1970 strike was centered in New York City.
Dave was one of the leaders of a successful 4-day “job action” in 1974 at the Bulk protesting the USPS arbitrary changing of work schedules. Cline was a union steward of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), but also a big critic of the APWU’s leadership. Outlaw, with Cline as one of its leaders, was often locked in battle with Moe Biller, the president of the Metro local which represented all APWU members in the New York City area. Pitched battles, with chairs flying, erupted at union meetings, as Outlaw brought hundreds of Bulk workers to fight against the undemocratic methods of Biller and his cronies.
Cline, Ken Leiner, and P. McClosky were fired in 1976 and this had a chilling effect on the insurgency at the Bulk. However, one and a half years later the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that the USPS had acted illegally since they had terminated the three activists for what was deemed “union activity”. Leiner, Cline and McClosky got their jobs back, back pay, and marched back into the plant in April 1978. “I played it to the hilt, I walked in down the main aisle, with my fists over my head-Rocky style,” remembered Dave.
The return of Leiner, Cline, and McClosky invigorated the moral of many militants at the Bulk and led to the formation of a new organization called the Good Contract Committee (GCC) to agitate around the new contract coming due in July 1978. They formulated demands such as Decent Wage Increase, Improved Cost of Living, No Mandatory Overtime, Right to Strike and others. The postal activists launched a newspaper called P.O.W. ( Post Office Worker) and distributed fifteen thousand issues at the Bulk, in New York and nationwide through contacts with other postal rank and file groups. Seventy-five thousand leaflets were distributed at postal facilities between May and the end of July 1978. The button of the GCC read “No Takeaways, Tradeoffs or Sellout. Good Contract in ’78.”
The New York locals of the APWU and the NALC issued calls for two demonstrations in front of the Manhattan GPO on 33rd Street to agitate around the contract in the months before the July 20th contract deadline. The GCC played a major role in building these demonstrations which attracted several thousand postal workers each time. Members of the GCC organized other Bulk workers to go to a July 13th rally in Washington, DC, where 6,000 disgruntled postal workers from around the US marched from the Washington Monument to the new, sleek headquarters of the USPS. “No Contract-No Work” was the most popular chant from the demonstration which postal executives described as the loudest and largest display they could recall.
However after midnight, July 20th in Washington, D.C. after the old contract had run out , postal management, the national union leadership, and the Carter Administration, amidst repeated talk of strike possibilities manufactured a collective agreement, which ignored most rank and file postal workers’ concerns. In Jersey City, N.J., a militant rank and file, with diverse and active rank and file leaders like Cline would, in their desire to obtain what they considered to be a good and equitable contract, confront the USPS, their national and local union leadership, and the federal government with an informational picket line which with grew into a wildcat strike action. Cline, in remembering that 5:30 AM picket line said,
We were thinking about a nation-wide “Vote No” movement on the contract. We did not think strike action was in the picture at all… We thought an anti-contract demonstration could possibly spearhead a significant rank and file opposition, a “Vote No” to the contract.
Bulk workers were so angry at the meagerness of the proposed contract and what they saw as their national union leadership’s “sellout” that over ninety percent refused to go to work that morning and for the next four days the Jersey City postal plant was effectively shut down with Dave Cline and the rest of the Good Contract Committee in the leadership.
The Bulk Jersey City wildcat strike lasted from July 21-25, 1978 in an attempt to nullify the tentative national contract agreement between the various postal unions and the USPS. The conflict spread till eventually 4,750 postal workers were on strike nationwide. The Richmond, California bulk center was effectively shut down almost as long as the Bulk in Jersey City. There were two or three day walkouts in Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia and sporadic walkouts or protests in Chicago, Allentown, Pennsylvania, Kearny, New Jersey, Miami, and Los Angeles at other bulk mail centers. After the strike was broken, 125 workers were fired, 130 were temporarily suspended, 2,500 received letters of warning, the union memberships did not ratify the proposed settlement, and an arbitrated contract settlement was imposed.
The 1978 wildcat strike was the largest strike of federal employees since the massive 1970 walkout of 173,000 postal workers during the creation of the USPS and the institution of federal employee collective bargaining. The 1978 Bulk wildcat strike was not surpassed in size among federal employees until 11,500 members of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) struck in August 1981.
Cline was one of the Bulk workers who was fired and never got his job back. A vigorous three year amnesty campaign was successful in restoring many strikers to their jobs, but Dave was one of a few denied reinstatement because of his leadership role in the wildcat. Dave eventually got another job as a toll keeper for the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) where he was an active steward and a valuable member of the bargaining committee of TWU Local 510, which represents Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) employees working at the MTA bridge and tunnel tollbooths and the three metro area airports for many years.
Revolutionary Workers Headquarters
Members of the Revolutionary Workers Headquarters Central Committee;
Vietnam Veterans Against the War
Cline was a leader of Vietnam Veterans Against the War.
Global Day of Action
More than 250 U.S. cities took part in the March 20, 2004 Global Day of Action protesting Pentagon wars and occupations. The biggest demonstration was in New York, where 100,000 people marched and rallied.
During the ANSWER segment of the rallies, Brian Becker, a co-director of the International Action Center and member of the ANSWER Steering Committee, applauded the courage of the Muslim community in turning out for the march, given the current repression, surveillance and raids.
Palestinian flags flew, and speakers in this segment included Ihab Darwish, Free Palestine Alliance; Lamis Deek, Al-Awda Palestine Right to Return Coalition; Imam Asharaf Uz Zaman, Islamic Circle of North America; Ismail Kamal, Muslim Student Association; Mahdi Bray, Muslim American Society and Freedom Foundation; and Waleed Bader, Arab Muslim American Federation/National Council of Arab Americans.
Brenda Stokely, chair of New York City Labor Against the War and president of AFSCME District Council 1707, vowed, "We're going to bring down the imperialist powers who think they have the right to slaughter our children!" Larry Holmes of the International Action Center spoke and a taped message from political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal urged resistance to racist oppression, police occupation and imperialist oppression.
In the UFPJ segment of the rallies, speakers included Suheir Hamma of Def Poetry Jam; Sinan Antoon, an Iraqi filmmaker; David Cline, national president of Veterans for Peace; and Todd Ensign of Citizen Soldier. Fernando Suarez del Solar of Military Families Speak Out said: "Bush lied. Who died? My son."
Also featured were Tony Benn, former member of the British Parliament, representing Stop the War UK; New York City Councilmember Bill Perkins; and U.S. Rep. Major Owens. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Dorothy Zellner, a Jewish activist, advocated an end to Israeli occupation, and Ziad Abu Rish of SUSTAIN--Stop U.S. Tax Aid to Israel Now--supported Palestinian self-determination.
United for Peace and Justice Affiliation
"Support Bill Ayers"
In October 2008, several thousand college professors, students and academic staff signed a statement Support Bill Ayers in solidarity with former Weather Underground Organization terrorist Bill Ayers.
In the run up to the U.S. presidential elections, Ayers had come under considerable media scrutiny, sparked by his relationship to presidential candidate Barack Obama.
- We write to support our colleague Professor William Ayers, Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago, who is currently under determined and sustained political attack...
- We, the undersigned, stand on the side of education as an enterprise devoted to human inquiry, enlightenment, and liberation. We oppose the demonization of Professor William Ayers.
David Cline of Saginaw Valley State University signed the statement.
Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign
In 2012 David Cline (deceased) was still listed on the Board of the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign.
- [Heavy Radicals - The FBI's Secret War on America's Maoists: The By Aaron J. Leonard, Conor A. Gallagher]
- China Advances Along The Socialist Road The Gang of Four Were Counter-Revolutionaries and Revolutionaries Cannot Support Them By the Jarvis-Bergman Headquarters
- [Stop the wars & occupations Global day of protest NEW YORK Reprinted from the April 1, 2004, issue of Workers World newspaper]
- Liberal Education website: List of Ayers Supporters
- Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign website, accessed Dec. 13,2010