Fred DuVal for Governor?
If you are planning to vote for Democrat Fred DuVal for Governor of Arizona you need to realize the following facts:
DuVal was an aide to Democratic Governor Bruce Babbitt who sent in the National Guard and Department of Public Safety goons to break the strike of hundreds of striking copper miners employed by Phelps Dodge corporation in Clifton, Morenci, Ajo, and surrounding communities in Southern Arizona in 1983. Striking workers and their families were tear gassed, arrested, beaten and terrorized by state agents acting in concert with Phelps Dodge. The United Steelworkers Union was defeated and decertified as a result of this unholy alliance. To this day, the mostly Latino union activists and their descendants refer to Governor Babbitt as “Scabbitt”.
This is a fact that many Arizona Democrats are either unaware of, or simply don’t care about. The 1983 strike is not something that was “in the past” and is no longer relevant as some party insiders would like to believe. The great American writer William Faulkner said: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
The defeat of the strike against Phelps Dodge had implications as significant as the defeat of the PATCO strike under Ronald Reagan for workers nationwide. It was one of the first times in the postwar era that a private company hired PERMANENT replacement workers to break a strike and destroy the union. In rapid succession, striking workers at Greyhound, American Airlines, Hormel and other companies found themselves permanently replaced by workers making half their wages with fewer benefits in a corporate-driven race to the bottom that continues to this day.
This must be acknowledged by today’s Arizona Democratic Party and by Fred DuVal in his effort to win rank and file latino/labor support. DuVal should make amends with the United Steelworkers Union and the survivors of the 1983 strike by apologizing to them for the role played by his boss, Bruce Babbitt, in crushing the strike. He should support the repeal of the state’s right to work law as part of his campaign as well as support the enactment of collective bargaining laws for all public employees in Arizona.
None of this is likely to occur anytime soon. Yet if DuVal’s campaign for Governor is to overcome the legacy of Arizona’s sour past, it must be done. The late, Democratic, Senator Paul Wellstone said: “If we don’t fight hard enough for the things we stand for, at some point we have to recognize that we don’t really stand for them”