1980 Polish Workers Organize - History

1980 Polish Workers Organize - History

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In August 1980 Anna Walentynowicz was fired from work at the Gdańsk Shipyard for participating in an illegal union. The victory of Solidarity was the first step in the eventual dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Polish United Workers' Party

The Polish United Workers' Party (Polish: Polska Zjednoczona Partia Robotnicza Polish pronunciation: [pɔlska zjɛdnɔʈ͡ʂɔna partʲa rɔbɔtɲiʈ͡ʂa] ), commonly abbreviated to PZPR, was the communist party which ruled the Polish People's Republic as a one-party state from 1948 to 1990. Ideologically, it was based on the theories of Marxism-Leninism, with a strong emphasis on left-wing nationalism. [2] The Polish United Workers' Party had total control over public institutions in the country as well as the Polish People's Army, the UB-SB security agencies, the Citizens' Militia (MO) police force and the media.

The falsified 1947 Polish legislative election granted the far-left complete political authority in post-war Poland. The PZPR was founded forthwith in December 1948 through the unification of two previous political entities, the Polish Workers' Party (PPR) and the Polish Socialist Party (PPS). Since 1952, the position of "First Secretary" of the Polish United Workers' Party was equivalent to that of a dictator, the president or the head of state in other world countries. Throughout its existence, the PZPR maintained close ties with ideologically-similar parties of the Eastern Bloc, most notably the Socialist Unity Party of Germany, Communist Party of Czechoslovakia and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Between 1948 and 1954, nearly 1.5 million individuals registered as members of the Polish United Workers' Party, and membership rose to 3 million by 1980. [3]

The party's primary objective was to impose socialist agenda into Polish society. The communist government sought to improve the living standards of the proletariat, make education and healthcare available to all, establish a centralized planned economy, nationalize all institutions and provide internal or external security by up-keeping a strong-armed force. Some concepts imported from abroad, such as large-scale collective farming and secularization, failed in their early stages. The PZPR was considered more liberal and pro-Western than its counterparts in East Germany or the Soviet Union, and was more averse to radical politics. Although propaganda was utilized in major media outlets like Trybuna Ludu ("People's Tribune") and televised Dziennik ("Journal"), censorship became ineffective by the mid-1980s and was gradually abolished. On the other hand, the Polish United Worker's Party was responsible for the brutal pacification of civil resistance and protesters in the Poznań protests of 1956, the 1970 Polish protests and throughout martial law between 1981 and 1983. The PZPR also initiated a bitter anti-Semitic campaign during the 1968 Polish political crisis, which forced the remainder of Poland's Jews to emigrate.

Amidst the ongoing political and economic crises, the Solidarity movement emerged as a major anti-bureaucratic social movement that pursued social change. With communist rule being relaxed in neighbouring countries, the PZPR systematically lost support and was forced to negotiate with the opposition and adhere to the Polish Round Table Agreement, which permitted free democratic elections. The elections on 4 June 1989 proved victorious for Solidarity, thus bringing 40-year communist rule in Poland to an end. The Polish United Workers' Party was dissolved in January 1990.


‘He Brutalized For You’

On the Lonely Island of ‘Never Trump’

Donald Trump Is Not Expanding the GOP

Normally the use of nonunion workers at a union job site would have guaranteed a picket line. Not at this site, however. Work proceeded because the Genovese family principally controlled the union this was demonstrated by extensive testimony, documents and convictions in federal trials, as well as a later report by the New York State Organized Crime Task Force.

When the Polish workers and a union dissident sued for their pay and benefits, Trump denied any knowledge that illegal workers without hard hats were taking down Bonwit with sledgehammers. The trial, however, demonstrated otherwise: Testimony showed that Trump panicked when the nonunion Polish men threatened a work stoppage because they had not been paid. Trump turned to Daniel Sullivan, a labor fixer and FBI informant, who told him to fire the Polish workers.

Trump knew the Polish brigade was composed of underpaid illegal immigrants and that S&A was a mob-owned firm, according to Sullivan and others. "Donald told me that he was having his difficulties and he admitted to me that — seeking my advice — that he had some illegal Polish employees on the job. I reacted by saying to Donald that 'I think you are nuts,'" Sullivan testified at the time. "I told him to fire them promptly if he had any brains." In an interview later, Sullivan told me the same thing.

In 1991, a federal judge, Charles E. Stewart Jr., ruled that Trump had engaged in a conspiracy to violate a fiduciary duty, or duty of loyalty, to the workers and their union and that the “breach involved fraud and the Trump defendants knowingly participated in his breach.” The judge did not find Trump’s testimony to be sufficiently credible and set damages at $325,000. The case was later settled by negotiation, and the agreement was sealed.

While Trump’s buildings were going up in Manhattan, he was entering a highly regulated industry in New Jersey – one that had the responsibility, and the means, to investigate him and bring the facts to light.

From the beginning, Trump tried to have it both ways. While he leveraged Roy Cohn’s mob contacts in New York, he was telling the FBI he wanted nothing to do with organized crime in Atlantic City, and even proposed putting an undercover FBI agent in his casinos. In April of 1981, when he was considering building a New Jersey casino, he expressed concern about his reputation in a meeting with the FBI, according to an FBI document in my possession and which the site Smoking Gun also posted. “Trump advised Agents that he had read in the press media and had heard from various acquaintances that Organized Crime elements were known to operate in Atlantic City,” the FBI recorded. “Trump also expressed at this meeting the reservation that his life and those around him would be subject to microscopic examination. Trump advised that he wanted to build a casino in Atlantic City but he did not wish to tarnish his family’s name.”

Paul Castellano, boss of the Gambino Crime Family, is photographed arriving for the trial on February 27, 1985 at the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Manhattan, New York City. | Getty

Part of the licensing process was supposed to be a deep investigation into his background, taking more than a year for would-be casino owners, but Trump managed to cut that short. As he told the story in The Art of the Deal, in 1981 he threatened to not build in Atlantic City unless New Jersey’s attorney general, John Degnan, limited the investigation to six months. Degnan was worried that Trump might someday get approval for a casino at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Manhattan, which could have crushed Atlantic City’s lucrative gaming industry, so Degnan agreed to Trump’s terms. Trump seemingly paid Degnan back by becoming an ardent foe of gambling anywhere in the East except Atlantic City—a position that obviously protected his newfound business investment as well, of course.

Trump was required to disclose any investigations in which he might have been involved in the past, even if they never resulted in charges. Trump didn’t disclose a federal grand jury inquiry into how he obtained an option to buy the Penn Central railroad yards on the West Side of Manhattan. The failure to disclose either that inquiry or the Cody inquiry probably should have disqualified Trump from receiving a license under the standards set by the gaming authorities.

Once Trump was licensed in 1982, critical facts that should have resulted in license denial began emerging in Trump’s own books and in reports by Barrett—an embarrassment for the licensing commission and state investigators, who were supposed to have turned these stones over. Forced after the fact to look into Trump’s connections, the two federal investigations he failed to reveal and other matters, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement investigators circled the wagons to defend their work. First they dismissed as unreliable what mobsters, corrupt union bosses and Trump’s biggest customer, among others, had said to Barrett, to me and other journalists and filmmakers about their dealings with Trump. The investigators’ reports showed that they then put Trump under oath. Trump denied any misconduct or testified that he could not remember. They took him at his word. That meant his casino license was secure even though others in the gambling industry, including low-level licensees like card dealers, had been thrown out for far less.

This lapse illustrated a fundamental truth about casino regulation at the time: Once the state licensed an owner, the Division of Gaming Enforcement had a powerful incentive not to overturn its initial judgment. State officials recited like a mantra their promise that New Jersey casinos were the most highly regulated business in American history, more tightly regulated than nuclear power plants. In Temples of Chance I showed that this reputation often owed less to careful enforcement than to their willingness to look the other way when problems arose.

In 1986, three years after Trump Tower opened, Roy Cohn was disbarred for attempting to steal from a client, lying and other conduct that an appellate court found “particularly reprehensible.”

Trump testified that Cohn, who was dying from AIDS, was a man of good character who should keep his license to practice law.

This was not the only time Trump went to bat publicly for a criminal. He has also spoken up for Shapiro and Sullivan. And then there was the case of Joseph Weichselbaum, an embezzler who ran Trump’s personal helicopter service and ferried his most valued clientele.

Trump and Weichselbaum were so close, Barrett reported in his book, that Weichselbaum told his parole officer about how he knew Trump was hiding his mistress, Marla Maples, from his first wife, Ivana, and tried to persuade Trump to end their years-long affair.

Trump’s casinos retained Weichselbaum’s firm to fly high rollers to Atlantic City. Weichselbaum was indicted in Ohio on charges of trafficking in marijuana and cocaine. The head of one of Trump’s casinos was notified of the indictment in October 1985, but Trump continued using Weichselbaum—conduct that again could have cost Trump his casino license had state regulators pressed the matter, because casino owners were required to distance themselves from any hint of crime. Just two months later Trump rented an apartment he owned in the Trump Plaza apartment building in Manhattan to the pilot and his brother for $7,000 a month in cash and flight services. Trump also continued paying Weichselbaum’s firm even after it went bankrupt.

Weichselbaum, who in 1979 had been caught embezzling and had to repay the stolen money, pleaded guilty to two felonies.

Donald Trump vouched for Weichselbaum before his sentencing, writing that the drug trafficker is “a credit to the community” who was “conscientious, forthright, and diligent.” And while Weichselbaum’s confederates got as many as 20 years, Weichselbaum himself got only three, serving 18 months before he was released from the urban prison that the Bureau of Prisons maintains in New York City. In seeking early release, Weichselbaum said Trump had a job waiting for him.

Weichselbaum then moved into Trump Tower, his girlfriend having recently bought two adjoining apartments there for $2.4 million. The cash purchase left no public record of whether any money actually changed hands or, if it did, where it came from. I asked Trump at the time for documents relating to the sale he did not respond.

As a casino owner, Trump could have lost his license for associating with Weichselbaum. Trump has never been known to use drugs or even drink. What motivated him to risk his valuable license by standing up for a drug trafficker remains unclear to this day.

Trump, in his phone call to me, said he “hardly knew” Weichselbaum.

The facts above come from court records, interviews and other documents in my own files and those generously made available by Barrett, who was the first journalist to take a serious investigative look at Trump. Our files show Trump connected in various deals to many other mobsters and wise guys.

There was, for example, Felix Sater, a senior Trump advisor and son of a reputed Russian mobster, whom Trump kept on long after he was convicted in a mob-connected stock swindle. And there was Bob Libutti, a racehorse swindler who was quite possibly Trump’s biggest customer at the casino tables at the time. Libutti told me and others about arrangements that went beyond the “comps”—free hotel rooms and services, for example—that casinos can legally give to high-rollers. Among these was a deal to sell Trump a less-than-fit horse at the inflated price of $500,000, though Trump backed out at the last minute. Libutti accused Trump of making an improper $250,000 payment to him, which would have cost Trump his license. The DGE dismissed Libutti as unreliable and took Trump at his word when he denied the allegations. (Libutti was a major figure in my 1992 book Temples of Chance.)

Some of the dealings came at a remove. In Atlantic City, Trump built on property where mobsters controlled parts of the adjoining land needed for parking. He paid $1.1 million for about a 5,000-square-foot lot that had been bought five years earlier for just $195,000. The sellers were Salvy Testa and Frank Narducci Jr., a pair of hitmen for Atlantic City mob boss Nicky Scarfo who were known as the Young Executioners. For several adjoining acres, Trump ignored the principal owner of record and instead negotiated directly in a deal that also likely ended up benefiting the Scarfo mob. Trump arranged a 98-year lease deal with Sullivan, the FBI informant and labor fixer, and Ken Shapiro, described in government reports as Scarfo’s “investment banker.” Eventually the lease was converted into a sale after the Division of Gaming Enforcement objected to Sullivan and Shapiro being Trump’s landlords.

Trump later boasted in a sworn affidavit in a civil case that he made the deals himself, his “unique contribution” making the land deals possible. In formal hearings Trump later defended Sullivan and Shapiro as “well thought of.” Casino regulators thought otherwise, and banned Sullivan and Shapiro from the casino industry. But the Casino Control Commission was never asked to look into FBI reports that Trump was involved, via Shapiro, in the payoffs at the time of the land deals that resulted in Mayor Michael Mathews going to prison.

Thanks in part to the laxity of New Jersey gaming investigators, Trump has never had to address his dealings with mobsters and swindlers head-on. For instance, Barrett reported in his book that Trump was believed to have met personally with Salerno at Roy Cohn’s townhouse he found that there were witnesses to the meeting, one of whom kept detailed notes on all of Cohn’s contacts. But instead of looking for the witnesses (one of whom had died) and the office diary one kept, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) took an easier path. They put Trump under oath and asked if he had ever attended such a meeting. Trump denied it. The inquiry ended.

Taking Trump at his word that he never met with the mobsters in Cohn’s townhouse saved the casino investigators from having to acknowledge their earlier failure—that from the start, they had never properly investigated Trump and his connections to criminals. They certainly had the leverage to push harder if they chose. Indeed, two of the five Casino Control commissioners in 1991 declared that the DGE showed official favoritism to Trump. Commissioner David Waters complained that DGE did not go nearly far enough in seeking a $30,000 fine against Trump for taking an illegal loan from his father, which could be grounds to revoke Trump’s casino licenses. Waters called it “an outrage that the Division of Gaming Enforcement would take this position and fail to carry out what I understand to be its responsibility to enforce the provisions of the Casino Control Act.”

Even after he got his license, Trump continued to have relationships that should have prompted inquiries. For example, he made a deal to have Cadillacs dolled up with fancy interiors and exteriors beginning in 1988, marketing them as Trump Golden Series and Trump Executive Series limousines. The modifications were made at the Dillinger Coach Works, which was owned by a pair of convicted felons, convicted extortionist Jack Schwartz and convicted thief John Staluppi, who was so close to mobsters that he was invited to the wedding of a mob capo’s daughter. New York liquor regulators proved tougher than those in New Jersey, denying Staluppi, a rich car dealer, a license because of his rap sheet and his extensive dealings with mobsters, as Barrett’s former reporting partner Bill Bastone found in public records. So why did Trump repeatedly do business with mob owned businesses and mob-controlled unions? Why go down the aisle with an expensive mobbed-up concrete firm when other options were available?

“Why’d Donald do it?” Barrett said when I put the question to him. “Because he saw these mob guys as pathways to money, and Donald is all about money.”

From a $400 million tax giveaway on his first big project, to getting a casino license, to collecting fees for putting his name on everything from bottled water and buildings to neckties and steaks, Trump’s life has been dedicated to the next big score. Through Cohn, Trump made choices that—gratuitously, it appears—resulted in his first known business dealings with mob-controlled companies and unions, a pattern that continued long after Cohn died.

What Trump has to say about the reasons for his long, close and wide-ranging dealings with organized crime figures, with the role of mobsters in cheating Trump Tower workers, his dealings with Felix Sater and Trump’s seeming leniency for Weichselbaum, are questions that voters deserve full answers about before casting their ballots.

Compromise, but it’s still a crack in the monolith

Michael Dobbs reports from Warsaw on Poland’s ideological somersault and the practical problems ahead
1 September 1980

The establishment of new independent trade unions in Poland marks a major and historic step towards a more pluralistic form of communism. As part of a carefully-worded compromise with the government, Polish strikers along the Baltic coast agreed formally to recognise the leading role of the Communist Party in the country’s political life. But, while the foundations of Poland’s one-party system have remained intact, the manner in which the system will function has undergone a profound change. Never before has a Soviet Bloc country ceded the right to represent the working class to an independent organisation.

A rally on May Day, 1983 in Gdansk, Poland, by supporters of the Solidarity union. Photograph: Associated Press

Toward Independence

The industrial city of Łódź exemplified the problem. It was the largest industrial city in the Russian empire and the cradle of the 1905 Revolution, described by Lenin as the dress rehearsal for the October Revolution. The largest working-class organization in Łódź was not one of the Polish Socialist Party factions, nor the SDKPiL, but the Jewish socialist trade union, the Bund.

When the Tsarist authorities conceded elections to a Russian parliament, the Duma, in 1910, the socialist political organizations backed the candidate of the Bund. His election evoked a boycott of Jewish shops by the nationalist party National Democracy, which had support among workers and disaffected petty bourgeois layers.

In the end, an independent Poland emerged after the First World War, when the three empires that had dominated central Europe fell apart. As the Marxist historian Isaac Deutscher later observed:

Contrary to Rosa Luxemburg’s expectations, Poland had regained her independence but contrary to the expectations of her opponents, Poland had received it mainly from the hands of the Russian and German revolutions.

The new republic succumbed to economic instability, political failure, and nationalist excess, until Piłsudski led a military coup in 1926, reducing Polish socialism and hopes of national self-determination to the level of yet another central European dictatorship that abused democrats and minorities.

Rosa Luxemburg’s followers in the Polish Communist Party (KPP) lost working-class support because of their party’s perceived complicity in the Red Army invasion of Poland in 1920, and its ill-judged support for Piłsudski’s coup. Stalin, whose hatred of Luxemburg matched his hatred of Leon Trotsky, had the KPP disbanded in 1938 and its exiled leadership executed by the Soviet secret police.

What Donald Trump Knew About Undocumented Workers at His Signature Tower

I n the summer of 1980, Donald Trump faced a big problem. For six months, undocumented Polish laborers had been clearing the future site of Trump Tower, his signature real estate project on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, where he now lives, maintains his private offices and hosts his presidential campaign.

The men were putting in 12-hour shifts with inadequate safety equipment at subpar wages that their contractor paid sporadically, if at all. A lawyer for many of the Poles demanded that the workers be paid or else he would serve Trump with a lien on the property. One Polish worker even went to Trump’s office to ask him for money in person, according to sworn testimony and a deposition filed under oath in a court case.

For help, Trump turned to Daniel Sullivan, a 6-ft. 5-in., 285-lb. labor consultant, FBI informant and future officer of the Teamsters Union. “Donald told me he had difficulties …,” Sullivan later testified in the case. “That he had some illegal Polish employees on the job.”

Sullivan had been helping Trump negotiate a casino deal in New Jersey at the time, and he testified that he was shocked by Trump’s admission. “I think you are nuts,” Sullivan testified that he told Trump. “You are here negotiating a lease in Atlantic City for a casino license and you are telling me you have got illegal employees on the job.”

For 36 years, Trump has denied knowingly using undocumented workers to demolish the building that would be replaced with Trump Tower in 1980. After Senator Marco Rubio raised the issue of undocumented Polish workers during a Republican primary debate this year, Trump described himself as removed from the problem. “I hire a contractor. The contractor then hires the subcontractor,” he said. “They have people. I don’t know. I don’t remember, that was so many years ago, 35 years ago.”

But thousands of pages of documents from the case, including reams of testimony and sworn depositions reviewed by TIME, tell a different story. Kept for more than a decade in 13 boxes in a federal judiciary storage unit in Missouri, the documents contain testimony that Trump sought out the Polish workers when he saw them on another job, instigated the creation of the company that paid them and negotiated the hours they would work. The papers contain testimony that Trump repeatedly toured the site where the men were working, directly addressed them about pay problems and even promised to pay them himself, which he eventually did.

The documents show that after things got ugly over unpaid wages, Trump sought Sullivan’s advice on the workers and their immigration status. At one point, a lawyer for the Poles testified, Trump threatened, through his own lawyer, to call the Immigration and Naturalization Service and have the workers deported. And when the Labor Department launched a probe of the Polish laborers, Trump again called Sullivan for help, asking him to meet the federal investigator at Trump’s office, according to the documents.

Testifying at a 1990 trial where he faced a charge of participation in a breach of fiduciary duty, Trump told a federal judge he “still didn’t know” if the workers were undocumented, arguing that he had hired a subcontractor who employed them and that he personally “wasn’t very involved in that whole process.” His lawyers also questioned the credibility of Sullivan, who had been convicted of tax evasion in a separate case. When contacted Aug. 23 by TIME for comment on the documents, Trump replied with an emailed statement. “The laws were totally different thirty five years ago,” he wrote in the message. “The building, Trump Tower, turned out to be one of the most successful and iconic buildings ever built. Do you have nothing better to write about than a story that is 35 years old and filled with half truths and false information?”

Later that day, as part of a political pivot designed to soften his image with minority and centrist voters, Trump told an interviewer he might reconsider the hard-line stance against undocumented immigrants that has been a centerpiece of his campaign. Since shortly after launching his bid for the presidency, he has promised to rid the nation of its 11 million undocumented workers, possibly by employing a “deportation force,” and to suspend issuing new green cards in order to force employers to hire from the citizen labor pool. He has regularly described undocumented workers as an economic threat to U.S. citizens. “They’re taking our manufacturing jobs,” he said at a rally in Phoenix in July 2015. “They’re taking our money. They’re killing us.”

Thirty-six years ago, at the beginning of his career, he saw things differently.

Trump Tower has never been just another building project for Donald Trump. And in 1980, it was something of a personal obsession. He had started in real estate in Queens, working for his father, who had prospered in the outer boroughs. In 1979 he managed, through charm, persistence and hard work, to secure the lease on the old Bonwit Teller building at 56th Street and Fifth Avenue, eventually signing a 50-50 deal with the property owner to develop what would be the city’s tallest glass structure on the site. Facing zoning restrictions, Trump made large donations to politicians and curried favor with powerful members of the New York board of estimate, which approved a zoning variance for the project.

With the approvals in hand, Trump set about preparing to build. One day in late 1979, he was inspecting renovation work being undertaken by a tenant in a building he owned next door to the site, and saw the Poles at work, according to testimony given to the court by the foreman overseeing the job. The foreman testified that Trump personally approached him to ask who they were. “Those Polish guys are good, hard workers,” court documents say the foreman recalled Trump saying. Soon afterward, Trump met with the workers’ boss, a man named William Kaszycki, at Trump’s lavish office across Fifth Avenue, Kaszycki later testified.

Kaszycki’s company specialized in window and job-site cleaning and had never done the heavy demolition work required to remove a 12-story building in midtown Manhattan. Kaszycki testified that Trump told him to start a new company to do the demolition work and directed him to get new and different insurance for the job. Kaszycki, who has since died, testified that he accepted Trump’s $775,000 fee offer flat out. And with Trump offering an additional $25,000 if the building came down quickly, Kaszycki promised him that the Poles would work day and night, seven days a week.

And they did. From January to March 1980, they sneaked over from the job next door and worked two shifts, one from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., the other from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. Some later testified that they worked 24-hour shifts. They were paid $4 to $5 an hour, court documents show, which at the time was less than half the prevailing union wage and just above the state minimum wage of $3.10 an hour. Tearing down walls, cutting pipes and pulling electrical wires is dangerous work, and unlike union workers who later joined the job, most of the Polish workers lacked safety equipment like hard hats, according to the testimony of several former workers. A large piece of steel fell on the arm of one worker, Albin Lipinski, breaking several bones and permanently disfiguring his fingers.

But it was a dispute about money, not safety and long hours, that would later cause Trump so much trouble. Five miles east of the Fifth Avenue job site, at a two-story tin-sided house in the heavily Polish neighborhood of Maspeth, Queens, a middle-aged lawyer named John Szabo started getting visits in March 1980 from undocumented Polish laborers who said they were not being paid for their work. Before long, he would have dozens of clients from the same job. Szabo contacted Kaszycki, who was spending much of his time in Florida, but couldn’t reach him. So in late March, Szabo called Thomas Macari, a vice president in Trump’s operation, according to Szabo’s testimony. Macari, who could not be reached for comment, was overseeing the demolition job on a daily basis, according to the testimony of the Poles, Kaszycki and others in the case. If his clients weren’t paid, Szabo said, he would serve Trump with a mechanic’s lien, a powerful legal device that gives a laborer partial claim to the title of a property on which he has worked.

Soon Trump, who toured the site on multiple occasions, according to the testimony of witnesses, had to address the issue himself. One evening in the spring of 1980, he met with some of the workers at the Bonwit Teller building, according to the testimony of one of the Poles on the job, Joseph Dabrowski. Kaszycki hadn’t been showing up on the job, and the Poles were angry about not being paid. Trump told them that if Kaszycki left the job for good, he would pay them himself, Dabrowski testified. And initially he made good on that promise. Trump used a bank account that required his signature to pay Kaszycki’s creditors, and Macari opened a new account requiring his own signature to pay the demolition workers. Macari paid the Polish workers cash for Trump, according to the sworn testimony of multiple witnesses.

But still the Polish workers were paid inconsistently. Lipinski, who had become a foreman after his arm was crushed by the steel beam, took matters into his own hands. Around noon one afternoon, he walked across Fifth Avenue and into Trump’s office, Lipinski testified. “He spoke to the secretary and was surprised the secretary let him speak to Trump,” Lipinski’s son Jozef says in an interview this summer, sitting next to his father in his apartment in New York. Jozef says his father told him and his brother the story throughout their childhood: “Trump told him, ‘I paid the checks and anything I owed to the other guy, and he’s supposed to pay you.'”

Now 80, Albin Lipinski is a U.S. citizen. Speaking through an interpreter at his home, he displayed his hand, still scarred from the accident, but says he supports Trump for President. Twenty-seven years after signing an affidavit about his meeting with Trump and testifying under oath about it, he now says he did go to Trump’s office but never met Trump. “I went to the office because I was mad I wasn’t being paid,” he says through a translator, but “I never met Trump.” Jozef and his brother say their father has begun forgetting things in his old age.

By early June 1980, the Polish workers’ unpaid wages totaled over $100,000. It was at this point, Sullivan later testified, that Trump asked the labor consultant for advice about the laborers. “I told him to fire them promptly if he had any brains,” Sullivan testified. Sullivan died in 1993.

Trump initially ignored the advice. On June 27, 1980, the Poles’ lawyer, Szabo, went to Trump’s office and served Trump with a mechanic’s lien, Szabo testified. Worse, the Polish workers were threatening violence, according to Sullivan’s testimony. “Donald called me at my home in Pennsylvania on June 27th, 1980, and asked could he see me immediately,” Sullivan testified. “He needed some help because the employees on the Bonwit Teller were threatening to hang a fellow named Tom Macari off the building and would I come to New York as soon as possible.”

At his office on Fifth Avenue the next day, Trump told Sullivan he was in a bind: if he didn’t have the Bonwit building down by Sept. 1, he said, he was going to have to pay real estate taxes on it, Sullivan testified. Sullivan persuaded Trump to fire the Poles and rely only on union workers to get the building down.

Worried the Poles would never get paid, Szabo put a second and third lien on the property. On Aug. 8, he called Macari and told him that because Trump had been paying the Poles, he was legally their employer. That meant that under the Fair Labor Standards Act, Trump couldn’t sell any space in the tower until Szabo’s clients were paid.

Forty-five minutes later, Szabo testified, he received a call from a man who identified himself as a Mr. Barron from Trump’s legal department, who said Trump was going to sue Szabo for $100 million for wrongful filing of mechanic’s liens. At trial, Trump admitted that both he and a senior executive at the company had used the name Barron as a pseudonym. “I believe I occasionally used that name,” said Trump. But in this case, Macari said under oath that it had been he who called Szabo while posing as Barron Szabo testified he didn’t recognize “Barron’s” voice.

Szabo wrote a long letter defending his actions and laying out his case under the law and sent it to “Barron” on Aug. 18. A few days later, Szabo testified, he received a call from a real lawyer for Trump, Irwin Durben, who said Trump was threatening to ask the Immigration and Naturalization Service to have the Poles deported.

By the fall, the Labor Department was investigating Trump and Kaszycki’s use of the undocumented workers. That winter, a Labor Department official made an appointment to inspect Trump’s employment records at the office across from the work site. Trump called Sullivan and asked him to attend the meeting with the federal investigator, according to Sullivan’s testimony. In the end, Szabo and the Labor Department won a judgment of $254,523.59 against Kaszycki. Trump never had to pay the Poles another cent.

None of this history would have been preserved at the federal court storage facility near Kansas City, Mo., but for a separate fight over money and Trump’s use of the Polish workers. According to the contract Kaszycki had signed with Local 95 of the House Wreckers Union, he and Trump were supposed to pay into the union’s pension and welfare fund a percentage of every man-hour worked on the project, whether it was done by union or nonunion workers.

A dissident member of Local 95, a former boxer named Harry Diduck, who has since died, realized Trump and Kaszycki had been paying the pension fund only for the hours the few dozen union workers had put in, not for the hours the Poles had worked. In 1983, Diduck and his lawyers, Burton Hall and Wendy Sloan, sued Kaszycki, the union president and subsequently Trump and others for the $600,000 they claimed Trump and his partners owed the pension fund.

Over time, Sloan amassed thousands of pages of testimony from the Polish workers, Sullivan, Szabo, Macari and dozens of others. Trump fought her at every step. When she tried to depose him, he stormed out after two hours complaining that he was being harassed, necessitating a court order forcing another deposition. The case ran for 15 years. The initial judge in the matter found that Trump had participated in defrauding the union pension fund. It then went through an appeal and multiple battles back at the district court under three different judges. Finally, in 1998, when the question of whether Trump was the legal employer of the Poles was set to go to a jury trial, Trump settled. No one knows how much he ended up paying to compensate the union pension fund. The deal remains sealed by the court. TIME and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press have asked the court to make the deal public.

But the other records in the case have been sitting in storage ever since. They include a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York City that gave both sides partial victories. It began with a swipe at the union president and the later complicity of Trump’s organization: “This case illustrates an immutable law with respect to falsehoods–as immutable as the one respecting gravity Sir Isaac Newton conceived upon seeing an apple fall from a tree: having first manufactured a falsehood, a person is forced to invent more to maintain it yet, as here, in the end, time generally reveals what a falsehood hopes to hide.”

Sullivan put it more bluntly in 1990 to People magazine. “It was disgusting how he used people,” Sullivan said. “I said, ‘Don’t exploit them like that. Don’t try to f-ck these poor souls over.’ It baffled me then, and it makes me sick even now that he knowingly had these Poles there for the purpose of Trump Tower at starvation wages. He couldn’t give a sh-t because he’s Donald Trump and everybody is here to serve him. Over time he became more and more monstrous and arrogant. I asked myself, ‘How long is it going to take for all of this to catch up with him?'”



Establishment and Sovietisation period

The Polish United Workers' Party was established at the unification congress of the Polish Workers' Party (PPR) and Polish Socialist Party (PPS) during meetings held from 15 to 21 December 1948. The unification was possible because the PPS activists who opposed unification (or rather absorption by Communists) had been forced out of the party. Similarly, the members of the PPR who were accused of "rightist – nationalistic deviation" were expelled. "Rightist-nationalist deviation" (Polish: odchylenie prawicowo-nacjonalistyczne) was a political propaganda term used by the Polish Stalinists against prominent activists, such as Władysław Gomułka and Marian Spychalski who opposed Soviet involvement in the Polish interior affairs, as well as internationalism displayed by the creation of the Cominform and the subsequent merger that created the PZPR. It is believed that it was Joseph Stalin who put pressure on Bolesław Bierut and Jakub Berman to remove Gomułka and Spychalski as well as their followers from power in 1948. It is estimated that over 25% of socialists were removed from power or expelled from political life.

Bolesław Bierut, an NKVD agent, ΐ] and a hard Stalinist served as first Secretary General of the ruling PUWP from 1948 to 1956, playing a leading role in the Sovietisation of Poland and the installation of her most repressive regime. From 1947 to 1952, he served as President and then (after the abolition of the Presidency) as Prime Minister. Bierut oversaw the trials of many Polish wartime military leaders, such as General Stanisław Tatar and Brig. General Emil August Fieldorf, as well as 40 members of the Wolność i Niezawisłość (Freedom and Independence) organisation, various Church officials and many other opponents of the new regime including the "hero of Auschwitz", Witold Pilecki, condemned to death during secret trials. Bierut signed many of those death sentences.

Bierut's death in Moscow in 1956 (shortly after attending the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union) gave rise to much speculation about poisoning or a suicide, and symbolically marked the end of the era of Stalinism in Poland.

Gomułka's autarchic communism

Władysław Gomułka, at the height of his popularity, on 24 October 1956, addressing hundreds of thousands of people in Warsaw, asked for an end to demonstrations and a return to work. "United with the working class and the nation", he concluded, "the Party will lead Poland along a new way of socialism". Ώ]

In 1956, shortly after the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the PUWP leadership split in two factions, dubbed Natolinians and Puławians. The Natolin faction - named after the place where its meetings took place, in a government villa in Natolin - were against the post-Stalinist liberalization programs (Gomułka thaw) and they proclaimed simple nationalist and antisemitic slogans as part of a strategy to gain power. The most well known members included Franciszek Jóźwiak, Wiktor Kłosiewicz, Zenon Nowak, Aleksander Zawadzki, Władysław Dworakowski, Hilary Chełchowski.

The Puławian faction - the name comes from the Puławska Street in Warsaw, on which many of the members lived - sought great liberalization of socialism in Poland. After the events of Poznań June, they successfully backed the candidature of Władysław Gomułka for First Secretary of party, thus imposing a major setback upon Natolinians. Among the most prominent members were Roman Zambrowski and Leon Kasman. Both factions disappeared towards the end of the 1950s.

Initially very popular for his reforms and seeking a "Polish way to socialism", Α] and beginning an era known as Gomułka's thaw, he came under Soviet pressure. In the 1960s he supported persecution of the Roman Catholic Church and intellectuals (notably Leszek Kołakowski who was forced into exile). He participated in the Warsaw Pact intervention in Czechoslovakia in 1968. At that time he was also responsible for persecuting students as well as toughening censorship of the media. In 1968 he incited an anti-Zionist propaganda campaign, as a result of Soviet bloc opposition to the Six-Day War.

In December 1970, a bloody clash with shipyard workers in which several dozen workers were fatally shot forced his resignation (officially for health reasons he had in fact suffered a stroke). A dynamic younger man, Edward Gierek, took over the Party leadership and tensions eased.

Gierek's economic opening

In late 1960s, Edward Gierek had created a personal power base and become the recognized leader of the young technocrat faction of the party. When rioting over economic conditions broke out in late 1970, Gierek replaced Władysław Gomułka as party first secretary. Β] Gierek promised economic reform and instituted a program to modernize industry and increase the availability of consumer goods, doing so mostly through foreign loans. Γ] His good relations with Western politicians, especially France's Valéry Giscard d'Estaing and West Germany's Helmut Schmidt, were a catalyst for his receiving western aid and loans.

The standard of living increased markedly in the Poland of the 1970s, and for a time he was hailed a miracle-worker. The economy, however, began to falter during the 1973 oil crisis, and by 1976 price increases became necessary. New riots broke out in June 1976, and although they were forcibly suppressed, the planned price increases were canceled. Δ] High foreign debts, food shortages, and an outmoded industrial base compelled a new round of economic reforms in 1980. Once again, price increases set off protests across the country, especially in the Gdańsk and Szczecin shipyards. Gierek was forced to grant legal status to Solidarity and to concede the right to strike. (Gdańsk Agreement).

Shortly thereafter, in early September 1980, Gierek was replaced as by Stanisław Kania as General Secretary of the party by the Central Committee, amidst much social and economic unrest. Kania admitted that the party had made many economic mistakes, and advocated working with Catholic and trade unionist opposition groups. He met with Solidarity Union leader Lech Wałęsa, and other critics of the party. Though Kania agreed with his predecessors that the Communist Party must maintain control of Poland, he never assured the Soviets that Poland would not pursue actions independent of the Soviet Union. On October 18, 1981, the Central Committee of the Party withdrew confidence on him, and Kania was replaced by Prime Minister (and Minister of Defence) Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski.

Jaruzelski's autocratic rule

PUWP's newspaper "Trybuna Ludu" issue 13 December 1981 reports Martial law in Poland.

On 11 February 1981, Jaruzelski was elected Prime Minister of Poland and became the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Polish United Workers' Party on October 18 the same year. Before initiating the plan, he presented it to Soviet Premier Nikolai Tikhonov. On 13 December 1981, Jaruzelski imposed martial law in Poland

In 1982 Jaruzelski revitalized the Front of National Unity, the organization the Communists used to manage their satellite parties, as the Patriotic Movement for National Rebirth.

In 1985, Jaruzelski resigned as prime minister and defence minister and became chairman of the Polish Council of State, a post equivalent to that of president or a dictator, with his power centered on and firmly entrenched in his coterie of "LWP" generals and lower ranks officers of the Polish Communist Army.

The policies of Mikhail Gorbachev also stimulated political reform in Poland. By the close of the tenth plenary session in December 1988, the Communist Party was forced, after strikes, to approach leaders of Solidarity for talks.

From 6 February to 15 April 1989, negotiations were held between 13 working groups during 94 sessions of the roundtable talks.

These negotiations resulted in an agreement which stated that a great degree of political power would be given to a newly created bicameral legislature. It also created a new post of president to act as head of state and chief executive. Solidarity was also declared a legal organization. During the following Polish elections the Communists won 65 percent of the seats in the Sejm, though the seats won were guaranteed and the Communists were unable to gain a majority, while 99 out of the 100 seats in the Senate freely contested were won by Solidarity-backed candidates. Jaruzelski won the presidential ballot by one vote.

Jaruzelski was unsuccessful in convincing Wałęsa to include Solidarity in a "grand coalition" with the Communists, and resigned his position of general secretary of the Polish Communist Party. The Communists' two allied parties broke their long-standing alliance, forcing Jaruzelski to appoint Solidarity's Tadeusz Mazowiecki as the country's first non-Communist prime minister since 1948. Jaruzelski resigned as Poland's President in 1990, being succeeded by Wałęsa in December.

Dissolution of the PUWP

Dom Partii building in Warsaw, former headquarters of PUWP

Starting from January 1990, the collapse of the PUWP became inevitable. All over the country, public occupations of the party buildings started in order to prevent stealing the party's possessions and destroying or taking the archives. On 29 January 1990, XI Congress was held, which was supposed to recreate the party. Finally, the PUWP dissolved, and some of its members decided to establish two new social-democratic parties. They get over $1 million from the Communist Party of the Soviet Union known as the Moscow loan.

The former activists of the PUWP established the Social Democracy of the Republic of Poland (in Polish: Socjaldemokracja Rzeczpospolitej Polskiej, SdRP), of which the main organizers were Leszek Miller and Mieczysław Rakowski. The SdRP was supposed (among other things) to take over all rights and duties of the PUWP, and help to divide out the property of the former PUWP. Up to the end of 1980s, it had considerable incomes mainly from managed properties and from the RSW company ‘Press- Book-Traffic’, which in turn had special tax concessions. During this period, the income from membership fees constituted only 30% of the PUWP's revenues. After the dissolution of the PUWP and the establishment of the SdRP, the rest of the activists formed the Social Democratic Union of the Republic of Poland (USdRP), which changed its name to the Polish Social Democratic Union, and The 8th July Movement.

At the end of 1990, there was an intense debate in the Sejm on the takeover of the wealth that belonged to the former PUWP. Over 3000 buildings and premises were included in the wealth and almost half of it was used without legal basis. Supporters of the acquisition argued that the wealth was built on the basis of plunder and the Treasury grant collected by the whole society. Opponents of SdRP (Social Democratic Party of the Republic of Poland) claimed that the wealth was created from membership fees therefore, they demanded wealth inheritance for SdPR which at that time administered the wealth. Personal property and the accounts of the former PUWP were not subject to control of a parliamentary committee.

On 9 November 1990, the Sejm passed "The resolution about the acquisition of the wealth that belonged to the former PUWP". This resolution was supposed to result in a final takeover of the PUWP real estate by the Treasury. As a result, only a part of the real estate was taken over mainly for a local government by 1992, whereas a legal dispute over the other party carried on till 2000. Personal property and finances of the former PUWP practically disappeared. According to the declaration of SdRP MP's, 90-95% of the party's wealth was allocated for gratuity or was donated for a social assistance.

The Polish Communist Party (2002) claims to be the successor of the party.

Demise of the Regime

What explains this turn? Four factors seem key: the weakness of the proletarian dimension of Solidarity after martial law, now that it no longer operated as a trade union acceptance of the emerging consensus about the alleged failure of the entire left project a desire to curry favor with Western decision-makers and a changing philosophical assessment, resulting from the crushing of Solidarity in 1981.

Previously, Solidarity’s leadership had seen widespread civic participation as the ground on which democracy can be built. But that had now been tried and failed. Many were swayed to the belief that private property offered the strongest foundation for the guarantee of civic autonomy they saw as the basis for democracy.

Solidarity’s turn to neoliberalism was thus not just a matter of “betrayal.” Such an interpretation puts too much emphasis on subjective leadership and not enough on the global economic and ideological context of the time. Nevertheless, the turn meant that when Solidarity did reemerge, it would be a very different kind of organization, overseeing a very different kind of politics.

The stalemate of martial law began to crack with the elevation of Mikhail Gorbachev to head of the Soviet Communist Party in 1985. While Gorbachev himself had a broadly social-democratic disposition, apparent in his connection with Czech supporters of the 1968 Prague Spring, his willingness to allow Eastern European countries to go their own way stemmed also from Soviet economic needs. Put simply, the Soviet Union was tired of supplying to its satellites, in exchange for mid-quality goods and political support, the precious oil and gas it could have been selling to the West for hard currency.

In 1986, the Polish government freed all political prisoners. Solidarity’s leadership pushed for open negotiations, which the government rejected until another Gdańsk ship workers’ strike in 1988 showed the risks of further delay. Round-table negotiations commenced formally in February 1989.

Those talks concluded in April with the restoration of Solidarity and an agreement to hold partially free elections in June. Solidarity swept those elections so thoroughly that the Communist Party allowed a Solidarity-led government to be sworn in by September. The Berlin Wall fell two months later.

Polish Workers Struggle to MaintainTheir Dignity and Solidarity

From International Viewpoint, No. 0, 28 January 1982, pp. 6&ndash7.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

In the sixteen months between the August 1980 strikes and the unleashing of massive repression on December 13, 1981, the working people of Poland recovered their sense of human and national dignity, their confidence in themselves, their class, and their country.

&ldquoPoland is herself again,&rdquo Solidarnosc activists told me in August. &ldquoWe are the only country that kept its honor throughout the second world war. It was possible to impose totalitarian tyranny only because the country was totally destroyed.&rdquo

One-fourth of the Polish population was killed in the second world war. After the heroic uprising of 1944, Warsaw was leveled, and its surviving population deported to Nazi concentration camps.

The war was followed by purges, terror, and continued penury. In August, a forester in the Carpathian mountains complained to me that he had not had a single easy day since the Nazi invasion.

After the workers forced the government, temporarily, to accept their right to organize and express themselves even in a limited way, a profound sense of dignity and consideration for other people, a determination not to be dehumanized and humiliated again, pervaded Poland. Not even increasingly desperate shortages could break down this intense feeling of human worth and solidarity. The Polish people were acutely conscious of the need at all cost to maintain relationships of dignity and mutual respect among themselves.

Now, the regime that declared war on its own people in order to stop the rise of the democratic workers movement has launched a ruthless campaign to destroy the sense of dignity and honor in the Polish workers and the Polish people.

That is why the regime is forcing the workers to do their jobs under the guns of the military. It cannot run an economy at gunpoint. But the Polish Stalinist bureaucracy can only hope to survive if it can humiliate the masses of working people, destroy their belief in their own worth, and that of their fellow workers and their fellow Poles. Only then could the small minority of totally corrupt bureaucrats and their servants feel safe in Poland.

One of the bureaucracy&rsquos main devices is a familiar one in the history of the trade unions in most countries: the &ldquoYellow Dog&rdquo contract.

Workers returning to their jobs after the military crackdown were required to sign a declaration saying:

&ldquoI hereby state that I have taken cognizance of the note of the administrative chief of the cabinet of the Council of Ministers dated December 17, 1981, and I affirm that I am fully aware of the duty incumbent upon me to behave in accordance with the principles of people&rsquos legality.

&ldquoTaking as my guide the interests of society and the principles of building socialism, I pledge always to uphold the authority of the people&rsquos power and to execute scrupulously the orders of my superiors, and to keep uppermost in my mind always the socialist development of the People&rsquos Republic of Poland and loyalty to the people&rsquos state.

&ldquoConsidering that many leading organs of the trade-union Solidarnosc have openly acted against the constitutional bodies of the state and administration, seeking, on the basis of counter-revolutionary positions, to overthrow the socialist system, I declare that I have resigned from this union.&rdquo

A government document smuggled out of Poland by Solidarnosc sets down the procedure for &ldquointerviewing&rdquo state employees. Among other things it says:

&ldquo. during the conversation, the special responsibilities of every employee of the central administration must be stressed and the interviewee should make a formal pledge to carry them out .

&ldquoThe following promise should be obtained, that the interviewee will not have anything to do with Solidarnosc, neither while it is suspended nor afterwards if this union is not permitted to organize among state administrative employees.

&ldquoWorkers who do not give the required response cannot be maintained in the central state administration.

Like the late shah in Iran, General Jaruzelski has carried his repression so far that he has made possession of camping equipment a political crime, according to a January 5 UPI dispatch. The general is especially interested in knacksacks. Solidarity activists use them to carry leaflets. In fact, the practice is so widespread that the underground union has called on Poles to carry knacksacks whenever they can so as to provide cover for its couriers.

The regime also has to try to intimidate the young people of Poland. One of the baying hounds of the degenerate regime, Anna Powloska, a writer for the party paper, Trybuna Ludu has taken up the problem of the youth who &ldquodeveloped a taste for expressing themselves in strikes and protests.&rdquo

In this context, the report cited in a January 8 Prensa Latina dispatch that &ldquosoldiers are taking part in meetings with students to explain to them why the state of siege was declared,&rdquo assumes sinister implications.

After the military crackdown, callers to certain numbers found themselves being informed &ldquothis conversation is under scrutiny.&rdquo The only purpose such a practice can serve is to create an atmosphere of fear.

All journalists are being subjected to special interrogation. According to a Los Angeles Times Service dispatch of January 12, about half the staff of Kurier Polski survived it. The questions included: How do you assess Solidarity? How do you assess the events of December 13? And: Should a journalist simply inform his readers or should he try to shape their opinions?

Such questions are obviously designed to make journalists crawl on their bellies. What they test is the flexibility of the &ldquointerviewee&rsquos&rdquo spine.

Even in the first days of shock and disarray after the mass arrests and military attacks on factories, the scattered leaders and activists of Solidarity began to fight this attempt to break the moral integrity of the Polish people.

In Katowice a Solidarity bulletin issued December 21 included the following point: &ldquoDon&rsquot distrust your neighbor &ndash your enemy are the cops, the careerists, and informers.&rdquo It also advised: &ldquoShun the company of careerists, informers, and the commissars.&rdquo It called on its readers to &ldquohelp in every way the families of those arrested, wounded, and murdered.&rdquo

In an open letter circulated by the clandestine Solidarity, Zbigniew Janas, one of the leaders of the URSUS plant, wrote on December 17, to the new plant manager, a certain Stawoszykiewicz:

&ldquoI was surprised to learn that you have taken over Director Wilk&rsquos job since he was fired. I wrote him letters which he was unfortunately not there long enough to get. In the name of our past work together, I am writing you on the same subject. For some days, I have been pursued like a thief or a bandit simply because I wanted to rebuild our country after it was so efficiently wrecked by the Communist Party. But I am not afraid. I have been educated by the opposition and forged in the struggle against this inhuman and anti-national regime .

&ldquoToday they have put you in Director Wilk&rsquos place in the hope that you will be able to oppress people with sufficient force. I would not like to think that you were deceiving us these past months. I would like to believe that you remember all we talked about. Solidarity is not dead and will not die. The time will come when all of us will have to make an accounting and say what they did to help people, how many people they saved from losing their jobs. And no one will be able to justify themselves by saying that they were afraid and could not do anything.

&ldquoRemember that your duty and that of those working with you is not to prevent people from organizing to aid the families of those that have been arrested. It is your duty to make sure that these families get ration cards, even if you and your fellow directors have to give up your own.&rdquo

&ldquoYou should do what I have said, as a man and as a Pole. Do not forget that this country cannot long be governed at gunpoint. The tears that are shed in my house and those of my friends, known and unknown, will turn into stones that will batter down the ambitions of the enemies of the people who know no tolerance but understand only force.&rdquo

The January 15 issue of the Paris daily Liberation reported that the first time Western journalists were able to visit Poznan, a Solidarity leader, Zdzislaw Rozwalak, told them in front of party officials that he was renouncing the oath of allegiance that he made to the military regime on December 13: &ldquoI made it under duress before I knew what was really happening in the country.&rdquo The dispatch said that in the Cegielski factory many workers openly wore Solidarity badges and some even the initials &ldquoAE,&rdquo �which stands for &ldquoanti-socialist element&rdquo and is worn to show contempt for Stalinist propaganda.

Thus far the government has been resoundingly unsuccessful in getting Solidarity leaders or activists to &ldquoconfess&rdquo and &ldquorepent.&rdquo In fact, it has been unable even to erase the symbols of courage and defiance.

&ldquoIn front of the gates of the Wujek mine in Katowice where seven members of Solidarity were killed,&rdquo Le Matin&rsquos special correspondent reported January 20, &ldquoa tall cross has been erected, and seven miners�helmets put with it. Many people come to place flowers there. The inscription on the cross remains untouched. It says &lsquothey died for freedom&rsquo.&rdquo

Once the government succeeded in taking Solidarity by surprise, once it was able to cut off communications throughout the country and disorganize the union, the sit-in strikes in the strongholds of the workers movement had no chance of success. But the desperate resistance of these groups of workers has left an example of courage. Some of the hardest and most prolonged fighting took place at the giant Nowa Huta factory in Cracow. The statement issued by the workers there is still circulating in Poland. Among other things, it says:

&ldquoThe battle is one of fear. It is not surprising that we are afraid. We have families, wives, children, jobs. And we know what they are capable of, because we know the history of our country. But remember, they are more afraid than we are. Hiding behind their masks, their clubs, their tanks, their riot shields (literally, the glass panes used on reptile cages), they are afraid of us! . There are not many of them. Pistols, tanks, clubs are no good against a united people. They are counting on fear . If we want to remain free, we must remain calm, dignified, we must conquer fear. Even if they go to the last extreme, our quiet courage will bring victory, today and forever. We are not fighting for big words, we are fighting to remain human beings.&rdquo

The same theme was repeated in a call for organizing a mass resistance movement issued by the underground leaders of Solidarity which reached the West late in January.

&ldquoClandestinity must not become a mask for fear . From the beginning, underground activists must learn that arrest and interrogation are not the end of the struggle but the beginning of a new struggle, still harder and more lonely .

&ldquoThe regime thinks we are slaves. We will never accept that role.&rdquo

The fact that after more than a month of a massive military crackdown and the reinstitution of totalitarian repression a national leader of Solidarity, Zbigniew Bujak, is still free and issuing political statements, testifies that the &ldquoquiet courage&rdquo the Nowa Huta workers talked about has not been broken. Such a thing would be impossible without countless acts of quiet heroism and sacrifice by thousands of ordinary people.

Even in their present state of disorganization and uncertainty, the Polish masses have been able to force the mad-dog Stalinist dictatorship of General Jaruzelski to back off to a certain extent in its repression and attack on their standard of living.

That is the achievement and strength of Solidarity. It is the sort of power that makes revolutions in large and modern countries. Trotsky, the organizer of the first workers army, stressed this in opposition to the elitist and romanticists, to the high priests of Stalinist mythology.

However, this power has to be directed, focused, concentrated. This requires a leadership forged in struggles and having a clear perspective. It also requires a conviction driven deep into the masses that there is no hope but to fight for victory regardless of the cost. Before the struggle for workers democracy can be won, those basic moral and political victories have to be achieved.

The Polish working class and the Polish people have been well prepared by their history and the development of their country to emerge strengthened from this test and to lead all humanity forward to the achievement of their ideals of justice, dignity, and freedom.


After Japan’s surrender in 1945, Allied occupation reforms spurred a spectacular spread of independent trade unions, which had been eliminated during wartime. Until it was halted in 1949–50 by sharp deflation, revision of labour laws, and a purge of leftists, unionism enlisted 6 million members—almost half of all workers. Unions resumed steady growth after 1955 as industrial employment leaped upward with Japan’s economic “miracle.” Organized labour peaked in 1975 at 12.6 million members, one-third of all eligible workers, becoming the third largest movement among the industrialized democracies. As economic expansion slowed following the 1973–74 oil crisis and subsequent industrial restructuring toward hard-to-unionize services, union membership leveled off to one of every four workers.

Backed by new constitutional rights to organize, bargain, and strike, in sharp contrast to prewar years, Japanese unions made notable achievements as they increasingly emphasized industrial activity. Genuine union-management negotiations and wide-ranging joint consultation at enterprise, industrial, and national levels became well institutionalized. Also established was comprehensive legislation for labour standards and social security. Unions provided the principal support for such “progressive” political parties as the Socialists, Democratic Socialists, and Communists, in opposition to the conservative Liberal-Democrats, who reigned continuously after 1948. However, unions were faulted for severe ideological disunity, undue employer influence, and a narrow focus on their members’ interests to the neglect of unorganized workers and the wider society.

A chief feature of Japanese unionism is its decentralized “ enterprise-level” structure. Numbering more than 70,000, most basic union organizations form inside, not across, large-scale private enterprises and government agencies. Democratically run, well-financed, and self-staffed, the typical enterprise union actively represents only workers “permanently” employed in the firm—blue- and white-collar together and also foremen. This rank-and-file choice reflects the influence of fundamental economic, technological, and sociopolitical forces in Japanese society. Some theories explain it as the legacy of Japanese feudalism or as part of a system of employer “paternalism,” but most important has been what can be called a labour-market “dualism.” This evolved as Japan rapidly industrialized with sharply separated work forces for the relatively few large-scale, technologically advanced oligopolies on the one hand and for the millions of less secure small- and medium-size firms on the other hand. Considerable differentials in wages, benefits, working conditions, and employment security have long favoured the larger firms, so that a major reason to unionize within such enterprises lies in shared motivations among permanent workers to protect their advantages while simultaneously avoiding harm to their company’s competitive strength.

In order to obtain and preserve gains and to avoid divisions, most unions seek coordination and guidance through industrywide federations and national centres. Upper-level organizations, although less well-financed, gradually have gained influence over enterprise unions despite decades of severe ideological rivalry, which began in the 1920s and revived with Japan’s defeat in World War II. From the 1950s to the 1980s, Sōhyō, the Socialists’ backbone, and Dōmei, the Democratic Socialist mainstay, fiercely competed, but, along with two lesser centres, they finally achieved unity in 1989 with the founding of Rengō (Japanese Trade Union Confederation), embracing almost eight million members. Rengō potentially offers a broadened role for organized labour. It aims to shift union power from the enterprise to upper levels by merging the numerous industrial federations, embracing millions of unaffiliated union members, and organizing the unorganized in cross-enterprise union structures.

In 1955 Sōhyō successfully coordinated union demands by launching the first shuntō (“spring offensive”) this has since been continued annually for the bargaining of general wage and benefit increases in April, when Japan’s fiscal year begins. Shuntō counters the tendency toward disparate settlements at the enterprise level, where union–management negotiations formally occur, and also spills over into nonunion sectors, thus resembling an “ incomes policy” mechanism. Shuntō subject matter has gradually broadened to include issues such as work hours, pensions, and housing, as well as large wage bonuses paid once or more each year.

Watch the video: Museet for polske jøders historie