LIVONIA, Mich. — People said it was one of the largest turnouts ever, but that’s not surprising when Dave Moore is the person being honored. Moore, a veteran of the Ford Hunger March who later helped organize the United Auto Workers’ famous Local 600 at Ford’s Rouge plant in 1941, was honored by hundreds of UAW Local 600 retirees at their 30th annual luncheon here this month.
Jerry Sullivan, Local 600 president, said he and other autoworkers are trying to “keep the flame alive” under difficult circumstances as millions of people have lost their jobs, homes and dignity. “We are being called upon to do again what was done before,” Sullivan declared. “Without the help of Dave Moore and people like him, there would be no union in auto. We will never forget you; thanks for all the accomplishments you’ve given us.”
In 1951, Moore and other officers of Local 600 were removed from office as the union’s national leadership buckled under to McCarthyism. UAW International Vice-President Bob King, a former Local 600 leader, told the gathering that Moore was taken out of office unlawfully and unjustly.
King said it is timely to honor Moore. “We are in a crisis,” King said. “People worked their whole lives to retire in dignity and it is dehumanizing that they are now referred to as ‘legacy costs’.”
Pointing to the lessons for today of Dave Moore’s organizing work in the 1930s and ’40s, King said President Obama is our friend, the best president we’ve had, but Obama won’t be able to do what is necessary without the workers’ voices being heard.
“Only mass mobilization of people created the social legislation under FDR,” said King. “The best thing we can do to honor Dave Moore, Martin Luther King and President Obama is to be active and out in the streets demanding what we and society deserve.”
Also speaking was Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano. He angrily denounced Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby for attacking autoworkers and domestic car producers while giving tax breaks to Honda and Toyota in his home state.
“Good thing President Obama was elected because if we were dealing with McCain, our industry would be wiped out,” Ficano added.
Moore told about the thousands who marched on the Ford Motor Company in Dearborn, Mich., during the Hunger March of March 7, 1932. It was the height of the Depression, with no unemployment insurance or other “safety net” programs, and the marchers filling Dearborn’s Miller Road demanded jobs and relief.
“Five men, in the bloom of their life” were shot down in cold blood by Ford thugs, Moore said. But, he added, “The blood spilled on Miller Road in 1932 was the blood that organized Ford in 1941.”
Also present was veteran autoworker activist General Baker, who credited Moore, his union “rep,” for saving his job. Blacklisted for political activities at Ford during the 1960s, Baker had to change his name to be rehired. With the new name he worked 19 months before somebody “snitched,” he said. “I was lucky Dave Moore was representing me. He wiped them out. I got my job and seniority back because of Dave Moore.”
Moore is 97 and still going strong.
jrummel @ pww.org