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A new book by a Tacoma Wobbly: Yardbird Blues; 25 Years of a Wobbly in the Maritime Industry

category north america / mexico | culture | review author Tuesday July 13, 2010 04:35author by Arthur J. Miller - Tacoma GMB-IWWauthor email bayou at blarg dot net Report this post to the editors

Yardbird Blues: Twenty-five years of a Wobbly in the Maritime Industry

Black Cat Publishers has just finished publishing a book I wrote called "Yardbird Blues; 25 Years of a Wobbly in the Maritime Industry". The term "Yardbird" is an old term that longshore workers and ship's crews used for those that came on to the ships to repair them.


Black Cat Publishers has just finished publishing a book I wrote called "Yardbird Blues; 25 Years of a Wobbly in the Maritime Industry". The term "Yardbird" is an old term that longshore workers and ship's crews used for those that came on to the ships to repair them.

The book is about real workplace experiences and issues in the maritime industry such as: workplace safety, general working conditions, environmentalism and how to begin to make earth safe ships, the bosses, the unions, different types of ships, the great danger to workers and the environment of FOC ships and more. All that from the viewpoint of a Wobbly shipyard worker..

The chapters are: The Blues; The Making of a Yardbird; Down Houston Way; Types of Maritime Vessels; Making Dreams Real; Blues Again; Green's Bayou; Improving Goods; Asbestos, the Dust of Death, Speed Up and Die!; Working on the Mississippi River and Louisiana Jack; The 1985 New Orleans Waterfront Metal Trades Strike; Pains in My Wrists; Meeting Up with Todd Again; It's a Love Boat!; Fire on the Water; Such a Foolish Notion; Environmentalism and the Maritime Industry; In the Belly of a Love Boat, or I got them Old Fireroom Blues Again; Greed Upon the Oceans: Flag of Convenience Ships; Spiraling Downwards; Screwed Again; Dignity of Labor; What is the Value of a Worker's Life?; Health Care Should Be a Right, Not a Privilege; The IWW Centennial: One Shipyard Worker's Perspective.

A number of parts of this book were articles that have been published in the IW, Bayou La Rose and other publications. The introduction was written by FW Carlos Cortez before he passed away.

The book can be ordered for $12.00 from::Bulk copies are $7.00

Black Cat Press 4508 118 Avenue Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T5W 1A9

I wish to thank the people at Black Cat Press for publishing this book and the hard work they put into making it look so good.

This is the first book in a series of books that I hope to get published. The next one is in its final draft and was edited by Tacoma GMB Branch Secretary Leah Coakley. That book deals with other industries. After that one there may be a book on the modern IWW. That book would include my experiences in the IWW for 40 years and IWW related writings included: Organizing Solidarity, Duel Unionism, A New Union Vision, International Industrial Unionism, A Union For All Workers, Green Unionism, Organizing Tips, and more. Some of these essays have been rewritten from how they were before. It will be made clear in the introduction that this is just the writings of one Wobbly for only "A New Union Vision" was ever approved as official, though other pieces were approved by the Tacoma GMB. For those of you who like to worry about such things, none of this includes any of our internal conflicts.

I base my writing on what I was taught by some old time Wobblies, in particular, FW Gibert Mers who encouraged me to write about what I know best. His book "Working the Waterfront" was a good example of writing about direct workplace experiences.

The real purpose of my writting is not to get my views as an individual published, but rather to try to help encourage working people to speak for ourselves and to write about our direct workplace experiences. I believe strongly that this is a very important part in worker self-organization. Too often workers are talked down to as if we are just sheep to be led and that our only role is to be followers. I believe workers do understand our class situation and we understand industry and how to change it better than any would be leaders and that real workers’ self-organization, that we control, is the only means to reach worker self-management. And to do that workers must speak for ourselves. Me, I am nothing more than a rebel Wobbly shipyard worker.

Many Wobblies have helped me over the years with my writings by proofreading, editing and making useful comments. I wish to acknowledge them and thank them for the help. And I wish to thank the IWW for being something that I could believe in and I will stay with the IWW until I pass from this world.

Arthur J. Miller
Ship Builders IU 320

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