Labor Struggle in the Post Office: From Selective Lobbying to Collective Bargaining

By John Walsh; Garth Mangum | Go to book overview
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Chapter 1
THUNDER BEFORE THE STORM

The strike that shook the nation came on the heels of one of the most tumultuous decades in the country's 195-year history--an era that began in "Camelot" with the election of the youngest man ever to become President of the United States and ended with the My Lai massacre in Vietnam. In the beginning there was Robert Frost, the nation's acknowledged poet laureate, sharing the inaugural podium with the handsome, newly elected President, Pablo Casals playing his enchanting cello at the White House, and constant news of the glitterati who were attracted like moths to the light of the Kennedy social whirl. Later, there were more somber events--the Bay of Pigs fiasco, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the assignment of a small number of "advisors" to Vietnam. But even these inauspicious developments did not alter the jubilant mood of the nation. The change came later as the nation reeled from the assassinations of the President, Martin Luther King, Jr., Robert Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald, and civil rights activists Viola Liuzzo, Reverend James Reeb and Jimmy Lee Jackson, among others. The national mood became darker with the buildup in Vietnam, the bombing of black churches in the South, bra and draft card burnings, riots from Watts to Washington, D.C., and the revolt of the students who rallied around the cry, "Never trust anyone over 30," and staged endless demonstrations against the war and for "free speech," sexual freedom, women's lib, gay rights, and so on.

The plaintive strains of "We Shall Overcome" gave way to the more acid sounds of The Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane. Peter, Paul, and Mary were replaced by Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, and the "flower children" appeared in San Francisco's Haight Ashbury district. Timothy

-3-

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