Monday, January 16, 2006

In Memoriam: Clinton Jencks

In Memoriam: Clinton Jencks
By David Strom
SDS Universe

David Strom, a colleague of Clinton Jencks, reflects on the life of the SDSU professor and labor activist.

Clinton Jencks died Dec. 15, 2005. Jencks was the legendary labor organizer, who led mineworkers, mainly Latino, in a strike that lasted 15 months. The union demanded equal pay with white workers, better working conditions, employer-paid healthcare and paid holidays. The strike was ultimately successful, even though paid holidays were not written into the contract.

The movie "Salt of the Earth" heralded that strike and, looking back, it mirrored, to a great extent, the life of Dr. Clinton Jencks at San Diego State University. Clint fought for equal rights for lecturers — our academic underdogs. In the 60s and 70s, he stood tall in working for a women’s studies department and a Mexican American studies department. Clint helped our local union fight our national union's weak and unprincipled position of support of the War in Vietnam — we were later punished by the national AFT for our position. He helped organize an informal campus wide radical professors group to tackle city, state and national problems. We "agreed to disagree" and we did.


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