BY MAURICE WILLIAMS
Dozens of workers, students, and other volunteers will be coming into New York over the next few weeks to help reorganize the warehousing and shipping of books and pamphlets distributed by Pathfinder. The volunteers will unload some 175,000 books at the Pathfinder Building, where the publisher's editorial offices and printshop are located.
By Jan. 1, 1997, the entire "pick and pack" operation will be run out of the facility, utilizing previously wasted space on the third floor of the building. The project was announced at four regional socialist educational conferences held in the United States November 29 - December 1.
This move will improve the ability of the communist vanguard to rapidly respond to political events, like they did during U.S. imperialism's war against Iraq in 1991. During Washington's war drive against the workers and peasants in Iraq, socialist workers in Pathfinder and its printshop made an extra effort to quickly produce U.S. Hands off the Mideast! in the form of a pamphlet and later a book. It contains speeches of Cuban leaders Fidel Castro and Ricardo Alarcón, who spoke at the United Nations against the imperialist slaughter.
Communist workers campaigned against the war using this book and other political weapons on the job, at campuses, at protests, and other political events. They sold Pathfinder books, Perspectiva Mundial, and the Militant to co-workers, which printed articles explaining what was happening in the Gulf. These articles were part of preparing New International no. 7, which features "Opening Guns of World War III: Washington's Assault on Iraq."
The pick and pack operation will be organized on a just-in-time production schedule, said Chris Hoeppner, the general manager of Pathfinder's printshop. "We'll organize to produce books every week to ensure every Pathfinder title stays in print," Hoeppner said. Pathfinder publishes and distributes more than 300 titles, ranging from classics by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels to books on today's struggles.
"Pathfinder will provide a six-month list of titles that are running low, which the shop will reprint in short runs. Our aim is to increase productivity, reduce printing costs, and cut waste rates.
"Having just the stock we need decreases capital tied up in inventory," Hoeppner added, "and we'll be transforming a floor that's been underutilized into part of the production and distribution factory in the Pathfinder building."
At the same time, the Pathfinder staff will organize a daily schedule of scanning books, to put the text in digital form. Books that are stored as computer files can be easily stored, quickly reproduced, and printed with more readable type. By working on this project day-to-day, the Pathfinder staff will also be able to incorporate the help of volunteers.
For the last five years Pathfinder books were stored
and shipped out of a commercial warehouse. Bringing the
books back to the New York facility is part of completing
steps taken almost two years ago, when the order-entry and
invoicing done by a data entry and commercial fulfillment
company was taken back to be organized by Pathfinder
Fund to raise $280,000
In conjunction with this move, a $280,000 capital fund was launched at the regional conferences. It will finance the reorganization of pick and pack operation, as well as other long-term capital needs to maintain the factory and equipment. One of these needs is completing the repair of the building's south wall, which was beginning to sustain structural damage from water leakage. This month siding is going up over that wall.
The capital fund will last until February 28. So far $130,000 has been raised from 29 contributors. Donations to the fund come primarily from working people, and include bonuses from contract agreements, company profit sharing, inheritances, and other financial windfalls of $1,000 or more.
Those who would like to contribute can write to Pathfinder at 410 West St., New York, NY 10014, or call (212) 741-0690.
Leaders of the Socialist Workers Party and the Young Socialists announced that the project needed volunteers at the regional educational conferences. "The work will include clearing the third floor where the books will be stored, assembling and setting up shelves, unloading the truckloads of books, arranging them on the shelves, and other tasks to set up a professional packing and shipping area," said Kevin Dwire, who heads up the printshop bindery and is organizing the project. "There is enough work for dozens of volunteers to come and participate, especially the weekends of December 21 and December 28."
Dwire urged readers of the Militant, Pathfinder books,
and supporters of the communist movement to join in the
effort. Activists from cities across the United States are
planning to participate. Two members of the Young
Socialists from Sweden and a worker from Greece are
already in New York spending a week moving equipment and
other tasks. They will also participate in selling
Pathfinder books and the Militant newspaper to workers at
a plant gate and to students at a local campus.
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