An Exceptional Proletarian Militant
Comrade Bill Savery
The following statement by the IBT’s Ursula Jensen was read at Bill
Savery’s memorial meeting, 11 September 2010 in Oakland, California.
We will remember Comrade Bill!
William Parker Savery was born on 3 November 1944 in Plymouth, Massachusetts where his
father made a living as the captain of a fishing boat. When he was a young man in the
1960s, Bill went to sea as a member of the National Maritime Union (NMU). He was soon won
to the class-struggle political program of the NMU’s Militant Solidarity Caucus,
supported by the then-Trotskyist Spartacist League (SL). In the mid-1970s, Bill was
involved in a serious industrial accident from which he was not expected to fully recover.
He won a large financial settlement, and used a chunk of it to make a six-figure
contribution to the SL to help purchase a building on Warren Street in Lower Manhattan,
which still serves as the group’s headquarters.
Bill was a remarkably tough individual. In the mid-1980s, after recovering from his
injuries, he moved to the Bay Area and once again became active as a maritime militant in
the Inland Boatmen’s Union (IBU—Marine Division of the International Longshore
and Warehouse Union). Bill played an important role in the 1987 IBU strike against Crowley
Bill’s move to the Bay Area coincided with a shift in political allegiance to the
Bolshevik Tendency, the basis of which he explained in a November 1984 letter to the SL
entitled, “Whither Spartacism?” Eloquent in its honest simplicity,
Bill’s statement clearly expressed his profound dismay at seeing the organization on
which he had pinned his hopes degenerating before his eyes.
When Bill died suddenly and unexpectedly at his home in Oakland on 21 June 2010, it
came as a nasty shock to all of us who knew him and had worked with him. Comrade Bill was
not only an exceptional proletarian militant with a profound understanding of the
application of the Trotskyist program in the unions, he was also personally a wonderful
guy: modest, serious and fun. And he always knew where to draw the class line!
All of us who knew Bill are saddened by his passing.