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Gordon Haskell

On Dogs:

Who Does the Chewing
and Who Gets Chewed?

(February 1948)

From Labor Action, Vol. 12 No. 5, 2 February 1948, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The other day my friend, Jack, and I were sitting in the Workers Party office reading the papers and chewing the fat generally.

“I’ll be damned,” says Jack, “if the AFL hasn’t gone and did something progressive for a change.”

“What have they done now?” says I.

“On a motion by Paul Clifford of the carpenters,” says Jack, “the San Francisco Council has unanimously disapproved Bill Green’s proposal to increase the work week from forty to forty-five hours. Furthermore, they are wondering what Green is thinking of, if anything, in proposing to junk the forty-hour week which labor fought so long to establish. Listen to this,” he says, and reads me the following from the paper.

“‘William Green ought to be ashamed of himself,’ said Joe Iocona of the culinary workers. ‘We want to go with the times, not backward. It’s about time we go for the six-hour day. We ought to tell Mr. Green he’s all wet. It’s about time somebody told him.’”

“Maybe Brother Iocona reads Labor Action,” I says. “We’ve been advocating the thirty-hour week without a cut in take-home pay for a long time, as a starter towards what the workers should get.”

“He don’t have to read Labor Action to know it’s the only proposition that makes sense,” says Jack, “though it wouldn’t do him much harm to read it at that. All he has to do is take a look at all the union members sitting around the hall waiting for work, or to read this other piece in the paper about General Motors laying off 445 workers this week in Oakland.”

“I guess the thirty-hour week is going to become a hot demand pretty soon,” I says, “especially if the layoffs get more widespread. But it’s going to have to go along with a demand for a real increase in wages. Otherwise the older workers who stand less chance of being laid off on account of their seniority will figure the only way to make a living is to chop the younger men off rather than cut hours and spread the work.”

Chewing Real Meat

“Yes,” says my friend Jack, “if is the old capitalistic game to keep the workers divided. If they get the older men saying to the young ones: ‘You’re a pretty good dog, and I’m a pretty good dog, but only one bone got tossed out today so you had better go get yours someplace else,’ they will have them just where they want them chewing on each other instead of all chewing on the capitalist, where the real meat grows.”

“That’s the way the capitalists would like to have it, all right,” I says, “but it looks like a lot of the dogs are getting too smart to fall for that one. The paper says that when General Motors announced the layoffs the union voted to cut their hours down to four days, and on a similar proposal the longshoremen voted overwhelmingly against any layoffs.”

“The real fight will come up this spring,” says Jack, “when the big union contracts are renewed. That’s when the whole labor movement had better get together and o to work on the fat boys in a pack for some real demands or there’ll be hell to pay.”

“Well,” I says, “you are right. But with leaders like Bill Green and Phil Murray and the rest of them, it doesn’t look too promising for this spring.”

“You never can tell,” says Jack, “what will happen when a pack of dogs gets real hungry and real mad. If some fat, lazy cur tries to stand between them and where the meat is he’s likely as not to end up wishing his mother had never whelped him.”

“And,” says Jack, “with the cost of living going up every day, us working stiffs is getti9ng hungrier and madder by the hour. When Central Labor Councils start growling at Old Lady Green it means the memberships have started chewing on their delegates for some action. First thing you know even Green will wake up to what’s going on and start whining at the employers for a few more bones to keep the boys quiet.”

Ten Bones

“Talking of bones,” I says, “just reminds me of something. Did you send those ten bones you promised for the Workers Party Fighting Fund Drive?”

“There you go,” says Jack, “I should have known better than to bring your attention to anythin that could be twisted around like that, on account of your one-track mind.

“As a matter of fact, I sent in my ten bones yesterday. And I hope and trust every dog smart enough to read this paper is also smart enough to go and do likewise.”

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