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Force State-Wide WPA Wage Rise

Ohio Pay Increase Laid to Action of Jobless Organizations

(18 February 1936)

From The New Militant, Vol. II No. 8, 22 February 1936, pp. 1 & 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

TOLEDO, Feb. 18 – In an attempt to forestall state-wide strike action of the W.P.A. workers of Ohio, Carl Watson, W.P.A. head, today announced a 10 percent pay boost for all categories of W.P.A. workers in the state.

The increase is retroactive thru February 16.

Announcement of the pay rise came within three days following the issuance of a twenty-four county conference call to W.P.A. workers and the Unemployed Leagues in Northwest Ohio to organize a widespread move to gain the increase and other concessions. The call was issued by the W.P.A. Workers Union of Lucas County and the Lucas County Unemployed League, and the conference will be held February 23 in Toledo.

Pressure from all over the state by project and unemployed organizations forced through the increase. A conference of the Ohio Workers Alliance in Columbus last Saturday, with a reported representation from twenty-one counties agreed to take a strike poll if the pay boost was not immediately effected. The combined activities and threat of action on the part of the Unemployed League, Worker-Alliance and W.P.A. Unions throughout the state is acknowledged by the W.P.A. Administration and daily press to have won the increase.

The Blade Concedes Victory

The Toledo Blade stated today.

“The announcement of the pay raise, it is expected, may avert a strike of W.P.A. common labor threats of which have been heard not only here but throughout the state. The Workers Alliance and W.P.A. Workers Union have been demanding the increase. They have demanded also that hours of work be changed and that no lost time on the jobs be made up.”

An article in today’s Toledo News Bee declared:

“The increase authorized by Dr. Carl Watson, state WPA director, eliminates the threat of a state-wide W.P.A. workers strike.”

Possibilities for such a strike, however, have not been eliminated but enhanced by the victory. The winning of this concession has pointed the road of militant action to the W.P.A. workers of this state as the means of gaining further concessions. Confidence in organization and workers’ action has been heightened. The fear of mounting lay-offs, discrimination and generally bad working conditions, and the knowledge that further pay-boosts can be won by fighting organized action, has evoked a genuine response in the WPA workers in this part of the state, and a highly successful conference is expected this coming Sunday by the WPA Workers Union. Response to the conference call has already come from numerous towns and counties where the workers are crying for a real fighting union.

Unity the Vital Need

The need for unity of the Unemployed League and the Workers Alliance is strikingly emphasized by the developments in this state. It is generally admitted that had such unity been established several months ago, this increase and other concessions would have been won long ago by a solid state-wide fighting front. The bickering and factional backbiting which has passed back and forth between individuals of both organizations has been largely the cause for keeping thousands of unemployed and projects workers from joining either organization. As the New Militant has been pointing out for the past two months, for both organizations to permit further sabotage of unity on a correct program through the actions of a few individuals at this crucial period would show a criminal lack of responsibility toward the real needs and desires of the unemployed and relief workers of this nation.

Last updated: 14 March 2018