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Anti-Labor Front Aids
UAW ‘No-Strike’ Group

(20 January 1945)

From The Militant, Vol. IX No. 3, 20 January 1945, pp. 1 & 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

A nationwide united front of reaction, both outside and within the CIO United Automobile Workers, has been mobilized for an attempt to propagandize and pressure the 1,200,000 organized auto workers into reaffirming the no-strike pledge in the union’s referendum which began January 4.

Every agency which the corporations, the Roosevelt administration and their bureaucratic CIO lieutenants can muster is being used to bolster the UAW-CIO leadership’s defense of the no-strike surrender policy. Big Business views the referendum, which provides the militant auto workers with an opportunity for scrapping the no-strike pledge, as a tremendous threat to its wartime program for shackling the unions and paralyzing labor militancy.

In Detroit and Michigan, center of the upsurge against the no-strike policy, the capitalist press has unleashed a strident campaign, threatening dire consequences to the auto workers if they dare to revoke the pledge. The Detroit Free Press, voice of the auto corporations, led the attack with an editorial stink-bomb against the rank and file militants for opposing “labor’s solemn vow,” saying nothing, however, about Roosevelt’s “solemn vow” to curb war profiteering. The Stalinist Daily Worker, January 10, which quotes most of this anti-labor diatribe approvingly, nevertheless complains because the Free Press “editorial is weakened by the fact that it goes all out to champion management.”

In their attack on union militancy, the profiteering corporations and the labor bureaucrats are even seeking to enlist the churches. The Detroit Council of Applied Religion, whose co-chairmen are the Reverend Ellsworth Smith, emergency chaplain of the Detroit Council of Churches, and Shelton Tappes, Stalinist secretary of Local 600, has issued a public appeal to all clergymen to “use their influence to convince” the auto workers to vote for the no-strike pledge.

Roosevelt Intervenes

Roosevelt himself has intervened to use the power and prestige of his office to influence the vote of the auto workers. He sent a letter recently to UAW president R.J. Thomas “congratulating” the latter on pushing through, at least temporarily, a continuation of the no-strike pledge at the last auto convention and expressing the hope that the pledge “will always be reaffirmed by responsible men of labor.” The CIO and UAW flunkies of Roosevelt promptly featured his letter in the official CIO and UAW organs.

The Murray-Hillman bureaucracy is throwing the CIO’s resources and prestige behind the hard-pressed UAW leaders. Dipping generously into the CIO treasury, the CIO officials have rushed to the auto workers hundreds of thousands of copies of the January 8 CIO News, a special no-strike pledge edition including an extra four-page two-color insert demanding “patriotic” adherence to the no-strike policy and replete with pictures of Roosevelt and his leading generals. State and local CIO councils, dominated primarily by the Murray machine or the Stalinists, have been confronted simultaneously with resolutions calling on the auto workers not to “violate” the “sacred pledge.”

Earl Browder’s Communist (Stalinist) Political Association, the only group within the labor movement to attack the Montgomery Ward strikes and publicly endorse Roosevelt’s National Service forced labor demand, is attempting to curry further favor in the eyes of the American capitalists, Roosevelt and the CIO “labor statesmen” by taking the lead in the slanderous campaign against the auto militants. What the Stalinist Daily Worker lacks in influence among the auto workers, it seeks to make up by the volume and hysteria of its attacks on the militants and its fawning support for the anti-strike CIO and UAW leaders.

Stalinists Take Lead

The Stalinists, regarding the referendum struggle as a golden opportunity for strengthening their position in the CIO and UAW bureaucracy, have mobilized their resources behind the UAW leadership. They are rallying all their forces within the union movement to defeat the auto militants. Much of the finances for the UAW Committee to Uphold the No-Strike Pledge, formed by the Stalinists and adopted as the official caucus of the UAW no-strike forces, comes from Stalinist sources.

Treasuries of unions under Stalinist control are being utilized to finance this committee. Stalinist Joseph Curran, head of the CIO National Maritime Union, has publicly announced his donation of $500 from union funds which he has sent to George Addes, UAW secretary-treasurer and “honorary” secretary of the UAW anti-strike committee. Every Stalinist-dominated union local or CIO council is rushing through resolutions in support of the UAW no-strike caucus.

Propped up by outside forces of reaction and spurred by the referendum’s threat not only to their cowardly policies but ultimately to their posts of leadership, all the international UAW officials have united to resist the offensive against the no-strike pledge. They have thrust to the background their secondary differences of factional power politics. Peeling the rising cold wind of militancy at their backs, Thomas, Addes, Reuther and Frankensteen are huddled together for mutual warmth and protection.

This protective alliance was formally acknowledged last week when the four spoke jointly under the auspices of the Stalinist Committee to Uphold the No- Strike Pledge over a Michigan radio hook-up. Thus the auto workers were treated to the spectacle of Addes, Frankensteen, Thomas and Reuther – bitter factionalists in the struggle for posts – joining hands under Stalinist sponsorship to hold the line for the no-strike policy ip the referendum.

UAW Heads

While a convention motion prohibits them from using the union’s resources or institutions for propagandizing their partisan position in the referendum, the UAW heads have uncovered enough loop-holes to evade the intent of the motion. Under the technical heading of “news,” the United Automobile Worker, official UAW organ, has printed huge slugs of CIO President Philip Murray’s speeches for the no-strike policy, CIO resolutions, Roosevelt’s anti-strike letter, etc.

This is but a minor example of the ability of the leadership to get around the restricting motion. All the payrollees and porkchoppers of the international, beholden to the officialdom for their cushy jobs, are being pressed into service – or else. Under the pretext of performing union “business”, and travelling at union expense, the officials find time to do a “little” anti-strike caucus organizing “on the side.”

Last week, they called a National UAW Educational Conference in Milwaukee. The assembled local and district officials and porkchoppers, after going through the motions of a formal session, adjourned to an anti-strike caucus meeting in the same hotel. This meeting was openly announced by leaflet. Addes himself flew to Milwaukee to address this pep meeting for the no-strike pledge.

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