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Joseph Keller

Trade Union Notes

(10 February 1945)

From The Militant, Vol. IX No. 6, 10 February 1945, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Telephone Workers

Last month, inspired by the November strike of the Ohio, Michigan and Washington, D.C., operators, 17,000 local and long distance telephone workers in New York overwhelmingly voted to strike for a general $5 weekly raise. Their demands had been stalled by the companies and WLB for over two years. Before the 30-day “cooling off” period imposed under the Smith-Connally Act was concluded, a WLB telephone wage panel hastily recommended granting the $5 increase, and the company representatives conceded to a $4 raise.

Continuing their demand for the full $5, the local Traffic Employees Association of the New York Telephone Co. and the Federation of Long Lines Telephone Workers of the American Telegraph and Telephone Co., agreed to postpone strike action pending a final decision of the WLB’s National Telephone Panel in Washington.

WLB panels have also recommended increases for telephone workers in other leading cities who had either participated in the Thanksgiving week strike or threatened to follow this example.

The organized telephone operators have thus demonstrated that the strike weapon is the only effective means of getting speedy action from the government and corporations and securing the possibility for workers to win their wage demands.



The Militant last week reported the action of the CTO United Automobile Workers international executive board in calling on the CIO to withdraw its members from the War Labor Board. The text of the resolution has been made public in the current issue of the UAW’S official publication, the United Automobile Worker.

While enumerating a long series of complaints against the WLB, whose procedure is termed a “time-wasting, meaningless rigmarole,” the UAW board still upholds the principle of compulsory arbitration. Their grievance is not that the WLB was specifically organized to curb labor, but that it “has no authority to act.”

The UAW bureaucrats, who are united in fearful opposition to rescinding the no-strike pledge in the current UAW referendum, are clamoring for a “new” board. This will differ from the WLB only in that its “prerogatives” would be more “comprehensive, clearly defined.” That is, more binding upon the workers.

The resolution makes so bold as to declare that Roosevelt “cannot escape full responsibility for the present inaction and indecision of the WLB.” When did these pro-Roosevelt lackeys discover that? They denied that before the elections. They themselves for three years bolstered and gave a labor cover to the WLB.

We repeat what The Militant wrote last week. The UAW bureaucrats don’t mean business.

They are trying to put on a “militant” front and save face among the auto workers who are becoming thoroughly aroused against the cowardly policies of the officialdom.

The auto militants are demonstrating through their campaign to revoke the no-strike pledge that they oppose the whole policy of dependence on capitalist “friends of labor” and government boards. They are learning to have faith only in their own organized strength in action. That’s the only policy that can win an iota for the workers in this period.



The National Westinghouse Conference Board, of the CIO Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers, representing 80,000 Westinghouse Electric Workers, recently issued a demand to Roosevelt for a general wage increase of 17 cents an hour.

They appealed to Roosevelt “to counteract the failures and blunders of his subordinates by granting an immediate national cost-of-living wage adjustment of 17 cents an hour retroactive to Jan. 1, 1944.”

Of course, Roosevelt’s subordinates committed no “failures and blunders.” They very capably fulfilled their function of frustrating the demands of the workers in accordance with the policies laid down by Roosevelt himself.

Nevertheless, this wage raise demand from an important section of a union notoriously dominated by the reactionary Stalinists is a significant sign. It indicates growing pressure from the UE ranks. For the Stalinist UE leaders certainly would like to suppress the embarrassing clamor for cost-of-living wage increases.


Secretary Addes

UAW-CIO Secretary-Treasurer George Addes must have been born with two tongues in his mouth. One tongue could not possibly stand the strain of the double-talk he pours forth.

Addes, as is known to all among the auto workers, represents the extreme right wing in the UAW leadership and has for several years maintained a bloc with the Stalinists. He is among the most unrestrained flag-wavers and abject labor lieutenants of Roosevelt trying to maintain the no-strike pledge.

So it might come as a surprise to those unacquainted with the remarkable quality of double-talk put but by Addes, to read his remarks on the Forced Labor Bill in his column, Secretary Addes Says, in the United Automobile Worker, February 1.

Addes, a henchman of the Stalinists who support the “National Service” scheme of Roosevelt, complains:

“When we wrote our column a month ago protesting against those who were openly advocating a national service law, we had no idea that President Roosevelt would once again join their ranks ... Whether President Roosevelt actively Campaigns for passage of a national service law or lets it die a peaceful death, as he did last year, might possibly be the answer to some of the questions we are today asking.”

Three lies in two sentences:

  1. Roosevelt didn’t “join the ranks” of forced labor advocates; he has spearheaded their offensive.
  2. Roosevelt did not “let it die last year;” he just shut up about it prior to the elections – as did Addes.
  3. Addes never asked any questions about Roosevelt. But if he has some, let him speak out.

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