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UAW Demands Withdrawal from WLB

Auto Workers’ Board Calls on CIO to Initiate Break

Wage-Freezing Agency Which Union Chiefs Bolstered
Now Termed ‘Useless Instrument’

(3 February 1945)

From The Militant, Vol. IX No. 5, 3 February 1945, pp. 1 & 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The International Executive Board of the CIO United Automobile Workers, largest and most dynamic union in the country, last week adopted a resolution calling on the CIO to withdraw its support from Roosevelt’s War Labor Board. The resolution stated that this government agency has now become “a useless instrument.”

This blow to the tottering prestige of the War Labor Board was occasioned by a ruling of Director of Economic Stabilization Vinson, who directed the WLB to make no further wage increase grants without prior approval of the Office of Price Administration, This, in effect, removes all final authority from the WLB to another agency on which labor has not even formal representation.

The UAW-CIO leaders’ action came as the climax to a whole series of rotten deals handed labor by the Roosevelt administration in connection with a nod through the War Labor Board. In its three years of existence, the WLB has earned among the workers the title of “Graveyard of Grievances.” Major wage cases in auto, packinghouse, textile, rubber, glass and aluminum, have been stalled as much as two years; The steel wage case was “settled” with all major wage demands denied. At the same time, the WLB pussyfooted endlessly with powerful open-shop employers like Avery.

This has produced a violent revulsion among the workers; The hostility to the WLB is expressed most sharply in the auto workers union, where opposition to compulsory arbitration and the no-strike surrender policy have forced the holding of a national referendum on the no-strike pledge.

Today, almost every worker recognizes what The Militant has contended since the WLB was first established – that the WLB was designed to shackle the workers to compulsory arbitration, impose the wage-freeze, curb independent militant labor action. From the start, the “impartiality” of the WLB was a deliberate fraud.

WLB Anti-Labor

The rising indignation of the auto workers and the complete exposure of the WLB as a procorporation, wage- freezing, strikebreaking instrument of the capitalist government has finally compelled the UAW leaders to echo the demand of the ranks that labor get off the WLB. This is a belated confession of the WLB’s anti-labor function and character.

But the UAW leaders themselves share responsibility for foisting the board on the workers. The UAW tops, along with all the other labor lackeys of Roosevelt, were the original advocates and supporters of the WLB. For three years, they have been selling the WLB to the auto workers as a substitute for the strike weapon. They assured the workers that the “impartial” WLB would take care of labor’s just demands. They served on the board, lent their names to it, gave it a “labor” cover, bolstered it up for three years.

It was the Trotskyists in the unions who from the very beginning conducted a tireless campaign exposing the real nature and purpose of the WLB as a government instrument of the employers. The Trotskyists have consistently called for the withdrawal of all union representatives and support from this anti-labor government body. For this, the Trotskyist workers were slandered as “obstructors” and even “Hitler agents” by those very UAW leaders who today call for the scrapping of the WLB.

However, the UAW executive board’s resolution on, the WLB by no means indicates that these leaders really mean business. They are making only another gesture to appease the auto workers’ wrath. If the UAW chiefs were serious about withdrawing labor support from the WLB, they wouldn’t stop with mere appeals to Philip Murray and the CIO. UAW President R. J. Thomas himself would take the first step and demonstratively resign from the WLB. All UAW officials on WLB regional bodies would be immediately instructed to leave them flat.

Stay on WLB

Why don’t the UAW leaders get off the corporation-dominated WLB ? Because the WLB – or some similar phony set-up with a different title – is the only program these labor fakers have to offer the auto workers in return for giving up their only effective union weapon, the right to strike. The top UAW bureaucrats are united in appealing to the auto workers to reaffirm the no-strike pledge in the union’s current referendum. They have repeatedly aided the corporations and government to break “unauthorized” strikes provoked by the bosses. But if the WLB is an anti-labor fraud, what then do these “leaders” offer in place of the right to strike ?

Another government compulsory arbitration board! A freshly-painted 1945 model, with a different name, in which the bosses and government can induce the auto workers to take another ride. That’s what the executive board means by its complaint that the WLB now has “neither the authority nor the standing it had when it was created.” The WLB is so discredited that some other agency is needed to hoax the workers. And that’s precisely what the UAW board resolution proposes.

At the same time, by whining about the WLB and calling for the CIO to withdraw its support, the UAW leaders are trying to refurbish themselves as “militants” in the eyes of the auto workers. However, their very admissions about the WLB expose the bankruptcy of their whole past policy of servile compliance, with the Roosevelt labor program. The auto workers can place not an iota of trust in these bureaucrats!

Only a completely new, progressive leadership, controlled by the rank and file, which will really fight for a genuine labor program, can give effective, militant guidance to the auto workers. The auto workers need a leadership which stands foursquare on a fighting program.

The indispensable accompaniment to the withdrawal of labor support from the WLB is to scrap the no-strike pledge. That is the decisive issue before the auto workers – and all workers – today. That is the only way labor can disentangle itself from the red-tape of government compulsory arbitration, halt the corporation provocations, and take up in earnest the challenge of the open-shoppers.

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