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Joseph Keller

Trade Union Notes

(17 March 1945)

From The Militant, Vol. IX No. 11, 17 March 1945, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Treason to Labor

Daniel J. Tobin, AFL Teamsters’ Czar and initiator of the Minneapolis Case frameup, has maintained himself in the forefront of the labor traitors by endorsing the wage-freezing Little Steel Formula through an editorial in the March International Teamster, the personal organ he operates in the name of the union.

Tobin’s mouthpiece spouts that “you can’t scrap the Little Steel Formula without scrapping the entire stabilization program.” It moans that politicians and profiteers who “want to see all economic controls removed” are “encouraging some labor leaders to break the Little Steel Formula” and advises that “labor better do some serious thinking” before attacking Roosevelt’s wage-freezing formula.

Evidently, Tobin was subsequently quickly apprised of the fact that labor has already done “some serious thinking.” The workers think that the Little Steel Formula was designed by the corporations and Roosevelt to put the squeeze on labor while protecting the war-profiteers. At any rate, Tobin issued a hasty “repudiation” of the editorial, claiming it had “escaped” his attention before publication.

* * *

Knifing the Miners

The same Stalinists in the New York CIO who secretly lobbied for Congressional endorsement of the May-Bailey slave labor bill have tried to stick a knife in the nation’s mine workers at the opening of the United Mine Worker contract negotiations. At a shop-stewards meeting of the Stalinist-dominated Greater New York CIO Council, the finky leadership shoved through a resolution calling on Roosevelt to “seize” the mines because of an alleged “strike threat” by John L. Lewis.

Singing the tune of the most vicious labor-haters, the Stalinist resolution charged the Mine Union leaders with a “strike plot against the nation” and called on “every citizen” to “denounce and defeat the sabotage of John L. Lewis.”

This anti-labor action was denounced last week by Martin Gerber and Charles H. Kerrigan, eastern regional directors of the powerful CIO United Automobile Workers, at the UAW executive board meeting in New York. Gerber stated:

“I am not a follower of John L. Lewis, but I support the legitimate wage demands of any groups of American workers. The miners should not be sabotaged by any organization and when they are sabotaged by a CIO Council, as was done by the New York Council, I feel ashamed.” Kerrigan observed: “Apparently some elements think unconditional surrender means unconditional surrender by labor.”

* * *

Phone Strike Vote

A huge overflow joint mass meeting of New York City’s organized local and long distance telephone operators last week voted unanimously to file a 30-day strike notice with the NLRB. This vote followed a WLB decision granting only a $3 weekly wage increase after the telephone companies agreed to $4 and a special WLB panel recommended the full $5 demanded by the unions.

So aroused were the members of Local 101, Federation of Long Lines Telephone Operators, and the local New York Telephone Traffic Employees Association, that the leaders had difficulty persuading the workers not to strike immediately, but to follow the procedure under the Smith-Connally Anti-Strike Act. Many militant young women operators took the floor amid cheers and applause to urge “an immediate strike, starting right away.”

These operators, who are making wages as low as $20 a week, had been stalled by the WLB for over 2 years. They evidently mean business. The WLB has announced that it will render a decision this week on the petition of the unions for a reconsideration of its $3 wage award.

* * *

Textile Strike Vote

Over 100,000 cotton-rayon textile workers, member of the CIO Textile Workers Union, will take a strike vote in 150 Southern mills on March 18. The announcement of this largest strike vote of any CIO union during the war was made by Emil Rieve, the TWU’s international president, on March 8.

This is a sequel to the recent decision of the TWU Executive Council revoking the no-strike pledge for this large section of the exploited textile workers, and the resignation of Rieve from the WLB. The WLB after 19 month’s of stalling released “recommendations” – not yet approved by the Economic Stabilization Administration – granting meager “fringe” increases and a 55¢ an hour minimum wage. The union had demanded a 10¢ hourly general wage increase and a 65¢ minimum wage.

* * *

Lockout in Detroit

The latest union-busting corporation provocation against UAW locals in Detroit is the firing of 35 officers and shop stewards and the “disciplinary” layoff for one week of 140 workers, at the Thompson Products plant for alleged responsibility for a strike 10 days previously. Thompson Products is headed by Frederick Crawford, former President of the National Association of Manufacturers and a leading open-shopper.

The UAW-CIO international executive board, meeting in New York, when informed of this move to smash the Thompson Products Detroit local, declared the firings and lay-offs a lockout by the company and stated that unless all workers are reinstated plant operations will not be resumed. The board also called on Roosevelt to “seize” the plant.

* * *

Where Was PAC?

The lead editorial in the February 28 Midwest Labor World, official organ of the St. Louis Joint Council, United Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Employees, CIO, asks the question “WHERE WAS PAC?” during the height of the Roosevelt-brass hat campaign to put over the forced labor bill.

“There is a phase to the labor draft fight that will surprise many workers. It is a fact that up to the time this was written, after weeks of struggle in Congress by CIO, AFL, the miners and the railroad brotherhoods, PAC – the political arm of CIO – was silent. They have money, organization and paid spokesmen. Why weren’t they used? The millions of workers who supported PAC with their dollars are due an explanation of why the bureaucrats of this organization sat on their expensive hind ends when labor’s liberties were at stake.”

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