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Bosses Press for Anti-Strike Laws

Auto Barons and Manufacturers Association Advance
5-Point Program to Destroy Unions

(14 April 1945)

From The Militant, Vol. IX No. 15, 14 April 1945, pp. 1 & 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Spokesmen for some of America’s most powerful corporations revealed in Washington this week that they consider the labor-employer “peace charter,” signed only two weeks ago by CIO President Philip Murray, AFL President William Green, and Chamber of Commerce President Eric Johnston, to be a mere scrap of paper.

While the union leaders seek to disarm the workers with the fiction of “post-war industrial “harmony,” the National Association of Manufacturers and leaders of the automotive industry disclosed on April 9 that they have no intentions of accepting the “labor-management accord.” In fact, they are pressing before Congress a five-point legislative program designed to outlaw strikes even in peacetime and destroy the unions.

This revelation was made by B.E. Hutchison, vice-president of the Chrysler Corporation and a Director of the National Association of Manufacturers, at a press interview, in the nation’s capitol. He declared that the labor-management code signed by Murray, Green and Johnston was “full of ambiguities and omissions” and expressed surprise that “Eric Johnston made the code public when he did.”

Hutchison further revealed that the NAM and Chamber of Commerce have a joint committee working on legislative measures which would so weaken the unions as to make them easy prey for total destruction.

The specific anti-labor laws being fostered by the employers’ organizations are: 1. outlawing strikes to “coerce” government agencies into speedy action on cases before them; 2. outlawing strikes against “technological advances” resulting in unemployment; 3. making individual union members “liable” for “unlawful” acts of the whole union; 4. penalizing workers who strike while negotiations are in progress or in jurisdictional disputes; 5. “protecting” employees who refuse to comply with a union decision to strike.

In short, this is a program to destroy the right to strike permanently. It would enable the government and employers to stall negotiations indefinitely without fear of effective union action, to frame up individual union members for the actions of the whole union, and to provide government protection for strikebreakers and scabs.

What the big corporations mean by “ambiguities” in the “peace charter” was explicitly stated by Hutchison, whose views were echoed the same day by C.E. Wilson, General Motors president, and other leaders of the Automotive Council for War Production.

Hutchison declared that the fourth point in the code – recognition by management of the right to collective bargaining – might mean to “freeze” the existing laws, specifically the Wagner Act. The employers are opposed to this. The bosses don’t mind the labor leaders agreeing to the “sacred rights” of private profit – but they have not and never will agree to the principle of collective bargaining rights.

The automotive barons were in Washington to fight the decision of the NLRB two weeks ago recognizing the right of collective bargaining for foremen and other supervisory employees. Far from accepting any “peace charter,” GE’s Wilson told press representatives that the auto corporations are going to do “everything in our power” to prevent unionization of foremen, even though the government itself recognizes the right of foremen to organize.

Thus, the employing class makes clear that any “truce” with labor is merely a cover for anti-labor operations.

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