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Bosses Push Open-Shop Drive
Despite CIO-AFL ‘Peace Pact’

(21 April 1945)

From The Militant, Vol. IX No. 16, 21 April 1945, pp. 1 & 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

“It’s Industrial Peace for the Postwar Period!’’ shrieked the front-page headline of the April 2 CIO News to the startled ranks of the CIO. Thus did Philip Murray jubilantly proclaim the fact that he and AFL head William Green had signed a “peace charter” with Eric Johnston, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The surprised membership of the CIO and AFL learned that their top leaders, after months of secret meetings with Johnston and without any prior consultation of the union rank and file, had agreed to call off all struggle against the profiteering, labor-hating bosses.

Even more startling to the ranks were the conditions of this “truce.” Labor is pledged to recognize the “sacred right” of the handful of ruling capitalists to control American economy and resources forever and to exploit the workers for profit under the system of monopoly capitalist “free enterprise.”

The employers generously agree – in words – to recognize the right of collective bargaining – a right they are already supposed to respect by law.

The Real Situation

Up and down the labor movement, and in their official press, Murray, Green and their lieutenants have announced that labor must surrender permanently its traditional methods of militant struggle. It must clasp the hand of fellowship now supposedly thrust forth by the corporations.

The workers have looked around to see some practical evidences of this miraculous transformation of the bosses into apostles of “good will” toward labor. In auto, steel, rubber and every other major industry, all they can see are the blows of the corporations falling on their heads faster than ever in a rampaging offensive of aggression and provocation against the unions.

A “peace pact” with labor? The National Association of Manufacturers, representing the most powerful corporations in the country, has bluntly announced that as far as it is concerned it doesn’t know anything about a “truce” with labor. The leaders of the Automotive Council for War Production – speaking for he largest industry in the country – flatly state that the only “truce” they want is one based on the open shop and the abolition of the National Labor Relations Act.

In fact, announced B.E. Hutchison, Chrysler corporation vice-president and a director of the NAM, the NAM is working together with the C. of C. in pushing a 5-point legislative program which would outlaw strikes, guarantee government protection to scabs and strikebreakers and illegalize the closed shop. And, he asked, what was Eric Johnston doing signing a “peace pact” with Murray and Green?

These facts cannot be ignored even by some of the blind union officials. As they spout from the right side of their mouths about the new era of “industrial harmony,” out of the left side they are forced to wail about the embarrassing lack of “good will” being displayed by the employers. Thus, Richard Frankensteen, vice- president of the CIO United Automobile Workers, charged on April 11 that “certain” employers “have started an all-out drive to attempt to destroy or greatly impair the usefulness of organized labor.”

“Industrial Harmony”

The “certain” employers to whom he referred happen to be every single corporation in the automotive, aircraft and farm equipment industries – that is, the employers of about a fifth of the CIO membership.

It seems that so far all the “good will” is inside the heads of Murray and Green and any deceived workers who may be soft-headed enough to lower their dukes while the bosses are swinging hay-makers at their chins.

The open proclamation of the leading corporations that they are wheeling up their heaviest artillery for a further grand offensive against labor is not helping the Murray-Green sales campaign. It’s pretty tough trying to sell the workers a bill of goods about a “peace pact” when the workers are so busy trying to dodge the blows of the open shoppers.

So the labor leaders are shifting into a faster line of sales talk. It seems, according to them, there are two kinds of employers – “progressive and die-hards.” The workers must line up with the “progressive” bosses, represented by Eric Johnston of the C. of C, against the “diehards” like the NAM, the auto, steel, rubber barons, etc.

And that’s really something fishy! As a labor commentator for the New York Post – which hailed the “peace charter” – observed:

“Somebody is pulling a squeeze play on the nation’s usually shrewd leaders ... Everybody believes that at least one section of American industry has reformed and created itself in the image of the pleasant and progressive Johnston. Hardly. For Mr. Johnston’s C. of C. is tied closely to the NAM.

“One part of the day Johnstom’s men are pounding Green and Murray on the back with a hail-fellow-labor’s-swell benevolence. And later in the afternoon they are NAM leaders campaigning for the outlawing of strikes and what sounds mightily like a ban on closed shops.”

Who are these C. of C. leaders who are supposed to be so chummy with labor? “Some of the C. of C. key committees are headed by labor’s most bitter enemies – men who are working closely with the NAM to which they also belong.”

One of these is James Rand, of Remington-Rand, author of the notorious strikebreaking “Mohawk Valley Formula.”

“Another is the head of a huge publishing firm which has not knowingly hired Jews or union people; or one who has fought big AFL unions for years; another whose firm was cited for its employment discrimination policies and antilabor attitudes ... and one has defied a federal collective bargaining ruling since 1943.”

In short – the real leaders of the C. of C. are also among the leaders of the NAM who are avowed open shoppers and openly intent on smashing the unions.

“Who’s being kidded here?” asks the Post commentator.

Not Murray and Green, as he would have us believe. They know what they’re doing. They’re playing a conscious and deliberate role. They’re essential and willing part of the mechanism of this capitalist “squeeze play.”

It’s the old game of disarming labor to make it easier for the bosses to slug the workers. “You hold him – while I sock him!”

Certain spokesmen for the employers, with the connivance of the labor leaders, aim to tie labor’s hands with a phony “peace charter,” while the employing class as a whole winds up for a knockout against organized labor.

And just as Murray and Green have put over such treacherous policies as the no-strike pledge behind the backs of the union members and without their voice or consent, so now they are hastening to shove the “peace charter” – the charter of unconditional surrender – down the throats of the unwilling workers.

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