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Joseph Keller

Trade Union Notes

(7 April 1945)

From The Militant, Vol. IX No. 14, 7 April 1945, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Addes and Thomas

In a personal interview in the Stalinist Daily Worker, March 28, George Addes, secretary-treasurer of the CIO United Automobile Workers, indicates the UAW leaders intend to use the majority vote for the no-strike pledge in the recent referendum as a further pretext for bureaucratic reprisals against the auto militants.

The fact that an unholy alliance of UAWand CIO leaders, the government and the corporations succeeded in pressuring a majority vote for the pledge “strengthens the hands of those union officers who believe in the CIO no-strike policy,” Addes is quoted. “This outcome,” he adds ominously, “ought to serve as a warning to all disruptive forces” – including, presumably, the 36 percent of the UAW voters who opposed the pledge and the 60,000 who have gone on strike in the past six weeks in Detroit.

However, states the Daily Worker, Addes “spoke bitterly of ‘demagogues’ who will continue to stir up trouble ... and let it be known that he has no illusions that the fight is over.”

UAW President R.J. Thomas also tries to make the most of the referendum results, which he terms a “mandate to me, as president.” After trying to squeeze some personal satisfaction out of this “victory” in his column in the United Automobile Worker, April 1, Thomas concludes:

“There are definite signs that the period ahead is to be marked by a vicious public onslaught against our union and against labor. The Automobile Manufacturers’ Association and its stooge, the ‘Automotive Council for War Production’ are filling the columns of the press with malicious falsehoods aimed at undermining labor ...”

The way to “silence these dishonest attacks,” Thomas opines, is to enforce the no-strike pledge. This is just what the auto barons want since they can continue their union-busting drive by firing local union leaders wholesale without fear of strikes. Tens of thousands of Detroit auto workers have demonstrated since the referendum that they have an opposite and more effective method than Thomas for “silencing these dishonest attacks.”

* * *

Recognize Foremen

Under pressure of the labor movement and recurrent foremen’s strikes, tlhe NLRB last week ruled that supervisory employees are entitled to belong to independent unions of their own choosing and to engage in collective bargaining under the Wagner Act.

The corporation owners, who fear the organized collaboration of supervisory workers with the rest of labor, have tried to contend that foremen are “part of management.” However, the NLRB majority was forced to admit that the foreman “now is an executor carrying out orders, plans, and policies determined above; he is more managed than managing ...”

This NLRB ruling, reversing its decision of two years ago, grew out of the Packard Motor case where the foremen, organized in the Foremen’s Assn. of America, went on strike in Detroit last May. The decision will have considerable bearing, it is believed, on the United Mine Workers’ demand for contract coverage of most of the mine foremen and supervisors.

* * *

More Stalinist Finkery

The Stalinists, operating through various local CIO Councils which they control, are continuing their vicious campaign against the coal miners now negotiating for a new contract.

Last week, the Cleveland CIO, long under Stalinist domination, passed an “appeal” to the miners “not to strike.” Previously, similar finky resolutions were passed by the Greater New York City CIO and the Detroit CIO, in which they called on Roosevelt to “seize the mines” to forestall an alleged “strike plot.”

The Daily Worker, March, 30, runs a big scarehead editorial, Not an Hour’s Stoppage! The Mines Must Be Seized, advising the capitalist government and mine owners that “no matter what Lewis thinks or would like the miners to do, he knows and the country knows that the coal miners will not strike against the government.”

The miners, who have voted eight to one in favor of strike in an NLRB poll, showed two years ago in their four strikes that they were unaffected by similar antilabor bleats from the Stalinists.

* * *

Telephone Strike Poll

Some 18,000 local and long distance telephone operators in New York City will take an NLRB strike vote on April 16, after filing notice on March 17 of intention to strike.

They are continuing to demand a $5 raise over their present $20 weekly minimum. The WLB rejected the recommendation of its own special panel endorsing the $5 increase sought by the 12,000 members of the New York Telephone Co. Workers’ Union and the 6,000 members of the Federation of Long Lines Operators, New York local. The national WLB instead awarded a $3 raise, $1 less than the multibillion dollar telephone trust itself finally agreed to pay.

The WLB has been giving the exploited women telephone operators a runaround for over two years. These women workers are now in a thoroughly fighting mood. And they are strategically situated in the very hub of the country’s communications system.

* * *

Prisoner-of-War Labor

Aiding the campaign to undermine wages and working conditions of the American workers, the government is extending the use of German and Italian prisoners of war by private employers in both industry and agriculture.

Both AFL and CIO unions, according to a report buried in a leading government war agency, have been objecting bitterly to “the use of war prisoners in foundries, canneries and for maintenance work on railroads.”

There are now some 400,000 POWs in the United States. Another 100,000 are being transferred here by the War Department. The unions charge that employers in low-wage industries – logging and lumbering, farming and canneries – are refusing to raise wages “in the hope the prisoners may be brought in to replace civilian labor at the existing wage scale.”

The report, whose existence was disclosed by the New York Post labor correspondent, Victor Riesel, states that “the Int’l. Woodworkers (CIO), the chiefs of the Standard Railroad Labor Organizations, the Southern Tenant Farmers Union are among the unions which have passed resolutions opposing the use of prisoners of war under private employers.”

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