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Joseph Keller

‘Peace Pact’ Is Smokescreen for Anti-Union Drive

(19 May 1945)

From The Militant, Vol. IX No. 20, 19 May 1945, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The top national committees of the CIO, AFL and U.S. Chamber of Commerce have all hastened to formally adopt the so-called capital-labor “postwar peace charter” designed in secret and signed by the respective heads of these bodies, Philip Murray, William Green and Eric Johnston. On May 4, the executive council of the AFL and the Board of Directors of the C. of C„ following the previous action of the CIO National Executive Board, ratified the peace pact.

As on all other questions of major policy, the ranks of the labor unions were neither consulted nor permitted to vote on the “peace charter.” It is being thrust down their throats in the same fashion as the wartime “peace charter,” drafted in the week after Pearl Harbor. This deprived the workers of the right to strike while the employers remained free to undermine collective bargaining and amass colossal profits.

But even as the union leaders try to sell labor on the idea that the employers are changing their stripes and moving in the direction of “good will” toward the unions, they are compelled to register complaints. These belie the fiction that the capitalists are interested in anything but expanding their profits and intensifying their exploitation of labor.

Warns of “Conspiracy”

Thus, on May 8, Philip Murray addressed a letter to all CIO affiliates charging that a “dangerous and well-organized conspiracy” is being conducted to destroy the National Labor Relations Act. This basic law is supposed to guarantee the right of collective bargaining.

The sole “concession” made to labor in the “peace charter,” the recognition of collective bargaining rights, according to Murray, is being furiously assailed by the “representatives of the Michigan automobile lobby and the powerful food lobby, the same food lobby which has operated with such disastrous effectiveness in connection with the current OPA hearings.”

Murray need not have limited himself to these two major capitalist groups. The truth is that every single important section of industry – steel, rubber, oil, shipbuilding – is equally involved in this anti-labor conspiracy. Their most powerful organization, the National Association of Manufacturers, has openly admitted it is engaged in a legislative drive to outlaw strikes and the closed shop through a 5-point program drafted jointly with the Chamber of Commerce.

The “peace charter” is contrived as a smokescreen of benevolence behind which the employers can slam away at labor. Murray and Green, however, ballyhoo it as a prerequisite for postwar “prosperity,” “60,000,000 jobs,” “high wages,” etc. They contend that if only capital and labor would “get together” in the spirit of brotherly love – and on condition that the capitalists are guaranteed their “prerogatives” to control and run American economy as they please – then all would be hunky-dory for the workers.

Industrial War

This very basis of the “peace charter” is absurd. Only the past week, the government spokesmen for Big Business, as reported on the front page of this issue of The Militant formally revealed some of their plans and perspectives. They forecast rising mass unemployment, wage slashes, price inflation. They foresee not industrial “peace” but industrial war, which they propose to forestall simply by disarming the workers with the continued enforcement of the no-strike policy and compulsory arbitration.

Will mere “industrial harmony” under the monopoly “free enterprise” system ensure full employment? Even Senator George, author of the government’s bill on reconversion, on May 14 cynically rejected the possibility of providing 60,000,000 jobs. Such a goal, he claims, would require “the most rigid regimentation we ever had in peace ... we can’t reach any such arbitrary figure as. 60,000,000 jobs without controlling industry itself.” Naturally, he opposes such “regimentation.”

It is therefore a transparent fraud when Murray, Green and their lieutenants tell labor to submit peacefully to the anarchy of “free enterprise” and the “prerogatives” of the capitalist profiteers as a guarantee of security.

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