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Joseph Keller

Trade Union Notes

(9 June 1945)

From The Militant, Vol. IX No. 23, 9 June 1945, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Real Score on Stalinists

Appraising the significance of the ‘left’ shift in policy which the Stalinists appear to be preparing, the June 2 issue of Business Week, a leading big business weekly, admits the anti-labor role of the Stalinists and their union stooges during the war. Business Week has the function of telling the real score to the employers.

A Stalinist change of line from open support of American capitalism to more “militant” phrase-mongering “won’t come any too soon to protect the position” of the Stalinists in the unions, says Business Week. The Stalinists “have outdone all other factions in American labor in making patriotic appeals for more production, labor-management cooperation, ignoring of grievances, and observation of the no-strike pledge.” As long as the workers were passive, or greatly influenced by war propaganda, “this line paid good dividends.”

Now, however, “the temper of organized labor is changing.” For example, Business Week points out, “local elections held in C.I.O.’s United Auto Workers have shown Communist (Stalinist)-backed slates losing heavily. These losses are ascribed to the Communist-sponsored candidates’ continued adherence to their platform of employer cooperation end retention of the no-strike pledge.” Throughout the labor movement the same thing is occurring widely, and Communist influence is threatened.”

A “left” shift, says Business Week, “would be a direct result of Russia’s changing relations with the U.S.” and not any new concern for the working class. But the Stalinists in the unions are becoming so despised and discredited that they would “profit by being bidden to give leadership to, instead of frustrating, the new militance of American workers.”

Whatever shift the Stalinists make, however, we can be sure they will function not as genuine revolutionists, but as foreign agents of the Kremlin bureaucracy. Any “militancy” they may assume will be for the purpose of snatching the leadership of the workers’ struggles precisely in order to frustrate and behead them.

* * *

Just a “Mistake”!

By a 5–4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court on May 29 once more demonstrated the kind of “justice” the capitalist courts reserve for the workers.

That august body upheld a previous U.S. Circuit Court ruling which denied that the NLRB could rectify a “mistake” in computing an award of back pay to 209 lead and zinc miners of the Eagle-Picher Mining & Smelting Co. and the Eagle-Picher Lead Co.

The NLRB, by using a wrong formula, chiseled these miners out of over three-quarters of a million dollars in back pay to which they were entitled. A dissenting minority of the Supreme Court admitted that these workers should not be made to suffer because of a “mistake” of a government agency. “Approximately $800,000 is due these 209 employees instead of $5,400,” admitted dissenting Justice Murphy.

But the court majority used expert legal hair-splitting to rule that an NLRB decision is “final.” Of course, this court of corporation lawyers wasn’t thinking of saving the dough of the companies involved. – Oh no, they were just doing their duty in upholding the law – capitalist law!

* * *

“Muzzle Not the Ox ...”

“Muzzle not the ox that treadeth out the corn” is a Biblical injunction close to the hearts of the well-heeled craft union moguls dominating the AFL Executive Council. It’s a rare top AFL official whose salary and expense accounts don’t run into five figures annually.

So it’s understandable how they would react to the piteous plea of the Congressmen to get their annual $10,000 salaries raised by a tax-exempt “expense account” of $2,500. Just before adjourning their recent Spring session, reports the AFL Weekly News Service, May 15, the AFL council “went on record unanimously in favor of increased compensation for members of Congress.”

“The council, which previously had urged Congress to approve legislation increasing the basic pay of classified government employees, felt that Congressmen also deserve relief from increased living costs,” says the Weekly News Service.

The Congressmen, of course, didn’t need this support. They would have voted themselves a 25% increase in “take home” pay anyway. But it must have made them feel good to know that the “labor statesmen” who find it such tough going even though they are in the upper brackets, can appreciate the plight of those forced to exist on “only” $10,000 a year.

This just goes to show how far the AFL bureaucrats are removed from the conditions of life of the workers, and how close they are in sympathies and outlook to the agents and beneficiaries of the capitalist class.

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