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Joseph Keller

Trade Union Notes

(30 June 1945)

From The Militant, Vol. IX No. 26, 30 June 1945, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Annual Wage – How?

When the union leaders, both AFL and CIO, raised the demand for a guaranteed annual wage, it was generally assumed they were seeking federal legislation requiring the employers to pay minimum security wages based on continuous employment. The demand was placed directly before the late President Roosevelt, who shunted it into the hands of a committee for “study.” This “study” has yet to begin.

But the CIO and AFL leaders have already beat a retreat. William Green says he wants the employers to agree to this demand “on a voluntary, not compulsory basis.” Philip Murray, who raised the biggest hue, and holler on this issue, now states, that “all the union (CIO Steelworkers) is asking with its request for an annual guarantee is that the steel corporations, which have their guarantee (of continued big profits), make a firm commitment to their employees.”

In effect, this means that the projected crusade for the annual wage will boil down to numerous disconnected skirmishes with individual employers, most of whom, we can be sure, will merely scoff at the idea. All it would mean would be a host of new cases to be buried among all the others by the War Labor Board, or some other government agency.

How does Murray propose to get any big corporation to “voluntarily” make a “firm commitment” on this or any other demand? The corporations have laughed in the face of the unions during the war on even the smallest demand and are mobilizing for an all-out assault on labor in the coming period. But Murray pursues the policy of “peace” and insists on the continuation of the no-strike policy.

There is only one way to win the guaranteed annual security wage. That is by a united, militant fight of all labor for a compulsory annual wage system. And if the profiteering employers – who continually demand government compulsion against the workers – can’t ensure steady work and wages, then let the government take over their plants and operate them under workers’ control.

* * *

Tobin’s Latest Outburst

AFL Teamsters President Daniel Tobin is the first and only prominent union leader, to our knowledge, who has come out in favor of Wall Street’s plan to Prussianize the country through peacetime military conscription. All the major labor organizations have gone on record in opposition.

Tobin’s personal organ, The International Teamster, in the June issue contains a featured leading editorial entitled Keep Military Conscription! This comes out at a time when armed troops are being used in an attempt to smash the Chicago truck drivers strike, involving among others thousands of members of Tobin’s own union – a grim forecast of what the employing class hopes to do, in part, with the peacetime conscripts.

Tobin’s “future war prevention” arguments have the familiar ring of the Wall Street propagandists of permanent militarism. He adds his own fantastic note about “a highly financed campaign against future preparedness,” “smarter people than the pacifists ... supplying the money,” etc. But it’s no secret who supplies the money for the peacetime militarism campaign – the wealthiest and most powerful anti-labor interests in the country. And it’s no secret, either, on whose side Tobin is lined up!

* * *

“Go On Back Home!’

Millions of workers were lured by employer propaganda and the need for jobs to leave their home towns and go into the war industry centers. In many instances they had to live in shack towns; they were robbed right and left for the necessities of life; their wages were frozen and they were frozen to the jobs.

Now that the bosses want to toss them on the unemployed scrapheap, they are being told to “go back home where you belong.” If they have any savings, they are being pressured to use their last cent to return to their pre-war towns, broke and without any prospects for jobs.

We expect that from the employers. But now we have the example of a professed union leader, Frank X. Martel, president of the Detroit and Wayne County Federation of Labor, handing out this vicious line in a front page editorial of Detroit Labor News, June 9.

His advice to hundreds of thousands of CIO auto workers (he thinks in this fashion he may make it easier to maintain jobs for AFL members who pay their dues) is “for them to leave now, before their savings are used up.” He tells them “there never was before, and there is no hope now, of providing employment for all the people who have been brought to this community” – so pack up and scram! That’s how one so-called labor leader proposes to “solve” the growing unemployment problem.

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