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GM Profiteers Defy Investigation

Fact-Finding Board Plays Attorney for Corporation

(5 January 1946)

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 1, 5 January 1946, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

General Motors Corporation, arrogant as ever, on December 28 walked out of Truman’s Fact-Finding Board hearings on the GM strike. The corporation categorically refused to permit its books and records to be made subject to examination even by friendly government officials.

Insisting that its monumental profits and ability to pay the 30 per cent wage increase demanded by 225,000 GM strikers was nobody’s business but its own, the corporation withdrew its spokesmen from the hearings.

The Fact-Finding Board, a hand-picked creation of Truman’s, had not called for GM’s books. It had merely claimed its right to investigate them “if necessary,” but that all information would be kept “confidential” from both the union and the general public.

GM’s “Attorneys”

When the Board members at the December 28 session, in opposition to GM’s ultimatum, reiterated its intention to consider profits and prices in connection with the wage issue, Walter Gordon Merritt, GM attorney, announced: “Our chairs will be vacant.”

But the next and final session of the Board, on Saturday, December 29, revealed that GM’s chairs were “vacant” only in the direct and formal sense.

In the absence of the paid GM spokesmen, the members of the Fact-Finding Board themselves proceeded to act as attorneys for the multi-billion dollar corporation which only the day before had thumbed its nose at the Board.

This “impartial” body grilled and cross-examined Walter Reuther, the UAW spokesman, and other union representatives, in a savage and heated fashion. The Board members put forward all the arguments the corporation itself has flung at the union.

The tenor of the Board’s attack on the union’s case was clearly revealed by its persistent prodding of the union spokesmen on GM’s insulting counter-proposal to institute a straight-time 45 hour week.

Laying a Trap

It is becoming increasingly apparent that the government is laying a trap for the auto workers through the Fact-Finding Board stratagem.

The participation of the UAW leaders in the farcical proceedings of this body, which has no power to enforce its decisions on the corporation, is further and further committing the union to the government’s eventual decision.

That decision, all the developments indicate, is largely formulated and is in no way related to the facts presented by the union before the Fact-Finding Body. Persistent reports emanate from Washington that the government is planning to propose a wage increase somewhere in the neighborhood of what the corporation itself proposed, between ten and fifteen per cent.

The function of the Fact-Finding Board, which has been given labor sanction by the very presence and participation of the UAW leaders, will be to present this wage proposal in the form of an “impartial” recommendation allegedly based on the “facts.”

Violate Mandate

Reuther and the other UAW leaders are being sucked into a position where they will be impelled, under terrific government pressure and manufactured “public opinion,” to accept some miserable “compromise” proposed by the Fact-Finding Board – a Board which the UAW leaders have, In effect, endorsed.

From the outset, the GM workers realized that Truman’s Fact- Finding Board order was a trap and the GM Delegates Conference on December 8 rejected this slick method for settling the strike by government intervention.

Thus, the UAW leaders have participated in the Fact-Finding procedure in outright violation of the clear-cut mandate of the GM strikers.

Serious Danger

When General Motors blandly walked out of the Fact-Finding hearings it was but a further warning to the auto workers that the whole set-up was phony, and that the union was being maneuvered into accepting sole responsibility for any “impartial” decision of the government.

This constitutes one of the most serious dangers to the GM strikers and their just demand for 30 per cent.

The intervention of the government, Truman’s arbitrary establishment of the Fact-Finding panel together with his demand that the GM workers end their strike, conclusively demonstrated that the administration is fronting for General Motors.

Let the GM workers stand by their position on the treacherous Fact-Finding Boards! Let the GM workers call on their leaders to immediately withdraw from these semi-compulsory arbitration boards! Stick by the 30 per cent demand and fight it out! There is nothing to gain from Washington – except a miserable sell-out.

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