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Joseph Keller

Trade Union Notes

(2 March 1946)

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 9, 2 March 1946, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

National Phone Strike Scheduled March 7

The National Federation of Telephone Workers, 260,000 strong has set 6 a.m., March 7, as the deadline for the greatest strike In the history of modern communications.

A three-day stoppage in sympathy with striking Western Electric Workers in New Jersey and New York last January virtually paralyzed telephonic communications in 44 states.

The NFTW, with 17 affiliates, represents every worker engaged in every phase of the phone system, from manufacture, installation and repair of all equipment, to the “hello” girls. It is in position to cripple the giant American Telephone and Telegraph international trust in a dozen different fields.

For several years America’s telephone workers have been battering away at AT&T and the government for substantial wage increases, shorter hours and elimination of the company’s “Gestapo system”. There have been repeated strikes, beginning with the Thanksgiving Week wartime walkout in 1944 initiated by the Dayton, O., operators.

Wages begin at $18 for switchboard operators and clerical workers, and $22 for production workers and craftsmen. The union is seeking a $10 weekly “across the board”. increase, a 65 cents an hour minimum and a 40 hour week.

* * *

Aid to GM Strike

Typical of the aid being given the heroic GM strikers who are faced with a corporation attempt to starve them out, is the $1 a week special membership assessment fund voted by Detroit Briggs Local 212, CIO United Automobile Workers.

The Briggs workers’ paper, Voice of Local 212, reported on February 7 that Local 212 members had already contributed more than $10,000 to their GM brothers and sisters. The paper pays tribute to the GM strikers, stating:

“It was the heroic struggle of the GM workers which set the the pattern for wage demands and caused Ford and Chrysler to come across with substantial wage increases. In this battle for higher wages GM workers were the pioneers ... Had GM been able to break the spirit of its workers and drive them back without any gains, every other auto company would have been encouraged to ‘get tough’ with labor.”

* * *

ILG Gives $500,000 GM Strike Aid

Special commendation is due the members of the AFL International Ladies Garment Workers Union, which is collecting a $500,000 fund to aid the CIO auto workers in the GM strike.

Reporting the response of ILGWU locals to President David Dubinsky’s appeal for the half million dollar fund, the union’s paper Justice says: “Many shops have voted to contribute several hours of work, while others are pledging to raise specific bulk sums.”

The New York Cloak Joint Board is pledged to raise $100,000, Dubinsky’s appeal stated, “This is a duty of labor solidarity we must not delay or shirk.”

* * *

GM Office Workers

One weakness revealed in the course of the General Motors strike is the fact that the GM office workers are largely unorganized and have been used in many instances by the company in attempts to open the GM production workers picket lines. A number of anti-picketing injunctions have been issued on the pretext of protecting the “right” of office workers to cross picket lines.

UAW Chevrolet Local 14, Toledo, O., has launched a campaign, as have other locals, to bring the office and plant protection people into the CIO auto union.

One recent appeal of the Chevrolet local to these unorganized wage-earners, whose wages and conditions are very bad, reminds them:

“Do not be fooled and misled into believing that because you work in an office your interests are different from those who work on the production line.

“The days of Horatio Alger success stories are over! If you are to receive a higher standard of living, it must and can come only as a result of organized struggle. Join our ranks today!”

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