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Joseph Keller

Trade Union Notes

(4 May 1946)

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 18, 4 May 1946, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

How Press Buried McCoy Disaster News

Any spokesman of the coal mine operators just needs to open his mouth against the AFL United Mine Workers demands for safety and welfare improvements to rate front-page billing in the capitalist press. But when coal miners go to their deaths in mines that are operated in violation of every safety regulation, the news is usually stuck back in the “Want Ads” section.

People who failed to scan their papers very closely last Thursday and Friday, surely missed the buried accounts of the latest mine disaster down in McCoy, Virginia, where 12 hard-coal miners died on April 18. The N.Y. Times – “All the news that’s fit to print” – contained a one paragraph mention of the disaster on April 19, down in the middle of a story headed: Coal Operators Quit Washington. The next day, in a story with a one-column, two-line head, the Times condescended to devote six inches of type to a UMW statement on the disaster – back between the sports page and business news.

The “impartial” press, usually indifferent to the continuous murder of coal miners, was even more reluctant to give this terrible tragedy a “play.” It was a thunderous punctuation of the miners’ demand for an operator-financed, union-controlled health and welfare fund, improved safety measures, etc. More than 400,000 soft coal miners have been striking for these demands since April 1, and 75,000 hard- coal miners like those at McCoy will be raising the same demands shortly.

* * *

Rail Unions Seek Bigger Pay Award

Fifteen non-operating employees railroad unions are seeking an additional 14 cents an hour wage increase to make up the difference between their 30 cents demand and the 16 cents awarded by a government arbitration board.

The railway workers were kicked in the teeth when their leaders went to arbitration instead of conducting a militant fight like the CIO unions did. In seeking additional awards, however, the rail union leaders are proposing to go through the same rigmarole that resulted in the arbitration ruling of only 16 cents, which all the rail workers are roundly condemning. The union officials are again following the procedure of the Railway Labor Act and will finally wind up, if a deadlock persists, with – more arbitration.

Meanwhile, in Cleveland starting April 24, some 175 general chairmen of two operating unions, the brotherhoods of railroad trainmen and locomotive engineers, will consider the question of strike action to win their 30-cents demand, which another arbitration board cut down to 16 cents.

* * *

Westinghouse Strike Passes 100-Day Mark

On April 24, the 75,000 Westinghouse Electric strikers marked their 100th day on the picket lines in their battle to force the hold-out international trust to grant an 18½ cents an hour wage increase similar to those won in General Electric and the GM Electrical Division.

On the same day, the directors of the huge corporation, which has plants in Japan and Germany and collected from both sides of the battle-lines during the war, declared a stock dividend, cutting up a $3,150,000 melon.

The Westinghouse strike is the most critical labor struggle now in progress. All sections of organized labor must rally to give full moral and material support to the courageous members of the CIO United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers who have held out more than 13 weeks against hunger, injunction, police terror and a flood of company propaganda.

* * *

Women Strikers Ask Maternity Leave Clause

150 women workers went on strike at the Dearborn Glass Co., Chicago, on April 22, demanding a special clause in their CIO United Auto Workers local contract providing for maternity leaves.

The bosses are always talking about the virtues of “home and babies,” but when it comes to permitting women workers to have babies without losing their jobs the employers don’t sing any sentimental tune.

The striking union points out that the present contract provides for leaves for “satisfactory cause.” It insists quite correctly that time out for bringing forth the next generation is more than a satisfactory cause.

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