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Joseph Keller

Trade Union Notes

(18 May 1946)

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 20, 18 May 1946, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Mine Strike Endorsed by William Green

AFL President William Green finally gave a public endorsement to the strike of 400,000 soft coal miners of the AFL United Mine Workers when he urged the convention of the Pennsylvania Federation of Labor on May 8 to give unqualified support to the miners’ struggle.

Green told the cheering delegates that “the UMW is in a life and death struggle and the organization is making a fine fight of it. Our duty is to rally around the mine workers until they win this battle.”

This is the first time in many, many years that the ultra-conservative Green has spoken out decisively on behalf of striking workers. Throughout the war Green was a prop of the notorious no-strike pledge and assailed the miners’ wartime strikes.

Whatever Green’s present motive for backing the miners, his stand can only be welcomed. Once more Big Business and its government are making the mine union the chief target of their anti-labor drive.

* * *

No Agreement on Rail Wage Issues

Negotiations with the railroad operators for additional wage raises above the 16 cents an hour granted by a government “fact-finding” board were broken off on May 2 by representatives of the brotherhoods of locomotive engineers and trainmen.

The union representatives were last week departing from the scene of negotiations in Chicago to go to Cleveland where preparations are reported on foot “to organize the strike” of 300,000 engineers and trainmen scheduled for May 18.

Both unions had previously gone through all the delays and rigmarole of the Railway Labor Act, and when its provisions were exhausted, had submitted their demands to a special Truman- appointed “fact-finding’’ board.

Additional strike threats have since been voiced by three other operating brotherhoods, representing the conductors, switchmen and firemen. Their demand for a 30-cent increase was whittled down to a grant of 16 cents an hour by an arbitration board. On May 3, officials of these unions issued a statement that unless their demands for additional increases and other concessions are met, they will take a strike vote and a strike would “actually occur.”

At last reports, the Truman administration was planning to intervene again through the establishment of another panel – an “extra-legal” panel of three, necessitated by the fact that all legal provisions for stalling strike action under the Railway Labor Act are exhausted. New red-tape machinery is now proposed.

* * *

Textile Workers Heading South

One of the major battle-fronts of the CIO’s great organizing campaign in the South will be the textile industry, a chief stronghold of low-wage sweatshop conditions.

As reported at the recent convention of the CIO Textile Workers Union, of the approximately 800,000 textile workers in this country about 400,000 are organized. However, these are mainly in the northern plants, 85 per cent of whose employes are unionized. Only 20 per cent of Southern textile workers are in the union. Over 300,000 are non-union, and suffer corresponding conditions.

Heading the TWU-CIO Southern drive will be Vice-President George Baldanzi, who is a vice- chairjnan of the CIO’s Southern organizing committee. He warned the TWU convention that the Southern employers have already started a wide-scale counter-offensive, with a “crew of evangelists” stumping the Southern states to organize the reactionary forces against the “communistic” CIO.

* * *

Stalinist Chickens Come Home to Roost

Readers of The Militant will recall articles we published last fall about the despicable scabbery of the Stalinist-dominated leadership of the CIO International Woodworkers of America in the Pacific Northwest during the prolonged and bitter strike of the AFL Lumber and Sawmill Workers Union.

Not only did the IWA leadership reject joint action in the strike, they openly attacked the strike, helped break picket lines, and signed injunctions along with company representatives against AFL picketing. The New World, Stalinist west coast sheet, slandered the strike. Finally, the IWA leaders made a deal for a 12½ cent an hour increase, undercutting the AFL demands, although the AFL union in the end won 15 cents.

Now comes the pay-off!

Today, the Stalinist leaders of the IWA are screaming their heads off because the employers with whom they collaborated have concertedly ABROGATED 100 IWA contracts. In addition, the Fir Industry Negotiating Committee of the Northwest lumber operators, has issued 33 demands on the union which, if granted, would destroy the IWA.

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