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Trade Union Notes

(6 July 1946)

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 27<(a>, 6 July 1947, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by
Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Boilermakers Local for Joint Labor Conference

The CIO United Auto Workers proposal for a national united labor conference of all unions to combat government anti-labor policies continues to win adherents. In Seattle, Wash., the powerful AFL Boilermakers Local 104, with a large shipyard membership, passed a resolution at its general meeting on June 15 using such united action

“All sections of organized labor are menaced by an all-out union busting offensive conducted by Big Business, President Truman and his administration, and the Congress of the United States,” the resolution states.

Local 104 therefore went on record “supporting the idea of a National United Conference of Labor and calls on President William Green (AFL) to arrange with the heads of the CIO and the Railroad Brotherhoods for the convocation of such a conference at the earliest possible date.”

It also calls on the Washington State AFL and the Seattle Central Labor Council to organize state and local conferences to conduct “mass united protest action” against government strikebreaking and union busting.

* * *

Stalinist Explanation on Plant Seizures

During the war, when the Kremlin and Wall Street imperialism were putting on the brotherly love act, the American Communist (Stalinist) Party hailed Roosevelt’s strike-breaking seizures of the railroads, coal mines, Montgomery Ward’s, etc.

Soviet-U.S. relations have soured since. Now the CP has been ordered to take swipes at Truman and talk “militant.” Among other things, the Stalinist leaders condemn Truman’s strikebreaking plant seizures.

But the Stalinist leaders are being embarrassed by the pointed question: How come it’s wrong for Truman to break strikes by plant seizures, but it wasn’t for Roosevelt?

An answer has been dished up in the June 18 New Masses, Stalinist weekly. An article, What Is Truman’s Game? by Virginia Gardner, explains:

“It is rarely pointed out that the administration (Truman) has foisted a completely new concept of seizure on the public, compared to that in use during the war. Then it was used as an aid to workers who had rendered themselves defenseless by forfeiting their strike weapon for the duration. It was used to compel employers to comply with WLB directives. Now it is used to impose unfair settlements, as was done in the rail case ...”

The Stalinists can’t admit that their shift in attitude regarding government strikebreaking followed the Kremlin’s shift in foreign policy. So they brazenly lie that Roosevelt’s seizures, which they supported, were “good” seizures.

Roosevelt seized the railroads in December 1943 to impose the rail operators’ and government’s terms on the railroad workers. Earlier he had seized the coal mines in an attempt to drive the miners back to work and enforce the wage freeze. Although Sewell Avery of Montgomery Ward and George P. McNear of the Toledo, Peoria and Western Railroad long defied WLB rulings, Roosevelt did nothing. He invoked seizure only after strikes began and in order to break them. Avery and McNear never accepted the decisions. Their properties were finally handed back, after the government helped to weaken the unions.

The Stalinists don’t dare tell the truth about Roosevelt’s strikebreaking. That would damn them as well.

* * *

More Unions Declare ‘Build a Labor Party’

Sentiment for the formation, of an independent labor party is growing ever more rapidly. This is reflected in local union papers.

Among union publications which in recent weeks have advocated the building of a labor party are The Midwest Labor World, organ of the St. Louis Joint Council of the CIO Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Employees, and The Cable, published by the National Association of Telephone Equipment Workers, independent.

The Cable, after summarizing Truman’s anti-labor role, concludes:

“In order to secure justice for 53,000,000 American workers and their 70,000,000 dependents, about 85 per cent of the U.S. population; and in order to peacefully wrest the control of the greatest nation in the world away from a greedy and selfish minority, American Labor Unions must unite to form a true Labor Party, capable of electing Congressmen and Presidents sworn to serve America best by truly representing the great majority of the American public – The American Worker. The two-party system has proved not only to be obsolete but also untrustworthy. Labor must place its own candidates in a political field.”

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