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Walter Jason

Election Results Heighten
Workers’ Confidence

Labor Is Expected to Press for Taft-Hartley Repeal,
Price Controls, Civil Rights


(15 November 1948)

From Labor Action, Vol. 12 No. 46, 15 November 1948, pp. 1 & 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

DETROIT – In at least eight plants from which we have reports, the auto workers took the victory of President Harry S. Truman as their own. “Well, I guess we showed ’em” was one of the typical comments.

In some plants cheers and roars greeted the announcement at around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday that Truman had won. Before that time there was quite a spirit of excitement as the workers talked over the miraculous event that had taken place.

Nobody mentioned Henry Wallace.

Everyone in Detroit knew that the overwhelming victory of the Democratic Party in Wayne County was due exclusively to the labor vote. The UAW-CIO really poured it on during the past few weeks, having captured control of some of the Democratic Party machinery, and having done a real job of obtaining registrations.

In the big 14th Congressional District, which has a potential of 200,000 voters, the UAW was mainly responsible for the fact that 85 per cent of the voters cast ballots.

G. Mennen Williams, strongly backed by the UAW, was easily elected governor over Kim Sigler, whom the workers remember, mainly because he signed a bill putting so many limitations on unemployment compensation that it cost the auto workers thousands of dollars in the past two years.

Every CIO man who ran for State Legislature won handily, and for the first time a powerful minority will exist in the state government, which until now was almost exclusively Republican.

Unfortunately, the first reaction among top union officials was to put a damper on even taking the lead in the Democratic Party. Gus Scholle, Michigan CIO president, also declared it would be silly to start a third party now.

Confidence High

Certainly the many moves Walter Reuther had in mind after this election are now being reconsidered, for he was as mistaken about the results as the next man. The coming CIO convention, being held late this month, will reveal what may be expected from the UAW leadership in the next period.

Perhaps the most interesting and significant incident showing the workers’ reaction to the Truman victory was the remark that one worker made to a foreman during the inevitable and endless dispute about getting to the timeclock too early. The worker said: “Look here, who won the election, you or us?” There is no question in our mind that the workers have a feeling of confidence stronger than for a long time.

Interestingly enough, among the secondary leaders of the UAW who have had more political experience, the reaction was not quite so flush with victory. They have had too much experience with those kinds of victories in the past.

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Last updated: 8 October 2018