Martin Harvey

UAW Leads Buyer’s Strike
in Detroit Area

(15 August 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 34, 26 August 1946, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

DETROIT, Aug. 15 – Over 1,000 auto workers and housewives picketed 28 Detroit shopping centers on August 10 in a buyers’ strike called by the UAW-CIO and over 40 labor, consumer and nationality groups.

The demonstration was clearly a CIO affair. It was organized and financed by the UAW and almost all of the participants were UAW members. The strike is an integral part of the program of UAW President Walter Reuther and reflected both the strength and weakness of that program as it relates to price control and the standard of living.

Despite poor and belated preparations and the conspicuous sabotage of several large anti-Reuther locals, the strike was an effective demonstration of the desire of the working class for a lowered cost of living. How much actual buying was reduced on the day of the strike, however, is difficult to determine. Undoubtedly many families – particularly auto workers’ families – refrained from buying. Many shoppers, however, simply ignored the picket lines or bought in neighborhood stores where there was no picketing.

One obvious conclusion is that, effective as the picketing may have been as a protest against the rising cost of living, it had practically no effect in halting the rise in prices. The average worker suspected this from the start and, as a result, he approved of the action but did not join the picket lines. A one-day buyers’ strike gives the appearance of action on prices, but real action can only mean control of prices and that requires daily policing of stores in all neighborhoods. Such action demands the organization of price committees on a permanent basis, committees of workers and housewives who will not merely parade politely on the sidewalk but will take aggressive action against recalcitrant merchants.

Price control at the consumer’s end is only the START of price control. But organized labor must make this start.

Last updated on 26 May 2019