Joseph Hansen

Bosses Get Inside Tip on Labor Control

(6 October 1939)

Source: Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 76, 6 October 1939, p. 3.
Transcription/HTML Markup: 2018 by Einde O’Callaghan.
Public Domain: Joseph Hansen Internet Archive 2018; This work is completely free. In any reproduction, we ask that you cite this Internet address and the publishing information above.

Article IV

The greatest worry confronting the individual capitalist at the brink of American participation in the second World War is the lack of certainty about the most powerful factor involved in both prosecuting the war and in producing the desired flow of profits – the labor movement.

Will each capitalist be assured of an adequate labor supply? Of a low level of wages? Of an efficient blacklisting system which will permit the weeding out of all those who might interrupt the lucrative harvest of war profits ? And above all, will the nightmare that preys upon the mind of every capitalist – working class revolution – end this slaughter as it did the last one?

Big Business wishes to allay the fears of the capitalist class as it plunges the country into war – any group entering a struggle without complete confidence in itself is beaten before the battle starts. Big Business as the leading section of the capitalist class wishes to impress every capitalist with a sense of its authority, strength, and complete awareness that the real enemy from their point of view is the working class here in the United States.

Tightening Grip on Government

In the most authoritative tones, Big Business is tightening its grip as ruler and informing all factions of the capitalist class that it has prepared for the labor factor with detailed blueprints drawn up by the best brains that could be purchased on the market.

Stifling of the labor movement, suppression of all civil liberties is assured – this is the inside tip passed out by Big Business through the confidential bulletin issued by the Tax Research Institute. Forget your fears about labor. The road is clear for WAR PROFITS; open up the throttle!

Labor: The assurance to industry of an adequate labor supply, both in numbers and by occupational qualification, will require the organization of a labor administration with an Administrator of Labor appointed by and directly responsible to the President. Among the more important problems to be considered are the minimizing of excessive migrations of labor; the prevention of unethical competition for labor by war industries; compilation, for the information of the President, of lists of industrial deferments from the draft of individuals required for efficient operations of war industries; the avoidance and settlement of labor problems; and the coordination of employment services.”

Guaranteeing War-Time Profits

This paragraph is one of the most important in the whole bulletin from the viewpoint of labor. It reveals exactly what is in store for the working man upon the entry of the United States into the war:

  1. “Assurance of ... adequate labor supply.” Wall Street cannot be assured of its profits if there are not enough hands to keep up with the war expansion of its machine and factories and to turn out the necessary goods, or if the labor supply becomes so scarce that the demand for it acts to raise wages and so cut into profits.
  2. “Administrator of Labor appointed ...” Like Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, the trade unions must become government-controlled, regimented in order not to disrupt the steady flow of profits into Wall Street’s vaults.
  3. “Minimizing of excessive migrations of labor ...” Again like Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, laws will be passed preventing a working man from leaving his job to go to another one at a higher rate of pay. Mussolini and Hitler require a labor passport for every working man in order to enforce this provision, the passport being held by the employer. Without the passport a man cannot get a job. Roosevelt may extend the use of a fink book such as the one he attempted to foist on the seamen, or he may use the Social Security card, the possession of which is already required in order to obtain a job.
  4. “Prevention of unethical competition of labor ...” If one industry sees a chance to make greater profits by a sudden expansion and in order to obtain the necessary man-power offers lucrative wages, this would be considered “unethical*” and the military dictatorship would cancel these higher wages in favor of the lower level.

Blacklist Arranged For

  1. “Compilation ... of lists ... of individuals required for efficient operations ...” This is nothing less than a blacklist. If the colonels and Wall Street henchmen at the head of the military dictatorship decide a given individual is not “efficient” he may be shipped to the front in order to help “make the world safe for democracy” by dying on a bayonet, or he may be simply jailed for the duration of the war.
  2. “Avoidance and settlement of labor problems ...” Wall Street will decide such questions as hours, wages and working conditions and whether or not a man may be permitted to belong to a union. Violations of Wall Street’s decisions will receive the appropriate punishment at the hands of the Wall Street henchman who head the military dictatorship.
  3. “Coordination of employment services ...” This means the end of union control of hiring and even the end of separate employment agencies. All hiring, all blacklisting will be done through one Wall-Street-controlled agency. This agency will extend its tentacles across the whole nation and strangle the labor movement in its grasp.

Methods of “Controlling” Labor

The confidential bulletin describes the concrete methods that will be used against labor in the following section:

“The Labor Controls to Be Used

“One of the major problems the War Labor Administration must face is the one which caused greatest dissatisfaction during the World War on all sides – labor migration.

T.R.I. Observation: Solution of the labor problem, particularly that of migration, may be attempted by the use of four means. These are:

“(1) Control of the cost of living and the keying of the real wages to that of living cost for all workers. [Just as W.P.A. wages in the North have been slashed to correspond to a slight raise in the South. – J.H.]

“(2) A single unified employment service for prevention. of competition for labor; [Competition for labor would tend to raise wages. – J.H.]

“(3) The development of public opinion. [That is,flooding the public with skillful propaganda fed through the press, the pulpit, the radio, whispering campaigns, etc. – J.H.]

“(4) Compulsory arbitration of disputes after all means of conciliation and mediation have been exhausted. [The old system of the boss sitting tight, mediators lying to workers, and then cracking down with National Guard. – J.H.]

“The methods which will be used to cope with the labor problem will involve direct and indirect contact and co-operation with other government agencies. [Labor spies, police, propaganda department, social security department,l abor administration will all work together. – J.H.] Thus,the division entrusted with the labor problem, the War Labor Administration, will:

“(a) Foresee and forestall, wherever possible, and in other cases take prompt action, to adjust labor difficulties in industrial facilities producing the Army’s requirements.

“(b) Maintain liaison with any interested Federal and state labor agencies in order to advise them of the labor needs of facilities producing Army requirements.

“(c) Maintain close liaison with the Director of Selective Service and with industrial management in order to insure the deferments of such workmen as are vitally essential to the munitions producing program.

“(d) Maintain liaison with national labor organizations and with agencies having to do with labor welfare.”

Sixty Families Fear Labor

This entire plan to regiment labor under the bayonet,from the viewpoint of the Big Business men sitting in luxurious Wall Street office suites look foolproof. But the very detailed minuteness of these blueprints shows that there is a profound basis for the fears of the capitalist class.

It is one thing to draw up complicated blueprints with which to straitjacket and slaughter the tens of millions who constitute the working population of the country. But these prints have an entirely different color when it comes to imposing them successfully.

One thing is absolutely certain: when the working population of the United States understands as a whole that the Wall Street dictatorship is composed of only a handful of men whose numbers are in inverse proportion to their wealth and greed, and when the working population understands that this war is being conducted for nothing but the insurance of capitalist profits, they will rise in consuming wrath and wipe capitalism from the face of the earth, blue-prints, greed, military dictatorship and all.

In place of capitalist minority rule, they will construct socialism, and through socialism the working man will gain peace, decent living conditions, and a new era that will relegate war to the museum beside the dusty bones of the dinosaur and the capitalist.

The End


Last updated on: 13 February 2018