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V. Grey

Shop Talks on Socialism

(19 May 1945)

From The Militant, Vol. IX No. 20, 19 May 1945, p. 6.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Pile-It-High Patterson was talking to Hallory, the foreman, today (sort of one bull-shooter to another). He said, “I see the aircraft plants have been laying off gradually for several months.”

And Hallory said, “Yes. That’s a good thing, too. If they laid everybody off at once when the war with Japan ends, it would be a terrible calamity. It’s a great boon to have it this way.”

You see Hallory must have read the editorial in yesterday’s paper. Same with Pile-It-High Patterson. That editorial said it was a boon too. When those two birds haven’t got any stuff of their own to shovel and pile, they get somebody else’s out of the newspapers.

Maybe they have a point at that, though. When you stop to think of it, maybe it is a great boon to be laid off “gradually” instead of suddenly. You see, if you get laid off on the same day as five or ten thousand other people, why that’s kind of sudden. In fact, it’s a calamity.

But if you get laid off all by yourself, or with only a couple hundred other lucky people, it’s a “boon.” (A boon, they tell me, is something a big shot gives you for nothing.)

Sounds Pretty Good, Doesn’t It?

It’s much better, after all, to get laid off now, isn’t it? You wouldn’t want to get slapped in the face with a lay-off right in the middle of that big victory celebration the bosses will be having, would you?

By getting laid-off now, you get more time to get used to the idea and adjust yourself to post-war conditions. Not only that. Maybe you’ve been making a dollar and a quarter an hour over at aircraft. And if you get laid off soon enough you might get in a couple of months over to our shop, or on the furnaces. You get 78 cents an hour and up – up to about 88 cents ... You’ll get used to lower wages quicker that way, too.

That’s a break, isn’t it? And you might have three or four weeks between jobs, too – just enough not to collect on unemployment insurance. That ought to help a guy get back into the old harness.

So Pile-It-High Patterson sighs – you know, just as though all. the problems of gouging Bethlehem’s 38 million dollars average profits out of the workers, were on his shoulders alone. He sighs and says, “I suppose we’ll have some of those aircraft workers over here. That means an awful lot more paper work for me.”

And Hallory says, “They’ll be hard to handle, too. One thing, at least, the union can’t say anything for 30 days. Maybe they’ll be out by then.”

Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?

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