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Jerry Kirk

Flint Pickets Face Renewed GM Provocations

(28 December 1946)

From The Militant, Vol. X No. 1, 5 January 1946, pp. 1 & 7.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

FLINT, Mich., Dec. 28 – Under threat of injunctions, the four General Motors union locals of Flint have permitted office and supervisory employees into the strike-bound GM plants. This policy was decided upon most reluctantly by the CIO United Auto Workers officials and members at Buick, Fisher Body, AC Spark Plug and Chevrolet.

Whereas last week witnessed several picket-line skirmishes at AC before GM applied for the injunction, this week the Buick local went through the same process.

At a specially called strike strategy meeting of the Buick local it was decided to allow salaried help to enter the plants providing they applied for permits at the union headquarters. After scores of supervisors were denied admittance because of their refusal to obtain passes from the union, terrific pressure was brought to bear on the Buick strike committee by the regional UAW office.

Confusing Policy

By a very close vote it was decided to permit entry to all salaried employees who had passes. However, those who refused to obtain permits would not be kept out if they insisted on crossing the picket lines.

At all 15 gates, of the Buick factory, scores of pickets circled the gates. Numerous cars were turned back when pickets refused to open their lines.

Some of the union-hating supervision, knowing that pickets would not stop them, edged their cars through the picket lines. The confusing policy of the UAW regional officers produced endless bewilderment among the pickets. More than one picket captain threw up his hands in disgust when the cars started going through the lines.

Several cops at the Leith Street gate advised supervisors to go through the picket lines. “The pickets won’t stop you,” was the usual comment.

It is interesting to note that two of the locals are discussing ways and means of organizing the office workers. Union officials see this as one possible solution to the present problem. No organizational steps have been taken as yet.

Ranks Dissatisfied

Despite a lull in the strike over the holidays there is noticeable a growing dissatisfaction in the ranks over the policy of the UAW International leaders. In discussion with this reporter scores of militants mention time and again the vast difference between the sit-down strikes and the present strikes. These militants were the second rank leaders at Chevrolet and Fisher Body during the heroic 1937 battles.

This undercurrent of criticism has been stirred by the UAW top leaders’ proposal to provide “company security” to Ford, a proposal quickly grabbed up by GM. Hundreds of militants have voiced their opposition to it and have declared openly they would fight it with the same determination and vigor with which they fought the no-strike pledge.

The International leaders are quite aware of this dissatisfaction and intend to leave no stone unturned to ram their policy down the throats of the GM workers. At the last Chevrolet membership meeting, the International sent in Victor Reuther and several local regional representatives to fight a proposal of the Chevrolet militants who were recommending that the steel workers advance their strike date from January 14 to January 1.

Despite the high-pressure speeches of the union brass hats, 40 per cent of the members cast their votes for the proposal of the progressives of the Chevrolet local.

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