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Emanuel Garrett

Halt Anti-Labor Drive by Stop-Work Protest!

(19 May 1947)

From Labor Action, Vol. 11 No. 20, 19 May 1947, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.

Before this issue of Labor Action is off the press the Senate will have passed the Taft anti-labor bills. With the House having already passed the Hartley bill, the two versions of the Congress’ scheme to strangle the effectiveness of the union movement will go to conference. It is expected that the House and Senate conferees will rapidly agree on a common bill, which will then go to President Truman for signature.

The official leadership of the labor unions is putting its trust in a Truman veto. The CIO is conducting a petition campaign which asks for a veto. The AFL is spending some million and a half dollars in a publicity campaign designed to mobilize public sentiment against the anti-labor bills. In addition, the CIO is bringing to Washington several hundred union men every day whose job it is to collar Congressmen and voice labor’s displeasure.

We say that these actions of the ClO and AFL, whatever their independent merit, are insufficient. The situation demands action on a far higher level of militancy and organization. It calls for the mobilization of the working class in such a way as will make it possible for the millions of organized workers to demonstrate their power in COMMANDING Congress to cease its anti-labor activities.

As such a mobilization of labor’s effective strength we have proposed.


The Murrays and Greens of the labor movement are today pleading, cajoling, begging. But the labor movement should be THREATENING, ORDERING!

No Reliance on Truman!

The New York Times, as sensitive an observer of capitalist interests as any paper in the country, is unfortunately able in this situation to inform its readers that the labor movement is on the defensive. We must recognize the truth of its report. The labor movement IS on the defensive. And that is why the representatives of industrialists and their puppets in. Congress feel emboldened to push their own’ offensive, to seize upon what they view as labor’s dormancy to destroy labor’s hard-won gains.

Only by reversing the relation by responding with an offensive of our own can the situation be turned to our real and permanent advantage.

As we have already said, the beads of the CIO and AFL are relying on Truman to veto the bill. And it appears likely at the moment that he will veto the bill. Both Republicans and Democrats are jockeying for position in 1948. The Republicans expect to campaign on their anti-labor record. The Democrats expect to campaign on their opposition to the Republican bills.

But for labor to leave it at that is the sheerest insanity. It is playing, as the leaders of the union movement have been for years, the game of the capitalist tweedledees and tweedledums in politics. In the end labor will face the need of struggling to REGAIN rights previously won in difficult battles.

Suppose Truman does veto the bill. Suppose the veto is not overridden in Congress. Does that save the situation for us? Not by any means!

That in certain labor circles, the rarefied circles of the upper bureaucracy, this possibility is viewed as victory, is merely proof that we are fighting on the enemy’s terms and in the enemy’s territory.

“Mild” and Bitter

Every newspaper, every commentator, every columnist who has predicted the Truman veto, has equally written that Truman would sign a “milder” bill. Truman months ago called for restrictions on the labor movement. Discussing Truman’s proposals at the time, we said that labor must fight them tooth and nail, for their “mildness” is in itself an invasion of union rights, and conceals the viciousness of more stringent measures to come.

If the position of the labor movement is weak today, it would have been infinitely weaker if the Truman suggestions had passed as recommended.

We have here, a difference of opinion and ambition between capitalist politicians, not a dispute between representatives of capital and labor. Missouri’s gift to liberalism is not one whit more concerned with preserving and extending the rights and victories of the labor movement than is Taft or Hart ley.

At stake, for them, is the next presidential election. Involved is a difference in method as to how best chain labor. If you doubt this, consult any newspaper and read there how cynically and frankly the supporters of both sides relate the present situation to the coming presidential election.

There is more to it than that, of course. There is a difference of opinion as to how labor can be hogtied; will the knife stick deeper if behind it there is a smile or a scowl? And it is not necessarily a difference of opinion between Democrats arid Republicans. Many Democrats (the McKellars, for example) vote with Taft; many Republicans (the Iveses, for example) oppose Taft.

A Lesson in Politics

Here we have an instructive lesson in the value of trusting to “friends of labor.” A few short days ago Ives, Dewey’s man, won for himself a little pro-labor publicity by defeating Taft on a proposition that would have incorporated a ban on industry-wide bargaining into thieTaft bill. That done, and a big fuss made about the “rebels” in the Republican Party, it now seems as though Ives will vote for the amended Taft bill.

So far as the head of Ives’ ticket, Dewey, is concerned, he has maintained a “discreet” silence. His object is to get votes, and thus he watches the direction in which the wind blows – signs an anti-labor bill in New York, lets his man oppose a particular anti-labor measure in the. Senate, and generally keeps himself in a position to ride whatever seems most likely to satisfy his ambitions at the Republican nominating convention.

We could pursue this scheme further. If your sense of humor is ghoulish enough, there was a laugh for you in the recrimination that entertained the press between the various Republican big-wigs, all of them engaged in trying to pass anti-labor bills. Taft said Hartley was too extreme and didn’t represent the Republican Party. But the National Committee of the Republican Party issued a statement approving the Hartley bill. Then Ball and Taft tangled, Ball accusing Taft of being an extremist. Ball’s proposals, naturally, are little better than Taft’s. What, then, is the difference? Just as Ives is Dewey’s man, so Ball is Stassen’s man. Perhaps he is peeved that, having jumped the gun on anti-labor bills, the play is now being taken from him.

Which Way to Go?

So much for the Republican Party. The Democratic Party is no whit different. Its strategists have concluded that its best opportunities lie in pretending to safeguard the labor movement while maintaining “friendship” with the labor movement. This strategy is especially simple, because it fits in With the mentality of Murray, Green, Reuther and others.

That these men not so long ago, just a few months ago, called Truman a strike-breaker, seems to be forgotten. That it was Truman, not Taft, who reintroduced GOVERNMENT BY INJUNCTION, is forgotten. He remains, you see, labor’s friend. And we will send him our neatly bundled package of petitions, and we will meet with him in private and everything will be taken care of. In return he will veto one bill and sneak a “milder” one through and try to slap an injunction on labor when he thinks he can get away with it.

We repeat: that way lies defeat. The top union officials will not offer another way. They are sunk deep in the mire of capitalist politics; they are ardent believers in the rotting system of “free enterprise.” The push for another way will have to come from the ranks.

Sixteen million organized workers are a power that need fear nothing. Behind those sixteen million are the millions of unorganized workers, and the millions of professionals, poor farmers and such who can be rallied to join in struggle with the labor movement for a cause that gives promise of benefitting the people as a whole.

With ail the anti-labor fury in Congress, the Congressmen know that they can go so far, and no further, in frying to smash the union movement. They cannot break unions outright. Even the labor bureaucracy would be impelled to resort to more militant forms of action in that eventuality.

It is rather their aim to undermine the power of the unions so that they can proceed at a later time to bolder attacks. Limit the power of the unions today – write the Wagner Act, passed as the result of decades of labor struggle, off the books – circumscribe the right to strike – and use-all these measures to crack down more sharply on labor tomorrow. The scheme has already paid off in part. It has paid off in 11% cent or 15 cent wage increases when labor needed and could have gotten almost twice as much.

Fear Labor’s Might

These are ruthless men. They feed on weakness and signs of weakness. By the same token, they tremble before might. They are organized and well financed. We cannot meet their multi-million-dollar lobbying on their plane even if we wanted to. We cannot have the ear of Congress as can the industrial magnate, and we should NOT want to. This Congress is not ours; it is theirs.

What they need to see is not several hundreds of CIO men scurrying around the corridors of Congress, but tens of thousands INVADING Congress. What they need, for all its general value, is not a radio program featuring prominent entertainers. The feature item on our bill must be our numbers and our willingness to employ those numbers in militant, offensive action in our behalf.

A comprehensive, basic program requires that we take the road of political action, that we cease our reliance on our “friends,” that we rely instead on ourselves by moving today toward the organization of a LABOR PARTY.

Immediately, however, we have the problem of the anti-labor legislation, a problem which does NOT end with the Taft and Hartley bills. To meet this problem we must serve notice that we are not defeated, will not permit ourselves to be defeated, and intend in fact to advance toward new victories. Therefore, we propose that union men raise everywhere on their union floors the demand for a MARCH ON WASHINGTON BACKED BY A 24-HOUR GENERAL PROTEST STRIKE.

Make the Congressmen and their masters tremble before labor’s aroused wrath!

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