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Sam Adams

Anti-Labor Forces Plan to Bar All Strike Votes

(September 1943)

From Labor Action, Vol. 7 No. 36, 6 September 1943, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The anti-labor Smith-Connolly bill to outlaw strikes is once more in the headlines of the boss press. It appears now that this bill has not accomplished its purpose because, under its provisions, strike votes have been taken and in all such voting the workers overwhelmingly favored a walkout.

The question now asked is why the framers of this bill included a provision permitting a strike vote to be taken after the legal thirty-day notice? Certainly the Southern Bourbons who authored the bill had no intention of permitting workers to strike for their legitimate grievances and wage demands.

Intoxicated with their own vicious propaganda that strikes were the product of some malicious union leaders, the anti-labor elements in Congress actually began to believe it themselves;

Completely divorced from the people and opposed to the best interests of the workers, they were certain that the passage of the Smith-Connolly bill was enough to fight for their rights, there were ers nevertheless continued to fight for their rights, there were always the courts and the jails to take care of that. [sic]

The clause on the strike vote was merely a “democratic” cover; to the real intentions of the framers of the bill.

How wrong these gentlemen have been! How little they understand American workers!

How completely uninterested they are in the well-being of those who toil!

Workers do not go out on strike just for fun. When workers strike they do so because they have grievances which need redress. It is the only means they have to assert their rights in a situation where big business, the Administration, Congress and all the politicians, the press – the whole reactionary camp – run the show.

There is hardly an industry where the workers do not have grievances. And why not?

Their wages have been frozen. Under the hold-the-line order, the WLB has served as a wastebasket in which are deposited the wage demands of the workers.

Conditions of labor have worsened with the lengthening of hours and the tremendous speed-up created by war production, To top this off, big business has organized a vicious campaign to destroy the trade union movement. Taking advantage of the no-strike pledge, they have left no stone unturned to smash unionism permanently and take away the gains made by the workers in recent years.

But workers are quick to see through this reactionary game. The NLRB, since the passage of the Smith-Connally bill, has held thirteen strike votes with the infamous and provocative question asked of the workers, if they wished to “permit an interruption of production in wartime as a result of this dispute.”

In each of the thirteen instances, the workers, by majorities of sixty to a hundred per cent, voted to strike.

Why? The answer is simple. The workers cannot meet the high cost of living. The decline in their standard of living has become unbearable. They are tired of the run-around they get from the WLB, from the Administration, from Washington, and they are more than sick and tired of the advantage which the bosses are taking of them because of the no-strike pledge.

If industry does not get its big profits, it threatens not to produce. If a company produces bad war materials which endanger the lives of soldiers: it gets a small fine and big praise from the press and judges attesting to its honesty! If a conscientious inspector discovers fraud committed by some officials of a large corporation, the corporation denounces the government agency involved and demands that it keep hands off, otherwise the company cannot function!

The OPA declares that it cannot really control prices and makes no real effort to do so. The food interests and the big farm interests demand no price control and they get the necessary cooperation in Washington.

But when labor demands a limitation of profits it gets a wage freeze and a hold-the-line order.

Labor demands wage increases, and it gets an incentive pay proposal designed to intensify the exploitation of the workers and to increase the profits of the bosses.

These are some of, the reasons why workers strike. They know what is happening in the country. They see reaction riding high in Washington. They see the enrichment of the capitalist through the war effort, that is, through the sweat and toil of their labor. They see every demand made by them to improve their conditions rejected in Washington.

Is it any wonder that the workers vote to strike?

These thirteen strike votes resulted in a new campaign to revise this provision of the Smith-Connally bill. It was Roosevelt who first denounced the provision and demanded its elimination. Through his alliance with the labor bureaucrats, he understood better than his Southern party comrades what are the real sentiments of labor. He was told by Green and Murray how impossible it has become to hold the dissatisfied workers in line. And he knew that if the bill permitted a strike vote, labor would vote to strike.

The next session of Congress, therefore, will see a new drive on to revise, the Smith-Connally bill and to eliminate this provision.

The Administration, the anti-labor leaders of both parties, the press and the bosses will get together to make sure that no way is left open for the workers to assert their rights! The Smith-Connally bill, apparently, did not go far enough to suit them. These gentlemen now propose to “improve’’ it, And woe to labor when they finish their job.

Labor, on guard! The totalitarian are on the march. Fight now against any further measures which aim to keep labor in its present unbearable position and seek the ultimate destruction of the labor movement.

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