Gordon Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index  |   ETOL Main Page

Sam Gordon

The Class Face of the N.R.A.

(September 1933)

From The Militant, Vol. VI No. 43, 9 September 1933, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The class conscious worker who has pursued with any measure of watchfulness the unfolding improvisations of this latest “Great Effort” of capitalism will receive the Green-Woll legend of NRA’s unionism with his tongue in his cheek. He will remember the sudden “strike truce edict” of the great labor friend in the White House following hot on the trail of the powerful challenge to the coal bosses thrust out by the miners of Pennsylvania last July. (The promised, “fair”, “pro-union” coal code is, by the way, still in the offing.) He has witnessed the Johnson-Richberg comedy around section 7 (a) of the Recovery law. He has seen an automobile code adopted with a stridently anti-labor, open shop “merit” clause. He has heard the Recovery cop, Whalen, invoke NRA for the arrest of peacefully picketing shoe and bakery strikers in New York. And so on down the line.

But even more striking than all these manifestations of the “pro-labor” tendencies of the Recovery administration are its acts which involve the parts assigned to Green, Lewis and Co. themselves. A national arbitration board is named:

Only two representatives of “organized” labor. And what representatives! – John L. Lewis, the reactionary Czar of the United Mine Workers and Bill Green, Hoover’s darling. Two labor representatives out of a board of seven ...

The steel barons meet for a code hearing. Bill Green arrives as representative of the administration. The steel men rise in angry protest – they won’t negotiate with the President of the A.F. of L. Green apologizes, swears he is not there, god forbid, as a representative of labor but as a legitimate spokesman for the NRA. No use. You can’t fool the good capitalist instincts of the steel men. They turn their heels on poor Mr. Green.

A few facts, an incident, that speak volumes! The case-hardened boss class will not give up its class positions one inch without a fight. They know that it is only the docile William Green. They know that he is ever ready to talk peace to them, to betray every last worker he represents.

But no matter. To accept him as an administration representative? The idea alone makes the steel Tories see nightmares of a Soviet! Not an inch of such a concession, it sets precedents!

And the good General Johnson wears out his knees in genuflections before them, repudiates Green as representative and ruefully rehabilitates him upon the protests of his colleagues.

But enough – the class face of the NRA is unmistaken. For Roosevelt it represents an effort toward a revamping of capitalism by internal reform and through the mobilization of a huge class collaborationist machine. For the steel barons it is a risky experiment. They will not deal with Browder’s “Fascist” A.F. of L. Green. Tomorrow they may have to deal with social Fascist Norman Thomas and the day after tomorrow – with Left social Fascist Muste? You never can tell. It isn’t safe to give in to anyone who represents labor!

But the labor movement remains silent. The official Communist party shows no comprehension for the events or their possibilities. The Left wing of the trade unions is out of the picture.

Only one solitary gesture of protest rises against this hypocrisy of the NRA: It comes – alas – only from a lady social worker who has been appointed to a post in the administration.

Mrs. Kleeck of the Russel Sage Foundation withdraws her acceptance of the post on the grounds that NRA does not give labor sufficient representation, that it deprives the workers of their only genuine weapon of bargaining – the right to strike, etc. The lady liberal took the reformism of Roosevelt at its face value. Her protest is genuine. Of course, it is only the isolated protest of a sincere labor sympathizer.

What the NRA deserved was a protest from mass pressure by labor itself. That will come, that will be effective and take the road to workers’ victory when the Left wing realizes the tremendous opportunities afforded by the situation, when the Communists appraise and analyze the present situation realistically, when the militant section of labor penetrates the A.F. of L. and snatches the leadership of organized labor away from the Greens and the Wolls and the Lewises.

Gordon Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index   |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 24 October 2015