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Notes of the Week

(30 December 1933)

From The Militant, Vol. VI No. 57, 30 December 1933, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

MR. ERNEST T. WEIR, steelmaster, very quietly challenged Section 7a of the NRA last week. He held an “election” in the mills of the Weirton Steel Company (a subsidiary of the National Steel, of which he is president) at which 49 company union men were delegated as “representatives of their own choosing” by the mill-hands. To keep up face, the Labor Board and General Johnson protested, fretted and threatened.

* * * *

But Mr. Weir, the papers tell us, read David Copperfield for the hundred and first time. “It gets better with each reading”, he remarked.

* * * *

The steelmaker, “a rugged individualist who came up from the ranks in the old American way”, has every cause to maintain his equanimity. “The next step is up to the administration”, and that the administration will merely mark time is self-evident from all past experiences.

* * * *

This is not the first and we don’t believe it will be the last instance of the utter contempt with which big business regards the ever so solemn agreements concluded from time to time by the code authorities in Washington. The National Steel made more profit in 1931, according to reports, than all the other steel companies put together. That is a persuasive enough argument to counter any of the General’s forceful paper ultimata which serve as a veil for feeble action. Such arguments abound in the ranks of the rugged individualists.

* * * *

In most cases, the next step on the part of the administration is a surrender to the captains of industry all along the line. A case in point is the latest development in the needle industry. There the code authorities, after arbitrating the great New York strike last fall with a seeming victory for the workers, have now made public some rulings which practically turn the tables in favor of the employees. A so-called “sub-normality” clause permits the payment of a wage below the established minimum to “slow” workers. What other effect can this have but the granting of a loophole to the needle bosses by which they can abolish the minimum wage altogether? Another ruling in the same industry gives the Southern and Western employers the right to pay their workers from 30 to 40 per cent lower wages than in the East. What other effect can this have but the enforced reestablishment of the Sweatshop?

* * * *

At a meeting of unorganized workers and union men, an A.F. of L. official who is also serving on one of the NRA Complaint Boards told those present that he believed the chiselers had wormed their way clear into the NRA itself. Being all hepped up by the propaganda against the chiselers, the good man appeared to be quite outraged, by this fact. It never occurred to him that an administration which stands four-square for a system – the profit system of capitalism – which upholds the free-for-all grab and may the best chiseler win, cannot help being swamped by them.

* * * *

While the American workers may not as yet have come to the realization that it is up to them as a class to take the works into their own hands and run industry for the benefit of all the people, they are nevertheless gropingly doing something about it. They are realizing already with increasing clarity that NRA won’t do a thing for them unless they themselves get together in formations of their own and see that they get whatever they can out of it. They no doubt notice with growing apprehension the fact that out of 3,000,000 Blue Eagles issued to the boss class – and how many million violations? – the National Recovery Administration announces only 53 (fifty-eight!) withdrawals ...

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Last updated: 3 January 2016