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Susan Green

Prices Rise as OPA Hikes “Ceiling”
on Vital Foods

OPA Puts OK on 15% Jump in Canned Fruit Prices

(13 July 1942)

From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 28, 13 July 1942, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Just who is supposed to be fooled by the “price control” goings-on in the Office of Price Administration?

The latest step to take more money out of the consumer’s purse for the same goods is the official increase of 15 per cent on canned and dried fruits for the 1942 crop. Not that the prices now are UNDER the official ceiling – there is no shortage of violations. But this new 15 per cent slap-on is OFFICIAL

This increase is not on luxuries, mind you, but on essential vitamin foods. One department of the government is “educating” housewives on the better nutrition of their families – while another department makes it impossible to buy such nutritious foods as canned peaches, pears, apricots, apple sauce, fruit juices, raisins and all the dried fruits.

Mr. Henderson was, of course, careful to explain the reason for this latest increase which will add 2, 3 and 4 cents to the prices of these canned foods. He said that “growers’ prices for fruit have risen sharply under the parity formula, and because of the standards set in the price control act cannot be prevented from climbing to levels at least 110 per cent of parity.”

So growers’ prices have risen sharply! And who are the fruit growers who have boosted prices? The reactionary, powerful fruit-growing and canning corporations of California and elsewhere. Their brutal methods against labor are very well known throughout the country. These are the bloated monopolists who will get the millions of two, three and four cent increases that the housewives will be coughing up.

Henderson’s Remedy

Mr. Henderson’s remedy for this situation is indeed unique – though very popular with capitalists and their politicians. IT IS TO KEEP WAGES DOWN. What else would; you expect? The Senate sub-committee considering the appropriation for the OPA got a very strong impression from Mr. Henderson’s testimony that he is preparing “to go to bat” at once with the War Labor Board on the question of wage increases. Mr. Henderson’s intended crusade against the workers will probably get for his OPA the $161,000,000 he wants instead of the $75,000,000 the House committee was willing to give.

In the meantime other leeches are waiting around expectantly to fasten themselves also onto the consumer to suck blood-money. For instance, the vegetable packers are impatient for the final arrangements regarding the 15 per cent increase on canned fruits, to press their own demand for price increases.

To add insult to injury, OPA, stages a show in Nyack, N.Y., publicized in the papers and on the screen. Helen Hayes and other notables went around to the retail stores, smiled at the storekeepers and told them to be good boys and post their ceiling prices properly. Now, ain’t that something!

This naturally did not prevent the price of certain meats from keeping on the steady upgrade. So that loin lamb chop in the A&P stores went up 4 cents a pound in the past two weeks – from 49 to 53 cents – a rise of almost 67 per cent since March. While the “cheap” shoulder lamp chops have been promoted to the outrageous level of 49 cents a pound.

To round out the giddy picture, read the following from the Kiplinger Letter to its business clients, of date June 27:

“Price tags will lie about the same for another month or two, but later the same goods will not be available for the same money price. There will be quality cuts, elimination of low-price lines, added taxes.”

But Mr. Henderson is going to bat at once against wage increases. How does he expect the working class to live – or doesn’t he! The workers are going to have to do some batting on their own behalf – or they will lose all the bases.

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Last updated: 11 September 2014