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Susan Green

Of Special Interest to Women

(21 December 1942)

From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 51, 21 December 1942, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Winter is upon us amidst conditions which threaten a national disaster. Aside from the fuel rationing and aside from the high cost of living, which makes proper food and clothing almost a luxury for many, there are other factors constituting a decided peril to the health and life of the civilian population.

The New York Physicians Forum, composed of 150 New York physicians, has issued the alarm. It states that in 300 key industrial areas in the country the shortage of doctors is so critical that “THE ORDINARY DAY-BY-DAY HAZARDS OF SICKNESS AND ACCIDENT CANNOT BE DEALT WITH.”

They add that the possibilities of this situation become frightening in view of “the appalling living conditions” in these areas, WITH MEN SLEEPING IN SHIFTS IN THE SAME BEDS, OR LIVING IN BOXCARS OR TRAILERS.

These physicians warn that such conditions “ARE THE NATURAL BREEDING GROUND OF EPIDEMICS.” They declare: “Let an epidemic start in one of these densely populated areas and there is no knowing where it will spread or when it may stop.” This is the ghastly prospect confronting us this winter. It should be the concern of organized labor and of all working class housewives. From these sources must come the persistent and militant demand to the government for adequate housing, for doctors, clinics and hospitals.

The last war showed us what havoc a war epidemic brings to the population. The workers and their families suffered most. Again men, women and children of the working class are in imminent danger from wartime epidemics.

Retail stores, numbering 400,000 throughout the country, are making their own price “regulations” on the simple arithmetical principle that higher prices will bring more profits.

The housewife is being cheated not only in the buying of food. For instance, the price of rayon hose is more than 331/3 per cent above the ceiling price – which ceiling price itself is too high for rayon. In fact, all clothing lends itself to plenty of gypping. Suits made of materials containing very little wool – and that re-used wool – are selling at the ceiling prices of the former all-wool suits. Another device is to mark two-piece suits at the prices charged for three-piece suits. Furniture also affords an excellent field for profiteering. Sofas, chairs, dressers, desks are sold way above the March ceilings, even though they are exactly the same merchandise.

A great to-do has been made in the newspapers about the OPA investigation of the Hecht Co. department store in Washington, D.C. – after which it slapped the Hecht Co. on the wrist with an injunction, saying, in effect: “No! Bad boy mustn’t violate price ceilings or daddy will slap.”

Isn’t that something? Even if the Hecht Co. obeys the injunction and stops violating price ceilings – for a while! – so what? There are 400,000 retail stores guilty of such violations! Will they be scared into being good boys by this action of the OPA in Washington? Maybe a few will pull in their horns for a while – but only a few and not for long, you may be sure.

Thus, as time goes on, it becomes ever clearer that the job of price control has been thrown into the laps of the housewives of the country. If they organize in their neighborhoods, they can talk turkey with the owners of the 400,000 stores taking advantage of them.

They can present their complaints as an organized, force both to these stores and to local OPA officials. They can boycott and picket until their complaints are met.

Working class women: Organize for your own self-protection!

In the East Paterson plant of the Wright Aeronautical Corp., 165 men and women went out on strike to put an end to a little trick the company was playing on them – a company lousy with war orders and war profits.

Taking advantage of the lack of experience of their women workers, the company put them on a six-day-week schedule in such a way that they had to work on

Sundays at time and a half pay – IN PLACE OF MEN WHO WOULD BE GETTING DOUBLE TIME FOR SUNDAY WORK. Rather a neat conniving scheme. But the workers saw through it and struck. The case is now in conference between labor, management and government.

The workers ought to know something about the profits of their scheming bosses. Especially should the women workers, being cheated by the company, know something about the profits the workers of Wight Aeronautical Corp. are making for it.

The company has 600,000 shares of stock. For the year 1938 – after allowing for taxes and every other conceivable deduction – the net profit was $5.00 for each and every one of the 600,000 shares. In 1939 the profit per share rose to $6.00 – an increase of 20 per cent. In 1940 the profit per share swelled to $11 – a gain of 120 per cent over 1938. And in 1941 the clear profit mounted to $1? per share – a climb of 240 per cent above the 1938 figure!

These are the escalating war profits of the Wright Aeronautical Corp. which robs its women workers of legitimate double pay for Sunday work. War is an ill wind, but it certainly blows plenty of good to the capitalist exploiters of labor.

You know that mink coat you bought at a bargain for $1,500 – out of your husband’s superfluous wages. Well, hold everything and take it on the chin. That beautiful mink coat that every working woman possesses may be outdated in short order. Isn’t that a major tragedy!

Ordinary brown mink, I’d like you to know, will no longer be the rage; The up-and-coming female of the species – not of the species mink – will be getting herself a “silverblu platinum” mink coat.

These little animals, the outcome of careful breeding, are a soft gray, a bit on the beige side. We are assured that the color will be very flattering to hair and skin and that it will blend beautifully with other colors. Hear! Hear!

Of course, “silverblu platinum” minks are still very rare – in fact, rarer than sables. Their value is very, very high. So start saving your pennies now, sister, or you’ll have to wear your old brown mink – while all the “silverblu platinum” minks go to the platinum blond minxes – with the compliments of the war profiteers.

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