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Detroit Reader on Miners’ Strike

(December 1943)

Readers of Labor Action Take the Floor ..., Labor Action, Vol. 7 No. 49, 6 December 1943, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

To the Editor:

It seems to me that Labor Action and your writer, Walter Weiss, have not been able to make up your minds whether the miners actually won anything or not in the Ickes-Lewis agreement. I refer to the issues of November 8 and 15. In two articles Weiss proves, or tries to prove, that the miners got practically nothing. At the same time, the headline in the November 15 Labor Action reads Miners’ Victory Shows the Way and in the course of his article Weiss writes: “But they won part of their fight and they smashed the Little Steel formula.” What are the actual facts:

Under the Ickes-Lewis agreement the miners get $57.37½ for a 52½-hour week. But of this only 48 is actual working time and 4½ is travel time.

Compare what the miners would have gotten for the SAME work week under the OLD agreement, which provided pay only for actual working time and not for travel time. For a 48-hour week at the rate of $1.00 per hour (time and one-half after 35 hours) the miners would have received $54.50.

Under the new agreement, $57.37½. Under the old, $54.50. Simple arithmetic shows that for the same WORK the miners receive $2.87½ more.

Under the old agreement, by working 48 hours the miners would have received pay for 54½ hours. Divide the $2.87 by the 54½ and you discover that the miners won a REAL increase of four cents an hour, calculated on the basis of the old contract. It is this real increase in wages that proves that the miners broke the Little Steel formula, despite the fact that they fell far short of their original demands for a $2.00-a-day increase.

And the miners will still win more out of the same agreement. A reporter asked Davis: “Do you think you’ll get eight hours at the face?” “I’m not operating the mines,” Davis answered, “and I’ll ask you one; do you think Mr. Ickes will get eight hours?” The reporter answered: “No.”

The miners broke the steal formula by striking. Let’s not give any assistance to the WLB or the Administration by glossing over this fact.



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