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Ben Hall

“A Friend of Labor”

(April 1944)

From Labor Action, Vol. 8 No. 16, 17 April 1944, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

DETROIT – Whose friends are the “friends of labor” congressmen?

Labor flocks to the polls on election day to vote for these gentlemen, and after the voting is over prays that these same “friends” will refrain from passing anti-labor legislation.

But labor’s prayers are seldom answered. And sometimes these “friends of labor” end up as corporation executives.

Such a “friend of labor” was former U.S. Senator from the State of Michigan, Prentiss M. Brown, Democrat.

Brown ran for re-election in 1942 as a “friend of labor” with the support of the same CIO leaders who today boss the Political Action Committee of the CIO. But thousands of working class voters couldn’t get very enthusiastic about Prentiss. They remained away from the polls in such numbers that Brown went down to defeat.

But a “friend of labor” need not remain idle for long. He has too many valuable services to perform for the “people.” Another “friend of labor,” Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Brown to watch over the interests of the common man as director of the OPA.

When Brown lost his job as OPA head he was again for hire. Working men who supported Brown in the last election will be happy to learn that he is no longer unemployed, and will be able to continue to earn an independent living for his family.

But will they be equally happy to learn that Brown has left his trade of “friend of labor”? He has just taken over the post of chairman of the board of the Detroit Edison Co. This time Brown was not the candidate of the CIO. HE WAS THE CHOICE OF THE AMERICAN LIGHT & TRACTION CO.!

The A.L.&T. Co. is a holding company which owns 20.2 per cent of the stock of the Detroit Edison Co. It was ordered by the Securities and Exchange Commission to sell its 1,298,505 shares within the next two years. Before this deadline it wants to fulfill two aims:

  1. To raise the market value of its stock.
  2. To retain a degree of control over Detroit Edison.

Its candidate for this job? Labor’s “friend,” Prentiss M. Brown!

Who was fooled? Were CIO and AFL members tricked into voting for a corporation stooge, or was the American Light & Traction Co. tricked into voting for a “friend of labor”? In matters involving hard cash, corporation executives usually display amazing wisdom.

Enough of these “friends of labor”!

All out for independent labor candidates with no ties to the Democratic and Republican Parties of big business!

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Last updated: 16 October 2015