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Ben Hall

Convention Struggle in the UAW

An Analysis of the Issues and Factions

(September 1947)

From The New International, Vol. XIII No. 7, September 1947, pp. 195–200.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).


A time-capsule history of the American labor movement would record that at one time any union member aspiring to a ready popularity could enjoy the applause of his listeners by an impassioned appeal: “Let’s keep our union out of politics.” This homely precept is now abandoned. The modern labor movement on Election Day and every day is preoccupied with political problems. Even the stronghold of pure and simple “unionism,” the AFL, is yielding to the inescapable compulsion toward political action. The theory that labor must abstain from politics is a fossil remains of an outlived era.

The cry “Keep the union out of politics” has given way to a new complaint: “There’s too much politics in the union.” The speech of a Political Action Committee director who insists on more attention to political action will conclude with an appeal for less “politics” and more “unity” in the union. At the coming convention of the United Automobile Workers Union, the delegate who naively admits that he frowns upon the union’s political action program will not be refuted or criticized. He will simply be ignored or ridiculed. Let the same delegate, however, decry the supposed evil effects of “politics in our union” and he will win the approval of the claques.

Inside the union, “politics” refers to the factional caucuses or groupings which are formed on the basis of definite platforms or more often on the basis of loyalty to an individual who symbolizes a certain platform or type of unionism and to the conflicts and debates between these groups in their struggle for “power,” that is, for a majority of the union. Politics-in-the-union is an inevitable and desirable aspect of the union-in-politics. Once it has decided to engage in political action, the labor movement must decide what kind of political action it favors. It must (and does) choose between the existing parties and sub-parties and platforms-or it must create new political parties and work out new political platforms. These decisions cannot be made without conflicts inside the union. In the near future, an intensification of politics inside the union cannot be avoided. The old policies of the labor movement are crumbling. They must be replaced.

When the top union officialdom crusades against “factionalism” and against “political groupings” in the union it means: “No politics except our own.” The labor officialdom itself represents a political tendency and a “faction” in the labor movement. It represents the political tendency of bourgeois or pro-capitalist politics. Its hatred of all other groupings signifies that it seeks a monopoly for its own politics. Similarly, the Communist Party tolerates no “factionalism” in the unions which it controls for it seeks a monopoly for Stalinist politics.

The distaste of the rank and file for factionalism derives from entirely different considerations. They want a solid, unified union which can resist attacks from the employers. In their minds, “factionalism” is frequently equated with the reprehensible policies of the Communist Party, which aims tc convert the union into a tool of Russian foreign policy. Or, it may appear exclusively or primarily as a conflict between individuals without ideas or ideals, for the sake of personal advancement. Such an appearance is often deceptive. The conflict between individuals often hides a deep-going fight between serious tendencies and opposing principles. Such is the case in the United Automobile Workers Union. Politics inside the union movement must not be abandoned but raised to a higher, more principled level. The UAW is distinguished in this: the political struggle inside the union has reached a stage more advanced than in any other union. This struggle will erupt at the coming convention in the conflict between the Walter Reuther caucus and the Addes-Thomas-Leonard-Communist Party bloc.


In the two opposing factions, three distinct political tendencies criss-cross. They are:

  1. The conservative, pro-capitalist officialdom. This tendency, which supports the “orthodox” CIa policies of Philip Murray and tail-ends the so-called liberal wing of the Democratic Party, is divided into two sections: (a) the pro-Stalinist wing, taking in the bulk of this Murrayite” tendency, represented by R.J. Thomas, Richard T. Leonard, and to a lesser extent by George Addes, and which is the main strength of the anti-Reuther bloc; and (b) the anti-Stalinist wing, which includes the small number of supporters of the Association of Catholic Trade Unionists and the followers of August Scholle, president of the Michigan CIO Council and regional director of the CIO.
  2. The Communist Party. The Stalinists are represented by a whole group of secondary officials. Their chief task is, of course, to adapt Stalinist politics to the concrete situation in the UAW and if possible to manipulate the union in the interests of the reactionary Russian ruling class. The main link between them and the Murrayite pro-Stalinists is George Addes.
  3. A strong militant wing which opposes the Stalinists from the left and at the same time remains dissatisfied with the official Murray CIO policies.

The fundamental dash in the UAW pits the radical militant section of the union against the conservative officialdom, which is supported in the fight by the Communist Party. By aligning himself with the radical wing, Reuther, who is himself a left-wing bourgeois labor official, was able to catapult himself into the presidency of the UAW.

The faction fight which arouses intense passion on all sides is not the product of capricious temperaments or inflexible ambitions of the top leaders but the expression of a deep-seated rumbling in the ranks. The basis for the present fight was laid by the militants during the war when they carried on a struggle against the whole united upper officialdom, including Reuther, Addes, Thomas, the Stalinists – all of them.

War Record of Labor Leaders

Unity of the top bureaucracy was cemented by its unanimous approval of the program of “Victory Through Equality of Sacrifice” as the summation of its policies for the war years. The no-strike pledge, speed-up of production, the surrender of premium pay for Saturday and Sunday work, all these concessions and more, were to be the unconditional contribution of the workers to the “war effort.” In return, the labor leaders required only the right of pleading with the capitalist class to make “equal sacrifices” and the privilege of whining and grumbling when it did not. (Later, the officials urged industrial workers to spend their off-days aiding in farm work in their areas to overcome the agricultural labor shortage. The capitalists, however, were denied this happy pastime.) To help win the brave new world of peace, plenty, liberty, equality and security (which we are now presumably enjoying) the leaders bowed before the War Labor Board as the supreme arbiter of labor relations; they accepted freezing of wages by the government; they swallowed every bitter pill served up by Roosevelt and later by Truman, gagging only at the most poisonous acts such as the proposals to militarize the labor movement by drafting all strikers. In short, they abandoned the class struggle.

These policies adopted by the labor leadership because its fundamental loyalties linked up its interests with the victory of the capitalists in the war, soon placed it in a very precarious position. The role in society of the pro-capitalist labor leadership is that of a middleman between the working class and the capitalist class. It trades its support among the workers for the privileges and prestige granted to it by the government and the bourgeoisie. But to retain its position at the head of the working class it must be willing and able to deliver concessions from the capitalist class to the working class, or at least to help shield the working class movement from attack. It is able to defend the existence of the capitalist system only by fighting against the capitalist class to a limited extent and by limited means.

The stability of the UAW leadership was undermined when it abandoned the class struggle against the capitalist class while the latter continued its class struggle against the workers. In April, 1942, in a flush of excessive zeal, it surrendered premium pay for week-end and holiday work. Other unions, however, did not follow suit. In August, the officialdom, still united, made the disgraceful demand that all unions be compel1ed to make the same sacrifice; if not, the UAW would reverse its decision. The concessions were not conditioned by any sacrifices of the capitalist class, only by the sacrifices of other unions. This measure, pushed through a convention with great difficulty, has only one explanation: it was calculated to protect the UAW officialdom from competing bureaucracies of other unions who might offer more to the workers and edge the auto union leaders out. This little example shows how rifts can develop between different sections of the union bureaucracy and how sensitive the leaders are to this fact.

Without leadership during the war, a militant rank and file and secondary leadership carried on guerrilla warfare against the employers. Hundreds of “wildcat” walkouts involved no less than tens of thousands of UA W members. Because the top leadership repudiated these strikes, denounced them, and with a wearisome persistence invariably demanded an unconditional return to work, these strikes inevitably became demonstrations against the leadership itself. In 1944, the banners carried by the pickets at the Chrysler Highland Park plant (Local 490) read: “Fight for the boys who fight for you. The company fired part of your leadership. The International UAW-CIO fired the rest.”

Unanimity in the ranks against the leadership prevailed when the International Executive Board deposed leaders of local unions who refused to order their men back to work. The ranks voted these men back to office with huge majorities. The Board ruled that no local could process the grievances of men penalized for unauthorized strikes. W.G. Grant, president of Local 600 at the Ford Rouge plant, followed suit by refusing to handle the grievances of more than a hundred workers. The membership rewarded him properly by defeat in the next local elections. The decision of the Board became a dead letter. The ranks of the union revolted against proposals to restore piecework in the name of “incentive pay” and sent it down to defeat at the 1943 convention.

Rank and File Resistance

Increasing tension between the militant rank and file and the top leadership reached its culmination at the 1944 convention with the formation of “The Rank-and-File Caucus.” Without the support of a single member of the International Executive Board, this caucus won 40 per cent of the delegates to its proposal for outright rescinding of the no-strike pledge. Even after the whole top leadership had united to drive through a motion to reaffirm the pledge, the caucus successfully fought for a membership referendum on the question. It elected its own national steering committee. It published its own national paper, the Rank and Filer. It began to form the basis for a new, substitute union leadership. A vigorous, self-confident stratum which opposes the Stalinists and the conservative bourgeois labor leadership and is sympathetic to radical policies was the backbone of the Rank and File Caucus.

The Addes-Thomas-CP bloc opposed the radical rank-and-file movement with irreconcilable hostility. Basing themselves on a more conservative section of the membership, they fought grimly for a consistently conservative program. The impact of the rank and file movement on the top leadership was displayed in the actions of Walter Reuther.

1942: The UAW officials ignored their differences in a festival of mutual admiration and support. Reuther, who of course had endorsed the “sacrifice” program, seconds the nomination of Addes for secretary-treasurer at the convention. Richard T. Leonard nominates his “good friend, Reuther” for vice-president and Addes rises to second the nomination. There are no opposing nominations. The bureaucratic sky seems cloudless. But under the blows of the rank and file, the solid front of the leadership breaks in two.

1943: The fight against incentive pay begins. The first crack appears in the bureaucratic wall. Reuther steps out to lead the forces opposed to piecework. He gains the support of the militants in this fight.

1944: The rank-and-file militants, developing more swiftly than Reuther, take up the fight against the no-strike pledge. But Reuther, a “responsible” leader concerned with promoting the war, cannot go along. To avoid losing control of the militant movement he proposes a compromise: let us retain the pledge in war industries and abandon it in the industries reconverted to peacetime production. The rank and file spurns this compromise; Reuther gets only a handful of votes for his proposal.

1945: The war is over. UAW President R.J. Thomas at a Board meeting complains that the rank and file is out of hand; the leadership has lost control; he does not know what to do. Reuther, freed now of the wartime restraints, says that the leadership itself must issue a call to battle and restore its dwindling prestige. Using his post of General Motors director as a base, he wins the leadership and calls the GM strike. The other members of the Board learn of the strike from the newspaper headlines!

The General Motors strike was the most significant strike of the immediate post-war period. Strikes were called by most of the big CIO unions at the same time. In each case, the top officials solidified their position by organizing a fight for a wage increase and in many cases liquidated movements of internal revolt. In the UAW, the revolt of the rank and file had gone too far for R.J. Thomas. By leading the GM strike, Reuther was able to capture leadership of the militant section of the union; and on the basis of this new position, he deposed the old leader, Thomas. There has been much discussion of the “timing” of the GM strike. Should it have been called before Christmas or after? Should it have been called in 1945 or later in 1946? These questions are not to the point. The GM strike was accurately timed to coincide with the sentiments of the ranks, who were straining at the leash. They were waiting to express all the grievances and resentments that had accumulated during the war and this was the first opportunity to do so. The slogans and demands of the GM strike exceeded all others in scope: “Open the books”; “wage increases without price increases”; “increased wages out of the swollen profits of the monopolists.” The workers were called upon to fight not merely for an increase in pay but for a new social program and to act as the guardians of the whole population against price gouging.

Reuther as Weathervane

Reuther caught up again with that movement which he had headed in 1943 but which had by-passed him in 1944. The “Rank and File” movement of 1944 dissolved into the Reuther caucus. Its elements, however, are still fighting against both the conservative section of the labor officialdom and the Stalinists. Now, they seek to achieve their aims through the victory of the Reuther faction.

The anti-Reuther bloc, composed of the supporters of Murray and the Stalinists, is made possible and inevitable because both sections of this bloc are threatened by the more radical tendency. In other CIO unions, supporters of Murray are in conflict with the Communist Party but these conflicts do not duplicate the situation in the UAW. The fight in the UAW is a continuation in a different form of a struggle that began during the war when the friendship between Murray and the Stalinists was unmarred by the contradictions of United States and Russian imperialism. The difficulties that separate Murray and the CP date from the end of the war and coincide with the difficulties between the two rivals for world domination. Such a conflict takes place in the UAW inside the anti-Reuther bloc itself. The Wayne County Council of the CIO (Detroit), which the anti-Reuther bloc controls, is the scene of protracted maneuvers between the Stalinist and non-Stalinist elements of the bloc against one another. The extreme demands of the Stalinist-controlled Farm Equipment Workers Union for autonomy in its negotiations for unity with the UAW must be understood not primarily as a move to support the Addes bloc as a whole – for that it would have sufficed simply to join the UAW on ordinary terms – but as a move by the CP to strengthen its own forces and to secure guarantees from its own allies. The CP must prepare for a possible fight against the pro-Murray section of the anti-Reuther bloc. All these differences are, however, subordinated to the main, common task of defeating the pro-Reuther tendency.

A secondary division cuts across the main line. The anti-Stalinist wing of the pro-Murray camp is found inside the pro-Reuther caucus. This group (ACTU, Scholle) is basically in accord with the policies advocated by the non-Stalinist wing of the anti-Reuther camp. They diverge only in one respect: refusal to make a bloc with the Stalinists. They therefore join the pro-Reuther camp not because of its militant character but because of its anti-Stalinist character. But since the real attractive power of the pro-Reuther camp lies in its appeal to militant sentiments, the conservatism of this group is a source of weakness to the militant movement and it serves mainly to help deter the leftward evolution of the militants.


Reuther was elected president at the last convention of the UAW, but a majority of the International Executive Board remained and still remains in the hands of his opponents. How is the factional dispute which takes the form of repeated collisions between the highest officer of the union and its highest governing body to be decided?

The plans of the anti-Reuther bloc are simple. They aim by hook or by crook to overcome Reuther’s convention majority, to remove him from office at the 1947 convention and by bureaucratic measures to solidify their position. Their latest move was to utilize their Board majority to force through a secretly concocted merger with the Farm Equipment Workers Union, a small CIO union under the tight control of the Stalinists, and in violation of the UAW constitution to give the FE some 500 convention votes which would be added to the anti-Reuther column. This maneuver was defeated by vote of a majority of the local unions. Other possible moves include an increase in the terms of office of the top leadership to two years and abolition or restriction of caucus rights which would make it easier to hide the inner workings of the union from the rank and file. A straw in the wind was the defeat of a motion by Reuther to make verbatim minutes of Board meetings available for the inspection of the rank and file.

From Reuther’s standpoint, there are two alternative ways of “settling” the fight. He can attempt to “split” his opposition, form an alliance with the non-Stalinist, pro-Murray wing of his opposition and isolate the CPo The temptation to pursue this course will be great if the Addes camp, smarting from its big defeat in the FE referendum, makes overtures to Reuther for some kind of “harmony” pact.

Or, Reuther might attempt to unify the decisive majority of the union around a new, radical social program which consistently carries out the implications of the GM strike program of 1945–46. This would involve a clear-cut stand against both sectors of the anti-Reuther camp. Faced with this choice, he finds it impossible to take either course in a determined fashion.

On the one hand, the pro-Murray section of the anti-Reuther camp has been irreconcilable against the man who “betrayed” them by becoming a leader of radicals. Reuther could overcome this hostility only by becoming more loyal than the most loyal Murrayites, by making a series of organizational compromises and abjuring his radical anti-Stalinist talk. By such actions, he would risk alienating the very source of his real strength, the radical militants, and becoming a mere adjutant for Philip Murray. Reuther, however, has charted a far more ambitious course for himself than that. On the other hand, Reuther cannot rise above his own political nature; despite all his talents and imagination, he is not basically a class-conscious, militant working-class leader, but rather a procapitalist, opportunist labor official. He shifts his fight from one axis to another to make immediate gains. He makes public declarations for harmony while in private he advises his followers to continue the struggle.

Role of Walter Reuther

In recent speeches Reuther has been playing with a loud pedal on this theme: the irresponsible factionalism of my opposition makes it impossible to carry out a constructive program; and the union cannot make progress until its stranglehold on the Board is broken and I get a majority.

“Who gets a majority?” is not, however, the real question. The problem that is posed is: “How can we best unite the decisive majority of the membership around a progressive labor program?” If the union cannot go forward until the faction fight is settled, then the faction fight cannot be satisfactorily settled until the militants consciously adopt and fight for a new labor program that can inspire the whole membership. It is not the faction fight that holds the UAW back and prevents progress. That would be standing the matter on its head. The faction fight is one result of the inability of the union to make progress on the basis of the current policies of the CIO. No serious faction fight annoys the Steel Workers Union. What prevents it from making great progress? Unions with big faction fights, with little faction fights or with no faction fights are all in about the same position. To understand why this is the case, we have to examine the situation of the whole union movement and the nature of its political and economic policies.

Half of the nation’s families have a direct stake in the union movement. Their breadwinners are union men. Their income depends immediately on the strength of the union and its policies. Fifteen million organized workers can and do determine whether the factories, mines and railroads shall or shall not operate. They are capable of the most inspiring solidarity and tenacity on the picket lines, as exemplified by the miners and auto workers. They fill the Cadillac Squares and Madison Square Gardens in all the industrial centers by the hundreds of thousands to demonstrate for their demands. They can count upon the support of allies: Negroes, veterans, tenants, foremen. This giant of a labor movement, strangely enough, is concerned with the task of holding its own, of defending itself. In many instances it is not successful. A railroad strike was broken by President Truman when he threatened to draft all strikers. A mine strike was broken by a Supreme Court and Administration-inspired injunction. Postwar strikes in auto, steel and electrical equipment were sabotaged by the intervention of government fact-finding commissions. By overwhelming majorities in both houses, Congress passed the Taft-Hartley bill and little congressmen in the state legislatures copy the latest anti-labor fads.

Two Periods in Recent Labor History

In the early days of the CIO, the labor movement was far weaker, less unified. It was harassed by police violence, company unionism and vigilante attacks; but it was chalking up one inspiring gain after another. Old age pensions, unemployment insurance, wages and hours laws, anti-injunction acts, the right to organize – all these were won by a labor movement far weaker than today’s. The more powerful labor movement of 1947 cannot maintain the social rights and the standard of living of its members.

In the 58-page pamphlet of economic analysis entitled: Wages; Prices; Profits, the UAW proved in scrupulous detail, The Automobile Worker’s Case for a 23½ Cent Wage Increase. Scholarly graphs showed the rising line of prices and living costs. Itemized charts displayed the shrunken bar of purchasing power. Tables of copious statistics enumerated the heavy profits of the manufacturers. Wages could be raised. Prices could be lowered. Profits had to be slashed. The union, however, was armed only with brilliant statistical devices. Realization of these demands fell far short of what was necessary and possible. The paradoxical situation of the auto workers can be summarized in the changes in the real hourly wage rate after the necessary allowances for increases in living costs and taxes in two periods.

From 1936 to 1941, the period of the founding of the union, when it still had to prove its strength and conquer its main footholds, the real hourly wage rate of auto workers rose from 76 cents to about 96 cents an hour. From 1941 to 1946, after the power of the UAW and the whole CIO multiplied and every major industry was organized, real auto wages fell from 96 cents an hour to about 88 cents an hour.

A question arises: why does the graph of labor’s Tights and standards dip downward in the period when the line of union power curves upward? The facile answer that a faction fight is taking place is totally false. The real cause lies in the crippling policies doggedly defended by the top union officialdom, including Reuther. These policies date back to the days of the early New Deal in 1933 but their catastrophic results are becoming obvious only now.

The labor program of the New Deal administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a frightened reaction to the powerful radical surge in the American working class as a result of five years of bitter economic crisis and the performance of the Hoover regime. This radical wave is illustrated partially in the vote of the Socialist Party in 1932 (nearly one million) and in the eruption of violent strikes. The number of strikes rose from 651 in 1930, involving a work loss of 3 million man-days, to 852 in 1932, with a loss of 10½ million man-days. Veterans marched to Washington for the bonus. Farmers dumped milk on the highways during a National Farm Holiday. Unemployed participated in “Hunger Marches” to the capital. All this before the advent of the Roosevelt administration.

Roosevelt sought to prevent this discontent from getting out of control. It was essential in his mind that pro-capitalist labor officials take the helm lest radicals and socialists take over by default. To make this possible the New Deal, through Section 7A of the NRA, aimed to take the workers off the picket lines and send them through the red tape mill of the NLRB. So successful was this policy, for a time, that the NRA became known as the “National Run-Around.”

This was a period when the capitalist class appeased the working class in order to ransom a tottering capitalist system. Part of the ransom price was the whole series of reforms sponsored by Roosevelt. The policy of the labor leadership, then as now, consisted in supporting the so-called friends of labor in the Democratic Party. The New Deal reforms were a necessary element in the perpetuation of this type of bourgeois, pro-capitalist politics. In a period of appeasement of labor, the union leaders traded off the support of the labor movement to those capitalist politicians who paid the highest price. This policy had a certain superficial plausibility. It seemed to work; it seemed to bring more gains for the labor movement. Actually, these gains were won not because labor supported liberal capitalist politicians like Roosevelt, but because the capitalist class feared that without them, the labor movement would withdraw its support and fall into “irresponsible” radical hands.

War Brings About a Turn

But the beginning of the war in Europe corresponded to a turn in the strategy of the capitalist class. The expense, first of war preparations and then of war itself, had to be paid by the masses. This turn occurred not under Truman but under Roosevelt. He himself underlined this turn when he said: we must speak not of Dr. New Deal but of Dr. Win-the-War. The policy of appeasing labor was gradually abandoned but a dazzle of super-patriotism screened the turn in policy. As the capitalist class shifted from defense to attack, a new emphasis developed imperceptibly in the old policies of the labor leadership. Formerly it was, “support the men who gave us most.” Now it became, “support the capitalist politicians who will take away least.” Despite Roosevelt’s attacks on wartime labor rights and standards, the labor officialdom continued to support him. This became New Dealism in reverse, going downward. Support Roosevelt because he will take away least. We witnessed a strange phenomenon. Each time labor would “win” a great victory at the polls, cries of “betrayal” would resound from the offices of the union leadership as the Congress, elected with their support, continued to chop away at the working class.

The Republican Congress and the Truman Administration continue this policy. The United States must finance the recovery of world capitalism; it contests with Russia for domination of the whole world. The costs of this conflict, like the costs of the war itself, must be borne by the workers. The period of appeasing of labor has not returned. The capitalist class is embarked on an anti-labor offensive.

The mechanics of an upside-down New Dealism compel the labor leadership to appease the capitalist class. If Truman breaks a railroad strike it does not matter; they support him lest an administration which will break even more strikes come into office. It is this policy of appeasement of the capitalist class which generates the steady retreat of labor and the decline in its living standards and political and social rights. The capitalist class presses forward. The labor leadership seeks to avoid any sharp collision. This is possible only by continued retreat.

Only a fine line distinguishes Truman from the Republican majority. Truman hopes that the labor leadership itself will remain at the head of the parade and organize the workers in a disciplined march backward. He therefore prefers a “milder” policy. The Congress majority places more reliance upon the clubs and whips of governmental coercion to force the workers backward. They are for a “sterner” policy. But this is only a minor distinction in technique. The left-over New Dealers – the Wallaces and the Peppers – served as pay-off men who delivered the goods at the door of labor when the agenda called for the appeasement of labor. Today they merely clutter up the scene and stand in the way of a complete break by labor with capitalist politicians.


Blow after blow will fall upon the labor movement with monotonous regularity until it understands that its anns arc held by the “liberals” while the strokes are administered by the “reactionaries.” This division of labor will continue until the working class ends its dependence upon the “liberals” and begins to rely exclusively upon its own independent class action. It is not a matter of inventing a somewhat better and more effective program but of substituting a working-class program for the old liberal capitalist one. Labor must issue its declaration of independence. Such a declaration must be an all-sided program of political, economic and social class struggle with the following minimum essentials:

The Tasks Before Labor

  1. The immediate formation of an Independent Labor Party based upon the organized labor movement and all the mass organizations which fight for the people. For an uncompromising opposition to all the capitalist politicians and a complete break with the Republican and Democratic Parties.
  2. A plan of action against the Taft-Hartley Act which relies upon the coordinated, independent mass action of the workers in the form of strikes, demonstrations, mass rallies and picketing, etc. No reliance upon any capitalist politicians in this fight. Every legal and constitutional device to be employed without deluding the workers into giving exaggerated importance to them. No reliance upon judges and courts and lawyers.
  3. Labor, and not the liberal capitalists, to become the true champions of all sections of the population who suffer oppression and discrimination in any form. The organization by the union movement of a Labor Veterans Legion, mass tenants’ associations, popular mass committees of Negro and white workers to fight against every form of race discrimination.

The active rank and file of the UAW has repeatedly demonstrated that it will greet such a program with enthusiasm. Wherever and whenever the leadership has issued a call for action the ranks have responded aggressively. During the war years, they carried on a working class policy in their own way without, and against, their own leadership. The militants in the UAW who have rallied to the Reuther camp because they are looking for a new policy must begin to press forward for such a program. The future of the UAW depends upon them.

The conservative Addes bloc aims to unseat Reuther at the convention precisely because it views him as the leader of a radical tendency. To support Reuther against this conservative-Stalinist coalition is the indicated course at the convention. At the same time, however, we must be under no illusions. Reuther, as in the past, does not now measure up to the tasks ahead.

In 1945–46 a serious fight for the GM strike program meant a one-hundred and eighty degree turn in CIO policy. If the slogan: “Wage Increases Without Price Increases” was to be more than a well-meaning prayer, a network of union price control committees had to be established in the departments, in the shops, in the industry, and in related and subsidiary plants and industries supplying parts and raw materials. These committees, assuming the same importance as grievance and bargaining committees would have to investigate, keep account of and control the intricate thread of production. For this it was necessary to “Open the Books,” get a glimpse into the top secrets of big business and detect its financial and industrial manipulations. But any such “invasion” of the sacred rights of private property would meet with the determined resistance of the capitalist class and its government.

Note by ETOL

In the December 1947 issue of The New International the following correction appeared:

Our readers may have noted that the article on The Pre-Convention Struggle in the UAW, by Ben Hall, in the September issue, ended quite abruptly. Through an unfortunate oversight at the technical end, the last three pages of Comrade Hall’s manuscript were not set up in type and were therefore left out of the magazine. However, a large part of the omitted section is quoted in this issue in the accompanying article on the UAW convention and all important aspects of the question covered. We apologize both to our contributor and to our readers.

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