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Jack Ranger

A Dictionary for Workers

(19 May 1947

From Labor Action, Vol. 11 No. 20, 19 May 1947, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Class, a social group in society distinguished by its relation to property, its type of social income, its function in economic production, its social and political position.

Class collaboration, the theory that capital and labor should cooperate, as expressed in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce slogan, “If you work for business, you are in business. What is good for business is good for you.” The top trade union leadership in the United States, from William Green and Dan Tobin to Philip Murray and John L. Lewis, believe in the theory of class collaboration.

Class struggle, the conflict between various classes; in modern times, the conflict between capital and labor; also, the theory that the interests of the worker and the employer are antagonistic to each other except on minor matters, and that cooperation is impossible because one class benefits only at the expense of the other class in general.

Clayton Act, an act of the U.S. Congress adopted in 1914 which states that “nothing contained in the anti-trust laws shall be construed to forbid the existence and operation of labor, agricultural or horticultural organizations, instituted for the purposes of mutual help, and not having capital stock or conducted for profit, or to forbid or restrain individual members of Such organizations from lawfully carrying out the legitimate objects thereof, nor shall such organizations, or the members thereof, be held Or construed to be illegal combinations or conspiracies in restrain of trade, under the antitrust laws.”

Closed shop, an organized union shop where it is customary for the employer to hire new workers through the union, and where all workers must be members of the union to continue their employment.

Collective bargaining, a method of reaching agreement concerning wages and working conditions between a group of workers and their employer. Generally consists of the following steps: Union recognition, which signifies the willingness of the employer to recognize that the union representatives have the right to speak for the union members; negotiations between employer and union representatives over working conditions; and a written agreement which states the conditions agreed upon. In modern times, it is impossible for each worker to bargain individually with his real employer; he only sees the foreman or superintendent, who have no authority to grant demands for better conditions. Even in small shops, where the worker can still talk to his employer face to face, the individual worker has little bargaining power; where he is united with other workers, he has bargaining power. In much the same way that nations deal with one another through ambassadors, unions and corporations deal with one another through union business agents and personnel directors.

Commune, the government set up by the workers of Paris following the uprising of March 18, 1871, during the Franco-Prussian war. The Commune was crushed 72 days later by the combined military force of the Prussian and French armies. The French bourgeoisie showed during the course of that war that they preferred the victory of the German army to the victory of the French working class. Seventy years later that policy was repeated.

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