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Jack Ranger

A Dictionary for Workers

(26 May 1947)

From Labor Action, Vol. 11 No. 21, 26 May 1947, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Communism, theoretically that advanced stage of socialism where all need for force in society will have vanished, since there will be an abundance of goods and services for all, and since people will have become accustomed to observe the elementary conditions of social existence without force and without subjection. The economic premise for communism is that the economic powers of mankind should have reached such a high development that productive labor will have ceased to be a burden, and the distribution of life’s goods, existing in continual abundance will be democratically controlled by education, habit and social opinion. That state of society where the antagonism between mental and physical labor has disappeared.

Company union, a general term applied to employees’ organizations promoted and controlled by the employer. In the ordinary sense, they are not unions. Often they are not called unions, but have such names as Employees Welfare Plan, Mutual Benefit Association, Employees Representation Plan, Associated Independent Unions, etc. They are used by employers as a means of blocking organization of employees into genuine trade unions. Company unionism is based on the theory that the employer and the employee have the same interests and should cooperate. Some company unions actually engage in collective bargaining, taking up such piddling questions as company picnics, extra drinking fountains or toilets, etc. If the workers in such an organization actually bring, up important matters such as wages, hours, etc., they can do little since the organization is not equipped to struggle if necessary. A company union has no connection with the organized labor movement, it has no strike fund. Occasionally, company unions have been converted by the workers into genuine unions.

Compulsory arbitration, a policy of the government which forces a union to accept arbitration and which prohibits strikes, thus greatly weakening organized labor. Such arbitration laws are often claimed to be impartial inasmuch as they usually state that the employer is likewise restrained from instituting a lockout. However, the employer can always shut down his factory if he so desires. Compulsory arbitration is usually favored by employers when the unions are strong, aggressive and successful. Employers have never clamored for such laws when the union movement was weak or non-existent.

Conciliation, an effort to bring about peaceful agreements between unions and employers. The conciliator is assumed to be that fabulous character, a neutral person. Neither party is bound to accept decisions of a conciliator, thus distinguishing conciliation from arbitration.

Congress for Industrial Organization, the CIO, originally the Committee for Industrial Organization, formed under the leadership of John L. Lewis within the American Federation of Labor late in 1935, to work as an organized group within the AFL to promote the cause of industrial unionism. Suspended by the AFL Executive Council in the Spring of 1936 and reorganized as an independent federation, it today claims a membership equal to that of the AFL. The CIO is a national federation of about 40 international unions, many of an industrial character embracing the workers in such basic industries as aluminum, auto, needle trades, oil, radio, rubber, shipbuilding, steel, metal mining and textiles. It is generally assumed to be more progressive than the AFL because the CIO contains many semi-skilled and unskilled workers whom the AFL refused to accept, because of the industrial structure of the unions, because bureaucracies have not yet had time to solidify as they have over the AFL unions.

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