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C. Thomas

CIO Leaders Vote to Continue Their Policy of Retreat

(24 March 1945)

From The Militant, Vol. IX No. 12, 24 March 1945, pp. 1 & 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The recent meeting of the national executive board of the CIO took place at a time when unfolding events pose the most critical problems for the labor movement. The war against Germany is entering its final stages. The employers are girding for a showdown assault on the unions. The political agents of Big Business are pressing for additional repressive labor legislation. Wages remain frozen while the cost of living continues to soar. Reconversion to civilian production raises the specter of mass unemployment.

These are but a few of the problems that call for a bold and aggressive policy to defend the workers’ standard of living against employer-government attack. Faced with these problems, the top leadership of the CIO proceeded to reaffirm its policy of unconditional surrender to the corporations and their political henchmen!

The CIO union heads voted to “continue intact our no-strike pledge” after the end of the war in Europe. They voted to retain the CIO representatives on the wage-freezing, employer-dominated War Labor Board. They voted, once again, to send a delegation to the White House to beg their “friend” for a handout. With their heads buried ostrich-like to shut out the sight and sound of rising rank-and-file revolt against the policy of retreat and capitulation, the CIO leaders voted to continue the same course which has led the unions into their present blind alley.

But so strong has the swelling opposition to this policy become that it found its echo on the hoard. Emil Rieve, president of the Textile Workers Union, and George Baldanzi, vice-president, cast their votes against the policy resolution. Thomas and Addes of the United Automobile Workers Union voted for the resolution after their proposal asking “consideration” for withdrawing the CIO members from the WLB had been defeated. The textile and auto workers have been in the forefront of the struggle against the wage-freeze and employer provocations.

Propose Conference

Taking cognizance of the current union-busting drive, the CIO policy resolution deplores the fact that “there are some employers and others who seek to take advantage of our present war situation and endeavor to provoke labor by threatening the existence of unions, the discharge of leading members of the union, cutting wages and other divisive methods.” To correct these evils the CIO heads propose that Roosevelt convene a tripartite conference of industry, labor and government, to formulate “a policy that will meet the needs of our nation.”

All this chatter about “meeting the needs of the nation” is so much gibberish. The employers always identify THEIR needs with those of the “nation.” And their needs have been adequately met by Roosevelt’s policy of freezing workers to their jobs at frozen wages. Their needs have been taken care of by labor’s no-strike pledge and by the War Labor Board. Why should they participate in a conference to “formulate policy?” It is their policy which the administration has put forward and the labor leaders have been faithfully carrying out.

It is labor which has a crying need for a new policy to “meet the needs” of the workers. Such a policy will never materialize out of a “conference” with the employers and their government agents. The CIO ranks look in. vain to their top leadership to formulate a policy that will defend their interests. The cowardly surrender policy of the national executive board has made it abundantly clear that the CIO militants will have to forge a new leadership in the process of struggle for a program of action that can solve their problems.

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