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C. Thomas

Government Censorship Conceals
Widespread Production Cutbacks

News Blackout Hides Rise in Unemployment

Industrial ‘Demobilization’ Plans Ignore
Thousands of Discharged War Workers

(21 April 1945)

From The Militant, Vol. IX No. 15, 21 April 1945, pp. 1 & 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Cutbacks in war production are mounting behind a veil of military censorship intended to conceal the full extent of layoffs due to war contract cancellations and plant shutdowns. The boss press, which, a few weeks ago was screeching for a labor draft to meet an alleged manpower shortage, has fallen in with the hush-hush policy of the administration and its brass hats. “No news stories, no headlines,” observes one labor commentator. “But every day hundreds more are told ‘No more work after Monday, all men with less than two years seniority are permanently laid off’.’’

Production of aircraft, ships, tanks, munitions, etc., is being sharply curtailed. It is reported that in the one aircraft center of Buffalo, New York, “the Bell Aircraft Corp, is closing its two fighter plane plants now employing 15,000. The Curtiss-Wright company there will lay off 900 men by next Sunday, And its executives predict a steady cut in jobs until 1946.”

The Army has announced that “it has decided not to complete twelve new tank plants,” which were scheduled to reach the peak of operation in the latter part of the year. In addition, the Army Ordnance division has ordered a cutback in munitions affecting production schedules and facilities in sixty plants. The munitions cutback, estimated at nearly $200,000,000 represents “a reduction of about 10 percent in the entire artillery ammunitions program.”

Shipyard Workers’ Jobs

Meanwhile, the Navy has cancelled contracts for 72 out of 84 combat vessels. The Maritime Commission is cancelling orders for tankers and cargo ships. The Commission’s shipbuilding program will be virtually completed by the end of the year. “About 750,000 shipbuilding workers will lose their jobs by New Year’s,” concludes the labor reporter for the New York Post.

These are but a few of the items that have crept into the press despite the hush-hush imposed by the government. This policy is designed to lull the workers into a false sense of security. By making it appear a though cutbacks and shutdowns are merely local or isolated incidents, the employers and their agents in Washington hope to ward off a national movement of labor to defend its living standards.

The administration is repeating the tactics employed last year. Their “conspiracy of silence” was blasted then by the dramatic sit-in of the Brewster Aircraft workers, who converted an “isolated” cutback into a militant demonstration that attracted national attention. The Brewster sit-in caused a flurry of Congressional activity whose sole result was the adoption of “demobilization” legislation protecting the interests of the employers.

Here is how one reporter summed up the net outcome of government action at that time.

“The only demobilization legislation so far approved by Congress provides for the termination of war contracts, but does nothing about taking up the slack in production and providing full employment after the war. It does nothing either about providing decent unemployment benefits for the workers necessarily made jobless.”

This was written on June 3, 1944, almost a year ago. In the ensuing year the government has done nothing, literally NOTHING, to cushion the shock of “demobilization” to the workers. The whole record proves that the political agents of Big Business have no intention of doing anything – unless they are jolted out of their callous indifference by the independent action of the labor movement.

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Last updated: 6 November 2018