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C. Thomas

Big Business Hails ‘Peace Charter’
Signed by CIO and AFL Leaders

Wall Street Plans Union-Busting Drive Under Cover of Its ‘Truce’ with Labor

(7 April 1945)

From The Militant, Vol. IX No. 14, 7 April 1945, pp. 1 & 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The signing of a “Peace Charter” by representatives of organized labor and industry is being widely acclaimed by the kept press, Wall Street bankers and industrialists, administration wage-freezers and forced labor advocates. For this “charter” contains a “code of principles” lifted out of the bible of Big Business. It affirms the “right” of capital to exploit labor and renounces lahor’s resistance to such exploitation.

Specifically, it proposes to extend into the “post-war” period the wartime policy of unconditional surrender to the employing class. Small wonder that the dollar patriots and their political agents hail the “statesmanship” of labor leaders William Green and Philip Murray, who joined with the head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Eric Johnston, in formulating the “peace pact for post-war prosperity.”

The pact proclaims that:

“The rights of private property and free choice of action, under a system of private competitive capitalism, must continue to be the foundation of our nation’s peaceful and prosperous expanding economy.”

To this basic capitalist principle the “charter” adds:

“The inherent right and responsibility of management to direct the operations of an enterprise shall be recognized and preserved. So that enterprise may develop and expand and earn a reasonable profit, management must be free as well from unnecessary governmental interference or burdensome restrictions.”

Aid Wall Street

This sweeping declaration of the “rights of private property” constitutes a blanket endorsement of Wall Street’s “postwar” plans to plunder the wealth of the country.

These plans have already been embodied in legislative form. They provide for the “free enterprise” disposal to the monopolists of billions-worth of government-owned plants, equipment, land and surplus commodities at a fraction of their value. They provide generous cash payments for war contractors upon the termination (cutback) of their war contracts. They protect the “property rights” of the corporations during the “reconversion” period by guaranteeing a “reasonable profit” while the plants are shut down.

Under the “peace pact” signed by Murray and Green, the corporations have the “right” to operate the plants – constructed and paid for out of the public treasury – at a “reasonable profit,” or shut them down. This is the “free choice of action” which the capitalist claims as his sacred right and which the misleaders of labor endorse in their “charter.” Such endorsement of the “principle” that property rights take precedence over human rights is a gross betrayal of everything the labor movement stands for.

What did the “labor statesmen” get in exchange for putting their seal of approval on the holy “rights” of private property? The labor commentator for the N.Y. Post observes that the “peace charter” contains no mention of 60,000,000 jobs or “full employment.”

Nor,” he , adds, “does it give labor any concessions beyond recognizing the right to collective bargaining – which, incidentally, now is protected by a federal law.”

In short, the labor leaders got exactly nothing! As far as labor is concerned it was all give and no take. Moreover, the recognition of the right “to organize and to engage in collective bargaining,” granted under the National Labor Relations Act, is meaningless without the right to strike.

The Right to Strike

And the “peace pact” proposes to eliminate strikes by the “peaceful” disposal of “differences between management and labor.” How is this to be done? The CIO had a very decided opinion on this question which it expressed in no uncertain terms. In a. pamphlet published by the national office of the CIO in 1940, the answer to this question was given in the following clear and unambiguous terms:

“The right to organize and bargain collectively implies the right to strike, since strike action is frequently the only way organized workers have of enforcing collective bargaining. Though collective bargaining is guaranteed by the National Labor Relations Act, employers often refuse to obey the laws of the U.S. Strike action is then the only way by which they can be forced to recognize unions and bargain with them in good faith.”

The events since 1940 have confirmed the correctness of this position. The alternative is to pursue the course followed by the union heads since Pearl Harbor of compulsory arbitration of union demands and grievances by an “impartial” employer-dominated Board. It is this latter course which Green and Murray have written into their “peace pact” with the bosses.

The union officials’ endorsement of the “rights of private property” and compulsory arbitration elicited warm statements of approval from the camp of Big Business. Winthrop W. Aldrich, chairman of the board of the Chase National Bank, declared: “I heartly approve of what has been done.” It is “a great step forward.” Chase National, a Rockefeller financial institution, is one of the two largest private banks in the world.

Charles E. Wilson, president of General Electric Company, said: ‘“The important thing is that these fine words be translated into action.” The new “economic stabilizer” Davis and WLB chairman Taylor added their praise. Thomas E. Dewey, Republican candidate in the last presidential election, “hailed the labor-employer charter” as a “notable” achievement. Roosevelt, who is using every means at his disposal to jam a forced labor law through Congress, expressed himself as being “very pleased.”

But the workers, who were neither advised nor consulted in its adoption, will have their word to say about this “charter” of docile surrender to the employers. As the militant ranks are beginning to demonstrate in ever greater numbers – the continuing strike wave in Detroit and the strike vote of the miners are tokens – they are not going to submit willingly to any “charter” which binds them to exploitation without resistance and keeps them from effective action in defense of their welfare.

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