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David Coolidge

With the Labor Unions on the Picket Line

(8 July 1940)

From Labor Action, Vol. 4 No. 13, 8 July 1940, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Cutting a Slice of Boloney from the Republican Platform

The first sentence in the Labor Relations section of the Republican Party election platform reads: “The Republican Party has always protected the American worker.” This will be news to workers who have been clubbed on picket lines, who have had their wages slashed, who have been set out to starve and freeze by Republican employers while their stooges in Washington were raising the tariff and lowering corporation taxes.

Are we to suppose that Hoover was protecting the American worker when he had the army shoot and gas the unemployed – including the babies – out of Washington on that Bloody Thursday in 1931? Are we expected to believe also that the GOP was protecting labor when Republican senators opposed the La Follette Civil Liberties Bill? By their opposition they defended the right of the big corporations to maintain their spies, stool-pigeons, finks, armed thugs and private arsenals to be used against the unions.

Another sentence reads: “When differences arise (between employer and employee) they should be settled directly and voluntarily across the table.” This of course came right out of the mouth of Sam Gompers and was picked up by Bill Green. Gomper’s position was that strikes are out of style. The Republican platform agrees with Gompers. When the worker and the boss have a difference over such little matters as wages, hours, charged barbed wire or stool pigeons, they should get together with the boss in his mahogany office, forget such trivial matters, kiss and make up.

The final paragraph says that the National Labor Relations Act should be amended. The present act is not fair to the employers and some groups of employees. Some groups of employees of course include the company unions, the scabs and the stool pigeons.

The Republicans also shed a few tears over the unemployed. They want the unemployed to get a larger share of the money appropriated. They want relief on a “fair and non-political basis.” And how do they propose doing this? By turning relief administration back to the states with “Federal grants-in-aid.” That is, the federal government will continue to put up some money (not much of course) but it will be handled exclusively by each state.

If we can understand this it means that the Republicans are telling the unemployed workers that there are no politicians in the various capitals, not even in Louisiana! Furthermore the Republicans seem to believe that the workers have very short memories. At the beginning of the thirties, the states had complete charge of relief. The unemployed were nearer to starvation than they are now. They went into the streets (”not across the table”) and fought. This forced the New Deal administration to appropriate money from the federal treasury. The Republicans intend to return to the Hoover era and the Hoover methods.

We will have to wait until August to see what the Democrats hand out. We know however that their platform will not be in any important way different from the Republican. They will use other words to put over the same line of bunkum.

Did Bill Green Get an Honorary Degree from the Federal Bureau of Investigation?

There was a queer piece of news hidden away in the New York Times on Sunday. Tacked on to the article informing us that the President had signed the bill to finger print all aliens was the information that Bill Green had attended the graduating exercises of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He made a speech but the report did not say whether or not he was the commencement orator wishing the graduates success in their careers. Nor was anything said as to whether or not Mr. Green received an honorary degree.

There Is No Doubt About It – Patriotism Is a Paying Profession

If workers have any doubts that patriotism, as practiced by the bosses, is a paying profession they can cast an eye at some profits for the first quarter of 1940. Aircraft went up with a roar. Douglas profits were $771,552 in the first quarter of 1939 and $1,804,877 in the first quarter 1940, an increase of 134%. Glenn Martin rose from §682,496 to $2,162,670, an increase of 218%. In automobiles GM was $53,177,928 in 1939 and $60,028,461 for the first quarter 1940. Studebaker profits increased 800%.

U.S. Steel made $660,551 in the first quarter of 1939 and $17,113,195 in the first quarter 1940, an increase of 2500%. Bethlehem, Youngstown and Republic Steel increased profits by millions. General Electric went from $7,373,431 to $11,951,450. Westinghouse profits were $2,356,150 in first quarter of 1939 and 54,041,428 for first quarter of 1940.

This is a sample of what is taking place in the war industries. These profit figures are the answer to any demands made on the workers to slow up in their demands for more wages. The workers must demand and get more and more of these huge profits (and they will increase!) in the form of wages, right now. Who makes the airplanes, the automobiles and electrical equipment? Who sweats and toils in the steel mills while the bosses play? Any employer or government official who tells workers that patriotism calls for no increases in wages or hours is a scoundrel. Any worker who falls for this blarney is a Scissor Bill Sam and a fool.

FBI Gives Strikers a Lesson in Democracy

President Robinson, of the Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers says that the FBI gave 20 strikers in Polk County, Tenn. “some kind of narcotic that left them with such severe headaches and so violently ill that a doctor had to be summoned for one of them while he was being tortured into ‘confessing.’” The strikers had been arrested in connection with the alleged dynamiting of TVA power lines during a strike against the Tennessee Copper Corporation. Robinson also claimed that the G-men threatened the striker’s families and put them through other cruel third degree treatments.

Business Doesn’t Want to be Hampered by Wage-Hour Acts

The bosses want to get rid of the Walsh-Healy Act. It interferes with their patriotism. They can’t support the national defense program if they have to pay prevailing union wages on government contracts. The Model Blouse Company, of New Jersey, has been caught chiseling and ordered to pay $18,000 in back wages. The company evaded the minimum wage rate, crooked its payrolls and employed child labor on government contracts.

Of course this sort of business is not confined to the little fellows like Model Blouse. The big steel companies all want the Wage Hour Act, the Walsh-Healy Act and the Wagner Act all put on ice – at least for the duration of the war-time big-profits period.

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