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David Coolidge

With the Labor Unions – On the Picket Line

(13 January 1941)

From Labor Action, Vol. 5 No. 2, 13 January 1941, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

“Defense” Needs Not Our Concern

Not being production experts it isn’t easy for us to say whether or not- the Reuther “Plan” for plane production is a good one. Furthermore we are not interested in telling the bosses how to organize for the purpose of waging imperialist war. Reuther, we suppose, conceives of his “Plan” as a method of aiding the “defense program” and at the same time spreading and increasing employment. We would like to see more and better employment, but. we don’t give a rap about this so-called “defense” program. It’s not a defense program but a war program.

The fact that much of the supplies will go to little England doesn’t change the facts. There are all manner of ways of participating in imperialist war without jeopardizing one’s own hide. The ruling class as a whole goes to war in that manner. Not that they are physically cowardly but that they have other things to do. They remain at home and manage the “free” enterprises and the “people’s government.” The workers’ organizations should let the ruling class plan its own war production. To be sure it’s rather difficult for the bosses to plan anything successfully except champagne parties, strikebreaking, raids on union headquarters and the federal treasury, gyp stock deals and holding companies. But the workers should be concerned with planning their own wars for higher wages and shorter hours.

Shorter hours will take care of unemployment. The CIO should be giving its entire attention to organizing the unemployed and getting more money for them and less work. If the bosses fall down on their war planning, that’s their funeral, not ours. If they fall down on the job of running the country, and they have, we’ll pick up the reins and go ahead. That’s what workers should be thinking about Of course, the airplane manufacturers should be exposed before the workers. It has to be explained that the aircraft makers don’t want to expand for mass production. They are running an industry that believes in organization for small production with a relatively low investment combined with high profits. If there is to be any expansion, they want the government to pay for the expansion and then give the new plants to them.

We Paid Billions in Dividends to the Loafers

The workers in the U.S. certainly did well by their oppressors and exploiters in 1940. We paid $3,927,629,933 in dividends, most of which went to a gang of loafers who never do any work. The workers are certainly keeping the bosses in grand style. We gave them more in 1940 than we did in 1939 or 1938. We paid them over four billion in 1937. Perhaps we were a little ashamed of ourselves and decided to raise their income in 1940. We even paid these loafers something on their back dividends, and, to make bosses supremely happy, we gave them a few millions extra. Perhaps there are some workers who think that this is a joke and that we are trying to be funny. But that’s not true. We really gave them these billions. They can only draw these huge dividends because we consent to the continuation of a system that permits those who don’t work to have everything while those who produce get nothing.

Labor and Capital Cannot Be Equals

Matt Woll has been talking again. He agrees with the president that strikes and lockouts should be avoided in the arms industries. Well we are against lockouts also, that is lockouts of the workers by the bosses. Should the workers lock the bosses out, that’s the bosses’ business and they will have to look out for themselves.

In order to “avoid” strikes and lockouts, Mr. Woll proposes that organized labor be made a “partner” equal with the employers in the “defense” production machinery. Woll, of course, doesn’t mention the fact that those who don’t own anything can’t be partners with those who own everything, even if those who don’t own are a numerical majority on the various boards. This is what Philip Murray evidently doesn’t understand or he wouldn’t be so strong for his scheme of “equal” labor and management representation.

The workers can not be equal to the bosses under capitalism, and under socialism they won’t be equal to the present boss class. Under socialism, the workers would have all the rights, power and privileges, and the present owners, as a class, wouldn’t have any power, rights or privileges.

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