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David Coolidge

With the Labor Unions – On the Picket Line

(26 May 1941)

From Labor Action, Vol. 5 No. 21, 26 May 1941, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The Kind of Union Workers Want

The three-to-one vote of the workers at the Lackawanna plant of the Bethlehem Steel Co. and other victories of the CIO. demonstrate that the workers want to be represented by a union that will FIGHT for them. The workers want unions, but they want unions that do something more than just collect dues, initiation fees and pay death benefits. The workers want something while they are living: HIGHER WAGES, SHORTER HOURS and far better working conditions. Just to carry a union card in one’s pocket, showing that one is a member of something that calls itself a trade union isn’t enough. The union must get results, material results, or it is not much service to labor. Union leaders have to do something more than simply draw fat pay checks and order the membership around.

The results that the CIO has gained in recent weeks further demonstrate the only way to get results from the bosses. All of these gains were won on the picket tine. They didn’t come from the methods advocated by Bill Green: sitting down in the bosses’ offices exchanging cigars and handshaking.

How to Get Something from Ford

Before Labor Action appears again, the NLRB election will have been held at Ford’s. We expect the CIO to defeat the whole combination of Ford, Harry Bennett, the company union and the AFL. Ford’s man Friday, Harry Bennett, has announced that the CIO will win the election and that the company will bargain with the CIO until “hell freezes over.” Harry added, however, that the CIO won’t get anything. Of course, Harry is only trying to solace himself and the old scoundrel who pays him. He isn’t fooling his employees. They can get something from Ford the same way they got it from Bethlehem: put a mass picket line around the plant and keep it there “until hell freezes over.”

Coudert and the Stalinist War Position

A man by the name of Coudert, who is chairman of a legislative committee investigating “subversive” influences in New York City’s schools, says that the “red peril” is greater than the “fascist peril.” “The communist is the confidence man of totalitarianism,” says Coudert, “while the Nazi is the holdup man.” We are not quite certain what Coudert means by “communist.” Presumably he is talking about the Stalinists. At any rate there is something wrong in this picture. If Coudert is correct, then the United States is preparing for war against the wrong people. But even taking Coudert’s position, that “reds” are a danger, it is evident that the bosses are not in agreement with him. Coudert can’t get John D. Rockefeller to agree that Stalin is a greater danger to him than Hitler. John D. knows that it is Hitler that is preparing to grab his 90,000 square miles of oil lands in Iraq. That’s why he is ready for shooting war against Germany. He doesn’t want the German capitalist to grab the wealth through exploitation of the workers of Iraq. John D. wants to do the exploiting and robbing himself so that he can add to the fortune his old man piled up robbing the workers in the U.S.

There is something else too about Coudert. He and his kind prefer fascism to any social order that would strip the bosses of their power and profits. As between socialism and fascism these people will always choose fascism. If the workers fail to learn this, they will have a sad experience before this war is over.

Furthermore. Coudert and the boss class don’t need to worry themselves over the Stalinists “overthrowing the government by force and violence.” All that the Stalinists are concerned with overthrowing today are the groups which actually stand for socialism and the overthrow of capitalism, Stalin and his axmen are the enemies of socialism. The Stalinists claim today that they are against “imperialist war.” This is a lie. They are against the Churchill-Roosevelt camp of the imperialist war. They support the Hitler-Stalin camp.

Should Stalin get the assurance that he can hold on longer by coming over to the side of the United States and England, we will see every Stalinist, all their stooges and hatchet men hugging the flag, chanting the Star Spangled Banner and reciting the Constitution from every street corner.

The Stalinists confuse and betray the workers just as Hillman and his gang confuse and betray the workers. Some militant workers join the Stalinists because they believe that the Stalinists are against the war. These workers don’t understand that the Stalinists are against the U.S. going into the war because Stalin is tied up with Hitler.

There are other workers who go over to Hillman and the patriot-warmongers because they want to escape the Stalinist sell-out. Both groups of workers must learn that the correct road is neither the path to Stalin nor the path to Roosevelt-Hillman. Either of these roads leads into the imperialist war.

The Workers Party and Labor Action set forth week after week the only road for the working class in the United States. This is independent political action of the working class against capitalism, against the present war and for socialism. The Stalinists cannot be for this program because they are in a block with Hitler; one of the leading world imperialists.

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