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David Coolidge

Mass Action

(12 March 1945)

From Labor Action, Vol. IX No. 11, 12 March 1945, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).


“Who Won the Election?”

The Shipyard Worker of the IUMSWA (CIO) for February 5 carries a Statement by Our Vice-President, John J. Grogan. The statement is published in opposition to the National Service Act. The statement begins with the position that:

“The entire labor movement, including our union, is in a fight for its future existence. The anti-labor forces are determined to use the recent, beaten-back German offensive ... as an excuse to draft labor ... Figures show that there has been no serious decline in production ... But the reactionaries ... influenced national officials ...

“Today, when we stand on the threshold of final victory, the cry for manpower drafting is being raised. It is being supported by the reactionary and anti-labor elements.”

The statement then goes on to talk about the reactionaries’ aims being to try to smash the CIO “in order to keep aloft the banner of property rights.”

You would think that Grogan would call names in such a vigorous statement. But not a single name does he call; not even the name of Browder, whose Communist Party Political Association has come out in full endorsement of this “slave bill.” Is Grogan afraid that the Stalinists on the IUMSWA General Executive Board will gang up on him and throw him out of office at the next convention? The Stalinists took over control of the IUMSWA at the last convention in Atlantic City, aided by the stupid and cowardly acquiescence of Johnny Green, Grogan and others.

Who Dunit?

Grogan also refrains from calling the names of any of the members of Congress who are pushing this “slave bill.” Why is this? Was he trying to dodge something? Was he afraid that if he called names he might have to say bad things about some of the Democratic Party “friends of labor” who were supported by the CIO last November? And finally we ask, really who are these “anti-labor forces” who conceived this awful “slave bill”? Who are the “national officials” who were influenced by “reactionaries”?

Who are these “reactionary labor elements” who, are supporting the manpower draft right at the time “we stand on the threshold of victory”? How did this slave bill get to Congress, anyhow, right at the time of “the recent German offensive”?

Brother Grogan doesn’t discuss or answer any of these questions. Did Howard Smith of Virginia, or Cox, or Rankin, or Taft write this bill and introduce it in Congress? Was this, bill written in the office of the Chicago Tribune? Have we all been smoking opium and lulled into the fantastic belief that the Democratic Party won the election? Who is President anyhow; Roosevelt or Dewey? Perhaps it’s Hoover who is President and sent this bill to Congress in his annual message. That is what anybody would be forced to believe who had only Brother Grogan’s “statement” to guide him.


Jim Crow Rail Unions

The “Harassed” Rail Unions

No one should be surprised that the railroad unions are in the camp of the New York State capitalist employer organizations which are opposing, passage of the Ives-Quinn anti-discrimination bill now before the New York Legislature. The Brotherhood of Locomotive Enginemen and Firemen, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and the Brotherhood of Railway Clerks are in a bloc with the New York City Chamber of Commerce, the New York State Chamber of Commerce, the boards of trade, New York City employment agencies, the real estate associations and the Commerce and Industry Association of New York State.

The railway unions say that the bill is intended “to harass them.” Whether or not “harass” is the proper word, it can be used. These extremely reactionary unions need to be harassed. There are no more reactionary labor organizations in the land than the railroad unions. Right now the Railway Firemen are trying to drive every Negro fireman from the Southern lines by use of the most reprehensible anti-working class tactics ever devised.

These unions engineered a conspiracy with certain Southern railroads to give Negroes, especially Negro firemen, a “non-promotable” status, the Clerks attempted to hinder the independent organization of the “Red Caps” by claiming that they had jurisdiction over these employees. All of the four brotherhoods, at one time or another, have attempted to abridge the democratic rights of Negro railroad workers by the subterfuge of claiming jurisdiction. They barred Negroes from membership but claimed jurisdiction. After establishing their claims they refused to represent the Negro workers. They consented to the practice of roads in the South paying Negroes lower wages for equal work than received by white workers.

In the South they have engaged in every mean and dirty practice against Negro workers known to the government: federal, state or municipal. They make no insistence on the right and necessity for labor organizations to run their own affairs, to set their own house in order without the interference of capitalist government.

These unions are not in position to make such demands, even if their officers understood the meaning of such a position. They have no objection to government butting in so long as such intervention does not interfere with their reactionary, aristocratic and anti-labor attitudes toward Negro workers and white workers who happened not to belong to the four silk-hat brotherhoods. All they can do is to line up with the capitalist employers. This is what they know best.

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