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David Coolidge

Mass Action

(11 June 1945)

From Labor Action, Vol. 9 No. 24, 11 June 1945, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The CIO Union News service announces jubilantly that the United states Chamber of Commerce, through its board of directors, has unanimously approved the labor-management charter which was signed by Murray, Green and Eric Johnston. The News Service says that“this decision will stimulate local chambers to meet with labor leaders on local levels to promote such charters in their communities.”

Thus does the open betrayal of labor by the top labor bureaucracy go its class-collaborationist way. Philip Murray evidently believes that he has proposed something new. Bill Green certainly knows better, since he is an offspring of Sam Gompers, who, along with Mark Hanna, headed the National Civic Federation many decades ago. The National Civic Federation was only a more honest edition of the ever-recurring scheme for labor-capitalist cooperation than is this latest brew of Green, Murray and Johnston.

Old Sam Gompers came right out with it. He mouthed none of Murray’s pious vapor and none of Green’s blockhead whimpering. He said frankly that strikes were out of style and that the time had come for labor and capital to draw together around the council table and arrive at decisions in the mutual interests of both classes.

Murray talks about “labor” and “management”’just as though he believed that foremen and the little executives in industry could settle the disputes between the workers and the corporations. One would never guess that there were bond-holders, big stockholders, bankers and other loafers and non-producers who are the real culprits the working people have to deal with. That is, the working class has to deal with the capitalist ruling class as a class.

A Sage Saying

Years ago Frederick Engels, the collaborator and friend of Karl Marx, wrote that people had been advocating the unity of capital and labor for many years but the working class was right where it was before visionaries, labor traitors and muddle-heads received their harmony revelations.

What Engels said over fifty years ago is just as true today. There can be no such thing as a charter between capitalist and worker unless the worker agrees to give the capitalist full right to starve him and his family.

In every local where this capitalist-labor charter fakery appears it should be promptly and rudely assigned to the garbage pail.

Murray has something more up his sleeve than his CIO-Chamber of Commerce scheme for benefitting the working class. He has given his steel workers some advice on how to keep employed, when cutbacks come and “reconversion” begins, the steel workers are to hold“plant-wide meetings; discussion on employment possibilities;consultation with management for reconversion to civilian production;rousing of community sentiment for the use of plants heretofore only with a war production history for civilian production; meeting with municipal and civil authorities, chambers of commerce and associations of manufacturers for full production and full employment in the industries located there.”

We are, for some of these things mentioned above, but taken together they sound like recommendations to the Boy Scouts or to the Federation of Women’s Clubs. Altogether they add up to zero. We wonder why “labor-management committee.”

The working class has all that we need to handle this matter of“reconversion” save one thing: a working class program and a leadership with the guts to fight with the ranks of labor for the program. The workers would follow if they only had somebody to follow that was going somewhere except to Truman and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The way to keep a job is to keep it: Workers can’t keep their jobs if they allow themselves to be put out of’ plants.They won’t get their jobs by holding long conferences with“municipal and civic authorities” and “associations of manufacturers.” It’s all right to negotiate with employers or the employers’ government while the masses of workers are sitting in the plants, but to hold conferences in the manner suggested by Murray will get labor nowhere but into the soup lines.

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